The fun never stops and the drinks never stop flowing in the Crescent City, and all of that non-stop partying can add up quick. But worry not: if you know the right tricks, you can save hundreds of dollars on your trip — or use those savings to keep the fun going a little longer.
1. Drinking on the streets is legal — bring a roadie when you’re going out.
Drinks in New Orleans are not especially expensive, but even $2 beers can add up when you’re drinking them all day. It is perfectly legal to drink on the streets in New Orleans and the Go-Cup is a way of life (just no glass please). Keep a stash in your hotel and take your drink with you on your way to the bar, and don’t toss your half-drunk beverage on the way out the bar door. Most bars have a stack of cups at the corner of the bar and right next to the front door so you can ditch your glass but not your drink.
2. Take advantage of the city’s free festivals.
Louisiana has more festivals than days of the year, and on most weekends you’ll have more than one festival to choose from. While Jazz Fest and Voodoo may set you back a month’s paycheck, many festivals have free admission and offer a chance to sample food and drink from dozens of local restaurants at pretty fair prices. French Quarter Fest is the crown jewel of free festivals, but Satchmo Summerfest, Poboy Fest and an ever-growing list of food-specific festivals (Fried Chicken, Oyster, Creole Tomato, Beignet) are all worth your time.
3. Watch for travel specials sponsored by New Orleans Online.
The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation is the official tourism site for the city and is great resource for visiting the city. But of particular interest are the accommodation specials they organize, particularly during slower times in the city. Watch for summer rates to lure you to the city during times of torrential downpours and oppressive heat (you’ll survive and you’ll save a lot of money) or Papa Noel rates during the holiday season.
4. Consider staying outside of the city.
If you have access to a car, staying outside the city can save you an extraordinary amount of money on hotels. Metairie is a very short drive from Downtown New Orleans but offers serious savings, and staying in Slidell, just north of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain, can save you hundreds over the course of a few days. While you’re out there, take a swamp tour or visit the famous Abita Brewery in nearby Abita Springs.
5. Use public transportation.
If you didn’t come with a car, don’t rent one. Parking rates downtown can be astronomical and public transportation is widely available. While buses offer more coverage, don’t miss a ride on the streetcar, which is an experience unto itself. Purchase a Jazzy Pass from your driver when you board and ride for $3 all day, and download WDSU’s Transit Tracker app to track your ride.
6. Spend the day in City Park.
New Orleans City Park is massive and full of free and low-cost activities that can easily fill a day. NOMA offers student discounts, and its sculpture garden is free. Admissions to the Botanical Gardens and City Putt, with two Louisiana-themed mini golf courses, is less than $10. And for the kids, admission to Storyland is just $4. Stop at Morning Call and share a plate of beignets for $2.20, and you can easily spend a day here for $20.