With extravagant options for transportation, food and entertainment, a trip to a big city in the US can be quite a drain to your travel funds and savings. But in New Orleans, a traveler may experience an endless medley of thrills, excitement and cool live music without spending thousands of dollars.
Of course, you may still drop a fortune in “The Big Easy”, but it’s really not necessary. Known for its African-American vibe, French sophistication and laid-back setting, the city of New Orleans has a plethora of gratis attractions and entertainment options to delight the its visitors.
Planning a trip to “The Big Easy”? Make sure to take a quick look at our list of the free things to do in New Orleans.
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The free delights of New Orleans City Park
1. A leisurely stroll along the New Orleans City Park
Take a breezy nature stroll along the New Orleans Botanical Garden, and be mesmerized by its impressive collection of oaks and plant varieties like the Spanish moss.
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2. Drop by the NOMA on Wednesday
If you’re visiting the city on a Wednesday, head down to the New Orleans Museum of Art, and feast your eyes on its eye-catching hanging art pieces, historical objects, sculptures and fine paintings. Every Wednesday, the museum offers free admissions to its sculpture garden and main museum.
3. Child-friendly attractions
Traveling with your kids? While the Big Easy isn’t known as a child-friendly destination, the New Orleans City Park flaunts a slew of diversions for your little ones, such as the Train Garden, and Storyland, which is home to a vintage carousel, quirky fairy-tale characters, and a gigantic storybook.
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4. Working out for free in the park’s sport facilities
For those who want to shed off a few calories when visiting this city, the expansive 1,300-acre City Park offers a dozen soccer fields, twenty six tennis courts, a golf course, and a couple of football stadiums.
The cost-less joys of the French Quarter
5. Sightseeing in the French Quarter
Take a casual walk through the French Quarter, and admire the city’s curios personalities and striking architectures.
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6. Watch the street artists paint or sketch their masterpieces
Make your way to Jackson Square, and watch talented artists and painters craft their exquisite art pieces.
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7. Catch sight of gorgeous sculptures
Speaking of artistic creations, the Jackson Square also has artists carving gorgeous sculptures.
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8. Free live street music
Listen to the entertaining and wacky street musicians strum their stringed instruments and makeshift drums.
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Free concerts, music and shows
9. Free live music and oysters every Friday
Every Friday, the Le Bon Temps Roule, a music club in NOLA, offers free live music and oysters to its guests.
10. Free concerts in Lafayette Square
From April to June, the Lafayette Square hosts free live concerts, from 5 o’clock in the afternoon to 7:30 in the evening. Just make sure bring your own chair, so you can comfortably listen to catchy live music from bands like Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, and The Boogie Men.
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11. More free shows
On weekends, the Snug Harbor Jazza Club offers free music, featuring acts like the Sweet Home New Orleans. Before you go there, though, I suggest that you take a look at their calendar, to know who’s performing during your visit in New Orleans.
For more information about the latest free music events in New Orleans, check out WWOZ’s event calendar.
Other freebies in New Orleans
12. Learn how to swing dance
Learn the art of swing dancing by visiting the NOLA Jitterbugs Dance School on Sunday. Likewise, the National World War II Museum offers free swing dance classes every Sunday during summertime.
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13. Visit the Historic New Orleans Collection
Delve into the roots of Crescent City by paying a visit to the Historic New Orleans Collection.
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14. Learn more about the history of Italian-Americans in the region
Discover the fascinating history of the Italian-Americans in the Southeast region of the country, with a quick sojourn to the American Italian Renaissance Foundation’s Museum and Research Library.
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15. Pay homage to the city’s remarkable sacred sites
The city has a number of breathtaking sacred sites you can visit for free, including the Immaculate Conception Church, St. Louis Cathedral, and St. Augustine Church.
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16. Join a parade
Visit New Orleans during the Mardi Gras and Carnival Season, and join their wild and electrifying parades.
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17. Window shopping
Do you love to window shop? Then, spend a few hours strolling the Chartres and Royal Streets, and be amazed by their awesome display of antiques and arts. Furthermore, you can try window shopping on the Magazine Street.
18. Trekking Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Fond of nature trails? Spend an afternoon trekking the Jean Latiffe National Historical Park and Preserve. With this outdoor adventure, you will also get a chance to see nutrias (large beaver-like rodents), egrets, herons, deer, armadillos, alligators and great-horned owls.
19. Snap pictures of NOLA’s jazz legends
Take a selfie with Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and Fats Domino on the background at Bourbon Street’s Musical Legends Park. Also, if you are visiting the park in the evening, try to spend a few minutes listening to the park’s soothing live jazz music.
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20. Wander around a creepy cemetery
Here’s a special free treat for someone who has a taste for creepy places. To experience something eerie and out-of-the-ordinary in New Orleans, wander around Basin Street’s St. Louis Cemetery Number 1, and visit the final resting place of Marie Laveau, a renowned voodoo practitioner in the 19th century.
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21. Unwind at a local park
After spending a busy and fun-filled day in the French Quarter, spend a couple of hours relaxing in any of the city’s lush parks. As far as I’m concerned, the best places to relax and unwind in New Orleans are the Woldenberg Park and Audubon Park.
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22. Take in the sights and sounds of the city’s riverfront
Stroll leisurely along the New Orleans Riverfront, and take in its mesmerizing sights and sounds.
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23. See the city’s skyline from a ferry
Catch sight of the city’s beautiful skyline from a unique perspective by riding the Canal Street Ferry.
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24. A DIY tour around the Garden District
The Garden District, which is one the city’s most appealing neighborhoods, has a load of sights that promise to amuse you. From large grand mansions to huge oak trees, the district has tons of visual highlights that epitomize southern grandeur.
25. Free walking tour
New Orleans has a variety of free walking tours to offer to those are overly fond of sightseeing, such as the Lafayette Cemetery tour, French market tour and French Quarter Riverfront tour.
26. Volunteer to help rebuild the city’s residences
It may sound a bit laborious and boring, but volunteering to help the city recover from the past tragic events can be a rather heartwarming and memorable experience. Besides, good deeds are always rewarded.
As you can see, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to experience the beauty, magic and true essence of New Orleans. With these tips, you can have a blow out in this city, even with a limited budget. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
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