New Orleans is an amazing town. Authors from Kate Chopin to Anne Rice have written about the magic of the Crescent City and, even after the devastating destruction of the levies during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, locals and visitors alike continue to extol the beauty of a city that sits on the precipice of commerce for modern America. That being said, this isn’t a cheap town. Drink come cheap in the French Quarter, if you know where to look, but food, lodging and the essentials necessary for travel can be quite steep in this tourist party town. Here are a few tips on how to survive a trip to NOLA without busting your wallet.
This seems like a big “duh” but often, tourists don’t know where else to stay or how to get around the city and so they set up camp in the most recognized area. The French quarter houses the big name hotels and those usually come with big name prices. Instead of looking for a $200 room on Canal or Bourbon Street, pay $89 at the Ambassador Hotel in the Warehouse District, a short trolley or cab ride away. If you don’t mind Super 8 or Motel 6, you can find a room with a bit less character in the $60 range.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is an inexpensive way to get around the quarters in New Orleans. For $3 (1-day) to $51 (31-day), visitors and locals have access to all the busses and street cars from Algiers to Lake Forest and everywhere in between. Want to visit the Garden District after breakfast at Cafe Du Monde? Not a problem–just hop on the St. Charles streetcar and in 15 minutes and a lovely drive through blooming magnolia trees, you’re there. Forego the rental car and taxi services, put the foot to the pavement and get on the trolleys with the locals. That in itself is an experience to remember in New Orleans.
3) Eat locally
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to find a local eatery with good grub and decent prices and then become a “regular” for my time on site. This means not necessarily digging in at the big brand shops on the main streets but foraging for food off the beaten path. The food industry is huge in NOLA, and restaurants want your business, bad. Many smaller places have great all-you-can-eat deals on seafood. Daisy Dukes, with locations in Metaire, the French Quarter and the Central Business District, offers unlimited crawfish for $28 and refills on bloody mary’s are always free! Parasols in the Garden District boasts the city’s best po’boy and locals agree. For under $10, you can pick up one of the tastiest sandwiches east of the Mississippi with leftovers for dinner.
This can be harder than you think. New Orleans, like any tourist town, wants you to spend your money at the big hot spots rather than hang with the locals at the free dives. If saving a few dollars isn’t enough to get you to NOLA, here are some free things to do that might help ease the cost of that plane ticket and convince you to visit this magical town.
4) San Fermin en Nueva Orleans (Run with the bulls) and Bastille Day Festival July 11-14
**Disclaimer: I do not own these images. If it is your original work, please contact us. I am happy to give credit where credit is due.