Rental cars in New Orleans are readily available throughout the city, as they are in large metropolitan areas everywhere in the United States. You will find them in residential neighborhoods, around famous attractions, and near hotels. If you are staying in one of the many luxury hotels, you will very likely find the desk for a New Orleans car rental right in the lobby, in the hotel's shopping arcade, or next door.
You can rent a car in New Orleans at Louis Armstrong International Airport when you first arrive. However, consider carefully where you're staying during your vacations, since you really do not need rental cars in New Orleans if you are in the pedestrian friendly areas such as the French Quarter and its compact surrounding neighborhoods. The city's historic streetcars provide excellent transportation options in all of these places that include the Central Business District, and the Uptown and Mid City areas. Additionally, this central area of the city is built on a spoke system, with many streets that date as far back as the eighteenth century. Somewhat similar to the layout in Boston, Massachusetts, you will find a lot of one-way streets, dead ends, and streets that don't continue all the way through town. In these areas, a New Orleans car rental can be a bit of a liability as well as expensive to park.
You also don't want to rent a car in New Orleans if you have been participating in the drinking, parties, and nightlife for which the city is famous. And sometimes the streets are so full of pedestrians who may have had imbibed too much that driving around them can be a challenge even if you are completely sober. Even funerals, which often involve long parades down the middle of streets (complete with brass band and other music and on their way to the beautiful cemeteries located in this city) are apt to bring vehicle traffic to a standstill.
Even though the public transportation system is efficient and extensive in outlying suburbs like Metairie and Kenner, a New Orleans car rental here can be quite useful. Some of the shopping centers and other attractions are quite far from each other, and these suburbs are much more spread out than the central part of the city. There is also generally good parking availability here.
Unless you have booked tours that include transportation from New Orleans, you do want to rent a car in New Orleans if you plan to travel into the rural areas that are not so far away from the city. The town of LaPlace is only about 25 miles west of the city, and a world away. Here, along the Great Mississippi River Road, are some of the most beautiful and best preserved plantations in the South. The drive is quite scenic and a welcome respite from the big city. Rental cars in New Orleans are also useful if you plan to drive across Lake Pontchartrain to the towns of Covington, Mandeville, and Slidell. This is swamp and bayou country, where the original Cajun people settled. You'll find some of the best (and cheapest) Cajun restaurants and music here. You can also enjoy a tour of pristine Honey Island Swamp, looking for alligators, red wolf, deer, bald eagles, herons, and even the rare Florida cougar.