Healthy Travel Tips to Make the Most of Your Trip to New Orleans
You'll love the beignets—and biking the French Quarter.
You're probably not planning a trip to New Orleans to kick your fitness into high gear. Instead, you're going to down a few hurricanes, stay out a little (okay, a lot) later than usual, and be tempted by the smell of jambalayas, étouffées, and gumbos wafting from the open 19th-century colonial storefronts. When it's time to pop back into your healthy routine (or at least break up some of the heavy cuisine), here are some of our favorite food venues and places to get active in this special Southern city.
Start your day in the Big Easy feeling well-rested from a night at the Embassy Suites New Orleans, which offers free cooked-to-order breakfast and complimentary wine, as well as healthy snacks in the evening. There are the usual amenities you'd expect to keep you moving, such as a fitness center and outdoor pool, but the real draw here is that the hotel is centrally located in downtown in the heart of the NOLA Arts and Warehouse District. That means it puts you within walking distance of attractions like the Audubon Insectarium and Aquarium of the Americas, which means you'll get in those steps instead of requesting an Uber everywhere. (Related: How Giving Up Uber On Vacation Changed the Way I Travel)
Stretch Out with Yoga
Located in the up-and-coming warehouse district, the 6-year-old Reyn yoga studio is built inside a light-flooded warehouse with beautiful, high ceilings with artistic distressed wood. Choose between classes like Flow, R1 Vinyasa, and Hatha, and get into a zen state when the instructors put cool towels over your eyes during Shavasana. After your flow, show your support for local designers by snagging one of their pieces in the Reyn Apparel line. You can also grab some locally made kombucha from Big Easy Bucha.
The Daily Beet, recently opened, was created by Dylan Maisel to address a demand for healthy food in downtown New Orleans. Even if you want to, you probably shouldn't eat beignets all day. Some of the menu highlights include the Sweet Green smoothie, Summer Kale Salad, and the Açaí Bowl with goji berries, which is to say, you don't have to give up your favorite healthy eats in the name of travel. (Related: 2017 Shape Healthy Travel Awards)
While you'll mostly find delicious but hearty Italian items on Josephine Estelle's dinner menu in the trendy Ace Hotel, there are lighter options to choose from at lunch. For example, try the roasted beet salad or Cobia, which includes squash, eggplant, and leeks.
Unwind at the Spa
After a day of city exploration, unwind with the VooDoo Ritual at The Ritz-Carlton Spa. While that might not seem like your average spa treatment, it makes perfect sense in New Orleans, as voodoo has been woven into the history and culture of the city for centuries. The therapeutic service uses locally made poultices (cotton bags filled with steamed herbs), which are rhythmically kneaded over your body, followed by a sleep-inducing full-body massage. Instead of the typical falling-water spa soundtrack, you hear voodoo chants and beats, along with inhaling the heady fragrances of absinthe, vetiver, cypress, and moss. (Related: 10 Surprisingly Healthy Things to Do In Nashville)
Take an Active Tour
Grab your friends, and take the Creole & Crescent bike tour through the city with Free Wheelin' Bike Tours. The tour is a total of 10 miles and takes you to many of the city's most popular places. At the St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, you'll be surprised to hear about the traditions of brass bands and burial rituals. At the New Orleans City Park, indulge in a few beignets at Morning Call coffee stand, as well as witness an 800-year-old tree that was struck by lightning.