Want all the secrets to visiting New Orleans on a budget? Those historic hotels and decadent food can add up fast.
Today, a local is sharing her best New Orleans budget travel tips: $25 hostels, free (!?) Indian food, and a $2 ferry ride that shows you the whole French Quarter!
Hey y’all! I’m Sarah Becker Lillard, a wedding photographer specializing in historic home weddings and elopements and I’ve called New Orleans home for nearly four years now.
Recently, I got into real estate and am so excited to be opening up a bed and breakfast in my neighborhood (midcity) with two amazing business partners. When I’m not juggling my two careers, you can find me with my nose in a book, walking my dachshunds on the bayou, or biking around the city with my husband.
Cheap Lodging in New Orleans
Plan C Hostel – $45
This place is right around the block from me – creative types only apply! A hostel slash music venue slash gathering place, you’re sure to meet people from all over the world.
India House – $17+
Students (or non-US citizens), you’re in luck! This large house in midcity has been turned into an adorable and fun hostel and is right on the streetcar route.
Site 61 Hostel – $25+
This place is the new hostel on the block on a very up and coming street (Tulane Ave). You’ll be right next to the city’s newest brewery and newest bike lane!
Related: Airbnb is always an affordable option and if you’ve never used it before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!
Cheap food in New Orleans
Rendezvous Tavern – free Indian food on Sundays
Show up a little after 2pm, order a beer, and wait for the Nirvana buffet to open up! Absolutely delicious, typically gone within a couple hours so be sure to get there early.
Cafe Adelaide – 3 free drinks during weekend brunch
My husband and I love to take the streetcar downtown to Cafe Adelaide in the Loews Hotel for brunch on the weekends. If you wear a hat (anything but a baseball cap will do), you get three free drinks! They have four delicious options and my husband and I typically get the burger as our entree. (Gotta soak up that alcohol somehow!)
Gattuso’s – ladies drink free on Thursdays
Pair unlimited free drinks for the ladies with half off appetizers during happy hour (5-7pm) and that’s a pretty good reason to drive the Crescent City Connection bridge to the west bank! Just 10 minutes from downtown in historic Old Gretna. Be sure to designate a driver! As I said, UNLIMITED free drinks.
Twelve Mile Limit – free dinner on Mondays
Show up at 7pm on Mondays for a delicious free meal at Twelve Mile Limit! Past meals have included chicken and rice, pasta, pizza, and barbecue. When they aren’t feeding you free food, Twelve Mile Limit is one of the coolest places to go to hear amazing live music (so stick around after dinner!).
Hare Krishna Temple – free dinner on Sundays
For the adventurous eater, the Hare Krishna temple serves a delicious and free vegetarian dinner every Sunday. You won’t be the only unconverted attendee!
Pal’s Lounge – free food 3 days a week
My neighborhood bar offers free or cheap food pretty much every day! Their calendar rotates (so check their Facebook), but staples include free red beans and rice on Monday, free chili dogs on Saturday, and free mac and cheese on Sunday. They stock up board games inside, so stick around after dinner!
American Sector – 75 cent sliders
Every day from 3-6pm, have a scrumptiously cheap slider or two after touring the National World War II Museum next door!
Parkway Bakery + Tavern – $10 poboy for 2
They claim to have invented the poboy and whether or not that’s true, they’ve been around for over 100 years! Destroyed during Katrina, they’ve come back better than ever and are a personal favorite of Beyonce and President Obama. My favorite is the surf and turf poboy (shrimp and roast beef – enough said) and one can easily feed two people.
Juan’s Flying Burrito – $10 nachos for 2
When I have nothing to cook for dinner, my husband and I head to Juan’s (branches conveniently located in three different neighborhoods) and split the Hawaii 504 nachos. With tip, it’s just a little over $10 and we barely finish it between the two of us! The atmosphere is also super fun, I could stay for hours (and I have).
Hansen’s Sno-bliz – $5 snowball for 2
Hansen’s is a New Orleans establishment (and cheap!). Snoballs are a Southern summer delicacy – thank a slushie, but more solid. Definitely get the condensed milk on top!
Cheap things to do in New Orleans
NOLA Brewery Tour – free
Check out the awesome two-story NOLA Brewery on their tour (includes free beer!) on Fridays from 2-3pm. They’ve got a game room – enough said.
An absolutely amazing collection of sculptures with a beautiful walking path. Free every day! For Louisiana residents, the museum next door is free on Wednesdays.
Take the streetcar – $1.25 each way
Whether you want to go up to City Park and the cemeteries or downtown to the riverfront, you can take the streetcar! This isn’t just for tourists; I use it all the time! Download the RTA Transit App to help you get around town.
The Fly at Audubon Park – free
Gorgeous place on the river in Audubon Park. Get a snoball or take a picnic dinner out there and enjoy the sunset!
French Quarter wandering – free
Mosey down Royal Street and listen to the street bands, visit the St. Louis Cathedral (free), window shop the antique stores on Royal St., and people watch in Jackson Square. If you need a snack, get in line at Cafe du Monde for some beignets (less than $3 for a bag).
Algiers Ferry – $2 round-trip
See gorgeous views of the French Quarter on the ferry ride over to Algiers Point, the second oldest neighborhood in New Orleans! Compact and with no lack of character, have a quick walk around and enjoy the view before heading back! Ferry runs every half hour.
Frenchmen Art Market – free
Frenchmen is the most gregarious street in New Orleans. The art market (every Thursday – Sunday night) is an eclectic mix of local artists and a great place to pick up a souvenir or take some photos!
Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah! New Orleans locals – what would you add to this list?