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Big Lake

From boating to birding, a highlight of City Park

Not to be confused with that other “big lake” just outside of the city, City Park’s Big Lake has been one of the Park’s most-popular recreational attractions. The lake is surrounded by 25 acres filled with art installations, wildlife and wetlands, paths for walking, jogging and biking, the New Orleans Museum of Art and much, much more!

Parking is available on Lelong Drive and on the north side of Big Lake on Friedrichs Avenue.

The Singing Oak
City Park’s Singing Oak is one of the many unexpected delights visitors stumble upon when exploring the Park. This large oak tree, which sits adjacent to Big Lake near the intersection of Wisner and Lelong in the John S. McIlhenny Meadow, is strung with a set of wind chimes that ring a pentatonic (five notes per octave) scale. This musical art installation was designed by artist Jim Hart, and is proof positive that there’s always music in the air in New Orleans! Fun fact: One of the chimes in the Singing Oak is 14 feet long!

Boating and Biking
Wheel Fun Rentals provides both boats and bikes for rental seven days a week on Big Lake. Please see the boating and biking page for hours of operation. 

Boat Rentals
Spend a lazy afternoon floating with the ducks, swans and geese on the Park’s historic bayous and lagoons. Boat Rental rates can be found on the Boat City Park page.

Bike Rentals
Take a stroll with a friend on a tandem bike, gather a group on a surrey bike or just ride solo around City Park's four miles of bike paths. Bike Rental Rates can be found on the Bike City Park page.

Zemurray Trail
Fair warning: After a walk, run or spin around this three-quarter-mile trail sorrounding Big Lake, you may never go back to a drab gym. This scenic path designed for walking, jogging or biking is one of the most-beautiful places in New Orleans to burn off a few poor boys.

New Orleans Museum of Art
Just steps away from Big Lake, the New Orleans Museum of Art is home to a permanent collection of 40,000 objects ranging from French and American art to photography, glass and Japanese exhibits. Don't miss the 11.5 acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden that holds more than 90 sculptures. It's located just to the left or right of the entrance to NOMA. Fun fact: The famous Dueling Oak is located just outside the Sculpture Garden entrance.

And Much Much More!
At every turn, you’ll find something to love around Big Lake: Rare and native birds, including brown pelicans and the Park’s waddling gaggles of ducks and swans; the Pump House; the lake’s fountain, which shoots water 40 feet into the air; the Louisiana Trail dotted with trees representing our state’s seven distinct tree regions. The lake is divided by the Enrique Alferez bridge, and the tranquil, smaller section of the lake – a popular spot for picnickers and the Park’s geese – flows into the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Take your time, explore all of the nooks and crannies around Big Lake, and come back for more as often as you like!

The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with City Park, developed this trail and meadow to commemorate the indomitable spirit of the residents of Greater New Orleans for their resilience and commitment to rebuilding their homes and neighborhoods after Hurricane Katrina. We believe parks and open spaces are essential elements that support vibrant, thriving communities, and we believe growing City Park is key to a healthy New Orleans!