Getting There in New Orleans

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New Orleans is a very convenient city, and the airport is no exception. Your New Orleans vacation will begin way before you check into your New Orleans hotel. Your New Orleans trip begins the second your plane arrives at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (www.flymsy.com) is 11 miles (18km) west of the city center in Kenner. For getting to and from the airport most visitors rely on Airport Shuttle whose tickets are available from agents in the baggage area below the arrival gates. Taxi service to downtown is relatively cheap if you have two or more in your party. Taxis queue on the lower level just outside the baggage claim area.

Bringing a car to downtown New Orleans is a costly proposition and traffic and parking congestion may actually hinder your visit. That said, all the big rental companies can be found in the city or at the airport.

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA, www.norta.com) offers decent bus and streetcar service. From the French Quarter most destinations are served by buses that stop at the intersection of Basin and Canal Sts. All stops have signs noting the route name and number - you may have to explore all four corners of an intersection to find the stop you want. The free New Orleans Street Map available from information booths at the airport and downtown shows most route numbers and lists the route names you can expect to see displayed on the front of the bus.

New Orleans has two streetcar lines in operation (www.norta.com). The 1923-24 vintage cars of the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line still rumble through streetcar-era suburbs full of Georgian architecture and ornate churches. The Riverfront Streetcar Line operates vintage red cars on the old dockside rail corridor. Its two-mile run connects the Old US Mint in the lower end of the French Quarter near the Faubourg Marigny and the upriver Convention Center passing Canal St on the way.

The guides offering mule-drawn carriage rides through the French Quarter are certified by the city to have at least a modest understanding of the quarter's history. However be aware that 'historical embellishment' is commonplace. Carriages depart day and night until midnight from Jackson Square.

Anyone who's flipped through a Mark Twain novel knows what it's like to pine for a riverboat ride on the mighty Mississippi. This once-common mode of travel continues to be offered on a few paddlewheel boats and ocean-going cruise ships though costs are comparatively high. River travel is now typically offered as a package tour or excursion including top-end food and lodging. Day and dinner cruises are also on offer.

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June 07, 2008 new by mcburton

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