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.
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.
Slurp free oysters
Oysters and music can be found for free every Friday night at Le Bon Temps Roule on Magazine Street.
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.
Relax on the banks of Bayou St. John
Watch canoes and other non-motorized water crafts float along the bayou.
Watch the sunset from Lakeshore Drive
Benches look out over beautiful Lake Pontchartrain in the Lakeview neighborhood.
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.
See the Historic New Orleans Collection
The Historic New Orleans Collection offers free tours at both its Royal Street and Chartres Street campuses.
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.
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.
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.
Peruse the French Market
Browse stalls of souvenirs and clever baubles at the French Market.
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.
Take a free tour by foot
Choose from multiple types of tours and learn about the ghosts, architecture and history of the city.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.