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Exploring New Orleans by Streetcar

New Orleans streetcar trolley - St. Charles line

In general, the United States is a crappy place to get around by public transportation. There are a few cities that are exceptions, however, and in some of those it’s actually pleasant. At the top of that list would have to be New Orleans, where where you an board a streetcar and take a trolley trip because it’s a fun ride.

I have been to New Orleans at least five times now, one of them on a post-convention trip eating my way through Louisiana. I was lucky enough to be there while an annual seafood festival was going on and as it so happened, that was taking place at the end of the green Canal Streetcar line. Then I hopped on another line that goes through the Garden District, with views out the windows of the grand homes in the nicest neighborhoods. See a video tour here:

Sure, staying, eating, and partying in the French Quarter is lots of fun, but you’re not doing the city justice if that’s the only part you see. Take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar line and if you go far enough, you’ll see a huge levee holding back the Mississippi River. Grab a bite to eat or a beer there and imagine what it must have felt like to be there when Hurricane Katrina ripped through. You’ll also pass near Loyola and Tulane Universities. Another line goes directly to Loyola, while the red Canal line goes up to the above-ground cemeteries, where you can get some cool photos. touring New Orleans

These are refreshingly creaky old cars too, not some aerodynamic modern marvels whooshing along on dedicated median strips. These are vintage cars going through real neighborhoods.

How much does the streetcar cost in New Orleans?

Riding a streetcar in New Orleans is not just enjoyable, it’s also one of the best transit bargains in the USA. I first put up this post in 2014 and the fare then was the same price as when I updated this post in 2023!

Not only is this an enjoyable way to see the city, but fitting to this blog, it’s also cheap. A normal one-time ride is $1.25 and transfers are free. Or you can buy a day pass (which also works for bus lines) for just $3. Pony up $55 and you can ride as much as you want for a whole month. In between are passes for 3 and 5 days. If you’re 65 or over, you only have to pull out four dimes to be on your way.

And hey, if you have a big enough group, you can charter your own streetcar for $1,000. That’s no small chunk of change, but if it’s coming out of the company’s event budget or it’s a big wedding… 

Parking in the French Quarter is crazy expensive, topping $25 a day at some hotels, so this is not a city you want to drive into and park. You’re much better off catching a taxi from the airport and then walking and using the streetcars after that. Or if you are doing some kind of cross-country journey, find a public parking lot or street parking near one of the streetcar lines and leave the car there until it’s time to leave.

New Orleans is a city where you actually want to take public transportation, so enjoy it! See the full scoop on the streetcars at and get more info on New Orleans at their official tourism site

Search flights to New Orleans here.

Find your ideal hotel in New Orleans

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Tuesday 2nd of September 2014

Hi Tim, NOLA is my favorite American city and I've been there several times. I did a cheap trip to New Orleans last summer (2014). We stayed in the suburb of Metairie, drove into the city center each day, parked, then bought "Jazzy passes" to ride buses & streetcars all day. I have a great tip for you and your readers. After paying $25 to park in the FQ our 1st night, I noticed some open-air lots only a few blocks right on Canal street. They were unmonitored and not especially secure, so it was taking the same risk as when you park on the street. The price however was only $3.00..... for the whole day!! You could even park overnight for around $8 -10, which is helpful for people staying at one of the hotels near Canal street that tack on another $15 - 30 just for parking in the hotel lot.