Jessica Festa a RoamRight Blog Author

Budget Guide: Free Things To Do In New Orleans

There are many cheap or free things to do and experience in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For those visiting New Orleans, your trip doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, NOLA is home to a number of free activities and attractions, perfect for the traveler on a budget. To help you plan your trip, here is RoamRight’s guide to free things to do in New Orleans.

Sample Hot Sauces At The Pepper Palace

Pepper Palace is pure heaven for spice lovers, as its shelves showcase over 1,000 hot sauces, jams, spreads, dips, rubs, salsas and other condiments. One of the best reasons to visit is the wide range of free samples, including the opportunity to try The Hottest Sauce in the Universe: The 2nd Dimension. Tasters of the pain-inducing hot sauce must be over 18 years old, and need to sign a waiver beforehand. If heat isn’t your thing, you can taste the various pepper-free jellies and dips.

Wander The French Market

Open since 1791, the French Market has been a symbol of New Orleans culture for over 200 years. Featuring a flea market and farmers market, visitors can browse a wide variety of wares: handicrafts, clothing, accessories, artwork, local delicacies, produce, hot sauces, sustainable meats, housewares, masks, prepared foods and much more.

See Live Jazz

New Orleans offers the opportunity to see live jazz without having to pay a cover (although sometimes there is a one-drink minimum). From around 8pm, walk down the nightlife-filled Frenchmen Street to hear the sounds of brass and woodwinds spilling from different venues. Some top picks for free live music include the Spotted Cat Music Club, the Three Muses and Blue Nile. On iconic Bourbon Street there’s also the refined Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Sonesta Hotel which hosts live jazz every night at 8pm. 

Stroll Through Louis Armstrong Park

Not only is the scenic Louis Armstrong Park dedicated to one of jazz’s most talented musicians, it’s also the birthplace of jazz music, specifically Congo Square. Slaves would gather here on Sundays (their official day off in New Orleans) to beat drums and celebrate their culture. It was from these sounds that early jazz musicians were inspired to create the genre. The park features 31 acres (13 hectares) of lakes, woodland, jazz-inspired statues and institutions like the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium and the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts. Have a picnic, listen to a live drum circle, photograph artwork, take a leisurely stroll or take part in Jazz in the Park, a complimentary music series on Thursdays from 5 to 7pm in spring and fall.

Enjoy Art At The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The free-to-enter Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garde – located at the New Orleans Museum of Art – home to over 60 public works from artists from all over the world. Enjoy the intertwining of Mother Nature and human creativity, enhanced by a free audio tour that can give you background information on what you’re looking at. As the museum resides within the 1,300-acre (526-hectare) City Park, you can also continue your free tour of NOLA by viewing inspiring ancient oaks, seeing a beautiful wooden carousel, walking nature trails, cycling, having a waterside picnic or partaking in nature photography.

Photograph Interesting Architecture

One of the greatest facets of New Orleans is its interesting architecture. Begin by wandering the Garden District, known for its well-preserved historic mansion buildings, some dating back to the 1830s. Afterward, bring your camera along to some of New Orleans beautiful churches, including Christ Church Cathedral, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel and the former 19th-century church-turned-entertainment space, Marigny Opera House, to name a few. Although it may sound unusual, it’s also common for tourists to visit the local cemeteries, the most famous and oldest being St. Louis Cemetery No. #1, open since 1789. Known for its above-ground tombs and mausoleum that are unusual in the United States, this is also the resting place of Marie Laveau, NOLA’s most famous voodoo queen, as well as many prominent locals. 

What are your tips for a budget friendly trip to New Orleans?

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About the Author

Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa, a RoamRight Blog Author Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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