New Orleans City Park is a sprawling 1,300 acres of moss-draped oak trees, lagoons and walking trails through Couturie Forest. The park has the largest grove of mature live oaks in the world, some 600 to 800 years old. The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in New Orleans City Park has one of the oldest antique wooden carousels in the country, a Ferris wheel, a miniature train, Musik Express and bumper cars, and has extended hours in the summer.
Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden: The New Orleans Museum of Art is tucked inside City Park and contains a permanent collection of more than 40,000 objects. It is noted for its extraordinary French and American art, as well as photography, glass and Japanese works. The five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden holds more than 60 sculptures, collectively valued at $25 million and nestled along meandering footpaths, reflecting lagoons and towering oaks.
Botanical Garden: The New Orleans Botanical Garden in the southern part of the park can be reached from the Central Business District near the French Quarter by using the Canal Street streetcar. The lush urban sanctuary showcases more than 2,000 varieties of native and exotic plants. The garden was created in the 1930s as part of the New Deal to generate jobs and opened in 1936 as a rose garden.
Themed gardens: The Botanical Garden is divided into a number of smaller themed gardens. The Lord and Taylor Rose Garden is still one of the most important but there are plenty of others with local and exotic plants. Visitors can walk through the authentic Japanese Garden, an aromatic garden with scented flowers or the Palm Garden, with its palm trees and bamboo. There’s also a medicinal herb garden, azaleas, camellias and magnolias, a demonstration garden with vegetables and fruit, and a butterfly walk. The Botanical Garden is adorned with more than 10 statues, mostly from the Mexican-born Louisiana artist Enrique Alferez.
Conservatory: A couple of small greenhouses hold the garden’s succulents and cacti. One of the highlights of the Botanical Garden is the rose-pink Conservatory of the Two Sisters, home to a tropical rain forest and an exhibit on living fossils: plants that existed before there were flowering plants on Earth.
Train Garden: An unusual attraction is the Historic New Orleans Train Garden, which has models of New Orleans landmarks made from natural materials such as twigs and bark. Miniature streetcars and trains travel through this scenery on a 1,400-foot-long railway track.
Learn more at www.neworleanscitypark.com.