New Orleans Feature
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Cheap Things to Do in New Orleans
Free Museums and Galleries
Buy a Power Pass (three days, $124.99 per person www.visiticket.com) to save a significant amount on the admittance fees to the city's leading museums and attractions. It costs nothing, however, to browse the Warehouse District galleries on and around Julia Street, where you'll find works by established and up-and-coming artists. Make a detour through the lobby and mezzanine of the Renaissance Arts Hotel (700 Tchoupitoulas St.), which has an impressive collection on display.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, next to the New Orleans Museum of Art, is free and has major work by important 20th-century artists, including Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Barbara Hepworth, and Seymour Lipton, dramatically set among lagoons and moss-laden oak trees.
Uptown, on the Tulane University campus, the Newcomb Art Gallery hosts shows featuring work by internationally known artists—photographer Diane Arbus and master silversmith William Spratling are two examples—as well as themed exhibitions and work by Newcomb's art school alumni.
Outdoor festivals like the Satchmo Summer Fest and French Quarter Festival are great places to hear live music for free. Street bands also serenade visitors daily in the French Quarter—although if you linger, you'll be asked to toss a few bucks into the hat.
Drop by the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park's French Quarter visitor center (419 Decatur St. 504/589-3882) to get a schedule of upcoming shows; the park hosts concerts by Louisiana musicians in the courtyard.
The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park (916 N. Peters St. 504/589–4806) sponsors live performances and lectures Tuesday to Saturday at its French Market office. The performers—who are almost invariably good—cover the jazz spectrum, from traditional brass band music to modern jazz.
If you're in town on a Wednesday from early April to late June or from mid-September to October, check out the free Wednesday at the Square and Harvest the Music concert series at Lafayette Square in the CBD, across from Gallier Hall. At both festivals around 5 pm, a horde of downtown workers and fest-loving residents converge on the square to hear good local bands, dance, and socialize. There's plenty of food and drink available for purchase.
The Canal-Algiers ferry offers some of the best views of the city, and there's no charge if you're not in a car. It's a fun thing to do with kids, and a great way to get a sense of the Mississippi River's magnitude. The pedestrian entrance is on the plaza at the foot of Canal Street, across from Harrah's Casino; it docks on the West Bank at Algiers Point, a quaint historic neighborhood that makes for a good daytime stroll. At night, though, stay onboard for the return trip.
A ride on one of the streetcars is a fun, cheap way to see the city. For just $1.25, you can take a ride Uptown, to the Riverfront, or to City Park, with stops at various attractions along the way. All three lines pick up on Canal Street. Open the window, sit back, and enjoy the sights.
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