You can't do without a car when you want to explore the many beauties of Louisiana. Rental car companies are plenty and usually near airports.
All cars have airco and no gear box, which for us Europeans is not so common.
As we were with 4 grownups and 2 children, we definitely needed a minivan. The Dodge Grand Caravan was a good choice. Beside us, 3 big suitcases and 2 small ones got in the car.
Some of your journey across Louisiana will be on long bridges. In fact, Louisiana has some of the country's longest bridges. It's not always fun with the 18 wheelers in close proximity but it's Louisiana so get used to it!
If driving in the passenger seat you'll be able to see many of the swamp areas of LA.
I have been to NOLA a many a times. My husband suggested we take the streetcar ride down St. Charles St. This is a must. I was very relaxing. This was a side of NOLA I did not know existed. It is night and day in refrence to dirty French Quarter. St. Charles is rich with large old southern charm homes. Very clean and beautiful. The ride is maybe $1.50 per person to the end of the tracks. It's been awhile though if I had to guess there and back probably takes 2 hours.
The price from the French Quarter back to the International Airport is only $29. Very cheap compared to many other cities I have been to. Also, if you plan ahead, the Airport shuttle is only $15 per person.
If you are interested in coming to Shreveport and checking out the history, you will most likely fly into the small Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV).
This is definitely a small town airport, and you will pay a higher price to fly into Shreveport as compared to New Orleans, or DFW... but it would save you a couple hours drive.
Due to the constant conventions, cruises, and festivals such as Mardi Gras and JazzFest, New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport is one of the most congested in the country. Rather than re-stating the obvious, I will simply quote the airport's website:
If you are coming to Armstrong International to pick up an arriving passenger, Airport officials and Law Enforcement recommend parking in the Airport's Short-term Parking Garage immediately adjacent to the terminal building. The Short-term Garage has 2,500 parking spaces and is available at only $2.00 for the first hour. Travelers are encouraged to park in the Short-term Garage rather than circling the roadway system which is expected to be congested, especially in the evening hours.
If you are departing through Armstrong International today through Thursday, February 10, you should arrive at least two (2) hours prior to your scheduled departure time.
Check the status of your flight prior to coming to the Airport. This can be done through your airline's web site or at the "Flight Schedules" link on this site. This should be done if you are traveling or coming to the Airport to pick up an arriving passenger.
I saw maps that had bus routes for different areas of New Orleans you could catch but we didn't use them. You could check the visitors center for that info at 1520 Sugar Bowl Dr., New Orleans, LA 70112-1259 phone: 504-566-5011
Louis Armstrong International Airport is located in Kenner, 21 miles northwest of downtown New Orleans. To get to the city, you can take a taxi, the airport shuttle or rent a car.
A cab ride costs $24.00 from the airport to the Central Business District (CBD) for one person.
Shuttle service is available from the airport to the hotels in the CBD for $10.00 (one-way, per person). Ticket booths are located on the lower level in the baggage claim area.
Car Rental: There are 5 rental agencies with offices on the lower level of the airport.
By Air : Natchitoches Parish Airport is just an hour away at the Alexandria-Esler Regional Airport (50 miles south) and the Shreveport Regional Airport (65 miles north). Both airports are served by American, Continental and Northwest. Shreveport is also served by Delta, TWA and U.S. Air.
By Car : Natchitoches is within easy reach by car via Interstate 49. Take Hwy. 6 exit 138, 5 miles to Natchitoches. Interstate 49 connects with I-20 to the north in Shreveport and I-10 in Lafayette. When traveling from south Louisiana to Natchitoches, consider using I-49 exit 119. Louisiana 119 will take you on a scenic drive through the plantation country. Another route is via I-49 exit 127 that connects to LA Hwy. 1, just south of Natchitoches. State Hwy. 84/Hwy 6 connects Natchitoches to Natchez, Mississippi on the east and Lufkin, Texas on the west.
Trolley Tours : You can take a one hour narrated tour of historic Natchitoches including around the filming sites of Steel Magnolias. Adults are $8.00 and the tours leave from the Riverbank area. There are no other forms of local transport..
By Road : I-10 comes in from Lafayette (LA) and Houston (TX) in the west and New Orleans in the south. I-61 leads in from Natchez (LA). Downtown itself is very easy to navigate as well.
By Air : Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is located about five miles north of the city centre and five airlines serve the area.
US-90 curruntly connects Laffayette to New Orleans through some of the scenic and cultural gems of South Louisiana. The highway is being upgraded to interstate standards and will eventually be designated I-49.
Currently, I-49 connects Shreveport to Lafayette (via Natchitoches, Alexandria, & Opelousas).
There are also future plans to extend I-49 north from Shreveport by upgrading US-71 all the way to Kansas City, Missouri (via Texarkana, Ft. Smith, Fayetteville, & Joplin)
Scheduled air service to Louisiana cities: Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans, Shreveport.
Amtrack serves Lake Charles, Lafayette, and New Orleans.
If staying in the New Orleans French Quarter or in Downtown Baton Rouge, one could get around by walking exclusively (with the occasional taxi ride), but to explore this grand state in earnest, rent a car (and a boat at least one day too).
By Air : Shreveport has two airports, Downtown Airport (1500 Airport Drive) and the Shreveport Regional Airport (5103 Hollywood Ave). The regional airport is a small hub served by seven airlines. There are also six car rental agencies.
The New Orleans International Airport is a good 20 minute drive from downtown. A taxi will run about $23, or you can take the airport shuttle to your hotel for $10. The streetcar will get you between the French Quarter and the updown area via the Garden district for $1.25.
New Orleans International Airport (MSY) 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) 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.
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