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How To Explore New Orleans By Bike

Learn how to explore the Big Easy on two wheels in this New Orleans biking guide. Discover the best guided tours, where to rent bikes, & more

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There’s a lot to see and do in the Big Easy, so why not take it all in on two wheels? Biking in New Orleans is actually really awesome, as I found out during my visit. The French Quarter is a perfect place to explore by bicycle thanks to the narrow streets, slow traffic, and abundant New Orleans bike rental shops.

Farther afield, you have City Park which can be accessed via bike paths and bike lanes and there is a surprising amount of paved multi-use paths around the city like the Mississippi River Trail, Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail, and my favorite, the Tammany Trace.

So if you’re heading to New Orleans and want to see it from the seat of a bike, read on to learn how!

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What to expect when biking in New Orleans

Before setting out on your bike adventures, here are a few things you should know about biking in New Orleans:

New Orleans is pretty darn flat. This makes it a great place to bike 🙂

Unfortunately, there is a lot of trash and garbage lining the streets and bike paths of New Orleans.

I’m not sure if this is because laws against littering aren’t enforced (or maybe there aren’t any?) or if it’s just a cultural thing. Either way, it’s super sad and disgusting. Thankfully, New Orleans has a lot of other great attributes.

The roads and bike trails around New Orleans have been hammered with storms, flooding, and sinkholes, so they can be pretty rough in some areas. Always keep an eye on the road while you’re cycling so you don’t go headfirst into a pothole!

Most of the major streets in New Orleans are one-way and pretty much all of the streets in the French Quarter are one-way. Make sure you know which way traffic is heading before you take a turn onto a new street.

New Orleans Bike Rentals

There are a number of places to rent bikes in New Orleans. Here are a few of the top rental companies:

Buzz Nola

Located just west of the French Quarter in the Central Business District, Buzz Nola has a fleet of single-speed cruisers and city e-bikes. Each rental comes with a basket, heavy-duty bike lock, bike lane map, and optional helmet. They offer hourly and daily rates.

  • Phone number: (504) 533-9688
  • Website: Buzz Nola
Group of bikes on bike tour in New Orleans with guide in front
Photo credit: Buzz Nola

The American Bicycle Rental Company

Rent a beautiful US custom-made cruiser bike from The American Bicycle Rental Company in the French Quarter. They’re also the folks behind FreeWheelin’ Bike Tours (see below).

You can rent their super comfortable and stylish bikes by the hour or day and all bikes come with a lock, helmet, basket, & bell. This is a small, locally-owned family company with deep roots in New Orleans.

Cruiser bikes propped up by kickstands on grassy lawn in park in New Orleans, Lousinasa
US-made custom cruiser bikes from The American Bicycle Rental Company

Blue Bikes

Blue Bikes is a city bike-sharing company that is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. There are hundreds of these blue pedal-assist e-bikes all around the French Quarter and Up Town that can easily be checked out by anyone.

You will need to create an account, download the app, and choose an affordable plan (pay-as-you-go or monthly). Once you’re all set up, though, you’re ready to ride!

Two blue electric Blue Bikes Nola standing side by side
Photo credit: Blue Bikes Nola

Wheel Fun Rentals

If you want to explore City Park by bike (or swan pedal boat!), there are two Wheel Fun Rental booths located inside the park. One is at the Big Lake and the other is at Carousel Gardens.

You can rent cruiser bikes, pedal boats, kids bikes, and their iconic four-wheel Surrey.

Art District Bike Rentals

Looking to rent one of those light-up Mardi Gras New Orleans cruisers? This is your place! Art District Bike Rentals has a fleet of light-up bikes so you can ride around town in style.

They also do escorted night rides with music and a guaranteed good time. One thing to note is that they are not located in the French Quarter, they’re about a 30-minute walk from Jackson Square.

Bike Tours of New Orleans

I highly recommend taking a bike tour of New Orleans! It’s a great way to see the city. You can cover more ground than a walking tour and no need to keep getting on and off a tour bus.

I did two bike tours while I was in New Orleans and they were both great. Read about my e-bike tour with Buzz Nola here.

Buzz Nola is one of the most popular bike tour companies in New Orleans and for good reason.

They’re currently the only tour company that offers daily e-bike tours (which I highly recommend!).

They also offer standard cruiser bike tours around the French Quarter and Garden District as well as a night ride to see the city as it comes to life after dark.

Their guides are top-notch and really know their stuff!

The second tour I did was with FreeWheelin’ Bike Tours. They are veteran-owned and all of their bikes are custom US-made. They’re beautiful!

I did find that my guide was a bit hard to understand because he talked really fast, so I didn’t get as much history or information out of this tour as I did with Buzz Nola.

This is another good New Orleans bike tour offering guided trips around the French Quarter, Up Town, and the Garden District. They also offer bike rentals.

Row of bikes standing next to each other propped up by kickstands in front of cemetery in New Orleans
A stop at one of New Orleans’s above-ground cemeteries on my FreeWheelin’ Bike Tour

7 New Orleans Bike Trails & Paths to Explore on your own

If you’re looking to explore New Orleans biking on your own, here are the best trails, paths, and routes:

1. The Mississippi River Trail – Algiers

This Mississippi River trail is a 60+ mile paved path that parallels the north and south banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Currently, the paved path is not 100% connected, but there are long stretches that are, making this trail a great place to start your New Orleans biking adventures.

The best (in my opinion) and the quietest section of the Mississippi River trail is across the river from the French Quarter in the Algiers neighborhood. You can take the ferry from downtown ($2 each way) and catch the Mississippi River Trail right from the ferry dock.

As you exit the dock, take a left onto the paved path and cycle for about 5.5 miles before turning back. The Mississippi River Trail continues in the other direction as well but isn’t quite as nice or scenic.

Mississippi River Trail Algiers map
Take a ferry across the Mississippi River and pedal the 5.5 mile section of the Mississippi River Trail from Algiers

2. Mississippi River Trail – Audubon Park to Bonne Carré Spillway

On the north side of the river, the Mississippi River Trail extends west of the city for about 27 miles to the Bonne Carré Spillway in St. Charles Parish (57 miles roundtrip). Of course, you don’t need to do the whole thing since that’s a big pedal even though there’s virtually no elevation gain.

To be honest, though, this route isn’t really that nice. Most of the paved path passes through industrial areas and past run-down neighborhoods.

I would only recommend this route to avid cyclists looking to lay down some miles.

Mississippi River Trail map from Audubon Park
This wasn’t my favorite ride, but if you feel the need to lay down some miles, you can do a 57+ mile ride all on paved multi-use path

3. Pedal Around The French Quarter

The French Quarter is a great place to explore by bike. The streets are narrow and traffic is slow, so you don’t have to worry about speeding cars. There are a number of bike rental companies in the French Quarter (see above) and I highly recommend taking a bike tour. The e-bike tour with Buzz Nola was fantastic!

Historic building in the French Quarter of New Orleans with a brick exterior, lots of windows, and a second floor balcony
Book a bike tour or rent a bike to cruise around the French Quarter and check out all the cool architecture

Looking for more fun things to do?

Check out these popular tours in New Orleans

4. Self-Guided Tour of Esplanade Avenue, City Park, & Lafitte Greenway

If you want to do your own bike tour of New Orleans, start in the French Quarter and pedal up Esplanade Avenue. You’ll pass by beautiful mansions, old oak trees, and cute cafes. Esplanade Avenue will take you to City Park where you can pedal all the way out to the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain if you want.

To return, pedal down the other side of City Park (stopping at Cafe Du Monde for a treat!) and return to the French Quarter via Bayou St. Jean and the paved Lafitte Greenway bike path.

This ride is about 14.8 miles and it’s a great way to spend a day.

Self-guide New Orleans Bike Tour // Learn how to explore the Big Easy on two wheels in this New Orleans biking guide. Discover the best guided tours, where to rent bikes, & more
Explore City Park all the way up to Lake Pontchartrain and back

Self-guided Bike Route directions:

  • Starting in the French Quarter, head northeast toward Esplanade Ave. on Chartres or Burgundy Street (both one-way streets that will bisect with Esplanade Ave.) Turn left onto Esplanade Ave.
  • Pedal along Esplanade Ave. for about 3 miles. There’s a dedicated bike lane. You’ll pass many beautiful mansions as well as the Saint Louis Cemetary #3, which is worth stopping at to walk among the above-ground tombs and mausoleums.
  • Once you cross the bridge over Bayou St. John keep right onto the Wisner Bike Path. Continue on the bike path all the way out to Lakeshore Drive, about 3.3 miles. Take a left onto Lakeshore Drive and pedal a short distance until you can access the bike path along the lakeshore.
  • Continue along the Lakeshore Drive bike path for about 1 mile. Enjoy the views out over Lake Pontchartrain!
  • The bike path will lead you to Marconi Dr. and then the Marconi multi-use path. Follow the bike path for 2.5 miles until you reach Zachary Taylor Drive. Turn left.
  • Pedal along Zachary Taylor Drive to Henry Thomas Drive. Pass under the bridge and keep pedaling, bearing slightly right onto Stadium Drive. You’ll see the Sculpture Gardens and Botanical Gardens on your left. Continue all the way around Stadium drive then take a right over the bridge on North Alexander Street. Follow the bike path through the beautiful old Oak groves. There’s a footbridge over to Cafe Du Monde if you want to grab a coffee and beignet!
  • Keep following the bike path until you reach the main boulevard. Cross over onto Moss Street. Follow Moss Street with Bayou St. John on your left until you reach the start of the Lafitte Greenway. Take Lafitte Greenway all the way back to the French Quarter. CAUTION: There are a lot of road crossings on Lafitte Greenway and traffic does not stop unless you hit the crosswalk button!
Multi-use path along canal in New Orleans

5. Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore much of the Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail other than the short section I did in the Self-Guided City Park ride above, but it is beautiful!

The paved path spans 12.3 miles one-way from the Grandlake Estates Neighborhood to Bucktown Harbor Marina. You can also pick it back up on Lakeshore Drive to the east.

Lake Pontchartrain is a huge lake covering over 630 square miles. It kind of feels like you’re pedaling along a seaside path.

Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail map
Pedal along Lake Pontchartrain on a paved multi-use path

6. Audubon Park

Audubon Park is a pretty park in the Garden District of New Orleans. There’s a paved path that circumnavigates the whole area and it’s about 3.7 miles total. This would be a great option for families with kids, especially if you want to stop by the Audubon Zoo after. Be sure to visit the magical Tree of Life!

For more things to do in Audubon Park, check out their website.

If you do visit Audubon Park, be sure to grab lunch at nearby Tartine. Their quiche and soups are delicious.

7. The Tammany Trace

The Tammany Trace is Louisana’s first and longest rail trail. The paved path is 28.2 miles long (one-way) and is located north of New Orleans between the towns of Covington to the west and Slidell to the east. Along the way, it connects the small communities of Abita Springs, Mandeville, and Lacombe as well as Fontainebleau State Park.

The Tammany Trace was one of my favorite New Orleans biking experiences because not only is it beautiful and uncrowded, but it also offers numerous unique and colorful places to stop and explore, like the Mystery House, which is a must!

There are several trailheads that access the Tammany Trace. You could ride the full trail as an out-and-back, which would be 57 miles. I chose to split the trail into two days and started at each ending trailhead: Covington and Slidell. If you only have a few hours to spend on the trail, definitely start from the Covington Trailhead.

>> Read my full guide on how to pedal the Tammany Trace rail trail here.

Photo out over road bike handlebar on straight Tammany Trace pave rail trail path near New Orleans, Louisiana
The Tammany Trace is a beautiful rail trail north of New Orleans. Check it out!

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Which of these New Orleans biking adventures looks the most fun to you? Have you biked in the Big Easy? What questions do you still have? Leave a comment below!

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