There's a ton to do in New Orleans, and not all of it costs money. New Orleans is pedestrian and bicycle-friendly--no hills! One of the oldest cities in the United States--and a port one at that--there's not much sprawl and you'll find the neighborhoods blend in to one another. So, we've made a list of 10 fun and free things to do. Let the good times roll! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
1.) Ride the Canal Street ferry across the Mississippi river to Algier's Point. You can't get a better view of the New Orleans skyline than this, and the city lights at night are stunning! The ferry runs every day until midnight and departs from the foot of Canal Street every 30 minutes. It is free for pedestrians & bicycles (cars are $1 on the return trip from Algiers Point). Algiers Point is the second oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and home to some wonderful Victorian and Gingerbread-style houses. Visit Old Point Bar, just a few blocks from the ferry terminal--you just might catch a movie shoot!
2.) During the spring and fall months, pop over to Lafayette Square on Wednesday evenings for the free Wednesdays on the Square concerts. All the pretty people turn out and the music is always excellent. Food and drinks for sale benefit local charities. What about the summer months, you say? Ride the ferry over to Algiers Point for Wednesdays on the Point and get your groove on!
3.) Visit famous St. Louis Cathedral and light a candle for the dearly departed. Stroll the cobblestones and listen to local musicians, browse the art or get a tarot or palm reading. Stroll down Pirate's Alley on the side of the church and smell the history. The pirate Jean Lafitte and his men sold their plundered goods from the holy ground of the church--off limits to the "law"--and passed them through the fence to buyers in Pirate's Alley. Hence the term "fencing" goods.
4.) Stroll into Jackson Square and admire the statue of Andrew Jackson, the Hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Beautifully landscaped, the square is a great place to lounge on the grass or benches and people watch; or enjoy a Cafe au Lait and beignets from Cafe du Monde, just across Decatur Street. Want to catch a carriage ride? All the carriages line up on Decatur Street directly in front of the square.
5.) Make your way up to City Park--the fifth largest municipal park in the United States and nearly twice as large as New York's Central Park. Hang out under one of the 100+ year old Live Oaks and watch the world go by. After all, City Park is the largest stand of Live Oaks anywhere in the world! Want to see some art while you're there? Stroll through the Sculpture Garden and see some "interesting" pieces.
6.) Spend an afternoon walking down Magazine Street and take in the galleries and shops that make this one of the greatest stretches of shopping around. Hungry? While food's not free, find the perfect restaurant and dine al fresco and enjoy more people watching.
7.) Check out the French Market, located on the far end of Decatur Street. Stretching several blocks, the market is nearly always full of people, vendors selling everything under the sun (great for souvenir shopping) and great food stalls.
8.) Promenade down Royal Street. Most of the day and night, the street is closed to traffic and pedestrian only. Enjoy colorful street performers and musicians as well as fine art galleries and antique shops along the way.
9.) Come for Mardi Gras and join the happy crowds on the "neutral ground" for more than two weeks of parades. Contrary to popular belief, Mardi Gras is family-friendly and the biggest time of year in New Orleans, culminating on Fat Tuesday. Collect beads and "throws" that krewes toss from floats; learn how to beg properly--"Mister please, mister please!"--and you just might get a prized hand-painted coconut from the Zulus!
10.) While not exactly free, dig out the loose change from your pocket (you only need $1.25) and ride the 12 miles of the famous St. Charles Avenue "green line" Streetcar through Uptown. Don't worry, you won't be stuck; it loops back and deposits you right back on Canal Street from where you started.
Have a few favorites of your own? Leave a comment and let everyone know what you love to do!