Free Things to Do in New Orleans

AAA/Thuyvi Gates
By AAA Travel Editor Laurie Sterbens
September 07, 2018
As the millions of tourists who visit New Orleans each year can attest, there's no shortage of fun things to do in this city. With live music venues, tours, attractions and events, along with great restaurants and shopping, there's more going on here than you can fit into the average vacation. But what if you're on a budget? No worries—there are plenty of free things to do in New Orleans, too. Here are just a few.
Bench in Audubon Park in New Orleans Louisiana
Rauluminate/iStockphoto.com
Audubon Park
6500 Magazine St.
(504) 581-4629
Ancient live oaks shade this uptown oasis, where you'll find gardens, a labyrinth, peaceful lagoons, picnic shelters and a playground if you need things to do with kids. Along the riverfront is the Butterfly Riverview Park—“the Fly” as locals call it—the perfect spot to relax and watch the sun set over the Mississippi River.
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Haines Hwy Scenic Byway AK 564582 bald eagle
BrandyTaylor/iStockphoto.com
Couterie Forest and Scout Island
1009 Harrison Ave.
(504) 482-4888
Take a walk along the trails through this 60-acre forest in City Park and you'll forget you're in the city. Eight different ecosystems flourish here, and you'll see many species of birds and fish amid the trees and waterways. Look for Laborde Mountain, New Orleans' highest point at 43 feet above sea level. The “mountain” was created using leftover riprap from the construction of Interstate 610, and features an observation deck and benches at the top.
AAA/Photo submitted by Brooke Holt
Crescent City Farmers Market
1235 N. Peters St. and 50 Carondelet St.
(504) 861-4488
Foodies will enjoy the Crescent City Farmers' Market, which takes place at four locations throughout the city. On Wednesdays at the French Market and Saturdays downtown, you can listen to live music and see cooking demonstrations by local chefs as you browse the locally sourced meat, produce, seafood and tempting baked goods.
Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France, French Quarter
AAA/Thuyvi Gates
Free Concerts
Jackson Square
Algiers Point, Canal-Algiers Ferry
Jackson Square: (504) 658-3200 Algiers Point: (504) 339-2899 Louis Armstrong Park: (504) 658-3200
Jackson Square is a year-round hub for all kinds of street performers, including solo musicians and bands, so you're likely to find live music no matter when you visit. Beginning in March, don't miss Wednesdays in the Square, a free, 12-week evening concert series featuring a variety of great local bands. June through August, the concert series becomes Wednesdays on the Point in Algiers, just a short, $2 ride across the river on the Canal Street-Algiers ferry. On Thursday evenings in the spring and fall, you can enjoy Jazz in the Park at Louis Armstrong Park, featuring local bands along with a DJ and art displays with live painting.
The Historic New Orleans Collection in Louisiana
Wikimedia Commons/Infrogmation
The Historic New Orleans Collection
533 Royal St.
(504) 523-4662
If you're a history or architecture buff or simply interested in learning more about the city's past, a visit to the Historic New Orleans Collection won't disappoint. Established in 1966 by Gen. and Mrs. L. Kemper Williams, the museum includes several historic buildings with galleries introducing visitors to city history and regional culture. The Williams Research Center on Chartres Street features art and memorabilia, including around 350,000 drawings, paintings, photos, prints and artifacts.
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Group tour in Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans Louisiana
Wikimedia Commons/Tulane Public Relations
Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
1 Collins Diboll Cir.
(504) 658-4100
View more than 60 sculptures along paths that wind through five acres of lush gardens at this AAA GEM® attraction in City Park. A lagoon divides the sculpture garden into two halves—a magnolia and pine grove, and an area featuring 200-year-old live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. A free audio tour that you can access on your cell phone is available; inquire at the front gate.
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