If you plan to stick to the highly touristed areas of New Orleans, you may want to keep it simple and use taxis, ride-share services, streetcars, and the airport shuttle. However, if you plan to travel beyond the French Quarter and the Garden District, renting a car is a good idea.
If you decide to rent a car, rates in New Orleans begin at around $45 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, or other surcharges, which can add another 15%–20% to your cost. All major agencies, including Avis, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, 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 Rampart Street if you need gas while downtown. If you’re in Uptown, you'll find stations along Carrollton Avenue.
Meter maids and tow trucks are plentiful everywhere, especially 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 during film shoots. The SP+ Parking and Premium Parking websites can help you find lots and garages around town.
Surface roads in New Orleans are generally bumpy, and potholes are common, thanks to the city’s swampy, shifting terrain and extensive live-oak roots. 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.