New Orleans, LA

Exploring New Orleans by Streetcars

Curtis Macken

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - Since the early half of the 19th century, streetcars have been an important feature of New Orleans' public transit system. The St. Charles Avenue line, New Orleans' longest streetcar line, is the world's oldest continually functioning street railway system.  Today, the streetcars are operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA).

There are so many interesting locations to see along the four lines. Purchase a $3 jazzy pass, download the RTA app, and start exploring!

Exploring New Orleans by streetcars could be an astonishing experience that has happened here today or 120 years ago. Here are some suggestions for how to spend a day on the historic streetcar in The City of Crescent:

St. Charles Avenue Line

The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar is one of the city's most historic and well-known lines. Its path, which runs from Uptown to the Central Business District, passes by typical New Orleans stops along the neutral ground, which is shaded by live trees.

You'll pass a number of New Orleans' top restaurants on your way through Downtown, including chef John Besh's Lüke and chef Donald Link's Herbsaint. A block away, at Girod Street, you'll find the new French/Creole restaurant Balise. The National WWII Museum and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art are two other local Downtown/Warehouse District attractions.

You may take a stroll through the historic Garden District on this route and see classic New Orleans architecture. Magazine Street, which runs parallel to St. Charles Ave. and is just a few blocks from the route, is a great place to go shopping and eat.

Tired of walking and exploring? There are several options for fantastic cocktails and happy-hour specials along St. Charles Avenue for your evening routine. The Columns Hotel provides craft cocktails and patio seating along St. Charles Avenue. Delachaise is the place to go if you like wine, and Avenue Pub has more than 40 beers on tap.

Canal Street Lines

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The Canal Street Line is one must-try streetcars route in New Orleans. The Line actually has two routes: one to City Park and the other to Metairie and Greenwood cemeteries' aboveground graves. Both routes, however, begin at the same location, where Canal Street intersects with the Mississippi River. Start your Canal Street adventures on the riverfront, where you'll find Harrah's Casino, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, The Shops at Canal Place, the Algiers ferry, and The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk.

Return up the streetcar route to the Canal + Scott station for classic Creole fare at Mandina's in New Orleans. Take the train a bit further down to Canal Street Bistro in Mid-City for dinner. Do you have a strong desire for gelato? Brocato's has been a New Orleans tradition since 1905, and you can't go wrong with a scoop. If you prefer to remain in the city, Palace Café, located just steps from the French Quarter, is a terrific choice.

Riverfront Street Line

The Riverfront Line follows the Mississippi River from the Warehouse District to the outskirts of the French Quarter, as its name suggests. It's the only line that runs through the Quarter, stopping at the Jax Brewery, Jackson Square, the French Market, and the Old United States Mint (a state-run museum where admission is always free). The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk mall, Harrah's Casino, and the cruise ship ports are located on the side of Canal Street opposite the French Quarter. You can also shop for discounted designer goods here.

Take the streetcar to Poydras Station after your afternoon excursion and enter the Hilton to dine at Drago's, a New Orleans classic for chargrilled oysters. If you want a more expensive meal, get off the line at the French Market stop and stroll two blocks to The Italian Barrel, where you'll discover one of New Orleans' most spectacular cheese and charcuterie platters.

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LSU grad about town

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