When traveling to a new city, one of the most daunting tasks can be figuring out the most efficient, easiest way to get around town. Lucky for you, I’ve been there, done that, and I’m ready to share everything I know about being mobile in the city I love! Here you’ll find the major modes of transit below: taking the streetcar, a pedicab, or a taxi cab; riding a bicycle, walking, and driving.
Streetcar: Please remember that here in New Orleans, it’s a streetcar, not a trolley! The streetcar is a great, affordable way to relax and see the city. There are three lines currently in operation: St. Charles (it’s more than 150 years old and most likely the one you’ve seen on New Orleans postcards), Canal, and Riverfront. A one-way fare will run you just $1.25, but make sure you have exact change or purchase a pass here. New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) is expanding routes, so please check the current schedule, as some routes are under construction at the moment.
Bicycle: Bike lanes are on the rise in New Orleans and I think drivers have become accustomed to those of us on two wheels. I’m a fan of sightseeing on bike, as I think we tend to be more aware than when we are driving and on mental auto-pilot. If you’re looking to rent a bike, contact Bicycle Michael’s, Joy Ride (they even deliver!), or American Bicycle Rental Company. Prices average around $25 for half a day, with rental times being flexible. The most current bicyclist’s route map can be found here.
Pedicab: A relatively new way to get around, “bike taxis” are an eco-friendly option and can help you avoid the car traffic that tends to build up in the Quarter during peak hours. There are three companies providing this service: NOLA Pedicabs, Bike Taxi Unlimited, and Need a Ride Pedicabs. I think this is a cute, novel option and could see using it with a significant other or even a big group riding to a party (or Bourbon Street!) together. Pricing is reasonable: one of the companies, for example, charges $5 for the first 6 blocks, and $1 for each block thereafter.
Taxi cab: You can usually find cabs pretty reliably waiting outside of major hotels and highly trafficked areas, but save a few numbers in your cell phone just to be on the safe side: United (504-522-9771) is the biggest provider in the city, and Coleman Cab (504-586-0222) is another option. Since New Orleans is a relatively small city mile-wise, I’ve never found this option particularly expensive, especially if you’re splitting the cost among friends. A ride from the airport to downtown will run you $33 for 1-2 people or $14/person for a group of 3 or more and will probably take about 25 minutes. Other ride times: I’d estimate a ride from the French Quarter to the Superdome would take 10 minutes (this is with very little traffic, so you will want to leave early if it’s a game day), and the Quarter to Uptown would take about 15 minutes.
Driving: Renting a car in New Orleans is the same as other major cities, with the big agencies being common names like Enterprise, Alamo, Avis, etc. Rates are comparable to other metros. Having a car on your trip can be very convenient and allows you the freedom of being able to come and go as you please; however, parking, especially downtown and in the Quarter, can be tricky and rather expensive if you have to use a pay-lot. If you’re leaning toward this option, keep in mind it’s often cheaper to book your rental in advance when you buy airfare.
Walking: I’ve mentioned before that New Orleans is an incredibly walkable city, but at some point you’ll want to see different areas of the city, and walking might not get you there. New Orleans Online has a great map of neighborhoods that also shows you streetcar stops, parks, and spots of interest – I would recommend using this to determine if walking is practical when planning your day. You can also supplement walking with another form of transit mentioned above: maybe take the streetcar to various stops and then explore on foot. Here is another map, this one interactive and provided by New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.
I certainly hope this helps, and whatever form of transportation you choose, I know you’re going to have a great experience! It’s kind of impossible not to.
All photos by local photographer Jana Powers.