The first thing that comes to mind when you think of New Orleans is Bourbon Street. A trip to ‘The Big Easy’ would not be complete without a stroll down the infamous path filled with street performers and debauchery. I have no doubt that the French Quarter offers the best people watching in the world, but if you are anything like me, you can only do so much watching. I need to be doing, and New Orleans has so much to offer!
I have visited NOLA several times in the past few years and have put together a list of my favorite adventures outside of the French Quarter.
- Rent a bicycle and peddle to City Park. Okay, this adventure does start in the French Quarter at Nola Cycles. You can rent a variety of bikes here from electric to tandem. If you have read my article Quebec City: Things to Do & a Bicycle Built for Two, you know that I’m a fan of the two up bike. However, I think it is worth noting that New Orleans is not the place to “cut your teeth” on tandem riding. Cycling through the French Quarter and down streets shared with cars with a partner does not make for a fun day! This is an adventure best suited for a solo ride. The bike shop will give you a map with paths throughout the city and point you in the direction of City Park. It’s about a 30 minute peddle along Esplanade Ave. Once you are in the park, the riding is easy. There are four miles of bike trails in the 1,300 acre park. Make sure you stop by Morning Call Coffee Stand inside the park for a treat. Some say they have the best beignets in town!
- Get down to gator level in a kayak. Paddle through Manchac Swamp on a tour with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours. During our two hours on the water, we saw alligators, snakes and turtles just feet from our kayaks. The path takes you through a beautiful forest of Cypress trees hanging with Spanish moss. Watch out for shallow spots! We had lots of laughs trying to get ourselves unstuck.
- Visit Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. A walk through one of the warehouses where the famous Mardi Gras parade floats are created is a New Orleans must. Seeing the floats up close give you an appreciation for the amount of work, detail, and money that goes into each one. Have some fun taking pictures with the wide selection of props made in their studio.
- Take a ride in an airboat and see the bayou. Hold on tight while you zoom through the beautiful bayou. Once you are deep into the swamp, watch gators move into action as they are beckoned with the promise of a sweet treat. Gators seem to love marshmallows as it was our airboat caption’s lure of choice. You may even get to hold a little gator. Watch out- they are wiggly! There are several tour companies that do airboat tours. We chose Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours and had a great time. They are all priced about the same and travel the same general area.
Now you have no excuse for spending all of your time in the French Quarter. Get off of Bourban street and see all the wonders NOLA has to offer. Get out and explore!