New Orleans is known for a lot: food, music, rich history, parades, nightlife, and the list goes on. However, when it comes to the outdoors, New Orleans is not the first city to come to mind. When I think of “New Orleans” and “nature,” the Bayou and Audobon Park are my first thoughts. And while I love a good swamp tour and park stroll, I’m always looking for something more when it comes to getting outside in New Orleans. Even more than just connecting with nature, I am constantly on the lookout for sustainable activities and crunchy cafes to fuel my “granola” side. New Orleans offers just about everything under the sun, and there are certainly a number of outlets for those looking to connect with nature and be green in the city. 

Get Outside

I love Audubon Park as much as the next person and will never reject an offer to lay in the grass and look at the magnificent oak trees. However, there’s much more nature to explore beyond Tulane’s backyard. Bayou Paddlesports (About Bayou Paddlesports), located in Bayou St John, offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, with coaching for beginners and first-timers. It is only a 15 minute drive from campus. Two-hour rentals start at $25 and you can even do a four-night kayaking trip for the same price while getting to enjoy the sunset. Outdoor Adventures is  Tulane’s own program to help students explore nature in and around Louisiana and offers a number of outdoor activities, from day trips to weekend getaways. Some of their upcoming events include “Intro to Camping,” “Cane Paddle Bayou,” and “Surfing/Camping adventure.” If you don’t have plans for Spring Break, consider putting yourself on the waitlist for the Smoky Mountain Backpacking Trip! Outdoor Adventure trips fill up quickly so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for new openings. You can also request a custom trip led by Outdoor Adventures’ own group leaders. Campus Recreation offers gear rentals, such as tents and backpacks, for those who want to embark on their own adventure. Check their site out here: ( While it may not be in the forest or on the water, another way to get outside is by taking a bike tour in the city, or even renting your own bikes and exploring the city for yourself (Top New Orleans Bike Tours). City Park offers bike rentals with bikes that seat a group of 4, so you can explore and exercise with friends!

Volunteer in the Community

If you’re interested in environmental sustainability and stewardship, there are a plethora of volunteer opportunities to help encourage a greener New Orleans. The Green Project is committed to reusing materials and keeping useful items out of the landfill. They have their own “Salvage Store” where you can buy items for 30-50% of the original retail price. Furthermore, they have the first paint recycling program of the Gulf South, which creates unique colors and helps to avoid unnecessary paint disposal. The third tier of the Green Project is free environmental education to K-12 schools. As a volunteer, you can work in the warehouse, the paint recycling center, the donation driveway, and more (Check out how to volunteer here). Additionally, Soul is a program that specializes in New Orleans tree restoration, and every Saturday from November-March, they look for tree planters to help bring more greenery to  New Orleans. From April-October, volunteers help to maintain the trees that were planted the previous months (Learn how you can help here.). The Alliance for Affordable Energy is an organization that promotes sustainable and equitable access to energy throughout New Orleans. They even have an internship program: Alliance for Affordable Energy! Glass Half Full, a grassroots organization started by two Tulane alumni, works to restore Louisiana’s receding coastline, create relief sandbags, and encourage eco-construction through the means of glass recycling. They are always looking for volunteers to help out with the process (Learn how to volunteer here)! 

Eat with the Planet in Mind

Lastly, there are some delicious-looking dining options around Tulane and in the greater New Orleans area that offer vegetarian, sustainably-made, and organic food. Good Bird on Freret serves salads, sandwiches, and wraps, with chicken from Springer Mountain Farms in Georgia, which is praised for their free-range chickens, and bread from local bakeries . The Botanicals NOLA, located in the Bywater, is known for their acai bowls and smoothies, and they even use sea moss (a new trending superfood ) in all of their healthy concoctions. Mais Arepas is a Colombian restaurant that grows everything in their own garden, which is taken care of by Chef David Mantilla. City Greens has four locations throughout the city (with one on Freret Street) that, shockingly, specializes in salads! They also offer wraps, pressed juices, and soups (if salad is not your cup of tea). This establishment harvests their own crops on their Florida farm and works with a number of other local farms in New Orleans). Grow Dat Youth Farm is a sustainable farm that grows thousands of pounds of fresh produce per year, 80% of which is sold and 20% of which is shared with the participants and families who help harvest and maintain the farm. The farm is committed to sustainable growing and ecological health and  offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where customers can enjoy a share of the farm produce every week for a 29-week growing period. All of the proceeds go to the youth program. They also accept volunteers to help around the farm (Grow Dat)! 

For more sustainable and organic food options around the city, check out this website: Sustainable Dining | New Orleans, which is where I found most of these recommendations.  

There are plenty of places to check out if you’re looking to sustain or lean-into your granola side. Or, if you don’t identify as granola at all, simply consider these as ways to get involved with environmental stewardship, sustainable dining, and fun outdoor activities throughout the city. Whatever your reason may be for thinking green, check out some of these events, organizations, and restaurants the next time you’re looking for something to do, somewhere to volunteer, or some place to eat!

Featured Image via Lucie Jain.

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