The 10 Best Free Things To Do in New Orleans

Kaylee Giacomini

New Orleans is a paramount historic city in the United States with rich culture and beauty in each neighborhood. Although the city offers plenty of exciting attractions, some of the completely free adventures I’ve taken have been my favorite. This city is proof that travel doesn’t always have to break the budget. Check out some of my favorite free things to do in the Big Easy from tours to live entertainment.

House of Dance & Feathers, The Spotted Cat Music Club, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Martin Lawrence Gallery, The Historic New Orleans Collection, The Sazerac House, Jackson Square, Shops of the Colonnade, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 2, Audubon Park

  • House of Dance & Feathers in New Orleans, United States

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      Check out the House of Dance and Feathers: The House of Dance and Feathers is one of the city’s best free museums. It features galleries dedicated to the Mardi Gras Indians, Skull and Bone Gangs, and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. If you come to the city outside of Mardi Gras season but still want to see some of the gorgeous costumes and installments, this is a great place to check them out.

  • The Spotted Cat Music Club in New Orleans, United States

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      Find live music: It’s not difficult to find live music in New Orleans, I tend to hear it every day on my walks to and from work. Some of the biggest live music hubs in the French Quarter can be found around Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, and Frenchmen Street. Just walk outside and join the party. As always, if you find a musician that you love be sure to leave a tip. Many restaurants and bars also put on free concerts throughout the week if you support the establishment. Some of my favorites include Bacchanal Wine and the Yard on Frenchmen. Grab a drink and enjoy the live music.

  • Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans, United States

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      Tour the Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden: The Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden is located in City Park directly beside the New Orleans Museum of Art. All park visitors are able to freely access the sculpture garden and check out over 90 unique pieces by artists all over the world. The garden spans eleven acres, making it easy to spend an afternoon appreciating the collection.

  • Martin Lawrence Gallery in New Orleans, United States

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      Visit the galleries on Royal street: Artwork can be found all over New Orleans, but many of the impressive galleries are concentrated on Royal Street in the French Quarter. You can find jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and luxurious furniture (most of which are available for purchase if you came for more than window shopping). The galleries tend to showcase famous artists; I’ve even seen a Picasso for sale in one of them. Some of my favorites to check out include the Martin Lawrence Gallery, Gallery Orange, and Sutton Galleries.

  • The Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans, United States

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      Explore the Historic New Orleans Collection: While you’re gallery hopping on Royal Street, check out the art and history museum the Historic New Orleans Collection. The Museum is completely free of charge and features six different exhibitions across two buildings. The historic galleries house portraits and artifacts depicting life in New Orleans during colonial times while the other exhibitions tend to be more modern. I recently visited and admired the “Making Mardi Gras” exhibit and their gallery dedicated to life in the French Quarter. I have also seen them feature famous photographers and nature exhibitions.

  • The Sazerac House in New Orleans, United States

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      Learn about cocktails at the Sazerac House: The Sazerac House pays homage to the now world renowned cocktail - the Sazarac. Located on Canal Street, this three story building houses a fully functioning bar, distillery, and small museum all about alcohol and the city of New Orleans. Tours of the Sazerac House are complementary, but be sure to try a Sazarac while you’re there or sign up for a tasting.

  • Jackson Square in New Orleans, United States

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      Take a Free Tour by Foot: Free Tours By Foot offers free tours across the city of New Orleans. They offer a variety of ten different tours to choose from such as cocktail, cemetery, and French Quarter tours. All tours last about 1.5 to two hours and tend to travel about a mile in total. Unsure which one to go on? Since they’re free admission, try multiple! Bring cash to tip your guide.

  • Shops of the Colonnade in New Orleans, United States

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      Walk the French Market: The French Market is a large, open air shopping hub to freely explore every day of the week. If you enter the French Market from the Quarter side, you will instantly be greeted by over 20 different food and produce vendors selling items such as freshly shucked oysters, cactuses, and spices. They also have meals and to-go drinks available. Grab a bite and head further into the market to check out some of the other vendors. People always have creative art for sale, but you’ll also find staples like souvenir T-shirts, hand decorated masks, and jewelry.

  • Saint Louis Cemetery No. 2 in New Orleans, United States

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      Visit a cemetery (⅘ of the historic ones are free entry): New Orleans is what some call an acropolis - a city of the dead. One of the reasons for this is the above ground cemeteries that quite literally resemble small communities due to the mausoleums. The deceased cannot be buried in New Orleans as the city is below sea level. Instead, all cemeteries feature above ground tombs. Four of the five famous cemeteries in New Orleans can be accessed for free (with St. Louis no. 1 as the exception) so check them out!

  • Audubon Park in New Orleans, United States

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      Stroll a park: New Orleans is home to many unique parks to check out (see my article on the best parks in New Orleans for recommendations). Take a day and visit some of them. My top picks: Audubon and City Park. Audubon is located Uptown across the street from both Tulane and Loyola Universities. Stroll along the footpaths and admire the Victorian mansions that line the park. Audubon also hosts yoga and other athletic activities throughout the week. City Park lies across Mid City and Bayou St. John and is one of the largest city parks in the United States. Walk the paths, check out the sculpture garden, and if you’re willing to spend a little money take out a swan boat or visit the NOMA.