15 Fun & Free things to do in New Orleans!

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If the Big Easy is one of your dream destinations, don’t worry, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have an amazing vacation when you’ve got this list of 15 Fun & Free Things to Do in New Orleans!  This city is so vibrant and has so much history and culture in it, no matter what you’re interested in you’re likely to find something you enjoy.  

The best time to visit New Orleans is between February and May because the weather is likely to be the most comfortable then.

If you want to enjoy all the Mardi Gras festivities then go between February and whenever Fat Tuesday falls, usually around the first week of March.

Want fewer crowds, lower hotel prices, and less craziness? December and January are great months to visit.  

BONUS! If you’d like a packing list to make packing for your New Orleans Trip a breeze, there’s a link to a FREE printable packing list at the end of the post!

So – onto the 15 Fun & Free Things to do! 

A parade float with a costumed man with white feathers and purple mantle - 15 Fun & Free Things to do in New Orleans!

1) Go to a parade!

The Big Easy is famously the city of Mardi Gras, of course, which basically starts on January 6th and runs until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” (or Tuesday Fat literally translated) in French and the whole celebration is about partying and having a good time before the fasting and rigors of the Lenten season begin.  

A mardi gras parade float with a large jester head - If you’re planning to travel to New Orleans for your next vacation with the kids or for a girls trip getaway but are on a budget, here are some awesome tips for things to do for free. Whether you’re on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter or visiting the Garden District, traveling in December for the holidays or in March for Mardi Gras you’ll never run out of activities! #neworleansthingstodo #neworleansvacation

The major celebrating starts about 2 Weeks before Ash Wednesday, so if you want to be in the thick of things that would be the best time to go. But pretty much any time in February and the first week of March you’ll be able to find parades every night, with music, floats, marching bands, costumes & BEADS! (I do love to catch those beads!) 

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2) Go to a Festival!

While Mardi Gras is the most famous celebration in the city it’s certainly not the only one! New Orleans has 130 festivals each year and most of them are free! You can check out what festivals are going on during your New Orleans vacation by clicking here.  

women kneeling in the grass on yoga mats with arms outstretched doing yoga in a park - 15 Fun & Free Things to do in New Orleans!

3) Feeling like you need a little quiet time after all that music and partying?

Check out the 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. 

 

A live oak tree with spanish moss and a swing hanging in it in front of a fountain - 15 Fun & Free things to do in New Orleans!

4) Take a walking tour of the Garden District!

The Garden District is one of the safest areas of the city.  There are elegant mansions,  interesting places to eat, and one of the famous New Orleans above ground cemeteries to visit (Lafayette Cemetery #1). This link will take you to a fun self-guided walking tour of the Garden District which will give you an idea of what all you can see and do there. 

 ALMOST FREE –

You can take the St. Charles Street Car from the French Quarter to get to the Garden District and see some of New Orleans’ sites on the way. The single ticket costs $1.25 but if you want to get on and off in various places you can get an all-day pass for $3.00. You can find these passes at any Walgreen’s in the area. The ride from the French Quarter to the Garden District takes about 45 minutes. On the way you’ll see historic homes, Loyola and Tulane Universities and more! The St Charles Street Car runs 24/7. The link above will give you more information. 

 

A man balancing on his head next to a street in New Orleans - 15 Fun & Free things to do in New Orleans!

5) Watch the artists and street performers in Jackson Square!

For more than 50 years artists have been gathering and creating art in Jackson Square. It’s a great place to wander around, people watch and relax. You can find self-guided walking tour information here.  

An images of a white cathedral with 3 spires - 15 Fun & Free Things to do in New Orleans

6) Tour St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

This beautiful church officially called the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis of France is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States and is a national historic landmark. You can visit and walk around on your own or even catch a free tour with a volunteer docent. Find out more here. 

A 2-storey brick building with black wrought iron details in the French Quarter New Orleans - 15 Fun & Free Things to do in New Orleans!

7) Stop by the French Quarter Visitor Center !

It’s part of the national park service, and take a free walking tour with a park ranger to learn about the history of the French Quarter. Tours begin at 9:30 AM Wednesdays through Saturdays.

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8) Enjoy free daily concerts at Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street!

Music starts at 10:30 AM. 

9) Watch artists create amazing blown glass pieces on Magazine Street!

Visit  New Orleans Glassworks! They’ve got lots of other cool art events going on as well that are all free to visit.  

People in mardi gras type costumes holding a banner marching in a parade - 15 Fun & Free Things to do in New Orleans

10) Dance along with a second line parade.

These parades are usually held on Sunday afternoons in various neighborhoods. Check out this link for dates, times and routes. 

2 hands holding full beer glasses - 15 Fun & Free things to do in New Orleans!

11) Tour the NOLA craft brewery!

And enjoy some music as well! The tours on Friday are from 2:00-3:00 followed by live music from 2:45-5:15.  

12) Window shop on Royal Street!

Not only are there great shops of all kinds, you can enjoy the many street musicians who play there day and night! Royal Street is just 1 block away from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and has some delicious dining opportunities as well. Plus, if you’re lucky you’ll find Doreen Ketchens playing on the corner of Royal and St. Peter Streets! 

A cafe aulait in a cream cup with a plate of beignets - 15 Fun & Free things to do in New Orleans!

13) Browse the French Market!

There are 6 blocks of food, souvenirs and flea market type goods to check out. This is the OLDEST market in the country and trading was going on here long before the city was founded in 1718.  

A row of brass statues playing instruments in a park setting - 15 Fun & Free things to do in New Orleans!

14) Listen to free music every Thursday afternoon!

In Louis Armstrong Park at Jazz in the Park bands perform spring and fall. 

15) Take a daytime walk in Crescent Park

It’s a 20acre linear park which runs along the Mississippi. It’ll give you great views of the river and the city skyline! 

And those are just 15 of the fun and free things you can do in New Orleans! The list could go on but I hope that will give you a good start in the planning of your New Orleans dream trip!

Here’s Your Free Bonus!

Grab this super handy packing list to help you keep your packing light and make getting ready for your trip easier! Click here to get it.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in New York check out: 40 Fun & Free Things to do in New York!

Or if Las Vegas is in your future vacation plans check out: 15 Fun & Free Things to do in Las Vegas!

If your life is feeling too hectic and like you need a permanent vacation you might find this free resource helpful:

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