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NOLA on $30: Exploring the Marigny and Bywater

Bywater House
A colorful house in the Bywater. (Photo: Ann Marshall Thomas)

So far in the NOLA on $30 series, I’ve explored the French Quarter, Mid-City, Uptown, and the Garden District. This time, I decided to spend a day in the Marigny and Bywater areas, limiting myself to a budget of $30. I love these neighborhoods because they’re very walkable, and there’s little need to spend excess cash on transportation.  

What I Did

I started off my day with brunch at Cake Cafe. This Marigny sandwich and breakfast spot is one of my favorites in the city, especially for the budget conscious. The brunch item that offers the most bang for your buck is the scrambled eggs plate, which comes with a starch, eggs, your choice of meat, and a free cup of coffee all for $6.25. Because I was feeling fancy, I also added a red velvet cupcake to my order. (Cake Cafe offers the option to add a $1 cupcake to any entree order, and believe me, that cream cheese icing is worth it.) My brunch came to $8 once I added a tip.

Running Total: $8.00 ($22.00 remaining)

The red velvet cupcake from Cake Cafe
The red velvet cupcake from Cake Cafe. (Photo: Ann Marshall Thomas)

I finished my meal and needed to walk it off, so I headed Crescent Park and entered from N. Peters Street. I walked the whole length of the park, taking stops to relax on the bench swings and watch the ships move in and out of the city. My fiancé met me toward the end of my walk, and we couldn’t help but stop for a few photos near the archway where we exited the park.

It was a beautiful day (and I was wearing my walking shoes) so we decided to continue on through the Bywater. No matter how many times I walk through the neighborhood, the shotgun houses and Creole cottages, with their colorful paint choices, always make me grateful to live in such a special city.

There’s something great about thoroughly exploring one area.

Crescent Park
Crescent Park. (Photo: Greg Tilton)
Bacchanal. (Photo: Greg Tilton)

We made our way to Bacchanal, which offers $5 wine glass happy hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lucky for us, it was a Friday, so we took a break in the shade of the courtyard and I sipped a glass of rosé.

Running Total: $13.50 ($16.50 remaining)

Bargain Center
Bargain Center. (Photo: Greg Tilton)

I did have one mission that day other than to enjoy myself: I needed to buy a gift for my little cousin. We walked up Dauphine Street back toward the Marigny and decided to do a little shopping along the way. We stopped in Bargain Center, which had tons of great buys, including $1 records and various pieces of old glassware. But ultimately, I didn’t find anything quite right for a seven-year-old.

Mardi Gras Zone
A doll from Mardi Gras Zone. (Photo: Greg Tilton)

We also decided to try Mardi Gras Zone to see if they might have any fun items upstairs in their carnival section (downstairs is a food mart). Here, I stumbled upon some cute clown dolls on sale for $0.99. Score! I purchased one for my cousin, which came to $1.08 with tax.

Running Total: $14.58 ($15.42 remaining)

By this time, we were getting hungry again, so we headed toward Markey’s Bar for some tasty and inexpensive bar food. I got a half catfish po-boy (it’s plenty big, I promise!) for $6 and a High Life for $2.50. I also left a dollar tip, so the total came to $9.50.

Running Total: $24.08 ($5.92 remaining)

blue nile
A musician performs at Blue Nile. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

We were ready for some music, so we decided to head to Frenchmen Street to catch a no-cover show at Blue Nile. At this point, we were tired of walking so we caught the Royal Street bus ($1.25 to ride) from Louisa Street and got off at Decatur and Esplanade, just a block from Blue Nile.

Running Total: $25.33 ($4.67 remaining)

At Blue Nile, I ended my night with dancing and one last drink, which cost me $4.00 with a tip for the bartender.

Running Total $29.33 ($0.67 remaining)

What I Learned

Markey's Bar
Markey’s Bar (Photo: Greg Tilton)

By sticking to one neighborhood, I was able to live well on $30 and even came in under budget. If I cut back on booze, I could have done a full day of exploring for less than $20.

There’s something great about thoroughly exploring one area, and I would recommend spending an entire day in any NOLA neighborhood as a way to cut back on both money and hassle.

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