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Big Lake at New Orleans City Park - Tulips at Sunset
Big Lake at New Orleans City Park - Tulips at Sunset

50 Free Things to Do in New Orleans

Our Favorite Ways to have a $0 Day in NOLA

It doesn’t take a lot of money to dive into the real New Orleans, a place with deep culture, proud neighborhoods, vibrant street music, and art, and a history unlike any other city in America. Here are 50 ways you can experience your own New Orleans without spending a penny.

  1. Wander along Woldenberg Riverfront Park
    From Canal Street to the Moon Walk along the French Quarter, stroll down the riverfront and watch ships of all kinds ply the Mighty Mississippi.
  2. Walk through Crescent Park 
    Also on the riverfront, Crescent Park offers stellar city views, accessed just past the French Market at Elysian Fields. You can go all the way to Bywater.
  3. Window shop 
    Wander down Royal and Chartres streets to admire art, antiques and oddities. Wander Magazine Street, famous for its eclectic shops and cozy eateries.
  4. Listen to the calliope steam organ 
    When the Steamboat Natchez is docked on the Mississippi River in the French Quarter, the organ will serenade you every hour.
Rebecca Todd
Sunday Second Line
  1. 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.
  2. Attend a Mardi Gras Parade
    Catch beads and other throws during Carnival season at dozens of Mardi Gras parades all over town.
  3. Stroll the St. Claude Arts District
    The Second Saturday Art Walk is a exciting way to start your evening in the funky Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods.
  4. Gallery hop in the Arts and Warehouse District 
    Check out Julia Street on the first Saturday evening of every month.
  5. Listen to great New Orleans bands during Wednesday at the Square in the Spring
    Wednesday at the Square is a free 12-week concert series in Lafayette Square starting in March and running through the end of May.
  6. Hear more free music every Thursday at Jazz in the Park
    Every Spring and Fall, bands perform once a week in Louis Armstrong Park.
Cheryl Gerber, NOTMC
Satchmo SummerFest
  1. Attend one of our many free festivals on just about any weekend
    There is the French Quarter Festival in mid-April, the South’s largest free music festival that transforms the French Quarter into one big performance venue; the Satchmo SummerFest in August; the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival in October and so many more.
  2. Take a free tour of the Nola Brewery
    Dip into the local craft beer scene at Nola Brewery and Tap Room. Tours are Friday and Saturday afternoons.
  3. Swing dance every Sunday
    The AllWays Lounge offers free swing dance lessons with the NOLA Jitterbugs Dance School.
  4. Walk around the lake in City Park 
    The Big Lake at City Park is full of activity and walking paths. You just might sneak up on a dozing turtle or surprise a yellow-footed egret into flight.
  5. Familiarize yourself with New Orleans history.
    Read the historic plaques that are scattered on noteworthy buildings and public art all over the city.
  6. Enjoy a free wine tasting
    Every Friday, head to Second Vine Wine for free wine tastings from 6pm-8:30pm.
  7. People watch along Jackson Square
    Mule-drawn buggies line up, artists sell their creations and tarot card readers tell you your future throughout Jackson Square.
  8. Take a free yoga class
    Get with your Zen in free yoga classes held Saturdays at 10 a.m. at New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park at the Esplanade Avenue end of the French Market.
  9. Volunteer
    Volunteer and connect with locals through one of the many grassroots organizations helping to improve and rebuild New Orleans’ neighborhoods. Check out www.HandsOnNewOrleans.org for some ideas.
  10. Watch the “greasing of the poles” at the Royal Sonesta Hotel
    On the Friday before Fat Tuesday, the greasing of the polls draws hundreds of viewers, a tradition that was started to discourage revelers from climbing onto balconies but now is just a sassy good time.
  11. Relax on the banks of Bayou St. John 
    Watch canoes and other non-motorized water crafts float along the bayou.
  12. Yell “Stella!” during the Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest
    The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival has the contest in the spring in Jackson Square.
  13. 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.
  14. March along in the French Quarter Easter Parade
    Legendary one-woman show Chris Owens leads the parade each year, and it is a site to see.
  15. Check out the Mardi Gras Indians
    Watch the famed meeting of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes on Super Sunday, the third Sunday in March, in Central City.
Zack Smith
Exploring New Orleans’ Garden District
  1. Wander through the Garden District
    Admire the beautiful mansions and wrought iron fences and balconies throughout the Garden District neighborhood.
  2. Dance down Frenchmen Street 
    Any night of the week, music fills the air from the many clubs that rock till the wee hours.
  3. Access the Historic New Orleans Collection
    Learn about the history of the Crescent City. Visits and self-guided tours of the museum galleries are always free.
  4. 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.
  5. Slurp free oysters 
    Oysters and music can be found for free every Friday night at Le Bon Temps Roule on Magazine Street.
  6. Visit the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
    Open seven days a week, the Sculpture Garden is part of NOMA and includes 64 sculptures, a lagoon, spanish-moss and beautiful scenery. Admission is always free.
  7. 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.
  8. Visit Milton H. Latter Memorial Library
    The New Orleans Public Library is in a stately mansion on St. Charles Avenue that once belonged to silent film star Marguerite Clark.
Paul Broussard
New Orleans French Market
  1. Peruse the French Market
    Browse stalls of souvenirs and clever baubles at the French Market.
  2. Take a tour of Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.
    The historic church is open to the public and is beautiful. 
  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.
  4. 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.
  5. Learn how to saber champagne
    Every Friday, head to the Brennan’s courtyard at 5 p.m. for champagne sabering.
  6. Ogle art at one of the many art markets around town
    There is the Frenchmen Art Garage on Frenchmen Street, the Art Garage on St. Claude Avenue as well as Saturday art markets such as one in on Freret Street the first Saturday of the month and another in Palmer Park the last Saturday of the month.
  7. Relax at The Fly
    The Fly is a swathe of green space behind Audubon Zoo on the Mississippi River. Sunsets there are lovely.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Listen to Doreen play jazz
    She’s on Royal Street in front of Rouse’s most days, just one of the many talented street performers who fill the city with music.
  11. 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.
  12. Sit under century-old Live Oak trees
    Audubon Park or City Park are great options. Admire the Spanish Moss that hangs down.
  13. Watch the sunset from Lakeshore Drive
    Benches look out over beautiful Lake Pontchartrain in the Lakeview neighborhood.
  14. Get into the holiday mood
    Cathedral concerts, bonfires and more take place for free during Christmas New Orleans Style, the month of December.
  15. Watch the crowds on Bourbon Street
    You’re liable to see just about anything. 
  16. Watch artists demonstrate glass blowing
    Rosetree Blown Glass Studio, Studio Inferno or New Orleans Glassworks all create beautiful pieces.
  17. Meander around one of the city’s many farmers markets
    Take in a cooking demonstration or two. There is the Crescent City Farmers Market and the Hollygrove Farmers Market among others.

For more ideas of what to do in New Orleans, visit our things to do page-- you’re sure to have a good time. Start planning your trip here.