Mardi Gras may be “The Greatest Free Show on Earth,” but it’s hardly the only free thing to do in New Orleans. Every day, there are multiple offerings in the area that are free or low-cost. If you’re looking for a way to entertain guests (or yourself!) without breaking the bank, here are 5 things to do that are totally free.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
Since it opened in 2003, the Sculpture Garden has quickly become a favorite of locals and tourists alike. This year, the Garden doubled in size to encompass 11 acres of land in the heart of City Park. The expansion also includes 26 new works from contemporary artists, putting the Sculpture Garden at the cutting edge of the art world. When you’re done taking in the beauty and creativity of the Garden, enjoy beignets at the new Café Du Monde conveniently located in the park. Free and open to the public from 10 am-6 pm, 7 days/week; 1 Collins Diboll Circle, noma.org
Crescent City Farmer’s Market
Held at different locations in the city throughout the week, the Crescent City Farmer’s Market has around 90 local vendors, selling everything from fresh bread to frozen fruit ice pops. The Market is an experience in and of itself, offering many different cooking demonstrations and free samples. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to meet local farmers and artisans and learn more about the food traditions of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Stock up on local groceries or just simply enjoy the experience of the outdoor market. Locations and times vary day-to-day, learn more at crescentcityfarmersmarket.org.
Lower 9th Ward Living Museum
Following the devastation of the Lower 9th Ward during Katrina, in 2011, Dr. Caroline Heldman and Ian Breckinridge-Jackson founded the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum to preserve the culture and history of this iconic New Orleans neighborhood. The museum features oral histories from residents of the neighborhoods, historical exhibits, and cultural events. The museum also puts on a variety of community events meant to empower the residents of the Lower 9th. Admission is always free, though donations are accepted. Open Tuesdays-Fridays, noon-5 pm; 1235 Deslonde Street; l9livingmuseum.org
Located just beyond New Orleans East, Bayou Sauvage is one of the last remaining marsh areas adjacent to both Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne. The area is home to approximately 340 bird species, hundreds of fish species, and countless alligators. Only about 20 minutes away from downtown, Bayou Sauvage is the perfect place for a quick hike or fishing trip. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is free and open to the public seven days a week, 365 days/year, though the visitor’s center is closed on holidays. Learn more at Fws.gov
Jazz Yoga at the National Historic Jazz Park
Every Saturday at 10:30 a.m., locals gather for a free yoga class held in the National Historic Jazz Park, located in the French Quarter. Live piano jazz music accompanies the class, performed by a local musician. Since it’s held in the Historic Jazz Park, you’ll get to downward dog while taking in the history of New Orleans’s most famous art form. Afterward, you’re just a few minutes’ walk from the French Quarter, so you can stop and grab lunch at the French Market or explore the neighborhood. All levels are welcome to attend. 916 N. Peters St., nps.gov/jazz