11 Best Free Things to Do in New Orleans

best free things to do in New Orleans

When you’re traveling to a new city, sure, you want to see and do things you’ve never done. There are restaurants to try, top attractions to visit, and hotels to stay at. Add all three together and the cost can really add up. If you want to save some cash, the best way to do it is to look for all of the freebies. So, I did the leg work and the research. Partnering with Hotels.com, I give you the best free things to do in New Orleans that won’t cost you a cent!

best free things to do in New Orleans signage

First, Where to Stay in New Orleans

Depending on the luxury level and your budget, there are plenty of options for lodging in New Orleans, Louisiana. And depending on the time of year (Mardi Gras definitely has a premium hotel price), the amount you’ll spend will fluctuate. 

By far, the most convenient place to stay in New Orleans is along Canal and Bourbon Streets in The French Quarter. Again, you’re paying for convenience which is a good thing if you want to park your car and walk. The farther away you get from The French Quarter, the less expensive the New Orleans hotels are. I stayed in The Warehouse District at Lee Circle on my last visit and it was only a few blocks of walking to the French Quarter. 


Catch a Mardi Gras Parade

best free things to do in New Orleans mardi gras parade

During Mardi Gras Season, you can check out parades nearly all day. Each year, the parade  Krewes go bigger and better with their themes and costuming. Additionally, the closer to Mardi Gras you get, the more daily parades are offered. If you want to check ahead of time to make plans around a particular parade, check the Mardi Gras Parade Schedule. 


Walk Through the Garden District

best free things to do in New Orleans walk through Garden District

By far, one of my favorite things to do in New Orleans is strolling through the Garden District. Filled with Nineteenth Century stately homes, wrought iron railing, and pristinely-manicured lawns, it’s a must do for any architect lover and history buff. 


Visit a Cemetery

best free things to do in New Orleans  visit a cemetery

Sure, visiting a cemetery while on vacation is probably not on the top of your list, but in New Orleans is should be. There are three popular ones that are photo worthy and showcase above ground burials (due to the flood levels):

  • Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: 1400 Washington Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130
  • St. Patrick’s Cemetery No. 2: 143 City Park Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115
  • St. Louis Cemetery No. 3: 3421 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, LA 70112 

If you have time, definitely check out all three. Each offers insight into the tragic history of the city’s immigrants. 


Walk Down Canal Street

best free things to do in New Orleans Canal Street

Just for the sake of saying you did, make it a point to walk down Canal Street. It’s here you’ll find restaurants, bars, shops, and plenty of people wanting to revel in the New Orleans nostalgia.


People Watch

We love people watching, no matter what new city we’re in. So, grab a spot on a bench and watch both locals and visitors stroll by. 


See the Historic New Orleans Collection

In the French Quarter, head to the Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street. Eight architectural masterpieces, mosey through the buildings and learn about how the residents lived and worked. You’ll also find everything from galleries to and exhibition center.


Visit St. Louis Cathedral

best free things to do in New Orleans St. Louis Cathedral

One of the most popular locations in The French Quarter is at St. Louis Cathedral. Located in Jackson Square, guests may visit the interior and spy the ornate architecture or even attend mass. 


Check Out Free Entertainment

While you’re in Jackson Square, keep an eye out for live entertainment. When I visited, there was back to back shows, small concerts, and dance groups ready to perform for the crowds. 


Learn at the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum

Open from noon to 5pm daily except for Mondays, the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum gives the history of the area straight from the mouths of its residents. When you visit this fascinating museum, you’ll learn about what life was like from the 1700’s when it was a colony for escaped slaves to present day. 


Take a Nola Brewery Free Tour

Every Friday & Saturday from 2-3pm, head to Nola Brewery for a free tour. 


Relax on The Fly

The Fly, an area of Audubon Park at Riverside, is a super popular spot to sit and relax. It’s a fun place to take a picnic, enjoy the gorgeous water views, and rest your feet for a bit. 



As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times when traveling. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk. 

 If you do decide to travel at this time, here are my recommendations for safety: 

  • Wear a face mask and, if it’s cloth, wash and dry daily. 
  • Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis. 
  • Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures and status of local businesses. Additionally, check with your state’s policies to determine if you’ll need to quarantine when you return home. 
  • Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.


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