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Cycle touring around New Orleans!

I liked my three hour cycle tour around New Orleans a lot better than I thought I would!

If you’re visiting New Orleans for the first time, a guided cycle tour is a great way to see the city, get your bearings, learn some fun facts and history and decide where you need to come back to.

But the French Quarter streets are narrow and I was a bit nervous that drivers would be like Auckland drivers and nudge me into the gutter – or into the nearest jazz bar.

Cycling New Orleans
Stopping along the colourful streets of the French Quarter

But no, at 10am when we met Laura, our guide at Free Wheelin Bike Tours on Burgundy Street, the French Quarter was still asleep and we practically had the roads to ourselves.

The streets had just been washed (see pic below), and New Orleans was waking up to do it all over again.

Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is party central every night, closed to traffic and open to pedestrians. Each morning it is scrubbed clean to start all over again!

Ten miles and three hours we rode through the colourful streets of French Quarter on their heavy American-made bikes with a basket under high handlebars and old fashioned brakes only in the pedals.

Bourbon Street
And tonight there’ll be more of this!

We crossed roads and rang our bells as we cycled through the Marigny, over to the Bywater, up to the huge 1300-acre City Park (where the best beignets are) and back through Congo Square and Treme where some houses are still damaged from Katrina.

We stopped outside St Augustine church with the Cross of the Unknown Slave made from chains from a slave ship and hung with shackles, placed here in 2004 to commemorate all the slaves who met an untimely death in this very neighbourhood.

St Augustine church New Orleans
The Cross of the Unknown Slave

We also had time to visit one of the incredible cemeteries with all their tombs and “ovens”. I’m actually quite fascinated by cemeteries and did a separate tour of St Louis No.1 Cemetery which I can totally recommend.

You can also see my pics and read my post about that here.

New Orleans cemetery
In the back you can see the ovens that are rented if the family tomb is full!

We pedaled and through it all, stopping for photos in front of shotgun houses and under massive evergreen Southern live oaks. We ate beignets and took in the culture and history of this remarkable US city that is unlike any other in the state of Louisiana, let alone the US.

Shotgun house New Orleans
A tiny “shotgun” house, not even as wide as a car. They have no hallways, just walk through rooms to get to other rooms
New Orleans
These three houses are actually leaning!

Laura, our guide with the electric battery sneakily attached to her pedals, really made it for me. She was born and raised here in New Orleans and has a way of summarising its history from French convicts to Spanish invaders, to Creole families, the local liberal values and today’s unique outlook on the world.

I would absolutely recommend this tour for a great way to get your bearings on this city. Ideally you’d do it on day one and then know where to head back to for the unique museums, markets or the best beignets in the city (sorry, it’s not you, Cafe du Monde!)

Click here to visit Free Wheelin Bike Tours to hire your own for a few hours or take a guided tour like we did.

Or try this 3-hour cycle tour that includes the historic Garden District to ogle at the beautiful mansion.

Cycling in New Orleans
Laura is peeping over my shoulder and my cousin Kate listens intently!

If you liked this post, I think you’ll also like my Skulking Through the Cemeteries of New Orleans post from my previous visit when I did a tour there too!

Read my Totally Awesome Guide to New Orleans for tips on where to eat, drink, listen to music and some of the bst attractions you won’t want to miss.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!