Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Free summer activities in New Orleans

It happens to be best of us — we save up for a great vacation and an unexpected expense lands in our laps. Maybe our car broke down, maybe it got stolen. Maybe our kids have cavities, maybe they need braces. Perhaps we made it all the way to New Orleans with our money in our pockets, but luck was not on our side at the casino. Whatever the circumstances, there is still plenty of summer fun to be had in New Orleans, and some of it’s even free.


For the music lovers

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Tipitina’s Foundation is bringing back Foundation Free Fridays starting this Friday, June 1 through Friday, June 29. Folks ages 21 and older can shake what their mama gave ‘em at Tipitina’s, located at 501 Napoleon Avenue on Tchoupitoulas Street. Doors are at 9 p.m. and the shows begin at 10 p.m.

Foundation Free Fridays stretch across genres and bring some of the best New Orleans talent to the stage. Funk, rock, blues and brass bands all get a shot to bring their best. The 2018 series features:

June 1 – Gravy and Darcy Malone & The Tangle 
June 8 – Khris Royal & Dark Matter + Big Easy Brawlers + Berklee City Music
June 15 – Good Enough for Good Times + James Martin Band + InStereo
June 22 – Walter “Wolfman” Washington + The Fortifiers
June 29 – Brassaholics + Cool Nasty

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Admission is free, the bar is not. Be sure to bring your ID.


For the movie lovers

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The Orpheum, a beautifully resorted historic theater in downtown NOLA, is offering a free Summer Film Series of movies that are loved by the kid in all of us. The theater is across the street from the Roosevelt Hotel at 129 Roosevelt Way, an easy walk from the French Quarter. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and films start at 7 p.m. Admission is on a first come, first served basis so no paper tickets will be issued.

These screenings give families a chance to step back in time, learn a little about architecture and then ignore each other for two hours during the movie. Sometimes when you’re on vacation with kids, a movie is just what the doctor ordered. The 2018 series includes:


June 7 – “The Incredibles”

June 14 – “Singin’ in the Rain”

June 28 – “Coco”

July 12 – “The Princess and the Frog”

July 26 – “Mary Poppins”


For the museum lovers

There are a few museum options free to all, and more that are available to Louisiana residents.

The Historic New Orleans Collection has free admission to both of its French Quarter campuses, 533 Royal Street and 410 Chartres Street. Each location is connected to other nearby buildings and features different exhibits and aspects of the collection. Both are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the Royal Street campus is also open on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s a great time to see their collections in conjunction with the Tricentennial of New Orleans.

Another free-to-all option is The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at City Park, part of the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). The five-acre site contains over 64 sculptures by modern artists, and is currently under expansion to include an additional six acres of land in the park. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week and its summer hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For Louisiana residents visiting New Orleans, The Helis Foundation sponsors Art for All: Free Admission to New Orleans Institutions year-round. For more than 10 years, this program has allowed thousands of visitors to view incredible beauty in NOLA.

Sundays the Contemporary Arts Center, located at 900 Camp St., is free to Louisiana residents and is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also via The Helis Foundation, admission is free to all children and students through grade 12 every day.

Wednesdays are free to Louisiana residents at both NOMA and the New Orleans Botanical Garden, located just behind NOMA in City Park. NOMA is open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Botanical Garden is open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursdays the Ogden Museum of Southern Art are free for Louisiana residents. The Ogden is located at 925 Camp Street and is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the free admission, but stays open later for Ogden After Hours until 8 p.m. Check with the admissions desk if you want to stay past 5.



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