Embrace the slower pace of summer in a way that’s also easy on your wallet: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown encourages locals and visitors to the city can take advantage of summer deals and lower prices from restaurants to museums to sports, cooking, and tours.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve compiled suggestions below. Be a tourist in your own hometown with these staycation ideas.
With around 1,400 restaurants, New Orleans is bursting with opportunities to get engaged with the local food landscape. And while it’s never a bad time to be a food tourist in the city, now is a pretty convenient time.
Start the day by taking a morning stroll through the French Market, which claims the title of oldest public market in the United States. Black and white photographs hang from above, showing the Market in earlier times. Today, the upriver end of the market features food stalls with local favorites like oysters, pralines, coffee, and hot sauce for sale. Buy a little something, like beignets and café au lait, or just take in the sights, sounds, and smells.
Then, head over to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, which highlights the food, drink, and related culture of New Orleans and the American South in general. Adult admission is typically $10.50, however for the month of August, those who show their Louisiana IDs receive half off adult admission. Students, military personnel, and those aged 60+ are $5.25, and those under 12 are free.
Take advantage of COOLinary Restaurant Month for lunch. COOLinary takes place at restaurants across the city through the month of August and offers special, prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for the chance to eat one’s way through a delicious, multi-course meal at a lower price than normal. Enjoy a meal at the classic old restaurant stomping grounds of New Orleans, like Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, and Commander’s Palace, more casual favorites like Dick & Jenny’s and Pizza Domenica, and newer establishments like The Caribbean Room and DTB. Lunch is offered at a particularly sweet deal at numerous COOLinary participating restaurants: $20 for a two-course meal.
End the day with a cooking class or demonstration. For those foodies who really want to get their hands dirty, the New Orleans School of Cooking offers both cooking demonstrations as well as hands-on cooking classes at a special low price. Classes are taught by experts and include a sprinkling of history as well.
The old charm of many New Orleans neighborhoods offers the perfect date backdrop for couples. When life is getting hectic, take a little time to slow down and enjoy it with your partner.
Take a stroll down Royal Street and pop into the dozens of art galleries to see the wide array of local art. Craig Tracy’s features photos of his elaborate body painting work, often with a painted backdrop to create a full scene. Rodrigue Studio, named after the late local painter George Rodrigue, features the emblematic Blue Dog.
Enjoy a slow, mule-drawn carriage ride through the French Quarter, something many locals have never done. Make an advanced reservation, or spontaneously board a carriage pretty much any time of day on Decatur Street in front of Jackson Square. In addition to experiencing an “old school” mode of transportation at a discounted price, you’ll learn local historical details from your carriage operator.
Cafe Degas in Mid-City is part of the COOLinary experience and one of the most charming, intimate restaurants you’ll find. Book for dinner, and spend your time beforehand perusing other nearby romantic spots like the New Orleans Museum of Art’s sculpture and botanical gardens.
Do your staycation right by booking a downtown hotel, like the the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Warehouse District or the Pere Marquette French Quarter. These special packages include rates at 20 percent off. And that same discount applies at local jeweler Mignon Faget — head to one of their three locations for elegant baubles with New Orleans flair.
As locals know, New Orleans is not just for the adult crowd. Fun, family-friendly activities during daytime and early evening hours abound. Honestly though, adults might enjoy these activities more than their kids.
Start the morning in City Park, one of New Orleans’ greatest outdoor assets. After breakfast at Morning Call, rent a boat to paddle (or pedal) around the Big Lake. Available boats include canoes, kayaks (single and tandem), and pedal boats. The Big Lake also offers front row seats to observing ducks, geese, and swans in their natural habitat (please observe from afar and let them glide, fish, or preen without disturbing them).
After the park, hop on the red Canal streetcar for a fun ride. Grab seats and open the window to feel the warm breeze as the streetcar groans and glides along the tracks. Streetcar rides are $1.25 per person per trip, or $3.00 per person per day. Pay with exact change on board, or download the new smartphone app, RTA GoMobile.
Downtown, take care of lunch and dessert. First, head to Central Grocery for muffulettas. Then, drop by Creole Delicacies (533 St. Ann St.) for 10% off kid-friendly local delights like pralines and Mardi Gras masks.
Keep the kids’ cultural education going at a traditional New Orleans jazz show at Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter St.), an all-ages performance venue (alcohol-free). Preservation Hall was at the heart of the traditional jazz music revival in the mid-1900s. Evening sets begin as early as 6:00 p.m. and feature a changing selection of local musicians. Reserve front row (or second row) tickets in advance ($35-50), or manage the cost ($15-20) and stand in line prior to the show.
If going to the same old bar or friend’s house is starting to get old, refresh your stock of ideas and surprise your friends with some fun and exciting activities.
Enjoy America’s favorite pastime at a Baby Cakes game, where tickets are just $5. At that price, everyone can enjoy refreshments, too!
You can also make plans to go on a 30-minute aerial tour with the Flight Academy of New Orleans. Fly over the French Quarter, the Mississippi River, the Port of New Orleans, and the Superdome to view the city at a different angle. Tickets are $95, so you’ll get both experiences for a cool $100.
Get a group together for The Early Bourbon at Kenton’s: this exceptional happy hour lasts from 3 to 6 p.m. every single day and includes half-price oysters, wine, beer, and cocktail specials.
After a little liquid courage, see what the future holds for you and your pals. New Orleans psychic medium Cari Roy is offering 10 percent off psychic readings — she’s been featured on The Today Show, A&E, and Travel and Discovery Channels, so you know she’s got to be good.