20 Cheap or Free Things to Do in New Orleans
Put on comfortable walking shoes and download a map from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau for a self-guided tour of the French Quarter, perhaps the most famous neighborhood in New Orleans. There's charming French-style architecture throughout, plenty of window shopping, and fascinating people-watching at the numerous shops, restaurants, and galleries along the way.
Cafe Du Monde's coffee canisters are sold everywhere, but it's not a trip to New Orleans without a frozen cafe au lait ($4.50) and beignets (French fried doughnuts, which sell in packs of three for just over $2). Visitors have to hustle to grab a table at this crowded cafe, but waiters and kitchen staff are quick and so is turnover. Get an icy caffeine and sugar boost for less than $10.
It's easy to miss Cajun cooking on the return home, so take a stroll through the popular French Market before leaving the city. Among the snow cones (which locals call "snowballs" or "snoballs"), spiked smoothies, fresh seafood, and souvenir vendors, there are market stands selling shelves of Southern goodness. Bring home unique hot sauce flavors, gumbo mix, shrimp étouffée seasoning, or dirty rice mix at $2 to $3 a bag.
Craving oysters and a well-made drink? Head to Lüe, which serves French and German food on mansion-laden St. Charles Avenue, called "The Jewel of America's Grand Avenues" -- but make reservations a few days ahead to take advantage of the happy hour specials. Every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., oysters are 75 cents each and wine and specialty cocktails are half off.