The first time we were close to New Orleans we drove past it. We blamed the weather. We blamed the season - it was just before Mardis Gras.
The real reason we drove past it is that it scared us.
But we love New Orleans music. And we wanted to try the food. So we returned and got over our fear of the city. We figured it out. We explored. We enjoyed.
We want to give you our formula for a $50 New Orleans overnight stay including a date-night out on the town. We’ll make it easy with tips for parking and finding live music where you’ll feel safe.
Where to Stay
Our favorite place to stay is Bayou Segnette State Park.
The park is in Westwego, LA. It’s just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans proper. The campsites are large and paved. RV hookups include water and electric and there is a dump station.
The park offers wifi (unusual for a State Park). It worked for us on one visit, but most recently wasn’t usable. Our Verizon-based 4G aircard worked reasonably well.
Bayou Segnette offers free laundry. This is a definite way to lower the cost of your New Orleans visit. Traveling families take note!
The state park gets you into the area. Now about that night out.
If you have a choice between “going-out shoes” and “comfy shoes” choose the latter. No one will will notice your feet and after a couple hours of walking, standing, and dancing along your feet will appreciate comfort more.
State Park Gate Code
The entrance to the state park is different after 9PM. Make sure you have the after-hours entrance location and gate code before heading out for the night.
Now let’s go!
Where to Park?
Finding parking in New Orleans can be stressful. Our parking requirements are:
- Room (length-wise) for a fullsize truck
- Clearance for a truck with a bike rack on top
- Within walking distance of what we wanted to see
- Away from Bourbon Street
We lucked into a little parking lot our first visit that met those requirements. We have continued to use it ever since.
Here’s an address you can use in your GPS:
2124 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
Here’s a map to it:
We’ve been downtown New Orleans on holidays, weekends, and weekdays and there has always been room in this lot.
The best driving route we’ve found is to turn right heading out of the campground and take 90 around, over the bridge to I-10 (usually the “bottom route” in this Google Map). This route avoids taking you through the crazy French Market area - but if there are large events going on downtown or at the stadium there can be a lot of traffic getting over the bridge. We’ve found no good way to avoid that:
Parking Lot Entrance
Here’s what the entrance to the lot on Decatur looks like:
The payment at this lot is automated - just note your space number and find the kiosk near the entrance. You can pay via credit card. If you choose a shorter stay there is an option to get texted before your time expires. You can add time via text message as well.
Cost: $8 for 3hrs
You’re now downtown New Orleans, have your vehicle squared away and are ready for some fun. Our top pick for fun in New Orleans is music. We’re fans of traditional big-band jazz and blues especially.
Music on Frenchmen Street
The great thing about this parking lot is that it puts you just a short walk from a great place to find live New Orleans music: Frenchmen Street.
Frenchmen Street has a large concentration of music clubs, restaurants, street artists and art booths but doesn’t have the neon, drunken tawdriness of Bourbon Street.
To get to Frenchmen Street walk out of the parking lot and turn left. The next street is Frenchmen Street. Turn right and follow your ears.
If you are the “prepare in advance” type you can consult FrenchmenStreetLive.com for the list of Frenchmen Street venues and bands.
Just go and keep your ears open to the sounds and your eyes open to the sights of New Orleans.
If you hear a band laying down a groove you like then Bob’s Your Uncle! Push through the crowd and head in.
Some of the acts will have a $5 - $10 cover charge. You’ll find clubs with a 1-drink minimum to listen (figure ~ $15 for two drinks). We also found places to enjoy the music without feeling compelled to buy a drink.
The clubs can be busy. Prepare to stand a lot. But that’s good - you’ll want to bop along to the music anyway!
Cost: $18 (two drinks & tip)
The route home is almost the reverse of the route in. The only trick is getting back to Elysian Fields Avenue. The parking lot entrance is a on a one-way street.
Here’s your little “three lefts make a right” route to get out:
The $50 New Orleans Date Night
$20 - Camping
$18 - drinks/tip
$8 - Parking
Plus free laundry - whadda deal!