Where to Sweat (Plan B)
In this case, "B" stands for "beyond" your hotel. For those in search of a favorite workout machine, a fitness class, lap pool or a more traditional health club experience, here are a few of our best bets:
Elmwood Fitness Downtown
After paying $10, athletes are greeted by new strength equipment and semi-new cardio machines strewn across the club's two floors. The gym's upper level is actually a loft-like area suspended above a portion of the main floor. Although Elmwood claims that the club is 16,000 square feet, a significant amount of space is dedicated to three racquetball courts. But its wide-open fitness areas, attractive city views and acceptable range of equipment get the workout done. Swimmers can give their Speedos a day off as there is no pool.
New Orleans Athletic Club
Popular with local workout junkies, the New Orleans Athletic Club (NOAC) is the highest rated health club in the French Quarter and surrounding area. The gym's roots go back to the 1920's. Fortunately, the equipment has been upgraded since then although some of the rooms maintain original character.
Top notch Technogym, Precor and Cybex cardio equipment, Hammer Strength and Life Fitness strength machines and masses of free weights are available in individual rooms. A lap pool, basketball court and boxing ring are also on-site, but these amenities are not state of the art and not worth the steep $20/day admission fee (hotel key and ID required).
Where to Eat
Nearly 20 dining options make our recommended list, but these are our ultimate faves.
723 Dante Street
Commander's Palace and Emeril's get all the headlines, but Brigsten's is Athletic-Minded Traveler's favorite Big Easy restaurant. Daily changing menus feature gourmet dishes that will revive taste buds you forgot about. Plenty of fish options are available for healthier eaters along with creative veggie concoctions. Save room for the pecan pie--it's one of the best we've ever enjoyed. Note: Because the cozy dining room is part of a small house in the River Bend neighborhood, reservations are necessary.
This popular and country casual diner packs 'em in on weekends with its tasty menu and attractive prices. With seating at the bar and a stack of books and magazines on hand, Bluebird is great for solo diners. Along with eggs, omelets and corned beef hash, huevos rancheros (vegetarian and egg white options available), buckwheat pancakes, yogurt with fresh fruit and Belgian waffles are other breakfast possibilities. Lunchables include burgers, grilled fish or grilled chicken sandwiches, a veggie melt, chef salad, Greek salad and a tuna stuffed tomato.
Crescent City Farmers Market
700 Magazine Street
It's all about food at this market. Fresh cut flowers can be found but no craft items. Special chef demos and local musicians are other attractions. Saturdays, 8 a.m. to Noon.
For Walkers and Runners
The city's density and summer humidity makes outdoor jogging a challenge, but we've got you covered. Here's our favorite option.
6500 St. Charles Ave.
This 400-acre lushly landscaped park located about 6 miles from the central business district and steps from Tulane University's campus is the most convenient greenscape for those staying in the French Quarter and Garden District. A tree-lined paved path encircles the park's perimeter for 1.8 miles--perfect for joggers, walkers and in-line skaters. Daylight hours only.
Find additional first-hand athletic-minded recommendations for New Orleans and more than 100 other destinations at athleticmindedtraveler.com.