10Best free (or almost free) things to do in New Orleans

New Orleans isn't a place for pennypinchers. The pace in the Big Easy is, well easy, which means you don't want to be watching every nickle and dime, especially when you're on vacation.  That said, the savvy traveler knows that there are ways to get around big ticket items and high dollar restaurants without sacrificing the quality of the experience. 

As far as food goes, if you have a bucket list of restaurants to try, consider going for lunch instead of dinner.  The food will be as delish, but you'll pay a fraction of the cost.  Another good move is to belly up to the bar at Happy Hour.  Many restaurants, most really, offer deals on drinks and reduced price nibbles, usually in the 4-6 pm range, but that can stretch into more hours depending on the season.  Domenica, for instance, on Canal Street in the Roosevelt Hotel, dishes a kickin' happy hour seven days a week from 3-6 pm, offering killer breaks on drinks, wine and beer and half price pizza.  The locals know about this one, so you can expect a crowd unless you get there early.

The best way to enjoy New Orleans culture and architecture is on foot - FREE - or by streetcar headed to the Garden District - a bargain at just $1.25.  Soak up the sunshine, gander at the river and mix in with locals at one of the city's gorgeous parks, be it City Park by the New Orleans Museum of Art or uptown at The Fly on the river by the zoo.

Another way to economically indulge is to attend one of the many free festivals the city hosts. Admission, activities and live music won't cost you a dime and food vendors keep prices reasonable so you can feel good about lining up for seconds.

French Quarter Festival


Lively, joyful, 100 percent local and, most amazingly, free, the French Quarter Festival takes place over four days in April, when thousands of festival-goers camp out in the Quarter to enjoy local music played on 20 stages and ranging from jazz...  Read More

French Quarter


Wrought iron fences, exquisite gardens and lush antebellum homes line the streets of the Garden District. The area, bordered by St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street, as well as Jackson Avenue and Louisiana Avenue, is where the city's original...  Read More

Satchmo SummerFest
Photo courtesy of Mary Witzig


People who let the summer heat and humidity keep them away from New Orleans miss out in a huge way when it comes to this wonderful local jazz festival, a bargain at $5 admission. You may know Satchmo better as Louis Armstrong, and this weekend...  Read More

Bourbon Street


Bourbon Street is a place you need to visit at least once in New Orleans. The nearly mile long strip of bars, clubs and restaurants attracts millions of visitors each year, mostlyl tourists and convention goers in search of scintillation and...  Read More



The New Orleans streetcar is the preeminent mode of transportation in the Crescent City. Traveling through the middle of major streets such as St. Charles, Canal, Carrollton and Rampart, the streetcar is an affordable method of transportation...  Read More

French Quarter


Royal Street is one of the city's treasures, a thoroughfare ideal for strolling. Reminiscent of a European 19th century city, Royal Street is lines with shops and art galleries, making it perfect for window shopping. Street busking is constant...  Read More



A 16-acre haven of green located between the French Quarter and the Mississippi, Woldenberg Riverfront Park is a perfect place to unwind after a jaunt in the Quarter. Its arresting artworks, riverside promenade and frequent strolling bands and...  Read More

City Park


The largest green space in New Orleans, City Park boasts 1,300 acres featuring dozens of colorful original artworks, excellent sports facilities and beloved attractions, such as the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art,...  Read More

The Fly
Photo courtesy of Dita Margarita


The Fly is a secret among New Orleans locals; it's a strip of frontage along the Mississippi River behind Audubon Zoo. On weekends, people flock in droves for grilling, crawfish boils, sunning and to throw the frisbee. Set up camp feet from the...  Read More



There was much hue and cry when new operators took over this formerly free ferry in 2014, but it's still only $2 to take this scenic ride, and kids ride for free. Although the ride across the Mississippi only lasts five minutes, the...  Read More


Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth