With so many different things to see and do (and taste) in New Orleans, it follows that the city's tour choices would be just as varied and unusual. No matter your age, interests, or length of stay in New Orleans, and regardless of exactly how, when or where you prefer to experience the city, there is undoubtedly a perfect tour here for you.
Each neighborhood - French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny, Garden District, Uptown, Algiers, swamplands and beyond - has their own unique heritage and flavor. And each has special stories to tell; some are about history, culture, architecture or art, while other delve into music, cuisine, wine or even cocktails first-hand. Some reveal legends of Voodoo or the paranormal; others explore the region's nature, wildlife and watery terrain.
Below are seven unique ways to tour the city followed by a list of tour operators to find the experience that fits you best.
New Orleans streetcars are the oldest in the United States, and the St. Charles line was named a National Historic Landmark in October 2014. Not only are these streetcars a glimpse into history, they are also affordable. Riding the line one way is $1.25, and an all day pass will cost you $3. The streetcars provide access to downtown, the Central Business District, the Garden District and mid-city with expansions to come. The St. Charles line provides particularly scenic views of historic New Orleans homes.
2. History Tours
From Jackson Square, to jazz, to the Louisiana Purchase, a historical tour will introduce you to the landmarks, traditions and lore that make this Southern city the cultural treasure it is. Whether you choose a walking tour, bus tour, or exploration by foot, you'll have a chance to learn about the city's Creole roots, discover bustling areas like the French Market and visit hallowed spaces like St. Mary's Church and the Old Ursuline Convent, the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley.
3. Culinary Tours
With French, Creole, Cajun and other cuisines mingling together, the Big Easy is a melting pot of culinary influences and regional ingredients. Choose a tour where you can indulge in fare from classic New Orleans restaurants while learning the history behind the cuisine. Looking to actually get into the kitchen? Try a hands-on approach at one of the city's cooking schools where you can discover the secrets behind New Orleans' most famous dishes like barbecue shrimp, jambalaya, and corn-and-crab bisque.
4. Ghost and Cemetery Tours
New Orleans is known as America's Most Haunted City. Get the chills with a nighttime adventure, where you'll hear about the city's most infamous spirits and explore French Quarter locations known for their paranormal activity. Trying to find a genuine haunted house? Spot spooky apparitions at The Haunted Mortuary, a sprawling, neo-classical mansion built in 1872, which boasts nine resident ghosts. Or, allow our knowledgeable tour guides to take you through historic cemeteries where the city's unique aboveground tombs, stone sarcophagi and massive headstones mark burial sites for New Orleans' deceased. Take a combined cemetery and Voodoo tour to learn about the religion of Voodoo: its West African origins, Catholic influences and modern-day practice. Be sure to tour St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 where you can make an offering at the final resting place of New Orleans' most powerful Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
5. Carriage Tours
Whether you're looking to add a bit of romance to your trip or want to experience the Old World ambiance of New Orleans, a carriage ride is the perfect way to take in the sights and learn about the city's intriguing history. Enjoy the sounds of hooves clip clopping on the street while meandering through the French Quarter, viewing Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, and other iconic landmarks. Or, head Uptown into the Garden District to admire the amazing collection of antebellum mansions shaded by oak trees. You can arrange for a pick up at your hotel or bed & breakfast, or head to Jackson Square where you'll easily find carriages ready and waiting on Decatur Street.
6. Riverboat Tours
Step aboard the regal Creole Queen or Steamboat Natchez for a paddlewheel ride down the Mississippi River. Choose from a romantic evening with a dinner and jazz cruise, or experience riverfront history with the Chalmette Battlefield cruise, which disembarks at the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and tours historical combat sites.
7. Cocktail Tours
New Orleans has a long lineage of libations, from the Sazerac to the French 75 to the Hurricane. Learn about local cocktail culture and heritage on a walking tour where you'll taste-test alcoholic creations from the French Quarter's best watering holes. Or go right to the source with a tour and tasting at Celebration Distillation, the oldest premium rum distillery in the United States.
8. Hollywood South
Spend a few hours with The Original New Orleans Movie Tours and experience the city through its filmmaking legacy. Visit New Orleans' historic landmarks and other locations beloved by filmmakers in neighborhoods across the city. You'll get the inside scoop on productions such as David Simon's "Treme" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" starring Brad Pitt. Maybe you'll get to see a movie being filmed right before your very eyes!
New Orleans tour operators are consummate professionals, with guides who tell the region’s stories with knowledge, passion and flare. What better way could there be to experience all that New Orleans has to offer?