Always a city of committed walkers, in the past decade New Orleans has developed a burgeoning running scene, as joggers solo and en masse appreciate the leafy network of city parks, river and lakefront real estate and a calendar both serious and silly of race events. Add in the mild winter temps and pancake-flat courses and runners of all stripes appreciate the city’s charms.
Hugging the Mississippi River shoreline from just past the French Market to Canal Street, this 1.5-mile stretch of promenade is an ideal place for a run. If you get hungry, run down the steps by St. Peter Street and towards the green and white striped awning. A beignet from Café du Monde awaits.
This 1.4 mile, 20-acre urban swath along the Mississippi River between Elysian Fields in the French Quarter and Bartholomew Street in Bywater offers locals and visitors great access to the river, smooth walking/running/and biking trails and superb city views. There are two metal bridges that span the railroad tracks, with an elevator on the Elysian Fields side making this park both bike- and handicapped-accessible. Open 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
This mostly lovely, leafy stretch of Esplanade Avenue from the Mississippi River to City Park delivers a 3-mile each way run, much of it under the shade of gorgeous live oaks. There are a few busy streets to cross, notably Broad and Claiborne, but overall this run delivers a terrific slice of city life with lots to see on the way.
For locals who don’t have lots of personal green space, City Park is an extended backyard, a place to picnic and barbecue, bike, and fritter away a lazy afternoon. The 1300-acre Eden known for its stands of Live Oak trees and outdoor recreation includes a man-made lake with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for rent. The City Park Track is a 400-meter polyurethane track perfect for walkers and runners. There is also a one-mile Festival Grounds path and a three-quarter-mile path around Big Lake. Keep your eyes peeled for yellow-footed egrets and enjoy.
Developed along an old railroad and canal in the heart of Mid City, the Lafitte Greenway offers 2.6 miles of walking, running, and biking paths. This rails-to-trails project extends from the intersection of N. Alexander and St. Louis streets in Mid-City to Basin and St. Louis streets in Treme behind Armstrong Park. Check out the FitLot at 2200 Lafitte Avenue and Galvez, an open-air kiosk of exercise equipment to add spice to your workout. The Lafitte Greenway is open 24 hours a day and is fully lit with energy-efficient trail lights.
Although there isn’t a true running path along this scenic Bayou, a former trade route between Native Americans and European settlers, you can jog for three miles along its grassy banks between Desaix Boulevard and Lafitte Avenue along both sides of Moss Street.
One of the most beloved Avenues in the city, St. Charles Avenue is famous for its streetcar, canopy of Live Oaks, and stately mansions. Running some six miles all the way from Canal Street to Carrolton in Riverbend, St. Charles Avenue offers runners a relatively smooth path in between the two sets of streetcar rails. Run between Jefferson Avenue and Broadway Uptown to include a loop around the sumptuous Audubon Park jogging path in your run. You can always hop on the streetcar for the return trip.
Bordering St. Charles Avenue, Audubon Park is a gorgeous Uptown green space that includes a lake and a paved 1.8-mile path with bathrooms, water fountains, and exercise equipment. There are also two separate playgrounds, for any parents pushing jogging strollers with little ones who could benefit from a little movement of their own. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 pm.
Tucked behind Audubon Zoo across the Mississippi River levee, the Fly is a strip of frontage high enough to actually deliver river views, an anomaly in a city built below sea level. Famous for its sunsets. It’s also one way to access a 22-mile paved trail on top of the levee near Audubon Park and Riverbend extending upriver/west towards Kenner.
With beautiful hardscaping and lots of benches to enjoy the breeze coming off of Lake Pontchartrain, Lakeshore Drive follows the edge of the lake between Lakeview and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s a super place to take in the sunrise and/or sunset under wide-open skies. It’s about five miles from the Industrial Canal at France Street to just past Canal Street where seafood houses including the Blue Crab and Landry’s overlook the lake.