In a moment where everything seems to cost more, it’s all about making hard-earned dollars stretch a little further. And who doesn’t love a deal?
There are plenty of ways to enjoy New Orleans without blowing your budget – if you know where to look. With a little planning, you can access even high-end fitness and dining establishments or cultural treasures at lower price points (or for free!), and many of the city’s most enjoyable offerings are available and affordable every single day.
To offer a jump start on low-cost, high-value strategies, we’ve rounded up 50 of our favorites across arts and entertainment, dining, health and wellness, kid stuff, and more. Happy hunting!
New Orleans is filled with low-to-no-cost live music every day and night, from fabulous French Quarter street musicians (don’t forget to tip!) to performances at bars, restaurants, and outdoor venues. That means music to your wallet.Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits600 Poland Ave., 504-948-9111, bacchanalwine.com
The magically mellow vibe at Bacchanal is enhanced by its live music – with both day and evening sets that pair perfectly with wine, cheese, and other bites in the courtyard. Share a bottle with friends for an excellent, economical outing.
French Quarter Festfrenchquarterfest.org
One of the city’s biggest sources of free fun is the year-round festival circuit, and springtime is a peak of activity. The biggest of the free fests is French Quarter Fest (April 21-24), which features top local musicians on multiple stages, as well as lagniappe like free dance lessons and crafts for kids.YLC Wednesday at the Square, presented by AOSylcwats.com
One of the city’s favorite free celebrations is back in 2022, running each Wednesday evening through May 18 in Lafayette Square. The series had been going strong for 15 years prior to a two-year COVID-imposed hiatus, so the return is a welcome addition to the city’s entertainment calendar. This year’s lineup features a who’s who of local musicians, from the Lost Bayou Ramblers with Daria and the Hipdrops to Big Sam’s Funky Nation with Erica Falls, as well as food and drink tents and an artists’ village to shop.
The event also benefits a good cause, with revenues supporting the Young Leadership Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization that develops leadership through community projects. For 2022, Virgin Hotels New Orleans has joined the WATS sponsor team and will host a weekly afterparty. As WATS co-chair Caroline Hayes says, “Visitors are getting this great collective experience that represents the best of our city.” Twilight at Longue Vue7 Bamboo Road, 504-488-5488, longuevue.com
On the first and third Wednesdays of the month through May 18, Longue Vue House and Gardens presents live performances from some of the city’s top musical acts from 5 - 7 p.m. on Spanish Court. Tickets for lawn seating are just $10 each, so bring a picnic and a blanket or lawn chairs and enjoy some tunes against the stunning backdrop of Longue Vue.Carnaval Lounge
2227 St. Claude Ave., 504-265-8855, carnavallounge.com
This Bywater nightspot regularly offers live shows with low cover charges ($10 and below) and an affordable menu of tasty eats and drinks to fuel your groove. The Spotted Cat Music Club600 Carondelet St., 504-900-1180
At this Frenchmen Street fave, visitors can enjoy an intimate audience with local musicians (like the regular Saturday evening appearance by Panorama Jazz Band) for the price of a one-drink minimum. 623 Frenchmen St., spottedcatmusicclub.com
Three Keys at Ace Hotel
New Orleans, threekeysnola.com
Take out your dancing shoes! Every month this music club in the Ace Hotel features swing (Thursday), Afrobeat, and Latin (first and second Saturdays) dance classes/shows for free with an RSVP. Fridays bring lobby DJ sets/parties with no cover charge after their ticketed Three Keys shows.
Winter Circle Productions, a New Orleans-based concert promotion and production company, offers 2-for-1 ticket deals on select shows. Sign up for their mailing list or follow them on Instagram at @wintercircleproductions.
Le Petit Theatre616 St. Peter St., 504-522-2081, lepetittheatre.com
This iconic French Quarter theater offers discounted tickets to students, veterans, seniors, and more. Plus, on one Monday night performance of each show run, they offer specially discounted tickets for theater industry professionals.
Marigny Opera House725 St. Ferdinand St., 504-948-9998, marignyoperahouse.org
Most of the performances held in this unique space are accessible by “suggested donation,” with no one turned away for lack of funds, and contributions provide a direct infusion of support to the city’s performing arts community. According to General Manager Evan Hammond, “We’re all local artists, and all of our shows are 50 percent or more local representation.” The nonprofit organization produces the Marigny Opera Ballet, a professional contemporary ballet company based out of the Marigny Opera House, and hosts acoustic performances across genres throughout the year. Looking for an affordable pre- or post-show bite? Hammond recommends nearby Flora Gallery and Coffee Shop.
Plenty of local museums and arts organizations provide discounts, with several offering free admission on select days. Here are a few of our favorites.Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)
925 Camp St.,504-539-9650,ogdenmuseum.org
For a contemporary-focused experience and creative exhibitions, the Helis Foundation’s Art for All program also underwrites free admission to the CAC for Louisiana residents on Sundays and anytime for children and students through grade 12.Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp St,504-539-9650,ogdenmuseum.org
The Ogden is free for Louisiana residents every Thursday with the support of the Helis Foundation and offers an unparalleled exploration of the visual arts and culture of the American South.The Southern Food and Beverage Museum
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.,504-569-0405,southernfood.org
This temple of all things culinary from across the American South is a blast for locals and visitors alike. Regular adult admission is $10.50, but for students, military, and visitors 60 and older, it’s just $5.25, and kids under 12 get in free. Browse the quirky, well-curated collection of artifacts and learn about the evolution of our most treasured cuisine and cocktails.New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
1 Collins Diboll Circle, 504-658-4100, noma.org
This City Park gem offers affordable access to top-notch cultural experiences and exhibitions. Wednesdays are free to Louisiana residents (courtesy of The Helis Foundation) and feature gallery talks with curators that explore selected works on display. Children 19 and younger receive free admission every day. The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free and open daily to the public from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. NOMA also hosts virtual programs, including a monthly book club, that are free to attend.
While the weather is nice, get outside for some free fun.Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
6588 Barataria Blvd.,504-689-3690, nps.gov
Jean Lafitte offers a great escape from the city to stroll through nature and get up close and personal with wildlife. For a more involved experience, check out one of the free walking tours led by a park ranger – available at 10 a.m. Wednesdays - Sundays.
New OrleansBotanical Garden
5 Victory Ave.,504-483-9488,neworleanscitypark.com/botanical-garden
New Orleans Botanical Gardenoffers free admission on Wednesdays for Louisiana residents (thanks to the Helis Foundation), and April is a wonderful time to visit. Not only are the gardens filled with beautiful blooms, but visitors can enjoy events like “Evenings with Enrique,” which take place Wednesday evenings from 5 - 8 p.m. During these extended hours, guests can enjoy live music (along with food and beverages for purchase from Kitchen in the Garden Eats) while strolling the Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden.Lafitte Greenwaylafittegreenway.org, nordc.org
Spring is an ideal season to enjoy all kinds of free fun on the Greenway, the multi-use trail and linear park connecting the French Quarter with Mid-City and Bayou St. John. Feeling sporty? Check out its three playgrounds, two fitness parks, tennis courts, basketball courts, open green space, and a 2.6-mile bike and walking trail. Free classes take place at the Greenway Plaza (Norman C. Francis Parkway) and Greenway Great Lawn (N. Prieur Street), sponsored by Friends of Lafitte Greenway and FitNOLA, including Boot Camp/TRX Boot Camp, yoga, and Cardio Blast. Fuel those workouts with fresh food from the Mid-City Thursday Crescent City Farmers Market (3-7 p.m. Thursdays at the Greenway Plaza). For family fun, kick back with a Movies in the Park screening, or the Easter Eggstravaganza. Check lafittegreenway.org and nordc.org for more information on all events.
This contemporary linear park runs 1.4 miles along the Mississippi River, bordering the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods. The park is accessible by striking arched footbridges and offers an ideal spot to walk, bike, or take Fido for a stroll. Grab a slice from Pizza Delicious on Piety Street for a budget-friendly waterfront picnic.
EATING AND DRINKING
From elegant meals for a steal to happy hour happenings to NOLA snack standards, there are many ways to eat like a king (or queen) without the royal price tag.More dough for less
One of the most satisfying ways to stretch a few bucks is on an order of beignets and café au lait. Whether you’re team Café du Monde or pro-Morning Call (or another local fave, like Uptown’s New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Company), there are plenty of locations throughout the city to score a cheap hit of sugar-dusted dough without languishing in a French Quarter line.
Pearl of a dealseafoodsallys.com,superiorseafoodnola.com, seaworthynola.com
For the oyster lover, there are no shortage of spots offering big shucks for little bucks during happy hour (along with discounted beverages). Seafood Sally’s happy hour runs from 4 - 6 p.m. daily with ‘Buck-a-shuck’ oysters. 8400 Oak St., 504-766-8736, seafoodsallys.com. Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar serves up $1 oysters daily from 4 – 6:30 p.m. 4338 St. Charles Ave., 504-293-3474, superiorseafoodnola.com. Seaworthy doubles down with half price on select oysters at their happy hour from 4 - 6 p.m. daily and again late-night Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. - 12 a.m. 630 Carondelet St., 504-930-3071, seaworthynola.comMagic beans
2601 Royal St.,504-766-8376,annasnola.com
The best price tag is ‘$0.’ That’s what a bowl of red beans and rice will set you back on Mondays at Marigny hangout Anna’s with the purchase of a drink. Even if you miss out on Monday, the daily happy hour (4 - 6 p.m.) offers $6 house cocktails and several beer options for even less.Flights of fancy
1001 Poydras St., 504-208-9535, coppervine.com
Happy hours are high on the list of thrifty fun. Chic wine gastropub Copper Vine is a great post-work stop for the downtown crowd. From 2 - 6 p.m. on weekdays, $8 buys a flight of wines or local brews. Tasty bites (bacon wrapped dates, anyone?) from chef Amy Mehrtens are all sub-$7.Midday mixology
1403 Washington Ave., 504-899-8221, commanderspalace.com
Live it up over lunch with Commander’s Palace 25-cent martinis (Thursday and Fridays, limit three per person) or $5 libations like the Lafayette No. 1 (named for the cemetery across the street) or the Crescent City Cooler. And because it’s no good to drink on an empty stomach, there’s a two-course lunch special for under $25. Prix-fixe lunch
713 St. Louis St., 504-581-4422, antoines.com
Many restaurants offer special prix-fixe lunch menus throughout the year. Antoine’s Restaurant runs a 3-course lunch special for $22, offering a taste of classic French Quarter luxury at a fraction of the price. Great grapes
2805 St. Claude Ave., 504-342-2217, faubourgwines.com
Local wine shops can be an excellent resource for tastings and inexpensive pours. Try Faubourg Wines, which offers free wine tastings every Wednesday from 5 - 7 p.m. plus wines by the glass starting at $5. The tasting typically covers four wines, and walk-ins are welcome. While you’re there, don’t miss the rack of bottles priced at $12 and under.Sno-balls
As our neighborhood sno-ball stands emerge from their winter closures, welcome them back by treating yourself to the city’s signature sweet. No matter where you go, even a generously stuffed, drizzled concoction will run you less than the price of a pizza. Go ahead, spring for that cream flavor.
Steak nighttheswamproom.com, thehomedaleinn.com
When you want a steak – but don’t want to pay steakhouse prices – seek out some low-key steak nights. The Swamp Room in Metairie might be known for its burgers, but Wednesday and Saturday nights bring an 8-ounce filet with potatoes and salad for $18.50 from 6 - 11 p.m. 5400 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 504-888-5242, theswamproom.com. On Mondays, the Homedale Inn Bar, a Navarre neighborhood institution since 1937, serves up grilled ribeye ($15) or filet ($20) with mashed potatoes, and green beans from 6 - 9 p.m., which also overlaps nicely with happy hour (2 - 7 p.m., Mon-Fri). 618 Homedale St., 504-488-5519.
Many New Orleans hotels offer discounted stays to Louisiana residents (with some restrictions). As we move into the dog days of summer, look for even lower rates.Kimpton Hotel Fontenot
501 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-571-1818,hotelfontenot.com
This recently opened hotel offers a ‘Louisiana Locals’ package, which includes 20 percent off their Best Flexible Rate, a welcome beverage at check-in, morning coffee/tea service, a hosted evening happy hour and 50 percent off valet parking. While you’re there, check out the hotel’s Peacock Room eatery, which offers happy hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3 - 6 p.m. hotelfontenot.com/new-orleans-hotel-deals/.
4125 St. Charles Ave., 504-541-5500, thechloenola.com
Local residents get 10 percent off stays, plus welcome cocktails, at this Uptown stunner.
Virgin Hotel New Orleans
550 Baronne St., 833-791-7700, virginhotels.com
The chic new Warehouse District spot offers Louisiana residents up to 30 percent off their staycation, including access to The Pool Club, the hotel’s rooftop bar and pool.
HEALTH AND BEAUTY
Keep your bottom line beautiful with these free or low-cost health, wellness, and beauty resources.Move Ya BrassMoveyabrass.com
Possibly the most ‘New Orleanian’ approach to fitness in town also happens to be free. It’s all thanks to local musician Robin Barnes, who credits this movement to saving her life.
Barnes grew up playing competitive golf and competed on the college level, but in her early 20s, a severe kidney infection forced her to take stock of her health. “I learned that I was borderline diabetic,” recalls Barnes. “I was on painkillers, walking with a cane at 23. I was in a depression.” She knew she needed to revamp her lifestyle but found the prospect overwhelming, particularly given what she calls a “true New Orleanian” love of fried food, bread, and sauces.
The spark came from Barnes’ mother, who said: “Girl, you better get off your ass and move ya brass.” Barnes posted a note on Facebook asking her followers to meet up with her for some cardio – and they showed up, planting the seed for a new kind of movement.
Since 2013, Move Ya Brass (MYB) has grown into a fitness community that attracts hundreds of locals and tourists alike to group run/walk sessions and classes like Twerk Ya Brass and Stretch Ya Brass at locations across New Orleans, Mandeville, and Slidell. “I started these because I vowed no one would be in the position I was in when I was trying to get healthy,” says Barnes, who remembers being put off by the lack of affordable options or participants with diverse backgrounds or skill levels. With MYB, Barnes and her team have infused fitness with hospitality, music, love, and a feeling of family.
Classes are taught by professional trainers and choreographers who have danced with the likes of Madonna and Dawn Richard. Offerings have grown over the years to include cardio fitness (to help keep Barnes energized through stage performances) and yoga as she learned more about the mental health benefits. “I am a learner, and as I learn, I try to implement new programs to keep it free to the community so people have that resource,” Barnes said. She emphasizes that she doesn’t teach classes and calls herself a ‘turtle’: “I am the cheerleader on the side trying to wiggle, twerk, and run.”
MYB keeps its programming free by coordinating paid private events (like bachelorette parties) and corporate wellness programs. “We really try to keep the overhead low so we make sure to pay our trainers and instructors the best in the city, and the rest of us are volunteers,” she said.
Barnes also takes pride in the attendee mix: “It’s what I always want my New Orleans to be: single Black moms to Asian chefs to some older couples on a fixed income looking for something fun to do to people who are wealthy but want the camaraderie and love the spirit. We say at the start of every run/walk, ‘You come as a stranger but leave as family.’”Yoga studioswildlotusyoga.com, Freetobepoweryoga.com
Many studios around town offer regular specials and discounted classes. Wild Lotus offers $10 community classes (check their schedule online). 4842 Perrier St., 504-899-0047, wildlotusyoga.com. Free to Be Power Yoga offers a 15 percent discount on single class drop-ins and 10-class packages to students, military, schoolteachers, and yoga teachers as well as a few “pay-what-you-can” community classes on their weekly schedule. 725 Magazine St. and 2328 Metairie Road, 504-342-4310. Freetobepoweryoga.comOutdoor classesNoma.org
Two classes are held weekly in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA. Yoga in the Garden is held every Saturday morning at 8 a.m., followed by Tai Chi in the Garden at 9 a.m. (both weather permitting). Each class is $5, or free for NOMA or East Jefferson Wellness Center members. Noma.orgRomney Studios community rides
5629 Magazine St.,504-895-1167,romneystudios.com
For just $15, try out one of the upscale fitness studio’s signature ‘Romney RIDE’ cycling classes and find out why they’ve developed such a zealous following. The 50-minute class is suitable for all levels and offers a full-body workout with high-energy music, upper body weights, choreography, and instruction. Bikes have both SPD & LOOK clips. Bring your own shoes or avail yourself of a complimentary rental. Towel service is included.
Buying a ClassPass gives you access to member studios and salons across the city, often at a discounted rate. It’s a great way to try different options for fitness classes of all kinds (in addition to wellness offerings like massage and beauty services like nails and threading).GrouponGroupon.com
Groupon might feel old-school (it’s been around since 2008), but it still offers great deals on all kinds of services, including beauty and spa treatments. On any given day, Groupon can save you big bucks on everything from waxing to spray tans to brow and lash services.Weekday wellness at Windsor Court
300 Gravier Street,504-596-4736,windsorcourthotel.com
The luxurious Spa at Windsor Court offers 20 percent off all spa services Monday - Thursday to New Orleans area residents (ID required).
Skin care deals
3100 Galleria Drive #203, 504-226-7873,puredermnola.com
Spring is the perfect time to shed our winter skin and get refreshed for warmer weather. Many dermatologists and skin care specialists offer deals, packages or samples on treatments and products that can let clients try services out for a lower cost. Pure Dermatology will be offering a “Jazz Fest Ready” promo which includes a free sunscreen and hat (valued at $100, in collaboration with Em’s Boutique) with each Dysport treatment of over 40 units.
Kids are expensive. Entertaining them doesn’t have to be.City Park explorationsneworleanscitypark.com
In addition to the paid fun at City Park (like Carousel Gardens, Storyland, bike and boat rentals, and City Putt), there are plenty of free ways to entertain the kiddos. Check the park’s online events calendar to find things like the “Popp Up” Musical Storytime at the Popp Bandstand, which takes place on the second Saturday of each month and features a musician from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and a story of the day. For anytime fun, download a printable scavenger hunt from the park’s website (neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/just-for-kids), hit one of the many playgrounds, explore Couterie Forest, or bring a picnic and relax under the oaks.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
15 Henry Thomas Drive, 504-523-1357, lcm.org
This attraction in City Park offers community-access programs through Museums for All, with general admission for $2 per person (up to four people) with the presentation of a SNAP EBT card and photo ID. LCM also offers free admission on the second Sunday of each month from 11:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. through the Art for All program, made possible by the Helis Foundation. These tickets are limited and must be reserved in advance.Get a jump on savings
612 Distributors Row, 504-539-4224, defy.com
As the weather heats up, kids (and grownups) can get their wiggles out indoors at DEFY New Orleans, which bills itself as an “extreme air sport park.” Visitors can swing on a trapeze, conquer the Ninja Obstacle Course, or just jump (and jump, and jump). If you plan to go more than once a month, check out a Flight Membership (the Basic starts at $20.99/month, which is the same price as 90 minutes of jumping with a regular ticket). In addition to daily access, it offers perks like party discounts, a dedicated check-in line, and more.
If you’re thinking thrifty, check out these establishments.The Occasional Wife estate sale stores
The Occasional Wife not only takes care of moving, packing, and estate-sale planning, they have also opened local retail stores to showcase treasures from those homes as well as consignment pieces. The shop at 8237 Earhart Blvd. is a great source for deals on vintage furniture, décor, and knick-knacks, from vinyl to memorabilia.United Apparel Liquidators (UAL)
518 Chartres St.,504-301-4437; 3306Magazine St., 504-354-2777; 3319 Severn Ave., 504-533-9887. Store.shopual.com
If you’re willing to do some sifting, these stores can yield designer fashion finds at deep discounts.Swap
7716 Maple St.,504-304-6025; 5530Magazine St., 504-324-8143. Swapboutique.com
This designer consignment boutique (with two New Orleans locations) is a go-to source for higher-end threads and accessories. While the prices aren’t bargain basement, they’re still well below retail. As a bonus, recycled clothing is a greener way to shop.
New Orleans Public Library
We know the library is the place to go for free books, but the city’s libraries offer much, much more. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL), and there have never been more ways to access affordable resources across the system’s 15 branches.“All you need is a library card!” says Jane LeGros, NOPL’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “It’s one of the best things you can keep in your wallet.”
One of the library’s highest value offerings is the Culture Pass. Patrons with a library card can reserve a pass online, by phone, or in person to access local cultural attractions free of charge. Destinations include the Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Hermann-Grima House, Gallier House, National World War II Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Canal Lighthouse Museum, and more. Each pass is valid for a day, and the number of guests covered varies among venues, so consult the NOPL website for more information.
Want to check out something other than books? The Rosa F. Keller Branch in Broadmoor offers a cake pan library, where patrons can borrow up to two sets at a time for three weeks. For green thumbs, the Mid-City and Cita Dennis Hubbell (Algiers Point) branches offer seed libraries, allowing card holders to check out packets of seeds for vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
The NOPL can also give you access to magazines, either to read in the library or digitally, when you use your library card as a subscription. The same applies to movie streaming through the Kanopy or Hoopla platforms, up to seven songs per week through Freegal Music, or over 1,000 different types of craft lessons through a platform called Creativebug – all accessible with a library card. For children, the library offers free access to BookFlix, interactive stories designed for early readers, as well as ABC Mouse.
The nonprofit group Friends of the New Orleans Public Library holds book sales throughout the year, which can be great sources of used books, music (look out for vintage vinyl), and movies.
Tech-curious teens (ages 13-18) might check out the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, based at the Main Library downtown. This free, membership-based resource offers teens access to computers, a music studio, sewing machine, 3D printer, Oculus VR headsets, and more. “We can also set them up with tools if they are interested in starting a business,” says LeGros.
Don’t forget to check out a book while you’re at it!
The Music Box Village
4557 N. Rampart St.,musicboxvillage.com
This incredible collection of “musical houses” in the Bywater neighborhood was constructed by local artists and reflects the city’s unique architecture, artistry, and musical heritage. Equally appealing to children and adults, the Village offers New Orleans residents donation-based admission for open hours, and ‘early bird’ tickets for musical performances are priced at $20 or less. Visit musicboxvillage.com for more information.Bargain bowling
600 Fulton St., 504-208-5569, fultonalley.com
Fulton Alley, the Warehouse District’s glam bowling spot, offers a happy hour special Wednesday - Friday from 4 - 6 p.m.: half-off bowling and free shoe rental. This deal is available by reserving ahead or as a walk-in, and covered parking is available for $5. A broad selection of affordable food and drink options makes this outing a price performer.Wash those wheelsPelicanpointecarwash.com
With all the street construction around town, it’s hard to keep a car looking clean. If you pay to wash your car more than once a month, find out if your vendor offers package deals. Pelican Pointe Carwash, which operates 11 locations citywide, offers unlimited monthly wash plans starting at $19.95.JAMNOLA
2832 Royal St.,504-233-9152,jamnola.com
This colorful ‘experiential’ attraction opened in Faubourg Marigny in 2020 to bring a dose of ‘Joy Art Music’ to visitors. Exhibits celebrate highlights of New Orleans culture through the creative perspective of local artists. On Thursdays, Louisiana residents get 15 percent off admission by using the code ‘NOLALOVE’ when booking tickets online.