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NOLA on $30: The Romantic Edition

A $30, all-day date? It’s possible when you mix free things to do with happy hour prices — and a priceless view of the Mighty Mississippi.

A stunning view of the Mississippi River is ideal for a budget-minded date. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Valentine’s Day is behind us, but romantic evenings are easy any time of year in New Orleans. This city is full nature strolls, candle-lit restaurants, and secluded cocktail bars. It’s also a great city for couples on a budget who still want to celebrate their love in style.

Select beer, wine, and cocktails are all part of the happy hour at Tableau in the French Quarter — complete with a picturesque balcony. (Photo via Tableau on Facebook)

My fiancé and I are attempting date night on a $30 budget. Here’s what we’re planning:

Romance on $30

Romantic Stroll: Our date begins with an early afternoon stroll through Audubon Park. Though it may be cold elsewhere in the country, February in New Orleans is a perfect time to get outside and enjoy the cool air. We’ll take our time and maybe even pack a blanket and relax by the lagoon.

Audubon Park. (Photo via New Orleans Tourism Marketing)

Streetcar: We’ll end our stroll at the St. Charles Avenue park entrance and hop on the streetcar heading toward the French Quarter (get off at the Canal Street stop and cross over into the Quarter on foot!). That will run us $2.50 at $1.25 per person.

Running total: $2.50 ($28.50 remaining)

The St. Charles Avenue streetcar is as affordable as it is romantic. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

French Quarter Window Shopping: Once we get to the Quarter, we’ll walk down Royal Street toward Jackson Square, stopping in some of our favorite galleries and antique stores like Elliot Gallery and M.S. Rau to fantasize about our dream home.

Just a few of the marvelous antiques at M.S. Rau. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Tableau Happy Hour and Early Dinner: We’ll end up at Tableau for happy hour, which last from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. If it’s nice outside, we’ll request seats on the balcony that overlooks Jackson Square. We should be able to hear some of the street musicians and enjoy some people-watching. We’ll split the cochon de lait quesadilla and truffle fries and order two half-off Abita Ambers. This should run us about $23.00 with a tip.

Running total: $25.50 ($4.50 remaining)

Budget-friendly beignets from Cafe du Monde. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Dessert: When happy hour ends, we’ll head to Cafe du Monde, grab an order of beignets to go, and enjoy them on a bench by the Mississippi River. The beignets will run us only $2.65, and the view of the barges on the river is priceless.

Running total: $28.15 ($1.85 remaining)

The Allways Lounge offers free  swing dance lessons on Sundays. (Photo courtesy of the Allways Lounge)

Swing Dancing at Allways Lounge: We’ll end our evening at Allways Lounge for their free Sunday evening swing dance lesson. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get there is to walk down Decatur Street, turn right onto Frenchmen Street — taking in the live music as we walk — and then turn right onto St. Claude Avenue. The lesson starts at 8 p.m. and there is social dancing afterward so we can practice our new skills. Maybe we’ll go a little bit over budget and spring for one more drink and/or use our remaining $1.85 to tip the band.

Running total: $30.00 ($0 remaining)

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