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Saturday, April 10, 2021

New Orleans Budget Travel Tips

Since we just had our New Orleans destination date, and vaccination efforts are going well enough to probably allow for non-essential travel near the end of the year, I wanted to bring you some of my favorite budget ideas for enjoying New Orleans.

Though there are tons if ways to enjoy The Big Easy, you may end up spending money unnecessarily, especially if you spend your time on Bourbon Street.

Though there are tons if ways to enjoy The Big Easy, you may end up spending money unnecessarily, especially if you spend your entire time on Bourbon Street drinking. I find that my trips are a lot more pleasant if I remember them and I don't spend every morning hung over and wondering where all my money went. Here are things to do to soak in the atmosphere of the city and not go broke in the process. 

Go to the Sazerac House

If you want free drinks, and to learn about the city's historical cocktail, then you'll want to book free tickets for a guided tour at the Sazerac House. Read more about it in my post here.

Tour a cemetery

Located in the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery No 1 is beautiful cemetery is full of the tombs of those who died of yellow fever in the 1850s. It is surrounded by stately homes and mansions and has free tours each day. Shadows are seen frequently around the grounds. I didn't see any ghosts while I was there, but it was also pretty busy. Entrance is free, but you must go during the daytime. Look online to find a self-guided tour to learn more about the different tombs you'll see, though you can also book a free guided tour online as well. I enjoyed going on my own and taking time to take pictures and read the various tombs.

Walk along the Mississippi

Head to the waterfront and stroll through Woldenberg Riverfront Park and take in the sites of the city along the Mississippi River, while enjoying street music and artists. If you want to bring home some authentic New Orleans souvenirs, keep some five- and ten-dollar bills in your pocket to purchase CDs and trinkets. There are lots of statues and plaques along the waterfront with historical info. 

Ride the streetcar

The streetcar is a very affordable way to get from point A to point B while also giving you a city tour. It stops at a variety of attractions along the way and it only costs $1.25. Super cheap sightseeing!

Explore Jackson Square

Full of local artists, people milling about, fun shops, palm readers, and little fronts, like Faulkner Books. You can also visit a local lamp maker down one of the mini side alleys. Watch him shape the wrought iron and also ask questions. You'll see wrought iron everywhere and gas lamps along the streets.

Check out the Cabildo House

Head over to a piece of Louisiana history and take a tour of the Cabildo house, in the heart of Jackson Square, which was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer and the victim of political and racial feuding that caused it to be subjected to gunfire on three separate occasions. Now it holds 200 years of history and you can tour it to learn more about the city and see how it was once a city hall, courthouse and prison.

Stroll through the French Market

I love a farmers' market and open-air market. They're the perfect place to learn about your destination and the foods the locals eat. Plus, you can pick up wonderfully fresh fruits, breads and pastries for breakfasts and snacks. Buy foods to bring home, like roasted flavored pecans, candy, hot sauces, and jams. I've had some delicious snacks here, including crepes as big as my head.

Visit the Voodoo Museum

Though small, this museum in a house gives you a pretty thorough history of voodoo culture in New Orleans. I greatly enjoyed it and learned quite a bit. Read more and see more photos here.

Visit the Pharmacy Museum

Set on the site of the very first apothecary shop, the Pharmacy Museum holds a wide variety of cures and artifacts from old medical practices and voodoo rituals, including ghastly instruments used in the past for dentistry, many by the former owner, a dentist known to conduct grisly experiments on patients. Though the daily "tours" are interesting, they can get quite crowded and you won't be able to look around while they occur. Try to go at a different time, so you have the room to see everything. 

Watch a Second Line street parade

You can't really plan this activity, but if you spend any amount of time walking in New Orleans, you'll probably happen along a street parade. My mom and I saw one while exploring in the evening and Eric and I also caught a great wedding parade on our trip while just wandering around the French Quarter.

Explore City Park

Either take a bus, Uber, or drive yourself out to City Park. It's a huge, sprawling thing with a sculpture garden, a museum, a gazebo, live music, a Café du Monde, and more. You can read my post about it here.

Tour the Tabasco Factory & Jungle Gardens

If you can rent a car, then it's definitely worth it to head out to Avery Island and visit the Tabasco Factory, even if you don't enjoy Tabasco. You can take a cheap self-guided tour and learn how it started, how it's still made, and also see all the different varieties. We spent a good amount of time in their gift shop that had a ton of Tabasco sauce and other products.

When you're done tantalizing your taste buds, drive across the street to Jungle Gardens, where you can drive the loop and see gorgeous plants, ponds, flowers, and hopefully some great wildlife. There is a Buddhist temple in the middle and we saw a bunch of deer, birds, and even a small gator. 

If you can't make it out to Avery Island, hit up one of the many hot sauce bars and taste your way through it. Some have hundreds of sauces to try before you buy and take or ship home. These made awesome gifts. I can't tell you if or how these may change with Covid though. 

These aren't the only affordable things to do in New Orleans, but it's a start for you. You can also gorge yourself on beignets, hike around Audubon Park, wander the Garden District, and more.

What are you most looking forward to on a trip to New Orleans? 

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