These are hard times, nation. Our country’s economy still struggles to crawl, wheezing, from its deathbed. The middle class has all but disappeared into the vacuous income chasm created by the rich. Unemployment rates are so high that, suddenly, sane people are starting to think the gutter punk lifestyle looks kind of romantic. (Think again.) And to add to the horror, good, hard-working Americans are finding themselves buried in mountains of debt, lacking any disposable income with which to distract themselves from the pain of their crumbling lives through entertainment, copious alcohol use, or both.
Well, friends, I have the answer. To the last problem. And like all good solutions, it comes in a list.
Last night I went out with my best friend and general all-around funny person who makes me feel a little better about life, the illustrious Sara Mulholland. While we were paying for our Miller High Lifes (the Champagne of Beers, but somehow also the Cheapest of Beers) with linty pocket change and generally moaning about how broke we were, she presented me with this genius list that she researched and compiled, with commentary, of free or inexpensive things to do in New Orleans, which is such a good list that she was carrying it around in her purse to show to people. No, it actually is a very good list. So good I wanted to share it with the internet in Sara’s stead, who does not have a blog, the Luddite. So all credit here goes to Sara Mulholland and not me. All together now: Thank you, Sara!
Also, the list is a list in progress, so if you have any suggestions, please comment!
I suppose I should also include some sort of disclaimer about neither the author of the list nor this website condoning the activities of questionable legality (or safety) listed herein. So if you get banned for life from the Marriott or fall through the floor in an abandoned house of wonders, it’s not our fault.
That being said, The List:
or, A Compendium of Awesome Shit to Do in New Orleans
by: Sara Mulholland, Broke Crusader Against Banality and Tedium.
The NEW Tree House, 2822 St. Claude
Features: The same designer of the NOLA Art House Tree House strikes again. Not yet condemned, still legally open for exploration.
Cons: Hippie b.o., if it scares you.
The Before I Die Wall, Corner of Marigny and Burgundy St’s.
UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter, I have been informed that the Before I Die Wall is no more. The blighted house the wall was built on the exterior of is now being restored so it can be a home again, which is a little sad cause the wall was cool, but mostly great. We’ve lost the wall, but gained a home! You can still go to the website (below) and see photos of the old wall, as well as walls in other cities, cause it’s apparently turning into a mini-movement.
Features: Enormous chalk board covering one side of abandoned home asking viewers to participate in art, and share the goals they want to accomplish before they die. Another chalk board has recently been added asking for suggestions of the future use of the building.
Cons: Often out of chalk, remember to bring your own.
Abita Mystery House, Abita Springs LA
Features: Taxidermy, Creole cottages, wall to wall art, and locally crafted items of wonderment.
Cons: Bit of a drive, but I hear this town has some killer beer.
Cost: $3 dollars, but a one dollar off coupon is available on the website.
Okay, here is the deal. There are a shit ton of free events at the big art museums in New Orleans, all kinds of different things. And I’m way too lazy to write them all down. The only regular one is EVERY Wednesday and is free admission at the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art (conveniently located in the middle of City Park, which appears on this list later! You could create a whole romantical day in just one location!) So be proactive and check the websites of the following museums yourself. I can’t do all your work for you.
New Orleans Museum of Modern Art – noma.org
Contemporary Arts Center – cacno.org
Ogden Museum of Southern Art – ogdenmuseum.org
Art Council of New Orleans – artscouncilofneworleans.org
That last one is not a museum, but the website provides a really rad list of public works of art (under the Public Art tab), all free to go admire, all bold statements about New Orleans. This list could make an awesome addition to any scavenger hunt plans, scenic drunken stumbling, only slightly-douche-y photo shoots, or psychedelic mushroom trips. The Art Council of New Orleans also has a calendar of some more mainstream arty events in New Orleans on any given day. This website is well worth exploring for some cheap ideas, though be aware I am in NO way saying everything it promotes is cheap, so thoroughly check the price listings.
NOLA Art House, 1614 Esplanade Ave
Features: Interesting artist flop-house cum underground illegal artist playground. Everything is art at this place, including the three story tree house in the back.
Cons: yes, the building is condemned and abandoned… but really…
Midnight Marriott Swimming, Canal St.
Features: Casually stroll through the comfortable lobby of the Marriott on Canal and travel to the 5th floor, where an easy access pool awaits you and your chosen guests. Special bonus on the top floor conference room: free food and amazing views of the city.
Cons; Questionable legality. Minor punishment if caught.
Website: Doesn’t matter.
Acadia’s Urban Wilderness Adventure,
Right by the Levee dog park, on the right side of the park there is a side walk that goes up and over the levee, take that sidewalk up and over the levee, take a left at the river and walk along the river (halfway mark is big wooden swing), and find yourself in a junkyard playground!
Cons: Possible death or dismemberment
Cost: Free, not factoring in for bail
House of Broel, St. Charles Ave.
Features: On the first floor a charming wedding venue and bridal boutique. On the second floor an eclectic collection of elaborate dollhouses and an homage to the frog farming industry in Louisiana.
Cons: Can’t find any.
Live Tiger at a Truck Stop, off I-10, Grosse Tete exit (which, incidentally, I’m pretty sure means “Fat Head” in French)
Features: Its a live tiger, but at a truck stop.
Cons: Well, its a live tiger at a truck stop.
Cost: Monetarily, nothing. But get too close to the tiger…
THINGS THAT MIGHT ALARM ATF
Honey Island Swamp Shooting Range
Cons: Must buy a fishing license.
Cost: Day at the range – $6, Day fishing license – $2.50-$9.50
Wednesday in the Square, Lafayette Square, CBD
Features: Music, dancing, food, and general revelry under the spring or fall sun.
Cons: You do have to pay for the food and booze, but to this I say, FLASK!
Free Swing Dancing at the WW2 Museum
Features: Some rather ungamely swing dancing by novices from across the city and some pretty sweet tunes.
Cons: If you feel embarrassed when dancing badly, that’s a con. But drinks on the way in at the Rusty might assuage these pains.
Numerous picnic spots, romantical walks, and bike and boat rentals.
Features: Pick up some cheap delicious treats (or splurge on something expensive at nearby Angelo Bracado’s) and enjoy saccharine sweet hand holding goodness. Also, bike rentals and boat rentals are available for a small fee to explore the park.
Cons: The sometimes fickle climes of New Orleans.
Cost: Bike rentals – $10/hour,
Boat rentals – $15/hour.
Features: Skip the expensive, touristy, shitty steamboat tour and hop the slightly grungy and run down, but FREE, Algiers Ferry. Pretty ride, nice view of the river, and best of all only a few blocks from port is a lovely walk around historic Algiers and the Crown and Anchor Bar.
Cons: None! Lovely day with a cheep beer at the end.
Cost: The average drink at the Crown and Anchor is a $3 beer.
Website: Its an Irish bar staffed by Irish people. No one has bothered to make a website.
Websites to regularly check for more free and cheep shit to do:
bestofneworleans.com (The Gambit’s website)
whereyat.com (Where Y’At? Magazine’s website)
Bars. Yes, there are some amazing, dingy, decadent, cheap, terrifying, delicious, smelly, secret, mysterious, musical bars in this city. Explore them! Revel in them! But this list seeks to go beyond even just the bars. I’m not saying you can’t do one or all of these activities drunk (well, maybe not the guns. not visibly drunk, anyway). In fact, I endorse drunken exploration. But I want this list to be comprised of things you WON’T find in the Gambit Bar Review. You should check out Gambit’s Bar Review though.
So go forth, readers, and save your money while also having fun. And again, if you have any ideas not listed here (we’re sure there are tons), please comment and tell us about them. And thanks again, Sara, for the list!