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NOLA on $30: The Beautiful Fall Day

Full-on fall: embrace it on a budget with a $30 day in New Orleans.

New Orleans fall days are my favorite. So when I woke up on Friday morning to glorious, clear, sunny weather, I decided to make it my mission to explore the Mid-City/Bayou St. John area with the $30 I had in my wallet. 

What I Did


I started my day with a late breakfast at Wakin’ Bakin’ for one of the best budget meals in town. The Big John is sausage and cheese on a biscuit that comes with a cup of coffee, all for only $5! Wakin’ Bakin also has a nice outdoor seating area on Banks Street so I was able to enjoy the weather. Running total: $6.50 ($23.50 remaining)

Wakin' Bakin'
Wakin’ Bakin’. (Photo: Ann Marshall Thomas)

City Park

After my meal, I strolled down to Carrolton Avenue and hopped on the streetcar to City Park. Although I wanted to spend as much time as possible outdoors during the fall weather, riding the streetcar with the window open seemed like the next best thing. Running total: $7.75 ($22.25 remaining)

When I arrived at City Park, I remembered why this is one of the best places in the city to spend a beautiful day. It feels just a little bit wild — almost like I’m not in a city at all.

Since I wanted to see as much of the park as possible, I decided to spring for a bike rental. I knew I would have to limit myself to an hour if I wanted to keep my price tag at $10, so I kept my eye on the time. I biked under the oak trees, over bridges, by the peristyle, and near Big Lake. I stopped a few times for photos, but mostly, I just enjoyed the scenery! Running total: $17.75 ($12.25 remaining)

The Peristyle at City Park
The Peristyle at City Park. (Photo: Ann Marshall Thomas)

The Bayou and the “Cities of the Dead”

St. Louis Cemetery No. 3
St. Louis Cemetery No. 3. (Photo: Ann Marshall Thomas)

After returning my bike and filling up my water bottle, I decided to take a moment to relax and read by Bayou St. John. I could see a few people canoeing and paddleboarding on the bayou, which made me wish that kayak rentals were within my budget.

I strolled over to St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 for a look. I love New Orleans cemeteries, with their above-ground tombs. There is so much history there! And the best part? It’s all free.

Happy Hour

Sandwiches from 1000 Figs
Sandwiches from 1000 Figs. (Photo: Ann Marshall Thomas)

By about 5 p.m., I was getting really hungry. I met a friend at 1000 Figs to catch the tail end of happy hour. We each ordered a beer and split a smoked pork sandwich and a falafel sandwich, which we ate in the outdoor seating area. Our total came to $24 with tip, so when we split the bill, I pretty much hit my budget for the day (the bike rental was totally worth it.) Running total: $29.75 ($0.25 remaining)

Luckily for us, our evening didn’t have to end just because I had spent all my money. Right next to 1000 Figs, Swirl Wines offers free tastings every Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., so we embraced our luck and tasted a few wines. I was grateful for one last toast on this beautiful day!

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