Among New Orleans’ most famous streets, St. Charles Avenue has a personality all its own. Spanning two neighborhoods (both downtown and Uptown), the storied street is over five miles long. It even has its own streetcar—the St. Charles Avenue line. The next time you visit New Orleans, make sure to venture outside the French Quarter and onto the Avenue.
Known as one of the most important residential thoroughfares in the city, St. Charles Avenue is widely recognized as a symbol of New Orleans. Seen a picture of the streetcar? How about a snapshot of the crowds during Mardi Gras? There’s a good chance that you’ve seen St. Charles Avenue. A canopy of oak trees makes the avenue instantly recognizable.
The history of St. Charles Avenue dates back to the 1830s. The streetcar was developed to link Carrollton, then a separate municipality of New Orleans, downriver. The Avenue rose to prominence in the 1880s with the construction of grand Queen Anne-style houses, mainly the work of architect Thomas Sully. Coveted due to the Mardi Gras parade route, St. Charles Avenue is one of the most sought-after addresses today.
All aboard! The St. Charles Avenue streetcar is more than just a tourist attraction—it’s a real form of transportation in the RTA system (and it’s a little more picturesque than taking the bus). Pay $1.25 cash or use the Le Pass app to hop aboard and enjoy the leisurely pace of rolling down St. Charles Avenue with the wind in your hair. You can even plan your own adventure with our Streetcar Itinerary by Route. Running down the Avenue for more than 150 years, the St. Charles Avenue streetcar has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior.
The tree-lined St. Charles Avenue is home to stately mansions and idyllic homes. Many of the buildings along the avenue are of 19th and 20th-century vintage, sporting double galleried facades and Greek Revival and Italianate details. Architecture buffs will fawn over sites like Gallier Hall, The Elms Mansion, and the Wedding Cake House at the corner of Rosa Park and St. Charles.
Other points of interest include both Loyola and Tulane universities, which are located next to each other on the avenue across from Audubon Park. Lafayette Square, located downtown on St. Charles Avenue, plays host to many festivals throughout the year, including Wednesday at the Square and the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival.
One thing is for certain—you won’t go hungry on St. Charles Avenue. From oysters at Superior Seafood, to wine at The Delachaise, there’s a little something for everyone—not to mention the restaurants just off the avenue on the cross streets. Popular St. Charles Avenue restaurants include Jack Rose, Lüke, Herbsaint, and The Chloe Restaurant & Bar. Imbibers will enjoy our New Orleans Streetcar Cocktail Crawl, which includes stops at rooftop bars and a sports tavern.
Staying in a hotel on St. Charles Avenue offers a front seat to Mardi Gras, plus walkability to several bars and restaurants, and the streetcar of course! Historic hotels along the avenue include Columns, built in 1883, and The Pontchartrain Hotel, circa-1927. St. Charles Avenue is host to a number of hotels and bed and breakfasts. Search more Saint Charles Avenue hotels here.
Parades weave in and out all over the city, but St. Charles Avenue is the street that sees the most parades following the traditional Uptown route. With a wide neutral ground, many revelers set up ladders, grills, tables, chairs, and even televisions when Mardi Gras season and the Super Bowl overlap. When parades turn off Napoleon Avenue onto St. Charles, the crowd doubles in size and the energy is electric. A few popular parades that traverse St. Charles Avenue are the Krewe of Muses, Krewe of Bacchus, Krewe of Orpheus, Krewe of Zulu, and Krewe of Rex.
For more information on the history of St. Charles Avenue, see https://nola.gov.