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Renting a car in New Orleans is a good idea if you plan to travel beyond the French Quarter and the Garden District. However, if you plan to stick to the highly touristed areas, you may want to keep it simple and use taxis, streetcars, and an airport shuttle.
If you do decide to rent a car, rates in New Orleans begin at around $40 per day ($250 per week) for an economy car with air-conditioning, automatic transmission, and unlimited mileage. Prices do not include local tax on car rentals, which is 13.75%, or other surcharges, which can add another 10%-15% to your cost. All the major agencies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National Car Rental have outlets in New Orleans.
Gas stations are not plentiful within the city of New Orleans. The downtown area is particularly short on stations. Head for Lee Circle if you need gas while in the downtown area. If you're in Uptown, there are stations along Carrollton Avenue.
Meter maids are plentiful and tow trucks eager in the French Quarter. Avoid spaces at unmarked corners: less than 15 feet between your car and the corner will result in a ticket. Watch for temporary "no parking" signs, which pop up along parade routes and film shoots. The Central Parking website can help you find parking around town.
Central Parking (www.neworleans.centralparking.com.)
Surface roads in New Orleans are generally bumpy and potholes are common. Many were damaged in post-Katrina flooding. Along St. Charles Avenue, use caution when crossing over the neutral ground (median); drivers must yield to streetcars and pedestrians along this route. Afternoon rush hour affects New Orleans daily and backups on Interstate 10 can start as early as 3 pm. Ongoing construction on Interstate 10 may cause delays.
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