7 Cheap Things to do in New Orleans that are Still Super Fun
Spending time down in the Big Easy doesn’t have to be an expensive venture with plenty of fun things to do that are free or cheap.
Budget-minded travelers don’t have to sacrifice fun for the sake of the bottom line when visiting New Orleans. The Big Easy offers a number of activities and attractions that are free or cheap, but still fun for people of all ages.
1. Check out the street performers on Jackson Square
Found in the French Quarter, Jackson Square has become a popular spot for street performers to show off their skills. Visitors are treated to a variety of different types of performances, including artists, musicians, fortune tellers, tap dancers, clowns, puppeteers and mimes. The performances are all free, but the performers are trying to make a living, so tips are appreciated.
700 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
2. Ride the Algiers Ferry
Board the ferry at the foot of Canal Street, next to the Aquarium of the Americas, and ride it across the mighty Mississippi River to Algiers Point to explore the Algiers neighborhood. The ferry is open to pedestrians and bikers only and is an inexpensive way to see New Orleans from a different perspective.
New Orleans Ferry
1 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours: First ferry leaves at 6 a.m. and last ferry leaves at 8:45 p.m.
Prices: $2 per person, two and under free
3. Tour New Orleans on bike
Rent a bike from one of several bike rental companies and see New Orleans from a whole new view. Bikes can get places that cars and buses can’t, providing you with access to areas you might not normally consider. Thanks to the warm, Southern weather, you can ride bikes all year round too. Some rental companies offer guided tours, like the Wicked French Quarter or Creole and Crescent tours from Free Wheelin Bike Tours. Or, save your money and just hop on and tour the city on your own.
Free Wheelin Bike Tours
325 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, LA 70112
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Prices: Hourly bike rentals start at $10, tours start at $50
4. Enjoy a free (or almost-free) festival
Sure, New Orleans is best-known for the festival of festivals—Mardi Gras. But beyond that huge party, NOLA is also home to many other fun and affordable festivals throughout the year. In June, the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival takes place at Louis Armstrong Park over two days. The event features Cajun and Zydeco performers, art market, food vendors and a kids’ tent and admission is free. April brings the French Quarter festival, held in the historic French Quarter and free to attend. The festival features over 20 stages with musical performances in a wide variety of genres.
Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival
701 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
When: Every June
French Quarter Festival
French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
When: Every April
5. Try a sno-ball
Not to be confused with a snow cone, a New Orleans’ sno-ball is a carefully concocted treat made up of specialty shaved ice and homemade syrups. One of the oldest sno-ball stands in the area, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz has been in business since 1939. Hansen’s serves regular flavors like blueberry, grape and wild cherry, as well as special flavors like cream of almond, ginger and honey lavender. These sweet treats are an inexpensive way to enjoy a unique taste of New Orleans.
Hansen's Sno-Bliz and Sweetshop
4801 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
Hours: Varies; closed for the winter months
6. View the aboveground tombs
Because of the threat of flooding, many cemeteries in New Orleans use aboveground tombs to bury the deceased. Take a walking tour of these one-of-a-kind sights, called "Cities of the Dead" and learn a little NOLA history in the process. The French Quarter Phantoms Ghost Tours takes you to one of the most famous cemeteries, the St. Louis Cemetery #1 on Basin Street, which is home of the final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. You could also do a tour on your own, but be sure to be respectful when visiting the cemeteries.
French Quarter Phantoms Ghost Tours
718 N Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
Prices: Tours start at $16
7. Visit the Barataria Preserve
This 23,000 acre preserve lets visitors experience the bayous, swamps and marshes of Louisiana. While there, you may also spot alligators, nutria and over 200 species of birds as you walk along the boardwalks and dirt trails. The preserve’s visitor center has exhibits, environmental education center and museum store. Admission to the park is free.
6588 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, LA 70072
504-689-3690 ext. 10
Hours: Visitor center is open Wednesday through Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Price: Admission is free
When you're short on cash or just want to keep your travel budget to a minimum, New Orleans still has plenty to offer to see and do. Check out one of these cheap, yet still fun, activities that entertain kids and adults of all ages.
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