Why go biking in New Orleans? Too many people think of the Big Easy as shenanigans on Bourbon Street, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Going on a bike ride in New Orleans lets you see more of the fabulous architecture and rich history that makes the Crescent City famous while still feeling the vibrant pulse of the city and its people.
Our guide includes a 24-mile New Orleans bike route that is a destination ride for a Gulf Coast bike trip, as well as a couple of easy rides for the casual cyclist looking to give their feet a rest and burn off a few beignets.
Some New Orleans bike tours give you a printout and wish you luck. Our concierge guide for biking in New Orleans goes way above and beyond that. We give you digital New Orleans Bike maps you can download to your phone for your self-guided bike tour and MapMyRide routes for easy navigation.
We’ll show you the best way to take self-guided City Park / French Quarter bike tours as well as Garden District bike tours. What’s more, we’ll turn you on to over 60-miles of dedicated bike trails in New Orleans, including what we think is the best bike ride in New Orleans. So come on, let’s get out and bike NOLA.
New Orleans Bike Map
There are two types of maps in this piece. The first are the interactive Google Maps. The overview map shows you where all of our New Orleans bike routes are. There are also dedicated maps for the self-guided French Quarter Bike Tour and Garden District Tour to download to your phone and see all of the highlights. Make sure you click on the pins for the location details. Note- all the pins layers are on the overview map, but they are clicked off so you can see the bike routes. If you want to go down a map rabbit hole, click them on and start exploring.
The MapMyRide routes are embedded at the start of each route for turn-by-turn bike navigation because we want you to get out and enjoy cycling in New Orleans. Let’s make biking simple in the Big Easy. Also, if any map doesn’t load just hit the refresh button. We think they’re worth it 😉
Self Guided City Park and French Quarter Bike Tour (8.7 miles)
There are two basic ways to create a self-guided French Quarter bike tour. The first is to peddle to a point that interests you. Stop and take a picture and/or read our pin description, then ride to the next location. There’s nothing wrong with this choose-your-own-adventure approach, but be careful of one-way roads. If you’re going to do that, make sure you download our French Quarter Bike Map to your phone. You can decide if you want to build a historical tour, architecture tour, ghost tour, or food tour. However, only licensed tour guides can get you into the oldest and most famous cemetery in the city, so that’s one tour you should definitely hire a guide for.
For our curated French Quarter bike tour, you’ll cover 8.7-miles in a rectangle from City Park, down Esplanade, across the French Quarter, and returning via the Lafitte Greenway. It’s some of the best biking in New Orleans, with an extraordinary history and all kinds of highlights. We’ll cover each section in detail below.
Biking City Park
Your curated French Quarter bike ride begins in City Park. Founded in 1854, it’s the 48th oldest park in the country and 50% larger than New York’s Central Park. It also has free parking and easy access to the French Quarter.
Start your day with a beignet from the Café Du Monde next to the Popp Bandstand before peddling through the park. Word to the wise, the City Park Café Du Monde doesn’t have those notorious long lines you find at the original location in the French Quarter. Our route takes you by the enigmatic Storyland Playground, the 1897 carousel, and the 1898 miniature train before reaching the New Orleans Museum of Art. Take a quick lap around Big Lake and the exit past the historic Dueling Oak. Of course, check the pins on the interactive map for all the details.
Cruising Down the Esplanade
Esplanade Ave was the Millionaire Row for Creole New Orleans. Wealthy merchants and shops lined this portage route from a bend in the Mississippi River to the Bayou St John. For most of its history, goods were transferred off the river in New Orleans and shipped out to the ocean via Lake Pontchartrain. The Mississippi’s mouth was so muddy and non-descript in fact that Le Salle never found it again on his return voyage from France to found the Crescent City.
For bikers, this is a tree-lined historic street with well-developed bike lanes that cut straight from City Park to the French Quarter. Highlights along the way include the ancient oaks of Fortier Park, the Degas House, and the Dufour-Baldwin House, where the street’s original planner lived.
Biking in the French Quarter
The French Quarter is the heart of the old city. Historic houses and haunting tales fill your eyes and dance through your imagination. You don’t want to bike down Bourbon Street because of the crowds, and you’d be riding the wrong way on a one-way street. Instead, you turn in at Royal to traverse the French Quarter.
The first highlight you reach is the LaLaurie Mansion, perhaps the most haunted building in New Orleans. A quick detour takes you to Jackson Square and the front steps of the St Louis Cathedral. Exit via St Louis Ave to see St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and Marie Laveau’s Grave, or at least the walls around the cemetery since only guided tours are allowed in.
Lafitte Greenway to City Park
The Lafitte Greenway is a tribute to the resiliency of New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina hammered this low-lying area pretty hard, but the city rebuilt it with a public space that’s filled with art, culture, and community. Since opening in 2015, the Greenway not only enhances the entire neighborhood, but it provides the backbone of New Orleans’ burgeoning bike network. BTW, shout out to Friends of Lafitte Greenway, a nonprofit community partner working to build, program, and promote the Greenway as a great public space. If you want to learn more about what’s happening on the Lafitte Greenway or help them out in any way, check them out. Groups like this are what make a good idea become a reality.
When you reach Basin Street, you cross over to the Basin Street Station. From there, a shielded bike lane travels in both directions to the Northeast. It might feel a little strange to bike against traffic, but the road is physically separated from the roadway so you’re perfectly safe. You bike around the corner and enter the Lafitte Greenway. Enjoy the 2.5 miles of easy riding until you reach Ansemen, which takes you through the wrought iron gates of City Park and back to your car.
Self Guided Garden District Bike Tour Overview(12 miles)
Our Self Guided Garden District Bike Tour travels from the Arts and Warehouse District to the Garden District, St Charles Ave, and Audubon Park. There are many one-way streets, but we plotted a route that utilizes bike lanes and keeps you riding with traffic. You start in the towering skyscrapers of the Arts and Warehouse District, pass under I-10 and into the Garden District. You’ll also see St Charles Avenue and the Audubon Park while your uptown.
The Garden district is the Anglophone (English speaking) answer to the French Quarter and a National Historic District in its own right. From National Historic Trust– “The area was originally developed between 1832 and 1900 and is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the Southern United States. The 19th-century origins of the Garden District illustrate wealthy newcomers building opulent structures based upon the prosperity of New Orleans in that era.” If you don’t visit the Garden District, you’ll miss some of the most impressive mansions and architectural beauties of New Orleans. Of course you’ll want to go, but we’ll show you how to get there safely by bike and see the sights from your saddle.
Garden District Bike Route Details
You begin at the Convention Center and work your way through the adorably cute Fulton Alley before reaching the bike lanes on Commons. Highlights of this area include the tallest buildings in New Orleans, the WWII Museum, and several James Beard award-winning restaurants. The auto-routing got a little funky at Loyola, but you can turn left from the bike lanes onto Loyola and keep on riding. Another place that’s a little funky is crossing under the freeway. It’s safe enough, but there are a lot of homeless people living under the shelter of the roadway.
You pass through the heart of the Garden District on both your way out and on the return. You’ll see many historic Anglo mansions and the Lafayette Cemetery #1 with our route, but you can always check the pins on our interactive map above if you want to see more.
We chose a quiet neighborhood route to reach Audubon Park and the St Charles Blvd bikeways for the return. We did it this way because the westbound bikeways on St Charles aren’t as well developed, but experienced riders might prefer riding St Charles both ways. It’s the Garden District’s answer to Esplanade Ave. Either way, follow the map back to the Convention Center and get yourself something delicious to eat.
Callout to the New Orleans Marriott Warehouse Arts District
Are you looking for a place to stay on your New Orleans bike weekend? We chose the New Orleans Marriott Warehouse Arts District because it’s modern, clean, comfortable, and oh so spacious. It’s close enough you can bike to everything but quiet enough for a good night’s sleep.
When you get back to the hotel, there are yummy restaurants right outside your door, like the Ruby Slipper for breakfast or Meril for a tasty tapas treat. And when you get back to your bed, you’ll sleep soundly and be well-rested for the next day’s ride. There’s a moment in every adult’s life when you ask yourself if you really want to be staying on Bourbon Street. We know our answer.
The Best Bike Ride in New Orleans (24-miles)
What makes this route the best bike ride in New Orleans for experienced out of town riders? It combines our City Park / French Quarter Bike Loop with the best cycling from the Garden District. All of this with a simple 24-mile route. If you’re a serious rider looking for iconic cycling in New Orleans, this is it. If you want more of a hardcore training ride, stay tuned for our description of bike trails near New Orleans.
The secret sauce to the entire ride is the connection on the Jefferson Davis Trail. Depending on traffic on the road and joggers on the trail, you might find yourself biking on Norman Francis Parkway or on the trail. However, once you reach the obelisk at Hemecourt St, make sure you’re on the trail to cross over I-10. I enjoy taking an overpass so much more than going under the roadway. As for the route details and highlights, if you’re riding 24-miles, I trust that you can follow the map and the descriptions from the previous sections. After all, we established that you are a serious cyclist from the get-go.
Mississippi River Trail – New Orleans / Algiers
Our first formal foray into the bike Trails in New Orleans starts with the Mississippi River Trail – New Orleans in Algiers. The Mississippi River Trail (aka MRT, aka U.S. Bicycle Route 45) runs from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to the mouth of the river in Venice, Louisiana. Much of the trail’s 3,000 miles follow roadways used by motor vehicles. However, in New Orleans, many of the rebuilt levees have become dedicated trails on the mighty MRT.
Of all of the 3,000 miles in the MRT network, the five-mile segment in Algiers is probably the one “must ride” portion for the casual cyclist. For one, it’s directly accessible from the French Quarter by ferry. For two, it offers the iconic view of the New Orleans skyline from the West Bank that you’ve undoubtedly seen before (and will see again in about three sentences). This route makes an excellent add-on for the City Park / French Quarter ride because of the ferry access. Once you reach Jackson Square, head down the Mississippi River Park to get to the Canal Street Ferry Terminal for the crossing over to Algiers.
Mississippi River Trail (aka the Levee Bike Path) Audubon Park (26.7 miles)
This 13-mile stretch of the Mississippi River Trail is the longest section of dedicated trail in this guide. It’s a great place to train and get your miles in if it’s not too windy. If you find yourself at Audubon Park (which happens on a couple of rides in this guide), you can use the Levee Bike Path to add as many miles as you want.
The trail actually continues 33-miles to Laplace, but you’ll have to ride a couple of segments on the road. The math nerd in me wants to say that riding to Laplace will transform you However, truth be told, the first miles you want to add to this trip is a lap through Audubon Park.
Lakefront Trail (25 miles)
Our tour of the bike trails in New Orleans concludes with the Lakefront Trail. You can technically get here from City Park by riding to the far end of the park and heading over across Robert E Lee Blvd and Hammond Hwy. We even put a grey route on our overview map to show you the way. However, the interchanges are a bit funky, and you might find yourself riding on the sidewalks. Many local riders sing the praises of riding Lakeshore Drive, so that’s an option too.
We’re showing a starting point by the Coast Guard Station. From there, it’s a 25-mile out and back on a dedicated lake front trail (which ironically is called Lake Front Trail) and the levee along Duncan Canal. On a clear day, you’ll have beautiful views of Lake Pontchartrain and the impressive 22-mile long Causeway Bridge. On a bad day, you’ll have wicked crosswinds whipping off the lake. Either way, the closest thing you’ll get to shade is stopping for the restrooms at Laketown Park, so plan accordingly.
Wrapping Up Our Concierge Guide for Biking in New Orleans
New Orleans biking is pretty dang good and getting better every day. The City of New Orleans is constructing over 75 miles of bikeways by the end of 2021 through their Complete Streets Coalition and Moving New Orleans Bikes Plan. The Bike Easy is the city’s bike advocacy group working to make cycling safe, easy, and fun for New Orleans. In addition, the New Orleans Cycling Club has a page up and is welcoming new and out-of-town riders looking for group rides. Finally, if you have any suggestions or comments about these rides (or anything else), please let us know. We want this guide to be a resource that makes the New Orleans bicycle community stronger.
Remember to ride safely and read our bike disclaimer before you go
We would also like to thank Visit New Orleans who provided us with complimentary passes to a few New Orleans attractions. For more NOLA travel inspiration check out their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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