Discover the most haunted city in America
New Orleans is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America for reasons that go far beyond Mardi Gras. Visitors find themselves intrigued by the unique experiences that can only be found in the Big Easy; you can try your hand at learning the local Cajun cuisine through a cooking class, bask in a bit of leisure time at a jazz bar, or learn a bit of history at the unparalleled World War II Museum.
But if you scratch beneath the surface, does an adventure of a different sort await you?
New Orleans is a city shrouded in myths and mystery, so it is no surprise that many first-time visitors to New Orleans want to learn more about the history of its most famous hauntings and ghost stories. After all, New Orleans is considered one of the spookiest cities in America; it would be a shame for visitors not to explore its darker past.
Luckily, from haunted pub crawls to ghost tours at night, New Orleans offers plenty of tours to satisfy your quest for a ghost encounter. But with so many options comes, well, so many options. After reading long lists on TripAdvisor and other sites, you may be wondering, which are the essential New Orleans ghost tours?
We are counting down the top New Orleans ghost tours for first-timers to the city and return visitors alike—as well as our number one pick.
Trust us when we say that these ghost encounters are not for the faint of heart!
New Orleans’ Haunted French Quarter
Each year Mardi Gras descends upon the city, with the historic streets of the French Quarter becoming laden in raucous reveling, plastic beads, and cocktails in towering plastic cups.
But underneath the French Quarter’s rowdy exterior lies a darker secret. If you stop to notice these darker secrets, they might provoke an intriguing question…
Underneath the sounds of raucous revelers is there perhaps a ghost sitting next to you at the bar? Peering at you through a store window? Standing at the foot of your bed inside that historic bed and breakfast?
The best way to know if you are reveling with ghosts in your hotel or at your dinner table is to learn about the French Quarter from local experts who have insider knowledge. The French Quarter is inundated with ghost tours of the vampire and pirate variety, and there is enough speculative history to scare you to your bone. Make sure you choose one that tells you the folklore fiction and the real stories.
From the infamous LaLaurie Mansion to the Jazz-peddling serial killer, the French Quarter has enough history to keep you enthralled time and again.
New Orleans’ Haunted Cemeteries
New Orleans boasts an unusual and perhaps rather inauspicious accolade: it hosts the best-haunted cemeteries.
There, we said it.
You only have to do a quick internet search of “haunted cemeteries” to see that Google agrees; the phrase could land you anywhere in the world, but instead, it pulls up image after image of St. Louis Cemetery #1. No doubt this is because of its moss-covered vaults, faded headstones, and of course, its famous deceased residents.
Because of the vandalism that was occurring (there was that infamous cemetery scene in Easy Rider), the city had to put some measures in place to stop these historic cemeteries from utter destruction. So the best way to see them is with a tour guide. This is for your benefit—otherwise, how would you even know who Bernard de Marigny is, or the strange connection Nicolas Cage has to the cemetery?
Of course, you could look this information up, but finding the headstones of St. Louis Cemetery #1’s most prominent people is next to impossible; about as easy as finding your favorite sample in the infamous Saturday morning rush at Costco.
Choose to hire a tour guide who will make sure you don’t miss any of the treasured stories these New Orleans have to offer.
New Orleans’ Haunted Pubs and Restaurants
By your first or second day in New Orleans, you will surely have encountered a ghost story or two—the city is so chock full of them it is difficult to avoid them.
A New Orleans ghost tour at night is one great way to learn these stories. There might be only one thing that could make such an experience even more entertaining–to combine it with a bit of bar hopping.
After all, wouldn’t you rather learn about the ghost of the absinthe-drinking pirate Lafitte or the voodoo Queen of New Orleans Marie Laveau while partaking of a little moonshine yourself?
A dram of whiskey goes a long way to helping fearful mortals hear spooky tales. Combine your dose of haunted local lore with some of its greatest cocktails (if you leave the city without trying a Sazerac that is almost considered a mortal sin) by taking a haunted pub crawl. It is the best way to sample the local spirits—of both the alcohol and the ghostly kind.
New Orleans’ Voodoo History
Voodoo gets a bit of a bad rap—from movies like The Skeleton Key to voodoo talismans in countless horror movies.
With storied characters such as Marie Laveau and the legends that swirl around her, voodoo is a spooky prospect and it is the reason it is included on so many New Orleans ghost tours. The streets of the French Quarter are lined with shops that take the actual religion to a level of kitsch.
For example, in an interesting spin on Build-a-Bear, you can even build your voodoo doll DIY style. Concerned practitioners can splash themselves in a bit of Florida water if they are concerned about the bad juju of ancient cursed artifacts in many of the voodoo museums.
But voodoo is a real religion, a set of spiritual beliefs developed from the diaspora that slavery brought to Louisiana. To miss learning about this rich tradition would be a shame in that you will miss so much of Louisiana culture. Choose a New Orleans voodoo tour that will show you the complete picture—the folklore, the traditions, and the history behind them.
New Orleans’ Folklore: Witches, Vampires, and Creepy Critters
New Orleans is undeniably the American epicenter of the vampire legend, thanks to Anne Rice’s popular Vampire Chronicles. But Ms. Rice knew of what she wrote: the city is chock full of supernatural creatures, and is a place rife for Gothic storytelling.
From the Casket Girls at the convent of the Ursulines to the strange story of the Count de Saint-Germain, New Orleans history is full of vampires. But bloodthirsty creatures are not the only supernatural creature to lurk in the city’s dark corners. Choose a New Orleans ghost tour that will tell you about the other mythologies of the city—from resident witches to Rougarou, the beloved Cajun swamp monster that reportedly terrorizes its residents.
Because if there is one thing that helps you get to know a city, it is the legends of its people.
New Orleans: Haunted by History
Some places on earth whisper of a fascinating history–a history that is charming at times, and terrifying at others. We hope that by now you have a better understanding of the many unique types of ghost tours New Orleans has to offer.
We don’t take this topic lightly; after all, we spent 8 long years of researching, hunting and exploring the history of New Orleans before we decided to offer our own (and we believe the best) ghost tour of New Orleans.
Vetted by a team of ghost hunters and historians, we combine the best elements of all of the above. From the French Quarter to voodoo to vampires, we’ve gone above and beyond what is already available to make sure you experience the best New Orleans ghost tour.