New Orleans is famous for a lot of things, from its vibrant jazz scene and alligator swamp tours to its drool-worthy fried chicken and beignets. What it’s not famous for? Healthy cuisine and exercise.
Ahead of a recent trip to New Orleans, I was repeatedly told I would hate it there because I live such a healthy lifestyle. In a city where the alcohol and fried foods flow like water, how could I possibly have fun? Determined to have my beignets and eat them too — I’m all about balance! — I decided to prove them all wrong by hunting down all the acai bowls, colorful salads, yoga studios, and oat milk lattes I could find. And guess what? I came back feeling energized, and only in need of a little detox thanks to my daily beignet habit.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to stay healthy and energized on your next trip to NOLA.
Where to eat
Believe it or not, there are tons of healthy food options all over the city of New Orleans. Head to Willa Jean in the Central Business District for avocado toast and oat milk lattes, or cross the street and go to The Daily Beet for a delicious smoothie or grain bowl.
Although the French Quarter is where you can find an endless stream of fried food, there are some surprisingly healthy options there as well: Petite Amelie is a great spot to grab a quick healthy bite. If you have time for a sit-down meal, its sister restaurant Cafe Amelie is bursting with vegetables and other healthy foods as well.
If you’re looking for more variety, head over to St. Roch market in the New Marigny neighborhood. It’s a food hall with every type of healthy food and drink you can think of, so make sure to show up hungry!
Where to stay
Because it’s such a popular vacation destination, there’s no shortage of hotels in New Orleans. Most of the more affordable hotels are right along the Mississippi River and within walking distance of the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Although it can be a rowdy area, its proximity to the river makes it easy to go out for an early morning run or bike tour.
There are Airbnb options all over the city, and if you’re looking for a more low-key neighborhood where you can clock eight hours of quiet, uninterrupted sleep, check out the Central Business District, which is full of great finds at affordable prices.
Where to move
Yes, exercise is a thing that happens in New Orleans — and quite a bit. It’s an incredibly walkable city, which is a solid way to get exercise on vacation. If you feel like kicking it up a notch, consider taking the ferry across the Mississippi to the quiet suburb of Algiers Point, where you can run along the river without weaving through the crowds. And if you feel like sticking around, you can take a walking tour while you’re at it.
New Orleans has no shortage of yoga studios, either. Reyn Studios has a particularly beautiful space and a wide variety of classes, but Swan River Yoga is a great option as well. If you like to bike, Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours is a great way to see the city while getting a little bit of exercise along the way.
Long story short, go ahead and enjoy all the indulgent things New Orleans has to offer. But if you feel like dabbling in a dose of healthy living while you’re at it, trust me — it’s there for you.