From free festivals, to gazing at living history, to taking in the natural beauty, there are plenty of activities in Louisiana to partake in that won’t break the bank! So if you’re looking to save a little, here are 15 free things to do in Louisiana that will have you coming back for more.
These mounds are a great way to see Native American history in the state along with exploring the beautiful campus of Louisiana State University in general. The two Native American mounds date back to the Middle Archaic period from 4,000-2,000 BCE and are loaded with historical artifacts. However, being located in a prime spot on LSU’s campus that has tons of huge Live Oak Forests and historic buildings, this is a great spot to start your free tour of the entire grounds. Grab a picnic on the mounds, roll down, and start exploring!
Becoming a popular sport and past time in recent years, disco golf courses are typically a fun, free activity. On this delightful 18-hole course located New Orleans City Park, disc golfers can enjoy the scenes of the park while tossing. Ponds, huge oak trees dating back hundreds of years, cypress trees, bamboo forests, and so much more make for breathtaking views all along the course. Dogs are welcome on a leash, friends are guaranteed, and good times are had by all. The only things you need are the discs.
Typically more of a donation-based activity, hiking anywhere can be done for free or extremely cheap. This ranger district offers over 12 miles of wilderness hiking trails, including such notable trails as the Caroline Dormund Trail, Backbone Trail, and the Wild Azalea Trail. Each trail can be done in a day or two with no fees required though donations are always welcome in this national park. Kisatchie National Forest is the only national forest in the state and is home to over 8,700 acres of wilderness. Explore the great outdoors at Kisatchie Hills Wilderness Area!
Grand Isle is the only barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico that supports live oak plant communities and because of the large habitats in the area migratory birds flock here year after year. This trail links several bird habitats, including the remnants of oak-hackberry forests on the island. Other areas include the Grand Isle Port Commission Marsh and the LSU Ag Center Cemetery Woods that have live oaks hundreds of years old that is locally known as “chenier,” “a place of oaks.” Lafittes Wood Preserves are also connected on this trail including the Leblanc Tract, Grilleta Tract, and Govan Tract all ranging in space as well as fauna. Jays, cardinals, egrets, warblers, red wing blackbirds, and more are just some for the birds to be seen on the island.
This museum is open daily from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. free of charge. Stop in and soak up the rich history and culture of the Acadian people in the small town of Erath. Three rooms make up the museum. The first is the Erath Room where visitors can get the scoop on the town. The second is the main Acadian Room where the rich history and unique culture of the people can be explored for hours. Then there is the Prairie Bayou Cajun Room, which documents the Cajun population’s settlements on the prairies. All the rooms have artifacts, exhibits, and photos documenting the Acadians.
This free concert series kicks off every fall and spring providing grooves, food, beverages, and fun for all the residents of the Baton Rouge area. Held downtown in Repentance Park next to the Old State Capitol on River Road, this series has become the longest running and most successful music series ever held in Baton Rouge. There are eight shows during each season all going on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. with state celebrities like Rockin Dopsie & the Zydeco Twisters as well as the Michael Foster Project headlining in past years. Vendors from around the city join in to provide good food for the patrons enjoying a well-deserved Friday afternoon of relaxation and smiles. All ages are welcome.
This 12-week concert series held in Lafayette Square goes from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday in the spring. Though the concert entry is always free for New Orleans residents and tourists, everyone is encouraged to buy the drinks and food to keep up the costs of the concert. This is a series where New Orleans’ finest musicians can strut their stuff to a big crowd. Past performances include Dumpstaphunk, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Kermit Ruffins, Anders Osborne, and many more. Better yet, some of the best vendors can also be seen every Wednesday ranging from Mahony’s Po Boys and Seafood, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, and the Ajun Cajun.
This age-old tradition started when the town of Eunice first came into existence in the late 19th century. Participants dress in their best, handmade Cajun Mardi Gras costumes that are often masked and covered in tons of pieces of fabric hanging off the suit and partake in a run. The tradition is based on when the walkers would go door to door asking for donations to the community gumbo for Fat Tuesday. Today, over 2,000 men and women march the parade that also involves a chicken run. This unique cultural experience is completely free just don’t forget to make your costume!
The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans dating all the way back to 1718. Though many of the attractions, bars, and restaurants do require compensation for their services simply being able to tour the neighborhood is completely free. Tourists can take in the unique Spanish/French architecture that makes up the quarter, while visiting historic spots like the St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and the Lafittes Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street. This inspiring neighborhood is littered with historic buildings along with New Orleans world-renowned buskers that include street musicians, human statues, magicians, tarot card readers, artists and so much more. Take in the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans free of charge!
Each summer the Baton Rouge Gallery opens its lawn for its “Music & Movies on the Lawn” series. Going from May through the October this monthly event is a family-friendly activity though is perfect for a date night as well and free for BRG members. Classic and artistic silent films are played on the screen, while live local bands like Captain Green and Righteous Buddha provide the score for the film. The bands can choose original or cover pieces that compliment the film. Free popcorn is also provided for the screening that begins at sunset around 8 p.m.
The biggest party to hit downtown Lafayette, this festival is held in the streets of downtown. International, Cajun, Zydeco and local music go on all weekend free of charge for everybody. You can even bring your own ice chest! It is the largest free international music and arts festival in the country with each stage announcing artists in both English and French. The five-day festival is held every April and includes artists from over 20 different countries, workshops, local food vendors specializing in Cajun cuisine, and a host of family friendly activities. About 300,000 attendees flood the streets every year, but don’t worry the festival is big enough to accommodate the crowds.
More than an art gallery, this museum allows everyone into their doors. However, some of the best parts of the museum are the 40 acres of surrounding gardens called the Azalea Gardens. The gallery also has a library where over 15,000 volumes of books on fine arts, history and genealogy can be explored. The focus of the museum is 19th and 20th century American and European art though other programs come through from time to time. The building itself opened to the public in 1966. Complete with 24 exhibit rooms, the gardens, library, and more this is a fun, educational activity that can take up your entire day.
This Cultural Center provides an array of activities. Every Monday join a Cajun music jam from 5 to 6:15 p.m., or on Tuesdays guests can come speak French with others in their Cercle from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Though designated days or events are not required to enjoy this free center. Displays and exhibits of Cajun music, architecture, lifestyles, cookbooks, and more are all available fro perusing any day of the week. The center also offers boat tours of the surrounding bayous and wetlands though tickets for those must be purchased.
Every year the LSU Student Government throws a free outdoor concert on the Parade Grounds that sit under the Bell Tower in front of the Student Union. The grounds itself are beautiful as LSU sits on a natural flood plain where forests of oak and cypress trees still inhabit today. Though the concert itself is fun too promoting culture, art, and philanthropy in the Baton Rouge area. Anyone can walk right up to the huge stage that has hosted such acts as Lupe Fiasco, Grace Potter, Ying Yang Twins, and more.
The New Orleans Ballet Association offers tuition free dance classes for youths and adults alike throughout the year. Since 1992, this organization has looked to inspire the entire community to dance whether it be ballet, tai chi, Pilates, Haitian Kongo and Nago Folkloric there are Open Community Classes for Adults and teens ranging from 14-80 plus. Learn the traditional dance of Haiti or enjoy a relaxing workout. It doesn’t matter as long as you have a fun, positive attitude. There are classes for beginners, intermediates, and experts in each field. Stop by or visit their site to get the full list of classes. Registration is required for new comers though the class is still free.