Never have a been a traveler which enjoys spending the majority of my trip seeking parking on the street or winding around looking for sometimes hours for a parking garage. Instead I have always sought out other modes of transportation which make travel a bit more simplistic, as was the case when I recently took a short trip to New Orleans during one of their biggest festivals of the years.
Street parking in the Quarter is mostly residential, meaning for the non-local only 2 hours of parking is available. Now everyone knows when you are in the middle of exploring a new place, time goes quickly and before you know it, just in the middle of your fun that short 2 hour span has ticked down into a ticket or worse a tow.
New Orleans, however also has a habit of street closures as the parties take to the streets and thus no parking is allowed in places which typically might offer a roadside stop during other days and months.
For these reasons, I decided to take the ferry! A trip to New Orleans isn’t the same without at least one of these trips across the Mississippi. It is a staple in the climate of the bustling city not only for commuters going to and from work but for those who want to have a signature experience and some of the best views in the area.
Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. the Algier’s Ferry finds itself shuttling mostly those to and from the city for work, however as the weekend begins the hours extend and a group of tourists descend upon the ferry station from 6 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on Saturday leaving every 30 minutes from Algiers and Canal Street.
We arrived for the first trip across the Mississippi at 10:30 on a Saturday and the platform was a bustling stop for tourists wanting to explore. A parking lot just before the ferry entrance will accommodate your vehicle for the duration of the day at a cost between $5 and $20 depending on the day and if there is a festival occurring. Payment for the ferry as well as parking is cash only so I suggest preparing accordingly as typically they make no change.
By 10:15 they had opened the station gate and allowed passage down the long hall toward the ferry. It was at this time we were told once again “cash only, exact change, no refunds”. The ferry ride is $2 each way to be paid each entrance. They do have a pass available as well for those utilizing the ferry regularly, however for the standard tourist this wasn’t helpful.
By 10:30 we were boarded and ready to go as the ferry began to move away from the pier. Three seating/standing areas were available including both air conditioned indoor upper and lower deck seating and outdoor seating with a view of the journey. We chose to standing and watch the sites of the city move slowly toward us. The entire trip was only about 5 minutes but it was beautiful.
Along the ride you can clearly view the skyline of New Orleans, the river barges traveling side by side down the same waters you are cruising through and riverboats with their large signature paddles plowing throughout the waters. The sounds of music in the distance set the tone for your entrance into the grandeur of the city ahead and the chirping of the seagulls create such an ambiance in the warm breeze of the water.
5 minutes versus possible hours of searching for a perfect spot to park saved us so much more than time itself. Once downtown everything is within walking distance for those wanting to truly explore the French Quarter area. At every turn there are shops, restaurants and entertainment or for those just seeking the views you can access the entire Moonwalk area which runs alongside the quarter and the river from the ferry pier station.
Tips For Taking The Ferry From Canal Street Or Algiers:
Cash Only - Make sure you have exact change for the ferry and parking, no change will be issued and no refunds!
Arrive Early - Ferry can fill up quickly on busy weekends so arrive at least 15 minutes before take off.
Be Comfortable - If you are going to be walking a lot, avoid shoes which will not be comfortable, take a bag which can house shoes such as heels or dress shoes if you will be needing to change into them, but save your feet!
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