New Orleans offers many popular venues for dining, bar hopping and other fun, but surprisingly, some of the best things to do in the Big Easy don't have a price tag. All you have to do is get out of your apartment home and get out on the town. There are many more, of course, but here are some of the top free things to do and places to be in New Orleans.
The French Quarter
A walk around the French Quarter, the site of the original settlement and the oldest neighborhood in the city, is where you start any tour of New Orleans. Enjoy the unique architecture, with its ironwork and balconies, courtyards and fountains, as you stroll historic streets such as Rampart, Canal, Decatur and of course, lively Bourbon. Be sure to visit Jackson Square, named one of America's Great Public Places, and on the north side of the square, St. Louis Cathedral.
It's less well known than the French Quarter, but it shouldn't be. Just across the Mississippi from the Quarter, Algiers Point is every bit as charming as the Quarter, but without the hordes of tourists. Some of the most famous New Orleans jazz figures hail from this community, which is still rich in 19th century architecture and charm, including Creole cottages, shotgun shacks, Victorians and Greek Revival homes.
Wandering around the historic French Market is free, but you may not be able to resist a purchase or two. This open air market has a distinctively European flavor, and offers five blocks of handmade crafts, local produce and art. Established by the French in the 18th century for trade with indigenous peoples, the market has had vendors from Europe, Africa and the Caribbean through the years, selling goods from all over the world.
As a member of the New Orleans community, you'll want to experience the excitement of Mardi Gras during Carnival season. Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 9 in 2016, but parades start in January. The biggest celebration of the year in New Orleans, Mardi Gras, which means "Fat Tuesday," and carnival season are steeped in religious tradition, but most visitors come for the glittering costumes, the colorful floats and the endless parades. It doesn't cost a thing to watch the show.
Considered one of America's most beautiful neighborhoods with its Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian homes, the Garden District is bounded by St. Charles Avenue to Magazine Street, and from Louisiana Avenue to Jackson Avenue. Established by wealthy new American residents of New Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase, the Garden District is today home to a number of celebrities. Visit the intersection of Prytania Street and Washington Avenue for shopping and cafes, as well as a visit to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
It takes time to explore New Orleans and environs, but it doesn't need to take a lot of money. You're off to a good start with these suggestions; let us know what other free venues you discover.