New Orleans – Free Activities

New Orleans is an exciting city filled with parties, history, live music, and delicious food. Its rich cultural identity makes New Orleans such a great place to visit. You can stay busy by taking swamp tours, drinking on Bourbon Street, eating your weight in beignets, and so much more.

In order to save a bit of money, though, you can complement these activities with some free ones. Spend some time in New Orleans without spending a lot of money by checking out the free activities listed below.



New OrleansOne of the things that makes New Orleans unique is its multiple, distinct neighborhoods. You can take guided tours of these neighborhoods, but there is so much information available about these areas online that you could easily go on a self-guided tour instead.

One of the most popular neighborhoods in New Orleans, besides the French Quarter, is the Garden District. Wealthy citizens settled this area in the 1840s in order to move away from the rest of the city. The Garden District remains immaculately maintained and is one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods.

St. Charles Avenue is the main street to explore in the neighborhood. This five-mile, residential street is lined with large, shady oak trees and some of the most beautiful mansions in the state. Marveling at these ornate homes guarded by antique wrought iron fences is a classic, free New Orleans activity.

Another charming part of the Garden District is the St. Charles Streetcar. This transportation line, which goes between the Garden District and French Quarter, is the longest-running streetcar in the United States and is considered a National Historic Landmark.



Farmers markets are one of the best ways to get to know the local culture of an area. Crescent City Farmers Market is one of the biggest farmer’s markets in New Orleans and is certainly worth a visit.

This farmer’s market is part of an organization called “Market Umbrella,” which operates multiple year-round, public markets throughout New Orleans. This creates many opportunities for visitors to check out local produce, flowers, baked goods, fresh seafood, and more.

Crescent City Farmers Market hosts about 80 local farmers, who have the opportunity to sell their produce directly to the chefs of nearby restaurants. It’s estimated that Crescent City Farmers Market has made an impact of more than $12 million throughout the local community by bringing businesses together.

Another spot worth checking out is Palace Market on Frenchman Street. This market focuses on the arts and features over 30 vendors and their unique creations. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the New Orleans art scene, Palace Market is the place to go. You’ll find sculptures, paintings, crafts, jewelry, and more at this open-air market. It’s open seven nights a week, making it easy to fit into your NOLA itinerary.



New OrleansOne of the most integral parts of the New Orleans identity is music, especially jazz. There are live performances around every corner, so visitors are sure to experience one.

You can learn about the history of jazz in New Orleans by taking a free, self-guided Jazz History Walking Tour. Find your free guide, provided by the National Park Service, at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park or online. The guides are tailored to each neighborhood, so you can focus on one area or gain a wide understanding of how jazz permeates and influences every part of New Orleans.

Another destination where you can experience the New Orleans music scene is Royal Street. Performers fill this area every day, entertaining visitors with all types of music. By taking a walk down Royal Street, you truly get a feel for the music of New Orleans. While this is a free activity, street performers do operate off of tips. So if you truly enjoy a certain performance, consider throwing a dollar or two their way.



There are multiple free museums in New Orleans where you can learn a lot about the history of the city and beyond without spending any money.

The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center, and publisher “dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans.” This museum consists of 13 historic buildings spread out across the French Quarter. It dives deep into the past of New Orleans while highlighting current culture like modern art.

To learn more about present-day New Orleans, visit the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. The residents of this neighborhood created the museum to share how they were impacted by Hurricane Katrina and their tenacity as a community. It shares the stories of multiple generations in the neighborhood, from lifelong residents to young kids. It’s a sobering experience to see individuals share their stories of destruction and hope.

Art buffs will enjoy Newcomb Art Museum, a free art museum that’s a part of Tulane University. The university’s campus itself is a beautiful place to visit, and their art museum is no different.

Newcomb Art Museum is small, but it contains an impressive collection of art, including Newcomb pottery. This American pottery brand was world-famous in the early twentieth century, and the Newcomb Art Museum has the largest collection. Visitors can admire the rare plates, vases, jars, and more, all without spending money.

It’s not just the art that shines in the Newcomb Art Museum either; the windows do too. That’s because they’re genuine Tiffany stained glass, which adds to the artistic atmosphere of Newcomb.


Outdoor Activities

New OrleansSince New Orleans is down South, it’s very likely that your visit will be filled with warm, sunny days. That’s why outdoor activities are a perfect choice. While there are plenty of paid tours you can take, you can easily find a few free options.

New Orleans was built on a swamp, so it wasn’t feasible for people to be buried underground. This resulted in massive cemeteries with above-ground gravesites, which sets them apart from most other cemeteries. There are many throughout the city, and you can check out a few without having to pay anything.

Another great outdoor spot to check out is the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It’s a perfect place for taking pictures or having a picnic. You’ll see a variety of sculptures ranging from creepy to astonishing. The garden is part of the New Orleans Museum of Art, and since it’s open seven days a week, it’s quite a popular destination. This memorable, free activity is definitely worth checking out.