Fireworks are great (very, very great), but they’re not the only thing that’s great about July 4th. Delicious food, cold brews, a few of your closest friends (six feet apart) and — of course — the ‘old red, white and blue all make our country’s day of independence something to look forward to!
Here are some of our favorite spots in New Orleans to celebrate the Fourth of July this year!
Audubon Park // Uptown
It’s no surprise this Uptown gem is on the list. New Orleanians have been enjoying the spacious Audubon Park since 1871. If it’s a sunny Fourth of July, there’s no doubt there’ll be plenty of people around, but — with 350 acres of space — social distancing shouldn’t be too hard.
Walk in with a blanket and a picnic and sit under centuries-old oak trees or the peaceful lagoon curiously known as “Olmsted Lake.” A lot of New Orleanians have been relaxing on the park’s beautiful golf course, but — now that its’ back open — that might no longer be an option.
Breakwater Park // West End
This lesser-known park is in the West End neighborhood and is almost entirely surrounded by water. Picnic, fish, admire the lighthouse and take a swim (it’s clean!) — there’s tons to do along Lake Pontchartrain and Breakwater Park gives you a panoramic view.
If Breakwater isn’t what you’re looking for (why?!) then there are also miles of park area sandwiched between the lake and Lakeshore Drive heading east.
Bayou St. John // Mid-City
Most years this is one of the more popular Independence Day gathering spots. The bayou is four miles long, though, so it’s not like you won’t have options. The stretch between the Lafitte Greenway and Cabrini Bridge is the center of the action, so maybe head closer to Lake Pontchartrain.
Kayaking is a great option (and so is swimming — it’s also clean here!). Even if you don’t have your own watercraft, you can rent kayaks (singles and doubles), canoes, and stand-up paddleboards from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m through Bayou Paddlesports. I’m sure they’ll be busy, so reserve the vessel of your dreams here, and then you can pick it up along the water at 1101 Florida Avenue. It’s a really beautiful paddle and lots to explore. (Just be ready to duck under some lowwwww bridges!)
City Park // Lakeview
At 50% larger than Central Park in New York City, New Orleans’ City Park has what feels like limitless space to celebrate July 4th with a healthy dose of social distance.
Make a whole day of it out there. Mini golf, tennis, a dog park, and 1,300 acres of space to picnic and relax on a blanket under trees, along a bayou or among wildflowers. Wheel Fun (boat and bike rentals) is open from 9 a.m. until sunset on Bike Lake near the Esplanade Avenue entrance.
For a full rundown of what’s open, check out this City Park page.
Crescent Park // Bywater
There’s not a more patriotic waterway in America than the mighty Mississippi River! (Get out of here with that weak sauce, Lake Superior!)
The 1.4-mile Crescent Park lines the Bywater/Marigny portion of the river, and it can be a great place to find a spot and chill out for the day. If you don’t feel like bringing your picnic, grab a feast from Pizza Delicious or (and) Bratz Y’all just on the other side of the “Rusty Rainbow” bridge near the intersection of Piety and Chartres streets.
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Mississippi River Levee // Algiers
If you didn’t expect to see the West Bank on this list, then you need to check your East Bank bias!
The Mississippi River Trail on Algiers Point’s levee has one of the best viewpoints in the city. Descend the levee onto the grass and admire glorious downtown New Orleans from across — in case you forgot — the world’s greatest river!
The Algiers Point-Canal Street ferry runs every 30 minutes, though, so bring $2 (and $2 for the way back), plus whatever you want to enjoy on this different-but-excellent Fourth of July.
This story was originally published in 2020 and has been updated for 2021.