The Best Things to do in City Park, New Orleans’ Finest Urban Jewel, This Weekend
City Park was established in the mid -1800s on land fronting what is now City Park Avenue along the remains of Bayou Metairie, a former distributary of the Mississippi River that once ran from present day River Ridge to Bayou St. John. All that is left of Bayou Metairie can be seen on the left as you face into the park at the junction of Lelong Drive and South Carrollton Avenue. It was through the bequeathment of the controversial landowner John McDonogh that the tract formerly known as Allard Plantation became city property.
The sprawling boughs and leafy canopies of two massive old oaks at the front of the park provided the ideal, sheltered location for numerous duels, a practice by which chest-puffing, foolhardy, and often, drunk noblemen would defend their pride and honor by firing upon one another at close range with matched pistols. The one left standing was the “winner.” Dueling was outlawed in 1890. One of the two trees was lost in a hurricane in 1949. The remaining Dueling Oak (it is identified by a placard) still stands where Dueling Oaks Drive meets Dreyfous Drive between the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Check it out. It is a fine place for a picnic.
Today City Park covers 1,300-acres, approximately fifty percent more than New York’s Central Park. This crown jewel of our city is unusual in that it is largely self-supporting with most of its annual budget derived through user fees and donations. Right now City Park could use some money if you have any to spare. Though some park attractions, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, remain closed there are many ways to show the park your love this weekend. Be prepared for limited access to public restrooms and remember to practice social distancing and proper hygiene. Individual tickets to all attractions must be purchased in advance and are available on a limited basis. Get the latest on what is open and purchase tickets here: NewOrleansCityPark.com.
Rent a paddle boat and spend a lazy afternoon floating with the ducks, swans and geese on the park’s historic bayous and lagoons. Boats, kayaks, canoes are available to accommodate two to four. Bicycles, also for rent, range from traditional singles to tandems to double Surreys with canopies. Pick up from the Boat Louse on Big Lake Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – sunset, and Saturday- Sunday from 9 a.m. to sunset. More details are on this link.
The newly revitalized Storyland, where fairytales and fantasy come to life, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last entry at 4 p.m.). Children are invited to climb aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship, follow Pinocchio into the mouth of a whale or scamper up Jack & Jill’s Hill. The charming playground has 20 storybook sculptures featuring classic fairytale characters. Get more information at this link.
The beautiful New Orleans Botanical Garden is now open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. -8 p.m. and Thursdays – Sundays from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Admission on Wednesdays is free entry for LA residents courtesy of The Helis Foundation. This Sunday Brunch-To-Go will be available in the Garden. Guests may order and pick-up boxed brunches then find a favorite spot in the garden where they can relax and enjoy. Chef Pat White will be cooking a delicious picnic-brunch, which can be ordered online beginning today at 10 a.m. Supplies are limited and guests are encouraged to pre-purchase orders online early. Order here. Seating is limited so guests are encouraged to bring chairs. No outside food or beverage allowed.
Have a great week, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love, even if you are doing it from afar, digitally, or over the telephone. We need each other more than ever so take the time and make the effort to reach out. While you are at it make an effort to forgive past misdeeds and share some love. Please reach out to me if you have something to share or I can help in some way because You’ve Got A Friend in Me.