Junior Chirinos rides Blue Bikes, the New Orleans bike rental program, on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

Esplanade Avenue is one of New Orleans’ grand avenues, as scenic as it is historic. Today, Mid-City residents and tourists alike cycle on its bike lanes under the canopy of oak trees, but the street follows a ridge line that once was a Native American portage route from the river to Bayou St. John. The avenue borders the original colony’s French Quarter grid, passes through Treme, the nation’s oldest continually African-American community with its mid-19th century mansions, and enters a residential stretch with streets named for the colony’s Spanish governors. There also are restaurants and a few historic landmarks along the way.

Who you’ll see: Tourists, cyclists, residents.

Where to eat: The French Quarter end of the street is near many options, but a couple of blocks from Bayou St. John has a cluster of eateries touching on the cuisines of France (Café Degas), Spain (Lola’s), the Mediterranean (1000 Figs), Mexico (Santa Fe) and Italy (Nonna Mia).

Where to drink: Just off Esplanade on N. Lopez Street, Liuzza’s by the Track is a casual neighborhood bar known for its bloody marys and chilled schooners of beer.

Where to soak up history: Le Musee de Free People of Color honors New Orleans free people of color, the first of whom arrived in the area in 1722. The converted home at 2336 Esplanade Ave. is a repository for documents, displays art and artifacts and hosts events.


A former U.S. Mint sits at the bottom of Esplanade Avenue, and in addition to a ground floor exhibit on the mint’s history, the building houses the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Holdings include instruments belonging to jazz legends including Louis Armstrong, and a wealth of archival photos.