As the parents of two small kids, my husband and I are always on the go. Between school events, sports, and birthday parties, weeknights and weekends fill up quickly. Often we fill the free time in our schedule entertaining the kids. We are making an effort to prioritize scheduling regular dates. Not necessarily just date nights (we are tired). Luckily we have loving grandparents that usually can help, but if we have to hire a babysitter the cost is always $100+. Even though we want to get out and have some adult fun, we don’t want to break the bank doing so. We are lucky to have an abundance of things to explore right here in the greater New Orleans area.
1. The French Quarter is one of my favorite day dates. Either Uber down there or park at one of the lots along Decatur, and you can have a whole day of fun. Grab some café au lait and beignets from Café Du Monde and eat them in Jackson Square. Regardless of the day, there are countless street performers and artists surrounding the Square. My husband and I love to stroll down Royal Street and peek in all the antique shops and art galleries. Once you get tired of walking, relax along the riverfront and watch the boats go by.
2. Hop on a streetcar. There are four different routes that the streetcars take throughout the city: canal – cemeteries, St. Charles, City Park/Museum, and Rampart-St. Claude. It is only $1.25/person one way or $3.00/person for an unlimited day pass. Regardless of which route you take, there are plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat and scenery to take in. Check out the routes and schedules to plan your day of fun.
3. Squeeze in some exercise on your day date by renting a Blue Bike to explore on. For only $0.10/minute you can grab a bike at one of the many bike stations around the city and take off for an adventure.
4. Take in some history at the Chalmette Battlefield. Entrance into the park is 100% free, and there are many events and exhibits available as well. Instead of driving to Chalmette, you can take the Creole Queen and cruise the river to get to the site of the Battle of New Orleans.
5. The Young Leadership Council of New Orleans sponsors weekly Wednesday at the Square concerts at Lafayette Square March through May every year. You can find the amazing line up of performers here. Admission is free. Bring chairs or a blanket and enjoy the music for a mid week treat.
6. Lafreniere Park’s spring concert series Lafreniere Live offers free concerts every Thursday in April at 6:30 pm. Information on bands and dates is available on their Facebook page.
7. City Park offers its Thursdays at Twilight series that features as assortment of jazz, blues, and other genres of music in the Pavilion of Two Sisters and in the Botanical Gardens. Admission is $10 per person and they sell mint juleps, beer, wine, water and soft drinks. The series runs from January to May.
8. Music in the Park in Kenner’s Rivertown. Every Friday in May from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Free admission. Beer, wine, snoballs, and food for sale. The schedule of bands can be found here.
Visit a Museum
9. The New Orleans Collection, located on Royal St. offers a variety of exhibitions. You can download the app and take a free self guided Architecture and Courtyard audio tour. Guided tours are also available for a small fee. The collection is closed on Mondays.
10. Located behind the New Orleans Museum of Art is the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Visiting the garden is FREE, and they offer a mobile audio tour. Admire pieces such as the Mirror Labyrinth, the LOVE sculpture, as well as many others.
11. While you are making plans to check out the sculpture garden, did you know that New Orleans Museum of Art, offers free admission on Wednesdays? While the kids are in school, why not spend the day admiring the works of art with your significant other.
12. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is another amazing local museum that offers complimentary admission to Louisiana residents (with identification) on Thursdays. Hours are from 10am-5pm and would make another great day date.
13. Yet one more museum with free admission for locals is The Contemporary Arts Center. On Sundays residents can enjoy the paintings, photography, and performing arts such as dance, music and theater compliments of The Helis Foundation. If you don’t go on a free day, admission is only $10.
Unwind at Happy Hour
14. JB’s Fuel Dock is family owned and operated. Happy Hour starts at 3pm on weekdays. $1 off everything and you can sit outside and watch the boats in the marina. Make sure to try the pizza.
15. If you are looking for a low key date in Metairie, Andy’s Bistro is nestled on the corner of a quiet residential street. It is the perfect weeknight date spot. They have happy hour and daily specials. Sit on the patio and enjoy a Cool Brees.
16. Gattuso’s Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant on the Westbank offers an excellent daily happy hour from 4-7pm. Enjoy half price appetizers and drink specials. Also, on Wednesdays you can enjoy $2 cocktails and wine.
Out & About
17. Free Festivals
- French Quarter Festival: Always 4 days long in April. The weather is usually gorgeous. Enjoy multiple locations for music and local food and drinks.
- Hancock Whitney White Linen Night: Presented by the CAC, it is always an evening event on a Saturday in August. Get dressed up in your best white outfits and stroll in and out of the art galleries on Julia St.
- PoBoy Festival: Try over 60 variations of the poboy while listening to entertainment performing on four stages. Admission is free, but a wristband is required for food purchases.
18. City Park is one of the largest urban area parks. Not only does it have beautiful landscapes, but there are tons of activities to do within the park. City Putt is a great day or night date. Play one or both courses of mini golf for $9-$13 per person. After your round of mini golf, cool off with a snoball. The sneaux-mobile traveling snoball truck will come to you. Follow it on social media at @cityparkrec. Or you can walk to the snoball stand on the plaza in between City Putt and the Great Lawn.
19. Stop by a farmer’s market to do some shopping together. You can connect while checking out the fresh products from local vendors. Crescent City Farmer’s Markets has 7 different locations for markets and an app you can download for more information.
20. If you and your honey are beer lovers, Tchoupitoulas St. has a plethora of breweries where you can sample and take a tour. Nola Brewing does free tours Friday-Sunday (altered schedule during the summer). Urban South charges a small fee of $10/person for tours, but that includes a souvenir cup and two beers. Make sure to taste test Holy Roller IPA, its my husband’s personal favorite. Port Orleans hosts trivia nights, brewery bingo, and has specials for every Monday for service industry professionals.
21. In the heat of the summer, take a quick date to one of the many snoball stands around town. My personal favorite is Sal’s on Metairie Road. Hansen’s Sno-Bliz on Tchoupitoulas is a classic spot with 80 years of snoball experience. If you are looking for something different, SnoLa serves up a cheesecake stuffed snoball along with other unique flavors at multiple locations in the area.
On the Northshore
22. Load up your bikes and ride along one of the paths of Tammany Trace. If you are riding along in Mandeville take a pit stop for snoballs or ice cream at Northshore Ice Co. They are family owned and operated and just 2 blocks from the Trace.
23. If you are in Slidell, make sure to follow the Old Towne Slidell Main Street facebook page. The historic district is home to gift shops, antique stores, restaurants, and bars. They often post information on free events such as the farmers market, a summer art show, and free concerts in Heritage Park. There always seems to be something going on in or around Main Street.
24. Take your date outdoors to Camp Salmen in Slidell. Spend the day exploring 130 acres of the park. Print out a map and walk the trails. Go bird watching on the Camp Ridge Trail. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the serenity of the scenery. The park is open Wednesday-Sunday.
25. The Wine Garden in Slidell has something fun going on almost every day of the week. Whether you want to do a Thursday or Saturday date night, they have happy hour from 3-5pm.
A “date” with your spouse can really be anything. It is about slowing down and enjoying each others company. You don’t have to stretch your budget to get out an explore all that our area has to offer. Whether you want to be indoors or outdoors, have 30 minutes or all day, take the time to just be together.