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5 free things to do in New Orleans

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013
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MISSISSIPPI RIVER FERRY

A boat ride is one of the best ways to get a look at the New Orleans skyline and the Mississippi River's daily parade of river barges, steamships and cruise ships. The Algiers Point ferry, which has been in operation since the early 1800s, is free to pedestrians. It runs every 30 minutes between the landing at the foot of Canal Street near the Aquarium of the Americas and the historic Algiers Point neighborhood directly across the river from the French Quarter.

Algiers Point, established in 1719, boasts a trove of historic Victorian-style homes, magnolia tree-lined streets with several parks, cafes, historic churches and bars with live music. But perhaps its best feature is an unobstructed view of the city skyline and river traffic, from enormous cargo vessels to the city's iconic Natchez paddlewheel boat. Visitors can also enjoy a free self-guided tour of the Algiers Point neighborhood with the help of an online brochure from the Algiers Historical Society, http://www.algiershistoricalsociety.org/walking-tours.html

FRENCH MARKET

The smell of sweet pralines and freshly-brewed coffee wafts through the air of the New Orleans French Market. The centuries-old commercial hub stretches for several city blocks along the banks of the Mississippi River in the French Quarter and includes Cafe du Monde, home of the deep-fried, sugar-coated beignet, a popular New Orleans pastry. The market is a mix of open-air retail spaces dotted with produce stands and enclosed stores carrying specialty clothing and jewelry. It's an ideal destination for window-shopping and people-watching.

Visitors can watch candy-makers mix up batches of pralines, a New Orleans treat made with brown sugar and pecans, or stop by an open-air flea market where eye-catching jewelry, accessories and handmade crafts are sold. Newer vendor spaces have ceiling fans and full kitchens where cooks prepare meals using fresh Louisiana produce and seafood. The French Market dates to 1791 and was originally the site of a Native American trading post. European immigrants traded there, as did African-Americans selling coffee, pralines and calas, a rice fritter popular in 19th century New Orleans. Choctaw Indians from north of Lake Pontchartrain sold herbs, spices and handmade crafts. Many such items are sold in the market today, http://www.frenchmarket.org