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New Orleans on a Budget Itinerary

New Orleans is famous for its historic architecture, rich music culture, and charming boutiques and restaurants. But you don’t have to drain your wallet to experience the magic of the city! From happy hour specials to hidden gems, there are affordable options all over New Orleans, during anytime of year. Check out these recommendations for budget-friendly fun in every neighborhood of the city.

The French Quarter

This most historic part of New Orleans is famous for its fancy restaurants, boutiques, and cocktail bars. But you don’t have to break the bank to have a great time the French Quarter.

  1. Café Du Monde
    Jackson Square
    Lafitte Blacksmith Shop
    Breakfast - Start your day with some strong coffee and a delicious pastry from Croissant D’Or Patisserie. Or treat yourself to a plate of piping hot beignets and café au lait from Café du Monde.
  2. A stroll through the Quarter - Take a walk through the beautiful French Quarter to see some of the most historic architecture in the country, starting with The Old Ursuline Convent, the oldest building in the Mississippi Riverfront.
  3. Art Galleries - explore the galleries on Royal Street for a free taste of New Orleans’ authentic local art culture.
  4. Jackson Square - This iconic hotspot in the city is known for its bronze statues and open-air art market. From here, you can take a peek into the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral and then head over to Café Du Monde for its famous café au lait and beignets.
  5. Lunch - Grab a traditional Italian Muffuletta from Central Grocery and bring it to the river to enjoy lunch with a view!
  6. Dinner - Port of Call is a great choice for a hamburger and a signature tiki drink, or swing by Killer Po-Boys for some creative takes on the traditional NOLA sandwich.
  7. Jazz and drinks - For a small entree fee at Preservation Hall, you can listen to live Jazz from some of the original master musicians. After the live show, head down to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, for some inexpensive drinks. Located on Bourbon and St. Phillip St., Lafitte’s is reputed as the oldest bar in the United States. In the mood for craft cocktails? Swing over to Bar Tonique and flip through their multi-page menu of very reasonably priced NOLA classics.

The Arts/ Warehouse District

Enjoy a day of world class art and museums in the Warehouse District with some surprisingly affordable admission prices!

  1. Ogden Museum of Art
    The American Sector
    Ogden Museum of Art - This museum holds the most comprehensive collection of Southern art in the world and offers free/ discounted admission for students, seniors, and more.
  2. Picnic in the park - Lafayette Square is the second oldest park in New Orleans. It hosts a free 12-week concert series and even a couple festivals throughout the year. Pick up a deli sandwich from Rouse’s Supermarket or Cochon Butcher and enjoy a picnic in the square.
  3. The Contemporary Arts Center - This massive warehouse space turned into an art museum is the perfect place to visit for art displays from both local and internationally known artists.
  4. Happy Hour - The Warehouse District is growing in popularity for its upscale restaurants, but this neighborhood has some great happy hour specials. Check out La Cocinita or The American Sector (located inside the WWII museum) for some fun and affordable happy hour deals.

Uptown/ Garden District

With its massive trees and historic mansions, quaint shops and bookstores, and mouthwatering cuisine options, Uptown is the place to go for a budget-friendly day of Louisiana charm.

  1. Streetcar
    St. James Cheese Company
    The Columns Hotel
    Start your day by taking the historic Streetcar down St. Charles Avenue. Riding the oldest continuously operated streetcar in the country is your best way to enjoy the Oak trees and antebellum mansions.
  2. Breakfast- Camellia Grill is a landmark diner in the Uptown/Garden District neighborhood. Grab a seat at the counter and enjoy!
  3. Audubon Park - Go for a stroll under the oaks at Audubon Park, or lounge in a gazebo and feed the ducks.
  4. Lunch - Grab a sandwich or salad from St. James Cheese Company, a local cheese shop with a seriously loyal following. Or swing by Pizza Domenica, the casual off-shoot of the James Beard Award-winning Italian restaurant downtown. If you wait around for a later lunch, you may even hit their happy hour, where all pizzas are half off.
  5. Cemetery Tour - New Orleans is famous for its above-ground crypts and tombs. Take a self-guided walking tour of Uptown cemeteries like Lafayette Cemetery on Washington Street.
  6. Happy Hour - Sip on drink on classic cocktails at happy hour prices from The Columns Hotel. Take a step back in time at this antique lounge, and enjoy your discounted drinks!Cure on Freret Street also has a very tempting happy hour for those seeking craft cocktails.
  7. Dinner and Drinks - Freret Street is up-and-coming for the restaurant and bar scene. Restaurants like The Company Burger, Ancora Pizza, and High Hat Cafe are sure to please any hungry stomach on a budget. Play a free game of skee-ball at local dive bar, The Other Bar, or listen to live music at Gasa Gasa.

Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge

If you really want to experience New Orleans like a local, spend a day in Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge for some inexpensive local favorites.  

  1. Parkway Tavern
    Sculpture Garden
    Lunch - Sink your teeth into a famous Po-Boy sandwich from Parkway Bakery in Mid-City, fully dressed. They’re also fun to get for takeout if you want a picnic along nearby Bayou St. John.
  2. City Park - Free admission to New Orleans’ City Park will fill your afternoon with outdoor family-fun activities. Go for a jog through the lush park, or take a stroll and bird watch.
  3. New Orleans Museum of Art - Located in the heart of City Park sits the New Orleans Museum of Art, or the NOMA. Explore New Orleans art inside the museum, or outside in the famous Sculpture Garden, which offers free admission.
  4. Bayou St. John - See the Louisiana Bayou St. John up close and personal along the 1.7 mile jogging and bike path in Mid-City.
  5. Dinner - Split a heaping portion of the paella at Lola’s or nosh on some modern Vietnamese cuisine at Mopho. In the mood for Mexican? Try the Creole-infused fare at Juan’s Flying Burrito.
  6. Sweet Treat - Top off the day with something sweet from Angelo Brocato’s Italian Gelateria or grab a plate of hot beignets at Morning Call Coffee Stand, which is open 24 hours a day. You deserve it.

Marigny/ Bywater

Just downriver of the French Quarter, the Marigny and Bywater is the place to go for great live music, art markets, and the tastiest food that’s easy to keep in budget.

  1. St. Roch Market
    Frenchmen Art Market
    Breakfast - New Orleans Cake Cafe & Bakery serves up a hot breakfast complete with Louisiana grits or a plate of biscuits and gravy.
  2. Art Markets - Enjoy the various art galleries in the Marigny/Bywater neighborhood. Check out Dr. Bob’s quirky art gallery or the outdoor Frenchman Street Art Market.
  3. Lunch - Grab lunch at Dat Dog’s Frenchmen Street outpost, or a slice of pizza at the seriously addictive Pizza Delicious further down in the Bywater.
  4. Bike Ride - Explore the neighborhood in nice weather on a bike ride with rentals from Bicycle Michael’s.
  5. Dinner - Pho King, at the Lost Love Lounge, is the spot for Vietnamese dining at reasonable prices. Can’t decide what type of cuisine you want? Browse the options at the St. Roch Market or try Mimi’s in the Marigny, which has crazy good tapas (AND their kitchen is open ‘til 4 a.m.)
  6. Drinks & Music - Frenchman Street is the best place in the city to hear live music and experience New Orleans like a local. On Frenchmen Street you’ll find live music on any given night of the week. Check out the Spotted Cat and Blue Nile for inexpensive drinks and live blues, jazz, funk and more from various artists. And for live jazz from some of New Orleans’ classic originals, Snug Harbor has two shows a night in its fun, family friendly nightclub!
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