One of the most fun things I did while in N.O. was the narrarated walking ghost tour through the French Quarter (at night!) Lots of fun & the guide was very animated in his storytelling which made the tour all the more fun & haunting.
There are several guide places in the French Quarter but the one I used was N.O. Ghost Tour leaving from Flanagan's Pub on St. Philip St. Cost was $18.00 p/p
The walking tour of the Garden District and the Lafayette Cemetery was one of the highlights of my trip to New Orleans. We chose this tour because our hotel, the Frenchmen Hotel, recommended it. Incredible! We took the St. Charles streetcar and got off at Washington, walked two blocks to Prytania. The tour organizes at The Garden District Book Shop inside The Rink, a building that was actually a skating rink when it was built 100 years ago. Now it is a small shopping center.
The cost of the tour was well worth the $15 per person. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a bottle of water. This incredibly informative walking tour lasts about 2 hours.
We knew it was popular when, on a weekday, the tour group had to be split between two guides.
Because I am a huge Anne Rice fan, I especially enjoyed seeing the tombs used by Lestat in her books and then on the Garden District segment walking by her house. (Unfortunately sold a couple months ago after her husband died)
The guide talked about arcitecture, history, plant life and told funny stories as we all followed behind her.
Obviously, the quality of the tour depends on the guide you get. However, there are some differences between tour companies. Haunted History tours tend to be theatrical, with props.
I went this time with a tour from Magic Walking Tours. The guides there are supposedly all former history professors or teachers. The tour was still plenty entertaining, but I felt like some of it, at least, might be true.
Took the cemetary (St Louis #1) tour with New Orleans Walking Tours. Started off with some background on the city and early burial practices. Then, it was on to the cemetary. Our guide, John, offered an energetic view of the final resting place of the city's famous and infamous. He gave a very detailed description of the process for entombment, which did nothing but add to the creepiness factor. After the explanation, I was paranoid that I was going to see something sticking out of one of vaults that I wish I hadn't. He gave a great presentation at Marie Laveau's site. Speculation or not, I don't care, it was still fun. Then, on to the elaborate monuments and tombs of the city's mayors and paupers. There are over 4000 remains stored in the large Catholic paupers vault! The tour wrapped up with a visit to Priestess Miriam's establishment on Rampart Street. There, you go in and sit on the floor and witness the spectacle that is Priestess Miriam. She discussed afterbirth, afterlife, holistic/hostile healthcare, the womb as the Chamber of Commerce, clowning around, and Wow. Sorry, these subjects are not tied into a neat package; you leave with a sense of huh? Still though, I was petrified that I was going to laugh and then have some sort of bad gris gris placed upon me. So, I nodded along with her like I was totally into what she was saying, you should do the same.
I had tried to visit this cemetary on my own. Thank God the gates were closed when I got there (cemetary is closed on Sundays after 12 pm) because I was kind of terrified about going in alone - the cemetary isn't in the greatest neighbourhood. Anyhow, I went and booked a tour with Haunted History Tours which was really informative. Learned a lot of facts about the history of New Orleans while on tour. Such as, the ground on which the Superdome sits on once housed a huge cemetary. Also, the number one most visited grave in the United States is Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. Number two most visited grave is Marie Leveau, the Voodoo Queen.
I know that some people might consider guided tour of the New Orleans cemetaries a tourist trap, but its one of those things that i think you just have to do. I personally love to look at old cemetaries, so I wasn't going to miss this one.
The cemetaries right by the French Quarter (like St. Louis #1) I would recommend you don't go in there alone. These above ground graves are the perfect place for someone to hide and mug you. Please be safe and go with a tour group. I saw the cemetaries around the French Quarter in a Cemetary/VooDoo tour which not only covered the graveyard, but Louis Armstrong park and Priestess Miriam's Spiritual Temple as well.
There was a cemetary in the Garden District that I did go through alone because there were many other tourists in there, including another tour group, and the Garden district is a much safer area on the whole.
These cities of the Dead are just so interesting. It's amazing the amount of time put into the craftsmanship of the mosouliums and grave markers. Enjoy a leisurly stroll through here and take some creative pictures.
Oh, and there are cats everywhere in the graveyards. I don't want to know who they're hanging out with!
Please see my New Orleans Travelogue titled "Cities of the Dead - New Orleans" for some pictures I took in the cemetaries in 2001.
The St Louis cemetery 1 and 2 are a must see. #1 holds the tomb of Mary Laveau the famous voodoo queen of New Orleans. Take a voodoo tour to get more info on here and if you want to learn more about the cemetery as well there are many tours to choose from. Just pick the one that most appeals to you.
Maybe this should be under "Tourist Trap" but here goes. We took one of those "Haunted Tours" early in the evening. I relunctantly went along but it ended up a pretty good tour. I learned that what we see as the "French Quarter" is really Spanish in architecture. And we heard some creepy stories. If you have the time and some extra dough, then maybe you should try one of these tours. It's cheesy - but still worth doing.
You'll find many pamphlets advertising walking tours around the French Quarter. For about $15, a guide will take you to landmarks and explain the area's history. The tours I took were fascinating, and unfold better than stumbling around on your own. These tours are also great to visit neighbourhoods you might otherwise avoid alone. For example, the rough neighbourhood Tremé is pivotal in black New Orleans history.
I was warned that some "haunted" tours are gimmicky money wasters. However, I took both a "historic" and a "spooky" tour, and found the latter to be more educational! So shop around!
Many people would say these are a tourist trap and waste of time. But NO has so much history and folklore that it's good to hear some stories while you're strolling past the buildings. Just pick a theme from Creole culture to gory ghosts, and you'll take home some good stories.
Ghost story tours in the French Quarter
Yes, it's 'touristy'. Yes, it can be a bit overdone. Yes, it's still worth it. Tours of this sort offer an intriguing glimpse into the history of one of the oldest cities in the U.S., in an entertaining way. The best time to go is at dusk, and the best one to take is Richard Rochester's. Richard is a one-of-a-kind, looking [and acting] like a cross between Jim Carrey and Jack Nicholson. He lead our tour in white pants and shirt and a Panama hat, his waist-length hair in a blonde braid trailing behind him.
These tours take you around New Orleans and teach you a bit about the paranormal side of the city. They are a definite must-do!! We took their Voodo and Witchcraft tour, and our host was Rudy Raven. They also have tours on the ghosts of New Orleans, a Voodoo/Cemetary tour, and a vampire tour.
Walking Ghost Tour of the French Quarter.
It was an interesting mixture of history, ambience and local color. The guides were knowlegeable about the history and good story tellers. The tour provides a mix of the old world charm, folklore and superstition that gives one an appreciation of the city it's great character. This is the home of Anne Rice, Lafayette cemetery and Voodoo dolls.
You should try to take one of the tours offered (and there are tons of them!). They have all kinds, from voodoo, to swamp tours. Check the tourist publications.
You get so much information that you wouldn't if just wandering around on your own. It's very interesting.
Take a Haunted History Tour. They are only $15 and they offer some of the following choices: Vampire Tour, Voodoo/Cemetery tour, Haunted History tour, and a Garden District tour.