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New Orleans on a Budget – Affordable Fun in The Big Easy

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A New Orleans vacation can be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, visiting New Orleans on a budget is easy with so many free and affordable things to do in The Big Easy. From pretty places to wander to low-cost attractions and beyond, there's no need to spend big bucks in this welcoming Louisiana city. Here's what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in New Orleans without breaking the bank.

Jackson Square New Orleans
Jackson Square New Orleans (Photo credit: gary718, Depositphotos.com)

French Quarter

It costs nothing to stroll through the historic French Quarter. Wander through Jackson Square, taking in the horseback statue of Andrew Jackson and the pretty Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis. Look for live free musical performances, dancing, or acrobatics throughout the Quarter. (Tips are appreciated!) Be sure to spend some time shopping the French Market Community Flea Market, which bursts with booths selling everything from New Orleans souvenirs to plumeria plants.

French Market on Decatur Street ~ New Orleans on a Budget with Kids
French Market on Decatur Street (Photo credit: Hackman, Depositphotos.com)

Mississippi River

Take a walk along the Mississippi River to hear the calliope of the Steamboat Natchez. If you want to save money on sailing Steamboat Natchez, book a Day Jazz Cruise and skip the onboard meal. Then spend some time in the Spanish Plaza at Riverwalk Marketplace, looking at boats on the river and the Spanish Plaza Fountain.

Steamboat Natchez in New Orleans
Steamboat Natchez (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

New Orleans Botanical Garden

All ages will enjoy the beautiful New Orleans Botanical Garden. Open year-round, this botanic garden located in City Park features 2,000 plants from around the world. Entry fees are affordable and children under age 3 can visit for free. Plus, admission is free to all Louisiana residents on Wednesdays.

New Orleans Botanical Garden
New Orleans Botanical Garden (Photo credit: City Park)

Louisiana Children's Museum

Also in City Park, kids can play for hours and hours at the interactive and surprisingly affordable Louisiana Children’s Museum. It encompasses a whopping 8.5 acres of space to play and learn.

Kids playing at the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans
Louisiana Children's Museum (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

New Orleans Streetcars

Climb aboard New Orleans streetcars for a fun and unique way to explore the city. Take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar to see Tulane and Loyola Universities as well as beautiful homes. The Canal Street Line will deliver your family to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Meanwhile, the Riverfront Line takes tourists from the French Market to the Aquarium of the Americas and beyond.

The famous St. Charles Street Car in New Orleans ~ New Orleans on a Budget with Kids
The famous St. Charles Streetcar in New Orleans (Photo credit: Hackman, Depositphotos.com)

New Orleans Museum of Art

View paintings, photography, textiles, a sculpture garden, and more at the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. Parents will be happy to know children 12 and younger visit the museum for free.

New Orleans Museum of Art
New Orleans Museum of Art (Photo credit: NOMA.org)

Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

If your kids are fascinated with animals and sea life, then your family will love the Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium. In addition to seeing the Audubon Zoo's many animal residents, kids love its multiple playgrounds, the Endangered Species Carousel, and the Cool Zoo splash park with its Gator Run lazy river. Located along the Mississippi River, the impressive Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is home to 10,000 animals representing 530 species. For the best prices, purchase your tickets in advance.

Leucistic white alligator at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
White alligator at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Dining in New Orleans on a Budget

To save money for activities when visiting New Orleans on a budget, my family cuts costs in other areas like dining out. We carry hearty snacks like homemade granola and snack mixes with us while we are exploring. Our family also brings sandwich fixings to make our own lunches back at the hotel room. Also, my two little ones share a meal at dinnertime.

Crescent City Brewhouse

Of course, you may want to splurge on some delicious meals when visiting the Big Easy. When I think of dining in New Orleans, I automatically think of Decatur Street. It boasts numerous restaurants and shops but is more family-oriented than Bourbon Street. We always head to the Crescent City Brewhouse where families are welcomed and the food is delicious. 

Decatur Street is full of family-friendly restaurants ~ New Orleans on a Budget with Kids
Decatur Street is full of family-friendly restaurants (Photo credit: Fotoluminate, Depositphotos.com)

Aunt Sally's Pralines

While wandering down Decatur Street, be sure to stop by Aunt Sally’s Pralines for a free sample. Pralines are a signature New Orleans sweet made from brown sugar, pecans, milk, and butter. And Aunt Sally's makes the very best ones.

Café du Monde

For a scrumptious snack or breakfast, walk to Café du Monde for beignets and chocolate milk. If it's crowded, skip the wait for a table and get in the take-out line. Often, an employee will take your order before you even get to the window. When you have picked up your beignets, walk to the Mississippi River to enjoy your treat with a view.

No trip to New Orleans with kids would be complete without beignets ~ New Orleans on a Budget with Kids
No trip to New Orleans with kids would be complete without beignets (Photo credit: Dbvirago, Depositphotos.com)

Affordable New Orleans Hotels

Accommodations are one of the biggest travel expenses for families. Thankfully, finding an inexpensive hotel in New Orleans is not impossible. Staying outside, or on the outskirts of the French Quarter can help cut hotel costs.

Q&C Hotel on Camp Street is just a 10-minute walk from many of the French Quarter's famous attractions. If you like more space to spread out, then take a look at SpringHill Suites New Orleans Downtown with its kid-pleasing outdoor pool. Although Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans Convention Center is further in distance from the Quarter, the price is reasonable.

The Queen and Crown Hotel, a.k.a. Q&C Hotel is great for families on a budget
The Queen and Crown Hotel, a.k.a. Q&C Hotel is great for families on a budget (Photo from qandc.com)

New Orleans for Families

When most people think of New Orleans, they picture beads tossed to a rowdy crowd drinking Hurricanes. I picture my kids covered in powdered sugar from beignets, the smiles on their faces as they dance to the calliope, and the many adventures we've had exploring the town as a family. For me, New Orleans is the perfect destination for a fun and affordable getaway with the kids.

Beignet ~ New Orleans on a Budget with Kids
My daughter eating a beignet along the Mississippi River in New Orleans (Photo credit: Jennifer Close)

Explore More of New Orleans

For more activities in this fascinating city, read about 18 kid-friendly things to do in New Orleans.

If you're dreaming of N'awlins with your sweetheart, discover the most romantic things to do in New Orleans.

Will you be visiting the Big Easy during the holiday season? Take a look at how to enjoy Christmas in New Orleans like a local.

Additionally, Fodor's New Orleans is a very helpful resource. This full-colored guide includes all sorts of maps, descriptions, and helpful tips for exploring New Orleans on any size budget.

Save These New Orleans on a Budget Tips

Be sure to keep these budget-friendly New Orleans vacation tips. Simply save the image below to Pinterest! We hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Things to Do in New Orleans on a Budget

Do you have any tips or questions about visiting New Orleans on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!

Guest author Jennifer Close loves to explore and take on new adventures with her family down the street, across the country, and around the world. Travel Mamas did not receive any discounts or payments related to this blog post.

Comments
  1. Thank You for the tip. We have two small children and live close enough to New Orleans that we would like to make the trip out there. From your post, it seems this is a trip that would be fun, enjoyable and will NOT break the bank.

  2. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Thanks for the wonderful guest blog post, Jen! I’ve never been to New Orleans and have been hoping to sneak away without the kids sometime for a getaway with the hubs. After reading your article, I think maybe we should plan a family trip instead!

  3. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Colleen! It was fun to share some of our favorite things to do with the kids in New Orleans. My husband and I have made several trips without the kids as well…I think going with kids vs. on your own is like comparing apples to oranges…they are two different types of New Orleans…I like them both equally!

  4. Great stuff to know — thanks! laissez les bons temps roulez, kids!

  5. Chrishandwa says

    This is sooo cool, especially when I’m a single mother of 13, 2 of which have autism. Their names are Leo and Phil. This is very cool because I am on a budget and want to go to the Deep South. My name is chrishawnda.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Hi Chrishandwa – I hope you can visit New Orleans with your kids someday! On a separate note…my husband’s name is Phil and my son’s name is Leo. Small world! 🙂

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