The Perfect Day in New Orleans
With most of the area’s adventure offerings within an hour’s drive from the city, it's easy to fit in some outdoor fun in between your requisite eating and drinking
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
New Orleans is deservedly famous for its food. But the city’s many waterways, bike paths, and greenspaces are worthy, too—and will help you earn those beignets.
Start your morning with a quick 1.8-mile run around the loop in Uptown’s Audubon Park, filled with herons, egrets, and centuries-old oaks.
Hit up Bearcat Cafe on Jena Street for breakfast, where the menu is split between Good Cat (healthy) and Bad Cat (less so) options. Give in to sin and order the barbecue shrimp and grits.
Sign up with NOLA Paddleboards (from $37 for 75 minutes) to check out Bayou St. John in Mid-City. The canal is lined with historic homes and abuts 1,300-acre City Park.
Head to Parkway Bakery and Tavern for a locals’-favorite po’boy. Top it off with a wedding-cake-flavored snowball—New Orleans’s version of shaved ice—at nearby Pandora’s.
It’s time to ride. Grab a Blue Bike from the city’s recently launched bike-share program ($8 per hour) and hop on the Lafitte Greenway. The 2.6-mile converted rail corridor drops you in the French Quarter, but cycle on to explore Crescent Park, a 20-acre riverfront greenspace.
Drop your bags at the Pontchartrain Hotel (from $143), reopened in 2016 after a $10 million face-lift. The Garden District property blends blue-blood style and New Orleans funk—the lounge features a portrait of native son Lil Wayne with a slice of the restaurant’s signature Mile High Pie.
Formerly a neighborhood market, La Petite Grocery serves up a distinctively New Orleans take on French bistro fare. Be sure to reserve a table in advance—executive chef and owner Justin Devillier has been nominated for the James Beard Award five times (and won it in 2016).
At Bacchanal, a wine-shop-cum-courtyard-hangout in the bohemian Bywater area, pick up a bottle on the way in and choose a spot close to the stage for live local music.
End the night with—what else?—beignets from Café Du Monde in the heart of the French Quarter. The 156-year-old landmark is open 24 hours, so we won’t judge if you count it as breakfast.