Things to do in New Orleans are available to suit every taste, interest, and budget. Whether you are looking for world-class luxury hotels or camp sites in suburbs like Kenner, you will find it here. If you want nonstop parting and fabulous nightlife in the legendary French Quarter or wilderness wildlife tours in the bayous and backwaters like Honey Island Swamp, it is here. There are many free things to do in New Orleans as well as many that are very inexpensive. These are activities and attractions that will satisfy the tastes and interests of any New Orleans tourist—adults and children alike.
One of the popular things to do in New Orleans is gambling. There are several casinos in the area. If you are visiting the rural suburb of Slidell during your vacations, you will find yourself about halfway between the city’s casinos and those just over the border in Bay St. Louis and Biloxi in Mississippi. Some are located on Lake Pontchartrain, like the Treasure Chest Casino. This is actually a paddlewheel steamboat anchored at shore in Kenner, just north of the airport. Others, such as Harrah’s on the river near the Aquarium of the Americas, are high-rise glitzy complexes more like the casinos of Las Vegas.
One of the most present free things to do in New Orleans is enjoy the city’s legendary music. It can be enjoyed just about everywhere at just about any time of year. Some of the best music and jazz bars have no cover charge. If they do, you can still enjoy the music on the sidewalks, as the doors are often open and there are open “take away” windows for serving fresh drinks to partiers as they stroll along Bourbon Street. Numerous special events feature free outdoor concerts. You’ll find these in Lafayette Square in the Central Business District and in large City Park that borders the neighborhoods of Metairie and the Mid City area.
Even if you’re a New Orleans tourist who has come for the legendary Mardi Gras celebrations, you will be able to get in some healthy outdoor activity at some good golf courses and country clubs right in the city limits. One of these can be found in Audubon Park in the Uptown area. If not everyone in your party wants to chase the ball around the fairway, they can visit the prestigious Audubon Zoo, which is located in the same park. In lovely City Park bordering Metairie and the Mid City area, there is another 18-hole championship course.
A New Orleans tourist may use the city’s historic streetcars as a means of getting from one place to another, but they have been an integral part of the city’s history since the first part of the nineteenth century. Like the bright red double-decker buses and instantly recognizable black taxis of London, the streetcars are attractions in themselves. You can book narrated tours of the city (especially in the French Quarter) on the oldest continuously operating streetcar system in the world or use them as a method to get to other attractions, like the famous group of nineteenth-century cemeteries at the end of the Canal Street trolley line.
Shopping is only one of the free things to do in New Orleans if you don’t buy anything. But this city has wonderful outdoor farmer’s markets, art festivals, and street marts that provide great experiences for the entire family. These are part of New Orleans history, and many have been going on since the 1800s. Generally, you’ll also find great food stalls here for dining on traditional Cajun and Creole cuisine – and almost always there is free music. The streetcars will get you to almost all of the best shopping areas.
Cruises and River Cruises
The mighty Mississippi River has always played a role in the city’s transportation, trade and commerce, and cultural traditions. Things to do in New Orleans include taking sightseeing tours on authentic paddlewheel steamboats. A day cruise on the river might go as far as LaPlace where you can visit some of the beautiful antebellum mansions that once presided over huge sugar plantations. You can take sunset cocktail river cruises, and some of the river boats double as nightlife offering dinner and live music and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. The Port of New Orleans is also a major embarkation and disembarkation point for ocean cruises that visit other ports of call along the Gulf Coast, in Mexico, and Caribbean islands.