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Riverfront view of New Orleans and a green space with high rise buildings

10 places to relax and sit by the water in New Orleans

Chillaxed spots from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain

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While fall’s first cool front has yet to arrive, evening temperatures are finally dropping into the 70s—which means waterfront sunsets are an especially beautiful, breezy experiences. And although New Orleans might not be known for miles of white sand beaches (OK, we’ve got a patch of sand behind the University of New Orleans at Lake Pontchartrain), the City makes great use of its riverfronts and lakefronts.

Here are a few special places to sit down and appreciate New Orleans relationship with some of the world’s most powerful bodies of water (Mississippi River, we’re looking at you). If you’re looking for places to swim, check out the best pools and hotel pools around the city.

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Pontchartrain Beach

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If you didn’t know better, you could mistake this for being an actual ocean beach (but it’s not—Lake Pontchartrain is technically an estuary). Lake Pontchartrain’s shores are lined with walking paths, benches, steps, and in some places, actual sand. The best place for building sand castles is the beach behind the University of New Orleans—but swim at your own risk, because it’s not life guarded.

Breakwater Park

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The West End neighborhood holds a peninsula park that is virtually surrounded by water. It’s perfect for picnics, fishing, star-gazing, or just enjoying the water. Located in the northern part of the city, it offers a panoramic view of Lake Ponthartrain, and, if you turn around you can spot the New Canal Lighthouse. If you turn west, you can catch a view of the Causeway, the longest continuous bridge in the world.

Couturie Forest

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City Park is punctuated with plenty of oak-shaded bayous and lagoons, but nowhere do they feel as secluded and magical as Couterie Forest. The 60-acre forest is a habitat for native plants, birds, and more, and hiking paths make everything easily accessible.

Big Lake

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Just off the Esplanade entrance of City Park, several acres of green space and a one-mile walking trail surround this large lake. You can also head out for a spin on the lake with a boat rental, which are available seven days a week. 

Bayou St John

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Faubourg St. John is named after the body of water that defines the western edge of the neighborhood. The bayou starts at Lake Pontchartrain, which is north of New Orleans, and flows to Mid-City, near the Lafitte Greenway. Unless Bayou Boogaloo is raging, Bayou St. John tends to be a very tranquil area. It’s a scenic spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, or enjoying a picnic. You’ll find Victorian, Arts and Crafts, and Creole homes along its shores.

The bayou at sunset...all through my soul, once again ⚜️

A post shared by nolalion (@nolalion) on

Crescent Park

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This 1.4-mile linear park connects the Bywater, Marigny, and French Quarter. It’s hemmed on one side by the Mississippi River, and on the other by an active railway. In this post-industrial Eden, gardens, walking paths, and downtown views abound. Open since 2014, it’s a popular place to watch Fourth of July fireworks or take an outdoor yoga class.

World End

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Looking for something a little more rustic than Crescent Park? This grassy strip of levee tucked behind the former Port of Embarkation in the upper 9th Ward offers up-close views of where the Mississippi River connects with the Industrial Canal. It’s a popular place for fishing, dog walking, and bird-watching.

Mississippi River Trail, Algiers

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You can also view the Mississippi River from the Algiers Point Mississippi River Trail. If you go during sunset hours, you can catch a beautiful sunset over a skyline silhouette of the French Quarter—and the ferry ride to and from the West Bank is a scenic experience in its own right.

New Orleans city skyline reflected in water from Algiers point Shutterstock

Woldenberg Park

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From the Fried Chicken Festival to French Quarter Fest, this riverfront park is a gracious host for the city’s biggest events. Walking paths, sculptures, memorials, green spaces, Pokemon gyms, and water features make it a scenic, interactive spot. You’ll also be able listen to live calliope music while snagging an occasional sighting of the Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi.

Aerial view of Woldenburg Park and the Mississippi River Shutterstock

“The Fly” Butterfly Riverview Park

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This portion of Audubon Park has beautiful green space, playground, and plenty of benches. If you visit the park during the end of the day, you’ll get an amazing view of the sun setting over the Mississippi, which is the fourth largest river in the world.

Pontchartrain Beach

If you didn’t know better, you could mistake this for being an actual ocean beach (but it’s not—Lake Pontchartrain is technically an estuary). Lake Pontchartrain’s shores are lined with walking paths, benches, steps, and in some places, actual sand. The best place for building sand castles is the beach behind the University of New Orleans—but swim at your own risk, because it’s not life guarded.

Breakwater Park

The West End neighborhood holds a peninsula park that is virtually surrounded by water. It’s perfect for picnics, fishing, star-gazing, or just enjoying the water. Located in the northern part of the city, it offers a panoramic view of Lake Ponthartrain, and, if you turn around you can spot the New Canal Lighthouse. If you turn west, you can catch a view of the Causeway, the longest continuous bridge in the world.

Couturie Forest

City Park is punctuated with plenty of oak-shaded bayous and lagoons, but nowhere do they feel as secluded and magical as Couterie Forest. The 60-acre forest is a habitat for native plants, birds, and more, and hiking paths make everything easily accessible.

Big Lake

Just off the Esplanade entrance of City Park, several acres of green space and a one-mile walking trail surround this large lake. You can also head out for a spin on the lake with a boat rental, which are available seven days a week. 

Bayou St John

Faubourg St. John is named after the body of water that defines the western edge of the neighborhood. The bayou starts at Lake Pontchartrain, which is north of New Orleans, and flows to Mid-City, near the Lafitte Greenway. Unless Bayou Boogaloo is raging, Bayou St. John tends to be a very tranquil area. It’s a scenic spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, or enjoying a picnic. You’ll find Victorian, Arts and Crafts, and Creole homes along its shores.

The bayou at sunset...all through my soul, once again ⚜️

A post shared by nolalion (@nolalion) on

Crescent Park

This 1.4-mile linear park connects the Bywater, Marigny, and French Quarter. It’s hemmed on one side by the Mississippi River, and on the other by an active railway. In this post-industrial Eden, gardens, walking paths, and downtown views abound. Open since 2014, it’s a popular place to watch Fourth of July fireworks or take an outdoor yoga class.

World End

Looking for something a little more rustic than Crescent Park? This grassy strip of levee tucked behind the former Port of Embarkation in the upper 9th Ward offers up-close views of where the Mississippi River connects with the Industrial Canal. It’s a popular place for fishing, dog walking, and bird-watching.

Mississippi River Trail, Algiers

New Orleans city skyline reflected in water from Algiers point Shutterstock

You can also view the Mississippi River from the Algiers Point Mississippi River Trail. If you go during sunset hours, you can catch a beautiful sunset over a skyline silhouette of the French Quarter—and the ferry ride to and from the West Bank is a scenic experience in its own right.

New Orleans city skyline reflected in water from Algiers point Shutterstock

Woldenberg Park

Aerial view of Woldenburg Park and the Mississippi River Shutterstock

From the Fried Chicken Festival to French Quarter Fest, this riverfront park is a gracious host for the city’s biggest events. Walking paths, sculptures, memorials, green spaces, Pokemon gyms, and water features make it a scenic, interactive spot. You’ll also be able listen to live calliope music while snagging an occasional sighting of the Steamboat Natchez on the Mississippi.

Aerial view of Woldenburg Park and the Mississippi River Shutterstock

“The Fly” Butterfly Riverview Park

This portion of Audubon Park has beautiful green space, playground, and plenty of benches. If you visit the park during the end of the day, you’ll get an amazing view of the sun setting over the Mississippi, which is the fourth largest river in the world.