New Orleans exists in a state of constant rediscovery, and a bicycle ride through the Garden District is a smart way to take in one of the country’s most scenic cities — along with all of its cultural hot spots.
We’ve curated two tours that will wind you through some of the neighborhood’s most storied sites and new favorites near Hotel Indigo New Orleans Garden District. But don’t worry if something inspires you to veer slightly off course; there’s hardly a more charming place to get lost than in New Orleans’ Garden District.
Upper Garden District: Scenic Streets and Live Oaks
With a recent uptick in the Crescent City’s bike rental options, you have options for your cycling adventures. In the Upper Garden District, Mike the Bike Guy‘s (4411 Magazine St) bicycle rentals run $30 a day for single speed, and $40 for bikes with gears. Proprietor Mike Federer will help you select the right wheels for your escapade. Parallel to Magazine Street, pedal down scenic St. Charles Avenue, with streetcars and joggers passing on the median, or, as it’s referred to in New Orleans, the Neutral Ground.
Break at lunchtime to experience the area’s thriving dining scene — try Coquette for innovative, locally sourced dishes; The Rum House for Caribbean flavors; or Commander’s Palace for a more traditional take on Southern staples — and then burn off the calories with a ride around the track in the Garden District’s Audubon Park on Magazine Street across from Tulane and Loyola universities. The park is not only the perfect place for a workout, it’s often Instagrammed by stars in town filming everything from American Horror Story to NCIS: New Orleans. Celebrities and civilians alike enjoy the bike path under the live oak trees, looping around the Audubon Golf Course.
After returning your bike to Mike the Bike Guy, wind down with al fresco libations and a repast at Babin’s Bar & Bistro at Hotel Indigo (2203 St Charles Ave).
Lower Garden District: Art, Coffee and Literary Landmarks
If you’re in the Lower Garden District, head to NOBS (8136 Oak St), where bicycle rentals start at $15 per day. A ride starting from NOBS will take you down Oak Street’s thriving arts corridor to peek in the window at Frenchy‘s art studio (8314 Oak St). The New Orleans artist captures live music in oil paints side-stage at some of the city’s largest venues and festivals. You can also lock your wheels to one of Oak Street’s bike racks and fill your bag with one-of-a-kind vintage jewelry and clothing from the funky shopping corridor.
To feed your mind, Blue Cypress Books (8126 Oak St) has a basket of freebies outside and classic volumes inside with a store cat that will follow you in, then out, then back in again. Down the street at the corner, Rue de la Course (1140 South Carrolton Ave) offers some of the city’s best coffee out of a converted bank lobby – the perfect place for a caffeine fix that will keep you fueled up to keep peddling.
Ride that caffeine buzz down Oak to Maple Street, where you’ll have a chance to tour the city’s artistic roots at literary landmarks. Peruse Maple Street Book Shop (7529 Maple St), which was the spiritual home of the acclaimed novelists Walker Percy and John Kennedy Toole. Or head into the Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St), where poetry readings have been in operation since 1979 when the late, great Everette Maddox held court. Both are bike friendly with plenty of room to secure your wheels while you mingle with a sociable crowd of locals enjoying the usual crawfish boil out front.