You don’t have to be a big spender to jump into a million-dollar New Orleans experience. The Crescent City can be easy on the wallet, if you know where to look. From happy hour specials to hidden gems, there are affordable options all over town, no matter what the season. Pro tip: consider booking a midweek trip to New Orleans to save on hotel rooms, and fill your itinerary with these 50 free things to do around NOLA. Check out our neighborhood itinerary below and explore our inexpensive dining options here.
This most historic part of New Orleans is famous for its white tablecloth restaurants, artsy boutiques, and craft cocktail bars. But you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the French Quarter.
Take a stroll through the picturesque French Quarter to see some of the most historic architecture in the country, including the St. Louis Cathedral, Presbytère, and Cabildo. Visit the Visitor Center of Jean Lafitte National Park, and get free information and maps.
Window shop along Royal Street, famous for art galleries galore and soak up New Orleans’ local art culture.
Take a peek into the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States, then claim a bench on the square and people watch.
*Editori's Note: Central Grocery remains temporarily closed following damage from Hurricane Ida, but you can still find their muffalettas packaged to-go next door at Sidney's Wine Cellar (917 Decatur St.)
Stroll along world-famous Bourbon Street and right into Pat O’Brien’s courtyard for a hurricane. Head to the “quieter” end of Bourbon and belly up to the bar at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar for inexpensive libations. Located on Bourbon and St. Phillip St., Lafitte’s is lit mostly by candles and is supposedly haunted. In the mood for artisanal cocktails? Swing over to Bar Tonique across from Armstrong Park on Rampart chose from a menu of reasonably priced classic New Orleans cocktails.
Enjoy a day of gallery hopping, exploring, and eating in the Warehouse District.
This museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Southern art in the world and offers free and discounted admission for students, seniors, and more.
Known for its experimental and multidisciplinary exhibitions, performances and programs, the CAC is the perfect place to take in thought provoking work by local and internationally known artists at a reasonable price.
Happy hour dishes the best bargains and small plates and drinks in the Warehouse Arts District. Check out Meril for happy hour deals with half-off flat breads and wine by the glass.
Known for stately oaks and historic mansions, shopping on Magazine Street and eclectic restaurants, Uptown delivers a surprising array of well-priced options.
Hop on the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue. Riding the oldest continuously operated streetcar in the country is your best way to soak up views of live oaks and one-of-a-kind mansions and costs just $1.25, exact change please, or buy a one-day, three-day or five-day pass.
Camellia Grill is a landmark diner Uptown known for its rib-sticking breakfasts and entertaining servers. Grab a seat at the counter and enjoy the show.
Go for a ramble under the leafy canopies of gorgeous oaks in Audubon Park, then relax in one of the covered gazebos and watch the ducks.
Grab a sandwich or salad from St. James Cheese Company, a local cheese shop with a seriously loyal following. Or swing by Pizza Domenica, the casual off-shoot of the James Beard Award-winning Italian restaurant downtown.
Sip on delicious cocktails at Cure, a pioneering craft cocktail lounge on happening Freret Street uptown with terrific happy hour deals (4-6 p.m. every day).
If you really want to experience New Orleans like a local, spend a day in Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge for some off-the-beaten-path bargains.
A 1,300-acre outdoor oasis that has enchanted New Orleanians since 1854, City Park is the spot for outdoor family friendly activities. Go for a jog around the lake, or take a stroll and bird watch.
Located in the heart of City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art delivers a world of art for its $15 admission price, with discounts offered to seniors, students and children 12 and under (Louisiana residents get free admission on Wednesdays courtesy of the Helis Foundation). If you prefer your art outdoors, admission to the stunning Sculpture Garden is free,
See the Louisiana Bayou St. John up close and personal along the 1.7 mile jogging and bike path in Mid-City.
Top off the day with something sweet from Angelo Brocato’s Italian Gelateria, a favorite local dessert spot for over 100 years.
Just downriver of the French Quarter, the Marigny and Bywater are two neighborhoods to visit for great live music, art markets, and tasty food that won’t break the bank.
Bywater Bakery serves up a hot breakfast with choices like pastries, yogurt and a variety of breakfast go-cups including bacon and egg, and shrimp and grits. Or you can enjoy sweet and savory pastries from Ayu Bakehouse, including favorites like the muffaletta breadstick or boudin boy.
Enjoy the art galleries and markets in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods. Check out Dr. Bob’s quirky art gallery or the Piety Street Market, both in the Bywater.
Grab lunch at Dat Dog’s Frenchmen Street outpost, or a slice of pizza at the seriously addictive Pizza Delicious further down river in Bywater. Or for breakfast or lunch, head to Frady’s One Stop, where cheap eats and plate lunches attract throngs of regulars.
Take a bike ride or walk along the Mississippi through Crescent Park, a 20-acre linear park on the riverfront.
Many of the music clubs along Frenchmen Street offer low-or-no cover shows–just check the live music calendar to see who is playing and what to expect as far as an entry fee. Just remember that even on a budget, tipping musicians is always a must!