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Sunset over Lake Ponchartrain
Sunset over Lake Ponchartrain

Free Things to do this Summer

Enjoy 35 free activities in New Orleans this summer

There’s no reason to break the bank during your summer vacation in New Orleans. From live music and festivals to museums and tours, there are plenty of free activities to take part in. No one quite does it like New Orleans. See our list of 35 free things to do this summer below and start exploring.

Rebecca Todd
Gallery Hopping on Julia Street
  1. Gallery hop in the Arts and Warehouse District
    Explore Gallery Row and the unique artwork, sculptures and photographs that adorn the walls. On the first Saturday of the month, you can enjoy a mini block party as well.
  2. Enjoy live music at Music Legends Park
    Take a selfie with Fats Domino, Pete Fountain, or Al Hirt at Music Legends Park on Bourbon Street while enjoying some of the daily free concerts. Music starts at 10 a.m.
  3. Dance down Frenchmen Street
    Any night of the week, music fills the air from the many clubs that rock till the wee hours.
Rebecca Todd, NOTMC
Live Music on Frenchmen Street
  1. Have a swingin’ Sunday at The Allways Lounge
    Every Sunday, you can find free swing dance lessons at the Marigny hotspot. Dance lessons start at 7 p.m., but live music continues all night.
  2. Enjoy a free wine tasting
    Every Friday, head to Second Vine Wine for free wine tastings from 6-8:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, check out Faubourg Wines from 6-8 p.m.
  3. Learn how to saber champagne
    Every Friday, head to the Brennan’s courtyard at 5 p.m. for champagne sabering
  4. Listen to free opera and show tunes by Bon Operatit!
    On the second Wednesday of the month at the Four Points by Sheraton, the site of the Old French Opera House, enjoy a show.
  5. Watch the fireworks over the Mississippi River
    On the 4th of July, the dueling barges puts on a festive firework show over the river. Scope out a spot and sit back and marvel. 
Zack Smith
Running of the Bulls
  1. Watch the Running of the Bulls, New Orleans style
    Every July, this Warehouse District event pits the Big Easy Rollergirls roller-derby squad against a gaggle of runners in a hilarious race for charity.
  2. Admire art at White Linen Night and Dirty Linen Night
    For art lovers, these two events are a must. Over two weekends in August, peruse artwork along Julia Street and Royal Street at these two events.
  3. Celebrate Bastille Day
    Head to the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street off of Bayou St. John for a Bastille Day Block Party. Enjoy live music and French activities for free. Of course, there will be food and drink to purchase as well. 
Rebecca Todd
Art in Jackson Square
  1. People watch along Jackson Square
    Artists sell their creations and tarot card readers tell you your future throughout Jackson Square. You can usually hear live music and admire street performers as well.

  2. Slurp free oysters 
    Oysters and music can be found for free every Friday night at Le Bon Temps Roule on Magazine Street.

  3. Explore Mardi Gras Collections at restaurants
    Go upstairs at Arnaud’s for a tour of Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum, or check out the collections at Antoine’s and Brennan’s.

  4. Take a free yoga class
    Get with your Zen in free yoga classes held Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. at New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park at the Esplanade Avenue end of the French Market. On Wednesdays at 6:30 a.m., the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk also offers a free morning stretch. 

  5. Relax on the banks of Bayou St. John 
    Watch canoes and other non-motorized water crafts float along the bayou.

  6. Watch the sunset from Lakeshore Drive
    Benches look out over beautiful Lake Pontchartrain in the Lakeview neighborhood.

  7. Hang out at Champions Square before a Saints game
    Revel in the pre-game excitement! There are always free performances on stage before all home games and hundreds of excited Saints fans.

Zack Smith
Exploring the Garden District
  1. Wander through the Garden District
    Admire the beautiful mansions and wrought iron fences and balconies throughout the Garden District neighborhood.

  2. See the Historic New Orleans Collection
    The Historic New Orleans Collection offers free tours at both its Royal Street and Chartres Street campuses.

  3. Take a walking tour with a park ranger from the French Quarter Visitor Center
    Part of the National Park Service, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. rangers lead a group of 25 on an hour-long history walk.

Paul Broussard
Besthoff Sculpture Garden - New Orleans Museum of Art - New Orleans City Park
  1. Wander around the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
    Open seven days a week, the Sculpture Garden is part of NOMA and includes over 60 sculptures, a lagoon, spanish-moss and beautiful scenery. Renovations were completed in 2019 and include 26 new works. Admission is always free.

  2. Visit a cemetery
    Explore the above-ground cemeteries that are so famous in New Orleans, including St. Patrick Cemetery No. 2, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and St. Louis No. 3. Feel thankful in the chapel in the back of St. Roch Cemetery, a shrine filled with ex-votos.

  3. Peruse the French Market
    Browse stalls of souvenirs and clever baubles at the French Market.

  4. Take a tour of Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.
    The historic church is open to the public and is beautiful. 

  5. If you live in Louisiana, get in free to various museums
    Thanks to the Helis Foundation, visit the Contemporary Arts Museum on Sunday, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Botanical Garden on Wednesday, and Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Thursday. If you’re a member of one of the local museums, explore several others during Museum Month in August. 

  6. Take a free tour by foot
    Choose from multiple types of tours and learn about the ghosts, architecture and history of the city. 

  7. Explore Madame John’s Legacy
    As one of the few French Quarter structures that escaped the great fire of 1794, this historic house exudes 18th century Creole design. 

Rebecca Todd, NOTMC
House of Dance and Feathers
  1. Learn about Mardi Gras Indians at The House of Dance and Feathers
    This free  museum of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and Skull & Bone Gangs is one of a kind.

  2. Visit the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum
    Explore the history of New Orleans' historic Lower 9th Ward pre-, during, and post- Hurricane Katrina. Admission is always free.

  3. Join a second line parade
    A second line is a quintessential part of New Orleans Culture. The homegrown celebration with music and dancing happens most Sundays in neighborhoods around the city.

  4. See a comedy show
    Howlin’ Wolf, Hi-Ho Lounge and Buffa’s Bar are three stops featuring comedy shows various nights of the week.

  5. Experience Burlesque Bingo
    Every Monday at 8 p.m., the MRB Bar in the French Quarter hosts Burlesque Bingo. It is free to play if you purchase a drink!

  6. Dance at Tipitina’s
    On Friday nights in the summer, patrons 21+ can enjoy the Tipitina’s concerts for free. Doors open at 9 p.m. and music starts at 10 p.m. 

  7. Watch a movie at the Orpheum Theater
    The Orpheum’s free summer movie series includes films featuring New Orleans and local legends. Check their website for dates.