New Orleans is a city bustling with life that is always up to laissez les bons temps rouler (“let the good times roll”). Most famous for its Cajun cuisine and annual Mardi Gras festival, New Orleans attracts millions of visitors annually.
Initially founded in 1718 as part of a French colony, New Orleans has always been a melting pot of cultures. To honestly know New Orleans, you must peel away the city’s layers and immerse yourself in its fascinating past and present. One of the best ways to do that is to participate in one of the many walking tours in New Orleans.
Exploring New Orleans with a local guide immerses you in this great city’s history, food, music, and cocktail scene. These guided tours allow you to not only hear all about the nuances of the city, but also walk away with some great tips from a local on where to eat, drink, and have fun during your time there.
My husband and I have visited New Orleans several times a year for the past 10 years and still participate in walking tours around the city. Every tour offers new and exciting information that we wouldn’t otherwise have known. With that in mind, let me introduce you to a few of my favorite walking tours in New Orleans.
1. Saints And Sinners Tour
As one of the larger tour operators in New Orleans, French Quarter Phantoms has several fun and unique tours to choose from. One of my personal favorites is their Saints and Sinners Tour. This tour does precisely as the title suggests; it dives into the few “saints” and the many “sinners” that have made history in New Orleans.
As you meander your way through the French Quarter, a local guide tells stories that are on the “seedier” side of New Orleans’s history. These stories range from the pirate history of the city to the modern burlesque scene, all told through the colorful lens of your guide. The opportunity to learn more about the French Quarter’s lesser-known history makes the Saints and Sinners Tour a great experience.
It is important to note that this tour is for participants that are 17 years old and older.
2. Voodoo Tour
Free Tours by Foot is one of my go-to tour providers in any city. In New Orleans, Free Tours by Foot offers several great tours. One of the unique tours offered is the Voodoo Tour. Voodoo is often misrepresented, thanks to the famous Hollywood portrayals of the religion. The Voodoo Tour, led by Priest Robi, strives to correct the misunderstandings associated with Voodoo.
Priest Robi leads the group through the history of Voodoo. From its origins with the New Orleans slaves to fascinating stories of the famous Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, visitors are exposed to all aspects of the religion while touring the French Quarter. During your tour, you visit Congo Square, New Orleans cemeteries, Marie Laveau’s former residence, and more before concluding inside a modern Voodoo temple.
3. French Quarter Ghosts & Legends Tour
Join the guides of Haunted History Tours on a journey to explore the ghosts and paranormal activity in New Orleans’ French Quarter. During the 2-hour tour, guides share stories related to the dark side of New Orleans. Focusing on the famous hauntings throughout the city, tour guides treat visitors to countless stories of historical events and even a visit to a haunted bar!
This tour focuses on the French Quarter’s paranormal and ghostly encounters, but all of the stories are deeply rooted in factual historical events.
4. New Orleans Cocktail History Tour
Join the expert guides from Doctor Gumbo as they take you through a journey of the cocktail scene in the French Quarter. Participants will visit 3–4 venues in the city to learn about the history of the cocktails and to sample historic cocktails. As you make your way through the cobblestone streets of the Quarter, an expert guide will educate your group on the history of classic New Orleans cocktails such as the Sazerac, the Pimm’s Cup, and more. You will be treated to historic cocktails prepared by award-winning mixologists during your stops. This is a great way to discover some of the hidden gem bars and classic restaurants in New Orleans.
The best part of this tour is that it is only given to a group of 2–8 people!
5. Grand Garden District Tour
A visit to the Garden District neighborhood is like stepping into a different world when compared to the French Quarter. Beautiful tree-lined streets conceal multi-million dollar mansions and opulent homes here. While you could easily admire the homes on your own, it is way more fun to participate in a guided tour of the Garden District. That is where Two Chicks Walking Tours comes in!
Allow the expert guides at Two Chicks Walking to lead you through the lush Garden District. Your tour guides will give you a brief history of the New Orleans and the Garden District neighborhood before diving into the architecture of the beautiful homes. Along the way, they will point out the homes of movie stars and celebrities. They will also highlight the homes that were used in the filming of multiple Hollywood productions.
6. Magazine Street Foodie Tour
If you want to dine like the locals during your time in New Orleans, you need to join the Magazine Street Foodie Tour offered by New Orleans Secrets Tours. This 3-hour small group tour will have you eating your way through the acclaimed Garden District as you learn about some of the favorite eating establishments of the locals.
During their tour, participants will visit five restaurants and taste more than seven food items. Don’t be fooled; this is more than a “tasting tour.” Come hungry because you will eat a full meal (and then some)!
Note: The tour cannot accommodate vegan, gluten-free, kosher, or reduced-sodium diets. The company also does not recommend this tour for people with an intolerance to seafood or pork.
7. Friends Of The Cabildo Tour
Meet up with the Friends of the Cabildo Tour group at the 1850 House Museum Store on Jackson Square to embark on a 2-hour tour of the French Quarter.
The Friends of the Cabildo is a nonprofit group that supports the State of Louisiana Museum. In addition to the Cabildo Building, the State of Louisiana also manages five other museums throughout the city. They employ expert guides to share stories of history, intrigue, and folklore with the participants of their tours. Their expert knowledge of Louisiana and New Orleans history makes this tour so outstanding.
8. Killers And Thrillers Tour
If you are looking for a tremendous adults-only walking tour to experience in New Orleans, look no further than the Killers and Thrillers Tour from Ghost City Tours. The Killers and Thrillers Tour focuses on the notorious crimes in the city that have resulted in hauntings!
Walking through the French Quarter on this 90-minute tour, you listen to harrowing tales of real-life crimes throughout the city’s history. If the crime stories aren’t enough for you, then don’t worry, as they are always associated with a haunting ending. The guides weave together the stories of true crime and the supernatural to ensure that each of their guests has a hair-raising experience. This is truly one of my favorite tours to take when I visit New Orleans.
Participants are welcome to bring their pets and an adult beverage (which I highly recommend taking advantage of) if they choose to do so. You must be 16 years old to participate in this tour.
New Orleans is a historic city that originated in the early 1700s. The historical nature of the French Quarter can sometimes make it hard to navigate. Many streets are cobblestone or brick, and there is often construction on the sidewalks. I recommend bringing a good pair (or two) of comfortable walking shoes as you navigate the city. This will help ensure that you have sure footing while you enjoy all these fabulous walking tours.