NOLA on a Budget: 10 of the Big Easy’s Best Affordable Adventures

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Starla is a valued contributor to the Sampling America writing team, passionately sharing captivating narratives from adventures across the country and beyond.

Given its reputation for being a lively party city, it isn’t hard to find something fun to do in New Orleans. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. The Big City is teeming with budget-friendly activities for you to enjoy, and we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites. 

Check out the French Quarter.

French Quarter
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Take your time strolling through the French Quarter, admiring the beautiful architecture and letting the city’s vibrant energy inspire you. Check out Jackson Square, the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, and the uber-famous Bourbon Street!

Browse the French Market.

French Market
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Did you know the French Market is the oldest continuously operating public market in the United States? The French Market is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and it’s packed with local crafters who make and sell all kinds of goodies, from ceramics to jewelry to fiber art. If you have the budget for it, support a local maker. But if you don’t, no worries; spending a pretty penny here isn’t necessary for a good time. It’s fun enough walking around, seeing everyone’s creations, and mingling with local makers. 

Visit City Park.

City Park
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We’re sure you could spend the entire day in City Park and be satisfied. There’s plenty for you to do there. Take a walk, rent a bike, picnic, visit the free sculpture garden, stop by the botanical gardens, play a few rounds at City Park — the list goes on. Since the famous Café du Monde has a location within the park, you can snack on beignets and sip chicory coffee between activities or while you relax amidst nature.

Take a self-guided Walking Tour.

Walking in New Orleans
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While New Orleans is home to many walking tour services, you can save a few bucks by going on one of your own. Download a free walking tour app, like GPSmyCity, or grab a map from a visitor center to peruse the city at your own pace. 

Take a Ferry Ride.

Canal Street Ferry
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Hop on the Canal Street Ferry for a ride across the Mississippi River. The ferry, which has been in operation since 1827, offers you some of the best views of the city and lots of Instagram-worthy photo-ops. Plus, it’s only two dollars per ride — what a bargain!

Visit the New Orleans African American Museum.

New Orleans
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The Big Easy wouldn’t be the same without the contributions of African Americans, and the New Orleans African American Museum puts them on full display. Make NOAAM a stop on your next trip to New Orleans and get lost in the photography, murals, textiles, and more on display in and around the facility.

Wander Through Algiers Point.

Algiers Point
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Algiers Point is New Orleans’ second-oldest neighborhood, just across the river from downtown New Orleans. The charming, quiet area has beautiful buildings to admire, quaint shops to visit, and casual watering holes to eat and drink at. It’s also home to the Jazz Walk of Fame, a walking tour that spotlights the music genre’s greats, like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet.

Stop by Music Legends Park.

Music Legends Park
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Music Legends Park is just what its name suggests: a park dedicated to New Orleans’ musical icons. Life-size bronze statues of local musicians like Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Fats Domino, Chris Owens, Ronnie Cole, Louis Prima, Allen Toussaint, and Irma Thomas are placed throughout this Bourbon Street venue, and there are usually live music performances happening there during daytime hours. And the best part? Cafe Beignet is on the far side of the park; you won’t have to go far to find something to munch on while you enjoy the music.

Enjoy Nature in Audubon Park.

Audubon Park
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Nature lovers visiting New Orleans will feel right at home in Audubon Park. The beautiful green space has no shortage of oak trees to relax under, so feel free to bring a book or a picnic and stay a while. There’s also a 1.8-mile jogging path, lagoon, picnic shelters, and playgrounds for the kids. You can also stop in at the Audubon Aquarium or Audubon Zoo, but unlike many of the park’s other attractions, those aren’t free. 

Go To a Free Festival.

New Orleans Festivals
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If you time your visit carefully, you might wind up in New Orleans while one of its lively festivals is occurring. And fortunately for budget-friendly travelers, not all these events require admission fees. French Quarter Fest and Jazz in the Park are just two of them, but there are plenty. So, be sure to check out a city events calendar before you arrive to see what’s going on during your stay. 

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Miami Beach
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Ann Arbor for MSN
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