Fighting Poverty with Passion
I love a road trip. Even though our income has been low since we arrived in Louisiana in 2014 (VISTAs married to teachers don’t tend to be wealthy), I haven’t let that get in the way of my need to explore. I’ve just gotten good at finding fun things to do with very little money, within a couple of hours of New Orleans.
Macaroni Kid has been an amazing resource. The audience for the page is mostly families with young kids, so some of the events are really just for children, but they also list information for when museums are having free admission, dates of festivals and could also contain ideas for events where you might like to volunteer on your own time. Don’t forget to check both, the New Orleans and the West Bank calendars because sometimes there is information on one that is not shared on the other and there are sometimes items that would make a good day trip.
The Old Capitol in Baton Rouge is great for history nerds. It looks like a castle and is full of stories. It’s also just up the street from the USS Kidd, a decommissioned Navy destroyer turned museum. I got to volunteer at both of these locations for Veteran’s Day in 2014, so if that’s something you’d like to do, they may again be seeking volunteers for those annual events.
If science is more your thing, you could take a day trip to LUMCON – the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, in Cocodrie or LIGO – The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, in Livingston. LIGO made international news in February 2016, for their detection of gravity waves, which Einstein theorized, but could never prove existed. LUMCON may be best known for their exploration of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone and reports they release each year on that topic.
The Global Wildlife Center in Folsom and various National Parks in Louisiana and Mississippi might interest you if you’re into nature, especially on the days when you can enter the National Parks for free.
Louisiana has many festivals, but the one I am most eager to visit is the Contraband Days Festival in Lake Charles. The idea of a pirate festival in a state where there once really were pirates, is fascinating to me, even if it is about four hours away.
Whatever your interests, there are low cost and free things to do in and around New Orleans. The most important thing is that you make the most of your year and don’t spend too much time cooped up in your home or stuck behind a computer. There’s a whole world of adventures in driving range.