New Orleans is bubbling with life, especially in the French Quarter. In the city known for fine dining, booze, wild nights, and seafood it can be difficult to stay on a budget, but not impossible. There are several cheap/free things to do that make the French Quarter of New Orleans on a budget plausible.
If you are on a budget, here are some cheap things you can indulge in.
Cafe Du Monde for Breakfast
Beignets and chicory coffee is the only way to spend a classic morning in New Orleans, and luckily you won’t have to break the budget for this iconic breakfast.
You won’t be the only one waiting in line for a plate of these famously delicious beignets. The line goes out onto the street for visitor waiting for a table. Waiting isn’t a drag though because live jazz seranades all the hungry customers.
An order of beignets is $3, adding on the coffee is $6. My mouth is watering just thinking about these funny cake like breakfast desserts.
Jean Lafitte National Park Tour
The riverfront history stroll free tour is first come first served, so arrive promptly at 8:30 if you want a slot in the 9 AM tour.
Being a National Park tour, the guide showed up in full uniform, making me feel like I was about to hike the appalachians. Instead, we trudge around the humid streets of New Orleans.
The tour is informational and you will learn a lot about how New Oreleans was founded, especially how the unusually high elevation levels have played a large role. All history buffs and biologists will rave over this tour.
Attend a mass service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is an icon of New Orleans. The cathedral was breathtaking, but what is more impressive is the acoustics during the singing of operatic hymns. Anyone can attend one a mass service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and there is no formal dress code.
While only 30% of New Orleans citizens are still devoted Catholics, Catholicism still plays a role in the culture of NOLA.
Voodoo is a combination of the Western American religion of Catholicism and the religion of West African. When slaves were brought to New Orleans they brought with them their West African religions as well. The combination of the colliding religions turned into a new belief. This is why you will still see Voodoo shops and hear stories of the ancient Voodoo queen of New Orleans.
Louis Armstrong Park
Louis Armstrong is a pillar of jazz music. It is no wonder the city of the heart of jazz would have a park in his honor.
This quaint park has various artwork, statues, and ponds. If you catch Louis Armstrong Park at the right time, the park hosts festivals and markets where you can purchase or simply admire the work of local artists.
Any bookworms out there?
Faulkner is a famous author in the 1930s who wrote the famous novels ‘The Sound and the Fury’ and ‘As I Lay Dying’. Like many artists, Faulkner traveled to New Orleans in hopes of inspiration.
While NOLA was not his home forever, it was a place he grew as an artist and developed some of the work we know and love today. Although Faulkner’s home is now a bookshop it is inspiring to walk through the building he once called home.
Stroll down Bourbon Street
Beads flying everywhere, live snakes around strangers necks, and loud music bellow out into the street. This street is alive.
Bourbon Street is always an entertaining show, especially in the evenings. Strolling down the streets can turn into a wild night.
A man asked me to marry him on Bourbon Street. He was a stranger, who had a bit too much to drink, but I appreciated the sentiment nonetheless.
The Lafayette cemetery is in the Garden District (so not the French Quarter). It is, however, one of the only cemeteries open to the public at no cost.
Cemeteries are usually a place of mourning not for vacationing visitors. However, the cemeteries in New Orleans are particularly unique. Due to the high sea levels graves are built above ground. These above ground cemeteries are a magnificent sight to behold.
Ride a Streetcar
In order to get to the garden district you must ride a streetcar. Not to worry, a streetcar ride is expensive and will make you feel like a local. Fare to the Garden District is about $2. Not to mention the Garden District is one of my beautiful areas in New Orleans. The Garden District has ancient colorful houses.
Where to get cheap alcohol
Drinking is a large part of New Orleans culture. In the French Quarter there are several places you can purchase affordable alcohol and still have a wild night. Bambaoula’s on Frenchman Street is one of the best bars to enjoy cheap drinks and funky live music.
Eat a Po’Boy Sandwich
The po’boy Sandwich is an iconic staple of New Orleans . A po’boy usually consists of fried crab or shrimp inside a soft baguette-like French bread. This culinary classic can be enjoyed for less than $10 in the French Market.
Window Shop in the French Market
The livly French Market is an open air flea market that covers six streets. The market sells jewelry, inexpensive souvenirs, fresh produce, and art. The French Market in New Orleans
FREE Jazz Concerts & Live Entertainment
Traditional jazz is at the heart of New Orleans. You can hear the spontaneous tunes of jazz on every street corner and in every bar jazz. Not to mention the streets are littered with performers. Everywhere you walk in New Orleans you are getting a free concert. Jackson Square in particular is a hub for street musicians, magicians, and performers.
One of my favorite free jazz spots is Cafe Beignet. Cafe Beignet located just off of Bourbon Street has talented artists that play all through the night.
Don’t dine in for every meal
While New Orleans has loads of tasty eateries, eating out every meal adds up quickly. While traveling I select one meal a day to splurge on, and eat cheaply for the other. I might snag a quick muffin at Starbucks or a sub at Subway in order to cut down on costs. Or if you are anything like me, you pack a hearty amount of snacks to curb every craving. While in the French Quarter there are coffee shops and convenient stores you can purchase snacks.
Doing New Orleans on a budget is easier than you think. I hope you like New Orleans as much as I do.
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