Several years ago we were in Tallahassee FL to see their State Capitol and then spent a week in the Panhandle area. While there we decided to spend part of the day in NOLA. Sadly we weren’t there long enough to get any kind of feel for the city. The next time I was hoping to have more time to better appreciate their amazing jazz, and a full belly of their tasty gumbo Happily I can say we went back and had a very nice time in this amazing city. While preparing for a trip, I try to find some free or cheaper things to do in new cities. With that in mind, here is my list of 8 FREE things we hope to do while in the colorful city of NOLA.
See a Parade
New Orleans hosts several parades throughout the year, culminating in the largest free party on Earth: Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras season in New Orleans starts every year on January 6th, and ends when Easter falls. Every parade in the city is free to attend. I am excited, as we will be there until the 7th so we should be able to see the beginning of Mardi Gars. So cool.
Take a Free Tour of the French Quarter
Want to get to know the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood? You can do it for no cost, either with a tour guide (Tues-Sat at 9:30am) or a self-guided tour, via the National Park Service’s French Quarter Visitors Center.
Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art
The 100-year-old New Orleans Museum of Art sits inside the 1,300-acre City Park in the Mid-City area of town. The museum has a collection of fine paintings, sculptures, and historical objects ranging from the pre-Christian era to modern. It also receives frequent traveling exhibitions. An outdoor sculpture garden displays dozens of installations.
The Algiers Ferry gives you some of the best things you can find in New Orleans as you travel from the banks of the French Quarter to the neighborhood of Algiers. First, you get an up-close view of the Mississippi River, one of the most impressive natural landmarks in the city. Second, photography enthusiasts love the opportunities to see both the oldest parts of the city and a view of the downtown skyline from the ferry. While the ferry isn’t exactly free (it’s $2.00 at the time of my post), if you buy a 1 or 5 Day Integrated Pass, it won’t cost you anymore.
Take a Self-Guided Tour of the Garden District
Founded in 1806, the Garden District is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in New Orleans. St. Charles Street is lined with huge oak trees and large mansions that boast rich history and exemplify southern grandeur. Free tour maps are available in the French Quarter Visitor Center, inside any streetcar, or in the Riverwalk Mall.
Catch the Street Performers at Jackson Square
The French Quarter’s Jackson Square is a year-round hangout for street performers and artists. The perimeter of the park is lined with painters and sketch artists creating and selling original work. On the square’s two side streets, street performers do everything from tap dancing to creating living sculptures. We here this is the place to be to watch fireworks on New Years Eve!
Tour the Cities of the Dead
Large above-ground cemeteries scattered around New Orleans known as the Cities of the Dead are must-see for any visitor. You can pay for a guided tour of many of them, but they’re also open to the public free of charge. Two of the more popular ones are Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. A note of interest, the Lafayette Cemetery No 1 is the final resting place of Judge Warren J. Ferguson, of “Plessy v. Ferguson” fame.
Tour Saint Louis Cathedral
Dating back to the 1700s, Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France is an impressive blend of Old World architecture and Catholic treasures. The church features ornate woodwork, stained glass windows, and beautiful sculptures. While mass is still held inside the church, you can tour both the grounds and worshiping areas Wednesday through Saturday from 1pm to 4pm.
We are very excited about our trip and can't wait to explore and really get a feel for New Orleans. Make sure to come back sometime in January as I will be sharing posts from New Orleans as well as the State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge. If you are from the area, or have been there a bit, please make a quick comment and let us know some of the do's and don'ts of visiting NOLA. Other than that I will end my saying, laissez le bon temps rouler!