St. Bernard State Park

Beautiful scenery, in a well-kept state park, surrounded by friendly communities, in lower St. Bernard. The drive down is half the fun, the trails are for all ages, and natural surroundings rewarding. • 501, Saint Bernard Parkway, Braithwaite, LA

st bernard state park - nola places, june, 2020

Go for: Bird watching, nature trails, and a bayou woodlands trail — just 20 minutes from New Orleans

St. Bernard State Park is lowland wooded area located downriver of New Orleans. It is the ideal spot for visitors who are seeking a natural experience, while visiting the city, and it is a great place for locals to spend a day.

Getting there is easy: Exit New Orleans via St. Claude Ave., roll past the smoke stack and Rocky and Carlo’s (but note that for later),  and drive for 12 miles to Poydras, Louisiana. Technically, I think we’re in Braithwaite, here, but Poydras is at the stop light and the community in which you’re gonna make that right turn towards the park.

This is a fantastic day trip destination, heck — it really just takes part of an afternoon but the scenery and the serenity is worlds apart from the city. This is one of the best kept Louisiana State Parks, and it is so close to the city.

Note: There are others close to New Orleans, and we’ll post about those, too. Check back to learn more.

A local family donated the land for St. Bernard State Park to Louisiana in 1971, and today, St. Bernard State State Park provides a quiet, natural recreation area fit for a weekend camping trip, or just for an afternoon. It’s also a good spot for family reunions or for a birthday party outdoors — and all for a low cost.

Day rates are $2 per car, camping is $20 per day. Hours of operation are 7am – 9pm, with quiet hours of 9pm – 6am. I asked what happens between 6am and 7am, and the ranger just chuckled, “nobody is too rambunctious at that time.”

Located right along the Mississippi River, the park contains a network of man-made lagoons which provides a peaceful, natural setting for relaxation. Woodlands meet wetlands in St. Bernard and the park’s nature trail is the perfect way to introduce children to the joy of discovery in nature. On my most recent visit, there were hundreds of rabbits running about, a fair number of egrets, a heron, and a meadowlark.

There are plenty of picnic tables and barbeque grills, clean restrooms, and a large, covered pavilion — perfect for a large family or company outing. The water playground is open, and will delight youngsters. Best part? It’s so close to the city.

One delight I always find when coming down this way is the tunnel of trees on St. Bernard Highway, juts past Chalmette, in Meraux, La.  The trees were planted by the original land holders of Docville farms. Take the drive, relax and unwind. Every time I do so, I swiftly return my youth — where the world was a playground, and every tree branch gave promise. – scott mccrossen

meraux tree tunnel photo - nola places, june, 2020