New Orleans is a great place to find entertainment of any kind. It could be live music, a cooking demonstration, an enterprising street performer, a play or, of course, a parade. Often, though, we may find ourselves spending a bit more than we’d like on these diversions.
We want to help you Experience New Orleans without experiencing wallet burnout, so we rounded up our favorite free activities, venues and events around the city. Check them out, and remember: the best things in life are free!
So many great music venues in New Orleans don’t charge a cover that you’ll never need to pay for great music! Take a walk down Frenchmen Street, and pop in at any number of clubs, like the Spotted Cat or Maison, that feature nightly live music with no cover. There may, however, be a one-drink minimum--if you like the music, consider shelling out for an Abita to round out your excursion. Bonus: Maison offers free barbeque every Thursday at 7 p.m.
Free concert series also abound, like the Young Leadership Council-sponsored Wednesdays at the Square, which has filled this spring's evenings with sound and ends next Wednesday, May 30. Food and drink are for sale here, but music by a number of local and national acts is free! This annual event in Lafayette Square lasts for 12 weeks, so make sure to catch all of your favorite concerts next year. There’s also Bon Operatit!, a free opera aria and musical theater performance each month at the Inn on Bourbon.
Why wouldn’t New Orleans offer up free food? Chow down on free red beans and rice (Mondays) and oysters (Thursdays) at Banks Street Bar, or visit Mick’s Irish Pub for a free lunch any weekday (it does exist!). Every Friday from 5-9 p.m. is Funk & Crunk Friday at Handsome Willy’s, with free food that changes each week--or go to Le Bon Temps on Magazine for free oysters.
On Sunday evenings, spirit yourself over to the Hare Krishna Temple on Esplanade, a big, beautiful Creole mansion typical of that lovely neighborhood, where a mouthwatering Indian meal is served up free of charge to all comers (though donations are appreciated).
Farmers’ and Art Markets
You don’t have to spend anything to enjoy browsing one of the city’s vibrant outdoor markets--just make sure to wear sunscreen! Check out the Palmer Park Arts Market on the last Saturday of every month, or venture over to the Freret Market, which offers fresh produce, local art, and flea market treasures on the first Saturday of every month (excluding July and August...because presumably, it’s just too hot).
Or, take a Tuesday morning to visit Uptown Square and browse one of the Crescent City Farmers’ Market’s three incarnations (the others are located downtown and in Mid-City on Saturday and Thursday, respectively). And of course, there is always the fun diversion of sifting through the French Market for bedazzled cigarette lighters, knockoff designer purses, and hats shaped like zoo animals.
Sometimes we post silly pictures.