Valentine’s Day date ideas under $30

Brendan Heffernan, Life and Times Editor

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and your special someone deserves more than a slice of Sodexo pizza and some candy from The Market.

Well, maybe they don’t actually deserve better than that, I don’t know, I’m not familiar with your situation. Regardless, I’m sure you’d at least like to make them feel like they do! That’s why we’ve compiled a list of fun, memorable New Orleans Valentine’s Day date ideas that won’t break the bank. Minimal planning required!

If you’re single, no worries so are most of us, these suggestions make for great friend dates and solo adventures too.

Visit an independent bookstore

New Orleans is filled with locally owned bookstores that are perfect for a quiet afternoon with your special someone. These bookstores support independent publishers and provide great selections while giving you the opportunity to keep your dollar local. They’re also just great places to hangout. Blue Cypress Books on Oak Street. and Octavia Books on Octavia Street. are great options within walking distance of campus. Blue Cypress Books shares a strip with Z’otz Cafe and Roux De La Course, two coffee shops where you and your date can pick up hot beverages, sandwiches, and pastries to make your shopping trip even sweeter. Octavia Books is only two blocks away from Magazine St which has plenty of options for drinks, snacks, and shopping. If you’re looking to get out of Uptown, Garden District Book Shop in the Garden District and Crescent City Books in the French Quarter are both accessible from the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.

Volunteer your time
Brendan Heffernan

There’s nothing more attractive than community service. Volunteering together is a great way to bond because it helps you see a different side of your partner. Green Light New Orleans, located near the corner of Jeannette Street and Carrollton Avenue, is a non-profit focused on food, water, and energy sustainability. Volunteers can work in Green Light’s community garden, or help prep and decorate rain water barrels that combat New Orleans’ sinking soil problem. Zeus’ Rescue is a volunteer-run pet shelter that takes in animals from high kill shelters and places them in loving environments. You and your partner can sign up for dog walking shifts, help run an adoption event, or even foster a dog or cat. If you’re looking for something different, HandsOn New Orleans, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, and Volunteermatch have hundreds of open volunteer positions.

Take a trip to City Park
Oak trees bask in the sunshine at City Park Sunday Feb. 6, 2021.
Oak trees bask in the sunshine at City Park Sunday Feb. 6, 2021. (Brendan Heffernan)

City Park is home to a number of New Orleans’ most romantic backdrops. Inside the 1,300 acre park are hundreds of scenic walkways through centuries-old oak trees, peaceful bayous, and beautiful works of art. The New Orleans Museum of Art is in the southeast corner of the park. Students can get in for $8 when they show their student ID, and the museum is free to Louisiana residents on Wednesdays. The Besthoff Sculpture Garden located next to the museum is always free to visit. City Park isn’t just a top rate date destination because of the abundance of cheap and free activities. The park has many peaceful, picturesque spots where you and your date can have a good conversation while enjoying the fresh air.


Go see a concert
People stand near a sign advertising the reopening of Gasa Gasa.
Patrons stand near a sign advertising the recent opening of Gasa Gasa’s Alley Bar. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

It’s never hard to find good tunes in New Orleans, and there are plenty of options for Valentine’s serenades this weekend. Loyola’s songwriting talent will be on display at Uptown’s Neutral Ground Coffeehouse Saturday Feb. 12 for this month’s Loyola Songwriter’s Showcase. If you’re really trying to get in your feelings, New Orleans-based indie folk artist Gooseteeth is headlining Gasa Gasa’s Valentine’s Day Ball on Feb. 14 alongside electro pop band Calamansi and songwriter Ashley Beach. If you and your partner’s love language includes sweating it out on the dance floor, be sure to check out underground electronic heavyweight Amadeezy’s set at Poor Boy’s Bar Feb. 11. Frenchmen Street’s d.b.a has a full slate of brass bands booked for Valentine’s Day weekend including The Soul Rebels on Feb. 11, Treme Brass Band on Feb. 13, and Secret Six Jazz Band on Feb. 14. You can find a comprehensive list of New Orleans concerts online from WWOZ 90.7 FM.

Watch the Pelicans play

The New Orleans Pelicans have had a tough season. With star players Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram missing significant time due to injury, the Pelicans have struggled to a 19-32 record. New Orleans currently sit one and a half games back from earning a play-in tournament berth, but it’s not all bad news. Seats are very cheap right now and the Smoothie King Center is a lovely place to see a game. The other good news is that things may be trending upward for the hometeam. Brandon Ingram is back in the starting lineup and the Pelicans have gone 17-20 in games in which he plays more than 25 minutes, compared to 2-12 when he does not. The Pelicans are hosting several home games over the course Valentine’s Day weekend, including a game against the Miami Heat Feb. 10, a game against the San Antonio Spurs Feb. 12, and a game against the Toronto Raptors on Valentine’s Day.