Visiting New Orleans and wondering if you need a car…
New Orleans also referred to as “The Big Easy” or “The Crescent City” is world-renowned for jazz music, Creole cuisine, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and Mardi Gras.
But, do you need a car in New Orleans?…. continue reading to find out more!
Do You Need a Rental Car in New Orleans?
Depending on what you are doing or where you are going in New Orleans will depend on whether or not you need a car.
I will say that the majority of people visiting New Orleans will NOT need a car.
First, let me give you a little background on myself. Having lived in Mobile, Alabama, or just outside Mobile my entire life, (approximately a 2.5 hr drive to New Orleans) I have visited New Orleans many, many times throughout my life.
Since I live so close, it’s too short of a drive to fly, so I always have a car while in New Orleans.
But once I get to New Orleans that car basically stays put in the parking lot.
EXPERT TIP: The parking situation in New Orleans is not great. If your visiting one of the attractions in the French Quarter, you won’t be able to just drive there. Plan on parking in a parking lot many blocks away and having to walk.
If you’re a tourist and visiting the French Quarter area, which most likely you will be, you do not need a car. The French Quarter is very walkable and you can even take the streetcar to minimize the amount of walking.
Planning on visiting City Park? You can take the streetcar there. Going to the Audubon Zoo? You can take the streetcar there also.
If you don’t want to take a streetcar, another option would be to order an Uber!
How to Get Around New Orleans Without A Car
There are many ways to get around New Orleans without a car.
For the most part you will traveling by foot around New Orleans.
Other popular methods of transportation for getting around New Orleans include the streetcar, ferry, Uber, or bicycle.
New Orleans for the most part is a very walkable city.
Most of the attractions in New Orleans are located in the French Quarter area, so staying in the French Quarter or Downtown area (along Canal Street) is the best place to stay when visiting New Orleans.
By staying in these areas, you could easily walk to most of the must-see places in the city.
In the French Quarter, you’ll find Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Cafe du Monde, the French Market, Bourbon Street, boutique shops, art galleries and more.
Along the edge of the French Quarter is Canal Street where you’ll find the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, Shops at Canal Place, and Harrah’s Casino.
The Streetcar is a unique and popular form of public transportation in New Orleans. Even if you don’t NEED it for transportation, ride it for fun!
There are four streetcar lines, each originating from Downtown:
- Saint Charles Streetcar Line – The Saint Charles streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the entire world!
This line runs along St. Charles and Carrollton Avenues. This line takes you along St. Charles Avenue passing the World War 2 Museum, the beautiful Garden District, and the Audubon Park and Zoo.
This would also be a fun streetcar to take just to get the experience of riding a streetcar! The route is so beautiful and it’s just so historic!
- Canal Street Line – The Canal Street Line starts at the foot of Canal Street near Harrah’s Casino and travels through the Central Business District and all the way out to City Park.
This is the line you’ll want to take to experience all the fun awaiting you at City Park.
City Park has a lot to offer for all ages including the New Orleans Museum of Art, Botanical Gardens, swan pedal boats, and four-wheel surreys. Traveling to New Orleans with kids? Kids will love the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Carousel Garden Amusement Park, Storyland, and City Putt.
- Riverfront Line – The Riverfront Line travels along the Mississippi River. It stretches from the French Market to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Besides the French Market, other attractions along or on this route include Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde, Aquarium of the Americas, Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, Shops at Canal Place, and Harrah’s Casino.
- Rampart/St. Claude Line– The Rampart/St. Claude streetcar line begins at Canal Street and runs through the edges of the French Quarter passing through the Treme and Marigny/Bywater neighborhoods.
How Much is the Streetcar in New Orleans?
A one-way ride on a streetcar is $1.25 for ages 5 and up. Seniors ages 65 and up are charged only .40 cents.
If you think you may be riding the streetcar more than a couple of times in 1 day, you should consider purchasing the Jazzy Pass. Jazzy Passes are offered for 1-Day, 3-Days, 7-Days, and 31-Days.
Jazzy Passes can be purchased online, at the RTA office on Canal Street, and at select retail stores and ticket machines in New Orleans. For convenience, you can also buy a ticket on your phone with the Le Pass app.
You can always pay when boarding the streetcar, but you must have exact cash.
Looking to cross the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans? You can take the Canal Street/Algiers Ferry to travel to Algiers Point.
Algiers Point is a unique, historic neighborhood where you’ll find the Jazz Walk of Fame, Algiers Bike Path, delicious restaurants, and Confetti Park( a whimsical playground for kids in New Orleans).
The cost to ride the ferry for pedestrians, bikes, and scooters is $2. It’s only $1 for seniors 65 and over and children ages 2 and under are free. You can board the ferry near the Aquarium of the Americas. Just like the streetcar fare, you can purchase your ferry fare directly on the Le Pass app.
I love taking an Uber wherever in the world I may be traveling. It’s super easy and most of the time an affordable way to get around.
And when in New Orleans it’s also an easy and convenient way to get around if you do not have a car.
In fact, I even take Uber’s in New Orleans when I have a car because of the horrible parking situation in the city. For example, I have taken an Uber from a Canal Street hotel to the Superdome for a Taylor Swift Concert.
Other examples of times you might want to take an Uber is if your staying in the French Quarter or Downtown area and want to get to City Park or the Audubon Zoo.
Bicycling is a fun way to get around the city of New Orleans. There are many companies that rent bicycles and even offer bicycling tours!
Riding around the French Quarter, City Park and Audubon Park are great ways to explore the city.
What is the best area to stay in New Orleans without a car?
The best area to stay in New Orleans without a car is the French Quarter or Downtown area.
This is because most people visiting New Orleans will be frequenting the French Quarter and Canal Street area.
From here you can easily walk or take the streetcar to most of the attractions in the city.
Looking for the safest places to stay in New Orleans? Be sure to read: Safest Places to Stay in New Orleans: Everything You Need to Know in 2023.
What’s the best way to get around New Orleans?
The best way to get around New Orleans is by foot or streetcar. Most of all of the attractions in New Orleans can be reached by foot or streetcar if you are in the French Quarter or downtown area.
Is it easy to drive in New Orleans?
New Orleans is not the easiest city to drive in. The roads can be confusing and people drive pretty terribly here.
Combine this with a lack of parking and it’s not a great city for driving a car.
Final Thoughts: Do You Need a Car in New Orleans?
Whether or not you need a car in New Orleans depends on what you will be doing and what you are comfortable with.
For the majority of people visiting New Orlean, I recommend not renting a car.
New Orleans is a very walkable city with easy access to other modes of transportation such as streetcars, bicycles, and Ubers.
Finding a parking spot is not easy in New Orleans and wherever you park, you will most likely have to walk anyways.
Whether you have chosen to rent a car or not, New Orleans will not disappoint you!
Have the best time in the Big Easy!