Living it up in New Orleans on a budget

People are always surprised when I tell them I lived in New Orleans.  Well, I surprised myself when I left my home sweet home in Pittsburgh and venture down to the Crescent city.  I had just graduated from college but after the recent tech bubble burst and months of fruitless searching,  I was ready to try something new.  New Orleans was calling my name!

New Orleans is a city of unique cultures, rich history and many names – (i.e. The Crescent City, N’awlins, NOLA).  The first time I had visited I fell in love.  So, I decided that there was no choice but to move there.  In January 2003, I packed my suitcases and finally left the nest.

Finding a job was my first goal.  I continued to search for a career with my degree, but ultimately I needed money to take care of myself.  The easiest thing to do was to scoop up one of the most abundant jobs there are in NOLA – working in the hospitality industry.  I had waited tables before back home to help pay for bills during college.  It was by no means what I thought I’d be making after I graduated from college, but I knew it was temporary and it paid the bills.

However, the hardest part about living in such a great city was that I wanted to be able to enjoy it.  I didn’t make much but I found ways to experience so many of the great things this beautiful city has to offer.  Here is my list of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your New Orleans experience:

  1. Coupon/Groupon it up
    • I lived in New Orleans before there was Groupon – however, there were and still are tons of coupon resources for great deals around the city.  One of the coupon books offered BOGO dinners at restaurants.  Grab a friend and then split the cost.  You can get a gourmet, amazing meal for half the price.
    • Sites like Groupon and Living Social offer deals on services, activities, and food.  Be sure to check out the many tours this city offers.  You won’t be disappointed with a ghost tour of the quarter at night while sipping your favorite cocktail, or take a carriage ride through the Garden District and find out where all the famous people reside.
  2. Ladies Night and Happy Hour specials
    • If you are a lady, you can really find some great deals by enjoying the ladies’ night specials around town.  Most offer free drinks and appetizers to ladies.  Unfortunately, men still have to pay but usually there are happy hour specials to coincide.  Happy hours offer discounted drinks and food specials – a great way to save on dinner and get to sample places that would normally be too pricey.
  3. Uber/Streetcar
    • New Orleans is primarily a walking city.  There’s not much parking around the quarter so your best bet is catching a ride on the famed St. Charles streetcar or hiring an Uber driver.  If you feel like you must drive, check out Harrah’s casino in the CBD near the quarter.  They offer free garage parking if you play for 30 minutes.  Don’t forget they also hand out free drinks to players 😉
  4. Free museums/art galleries
    • One of the great aspects of this city is the accessibility to great art and history.  There are many free art galleries and museums available.  Check out some of these or these on your next trip.
    • Don’t forget to take a stroll down Royal and Chartres streets to view the many beautiful art galleries, or go upstairs at Arnaud’s Mardi Gras Museum.
  5. Free music/entertainment
    • You can still enjoy free music at many bars/restaurants around New Orleans.  Some like “Le Bon Temps Roule” even offer free oysters with their music on Friday nights.  There are tons of places along Bourbon street but if you want to get away from the tourists, head over to the locally known hot spots on Frenchman’s street.  You won’t  be disappointed!
  6. Sunday jazz Brunch
    • Ok, you got me.  This one isn’t exactly free – however, this is a must on your visit to New Orleans.  It is like the quintessential New Orleans experience – good eats, great music all rolled into one.  Here are some favs to try.
  7. Parks
    • Sometimes you want to enjoy the great outdoors.  Perhaps you are planning a romantic picnic for two, or want to do some exercising in a pretty location.  There are some fabulous parks in New Orleans.  One of my favorites is Audobon Park – simply because I lived so close to it.  I would go here to run around the little island of water where you can see beautiful bird species.  Another favorite is City Park.  Check out these other great picnic spots.

As you can see, there are many great free and low cost options in this city.  So don’t be discouraged if you want to visit and don’t have a huge budget.  Just doing a little research can save you some stress and help you have a great time.  Look at these other great free tips here.

I hope you enjoyed my tips!  Feel free to leave some love or some feedback on your favorite things to do in the city.



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