Health + Fitness

Relax Yourself:
Best Parks in New Orleans

The Singing Oak at City Park (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

Sometimes, you just need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. City Park in Mid-City or Uptown’s Audubon Park offer unique meditative spaces that will allow you to decompress and recharge.

The Summit: Couterie Forest

New Orleans lies completely below sea level, but Laborde Mountain stands as its highest point 43 feet above sea level. The petite mountain was constructed in the early ’70s from the debris from Interstate 610. The trails that lead to the top of the mountain are comprised of sustainable materials such as crushed brick salvaged from the demolition of the park’s former tennis courts. Atop the highest point of the mountain is the observation deck, which is made of reclaimed, fallen and selectively cut, kiln-dried cypress trunk sections. The scent of the cypress and the intricate pattern of the trunk rounds create a tranquil space. Take a seat on the curved wood bench contemplate your thoughts.

The Singing Oak: New Orleans City Park

Next to Big Lake in City Park stands a stunning century-old oak tree that is strung with an array of large wind chimes, the largest of which is 14-feet long. The chimes, painted black for camouflage, ring a pentatonic scale (five notes per octave) that seemingly emanate from the tree itself. Have a picnic or stretch after a run under Singing Oak’s branches while it serenades your troubles away.

The Labyrinth: Audubon Park

Contrary to its name, the Labyrinth has no tricks or dead ends. It is a walking meditation designed for centering and healing. The oak tree-lined path presents inspirational quotes from Mary Oliver, Albert Camus and others that remind its visitors to relax and enjoy nature. Follow the path with one foot in front of the other until you reach the center. Then, turn around and retrace your steps. The goal is to transform your mind and find your zen. There is a zoo adjacent, so don’t be alarmed by the chatter of seals and other exuberant animals.