If you’re visiting New Orleans and looking for a free activity that lets you experience the mighty Mississippi River, consider taking a walk along the Moonwalk. This brick promenade, which runs along the riverfront, is a favorite spot for locals, street musicians, and travelers alike. It’s also where you’ll find some of the best views of both the city and the river.

Start at Café du Monde

To begin your Moonwalk adventure, head to the famous Café du Monde on Decatur Street. From there, climb the steps up to Washington Artillery Park. Pause for a moment to take in the stunning view of the city’s iconic St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.

Follow the Promenade

Next, make your way towards the river, crossing over the railroad tracks until you reach the brick walkway of the Moonwalk. Straight ahead, you’ll see one of several terraced landings that lead down to the water’s edge.

Turn right and stroll along the promenade, passing park benches and old-fashioned street lamps as you head in the direction of the Steamboat Natchez dock. You’ll likely hear the music from the steam-powered calliope onboard the Natchez before you even catch sight of the boat itself.

The Steamboat Natchez

The Natchez is the only steam-powered paddlewheel riverboat in New Orleans. It offers visitors a two-hour cruise along the Mississippi, complete with live jazz music and a behind-the-scenes tour of the engine room. While we haven’t personally taken this cruise, it’s a popular tourist activity (note that it does require a paid ticket).

Explore Woldenberg Riverfront Park

After passing the steamboat dock, veer left and continue following the Moonwalk along the river. On your right, you’ll see Woldenberg Riverfront Park. Named after philanthropist Malcolm Woldenberg, this green space serves multiple functions – it’s a sculpture garden, a public park, and a venue for local festivals like the French Quarter Festival.

As you stroll through the park, keep an eye out for these notable statues and monuments:

  • The white marble Monument to the Immigrants (1995) by sculptor Franco Allesandrini
  • The bronze statues of Malcolm Woldenberg and his grandson (1990) by sculptor William Ludwig
  • The Holocaust Memorial (2003), a series of nine colorful panels created by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam

Visit the Aquarium of the Americas

If you’ve taken a detour to explore Woldenberg Park, make your way back to the Moonwalk and continue walking until you reach the Aquarium of the Americas. Outside the aquarium, you’ll encounter “Parakeet Pointe,” where you can see and hear what sounds like thousands of parakeets.

To the left of the aquarium, you’ll spot the tall building that once housed the International Trade Mart, designed by architect Edward Durell Stone.

End at the Canal Street Ferry Terminal

Your Moonwalk stroll comes to an end just a short distance from the aquarium at the Canal Street Ferry Terminal. If the Steamboat Natchez cruise was too pricey or time-consuming for your taste, consider hopping on the ferry to Algiers Point instead.

You have two options here: you can simply ride the ferry across the river and back without disembarking, or you can get off and enjoy a self-guided walking tour of Algiers Point, the second oldest neighborhood in New Orleans.

A Bit of History

The New Orleans Moonwalk was constructed in the mid to late 1970s and named after the city’s former mayor, Maurice “Moon” Landrieu.

Tips for Your Walk

  • Wear comfortable shoes – The Moonwalk is about a mile long, so you’ll want to wear shoes that are good for walking.
  • Bring water – New Orleans can get hot and humid, especially in the summer months. Make sure to stay hydrated during your walk.
  • Take your time – There’s no need to rush your Moonwalk stroll. Take time to enjoy the views, people-watch, and soak up the atmosphere.
  • Consider a guided tour – If you want to learn more about the history and architecture along the riverfront, consider joining a guided walking tour. Many local companies offer tours that include the Moonwalk.

Ticket Info

  • Moonwalk and Woldenberg Riverfront Park: FREE
  • Steamboat Natchez: $29.50 for daytime jazz cruise only (other packages available)
  • Algiers Point/Canal Street Ferry: $2.00 per person, one way

More Than Just a Walk

While the Moonwalk is a simple brick promenade, it offers so much more than just a place to stretch your legs. As you stroll along the Mississippi, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the river’s role in shaping New Orleans’ history, culture, and economy.

You’ll see the steamboats and barges that still ply the waterway, just as they have for centuries. You’ll watch the sun glint off the water and feel the breeze coming off the river. And you’ll marvel at the impressive views of the city skyline, with its mix of old and new architecture.

The Moonwalk is also a great place to get a sense of the rhythm of daily life in New Orleans. You’ll see locals out for their morning jog, street performers entertaining passersby, and travelers snapping photos of the iconic sights.

And of course, the Moonwalk is a prime spot for people-watching. New Orleans is known for its colorful characters, and you never know who you might encounter along the riverfront. Strike up a conversation with a local, and you might just learn something new about the city.

Make It Your Own

One of the great things about the Moonwalk is that it’s a flexible activity. You can walk as much or as little as you like, depending on your energy level and schedule. You can stop and linger at points of interest, or keep a steady pace and take in the sights as you go.

If you’re traveling with kids, the Moonwalk can be a great place to let them burn off some energy. They’ll love watching the boats on the river and spotting the various sculptures along the way.

And if you’re looking for a romantic activity, consider taking a Moonwalk stroll at sunset. The views of the river and the city are especially stunning as the sky turns shades of orange and pink.

A Must-Do in New Orleans

No visit to New Orleans is complete without a walk along the Moonwalk. It’s a chance to experience the Mississippi River up close, learn about the city’s history and culture, and see some of its most iconic sights from a new perspective.

Best of all, it’s completely free. In a city known for its indulgences, the Moonwalk is a refreshing reminder that some of the best things in life really are free.

So put on your walking shoes, grab a water bottle, and head down to the riverfront. The Moonwalk awaits, ready to show you a different side of the Big Easy.

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