17 Best Tours & Things to do in New Orleans – 2019 Ultimate Guide
Published by Josh Hirsch.
Looking for the best tours, attractions, and things to do in New Orleans? With so much to do in NOLA, and limited time on your stay, it can be tricky to decide on the best things to do. Don’t fret, we’ve compiled The Ultimate 2019 Guide of the 17 best things to do on your stay in the Bayou.
I’m sure we can all agree on the number one reason to visit New Orleans and that’s for the incredible food culture. It is home to some of the tastiest, most famous dishes, and notably one of the greatest places on earth for foodies from all over.
If you’re looking for a relaxing, fun, and informative way to eat your way through NOLA, take a delicious stroll with Sidewalk Food Tours. Choose from any of their all-inclusive food tours with stops at 5 of the best restaurants the city has to offer. From the neighborhoods of the French Quarter and the Lower Garden District, to a private tour or corporate team-building outings, Sidewalk Food Tours is the best of the best when it comes to showcasing some of the greatest culinary attractions that New Orleans has to be proud of.
Pros – You get to EAT the entire time, and it’s all-inclusive.
Cons – I’ll let you know when I think of one!
If you’re a fan of ghost stories and have no other plans in the evening, why not let a total stranger scare you for a change?
With this evening walking tour, you’ll get to visit some of the most haunted attractions in New Orleans, such as St. Germaine House and La Laurie House (from American Horror Story). You may need to have a drink after the tour to digest it all!
The horror adventure will begin at the corner of Royal and Conti streets in the French Quarter. Your guide will take you through the haunted streets while telling you historical stories about New Orleans. Imagine all the stories you’ll learn about ghosts, witchcraft, voodoo, and vampires (and not the Twilight version)!
You will walk past other haunted favorites such as Muriel’s Restaurant and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. This museum used to perform horrific medical practices, such as leeching.
The pros to this activity: You are with a large group, so you won’t be scared alone.
Cons: This is a walking tour so you might get caught in the rain or snow. Some people have also said that their guide walked too quickly. It’s not their fault. You should also do the same if you manage to spot some ghosts.
This is a 4-hour boat ride and a great chance to spot some native wildlife on the mystical swamps of New Orleans and learn about Cajun culture. You’ll get to go deep into the secluded bayous right across the Mississippi River and take photos (not selfies!) with raccoons, snakes, turtles, native birds, and alligators.
A coach will pick you up from the French Quarter to take you deep into the Cajun country. You can either choose a morning or afternoon ride. Then you will get on an open-sided swamp boat that will take you for an adventure. Your guide will tell you all about the wildlife with the backdrop of the greenery. Prepare to see some alligators in the swamp water. You will also get to learn a lot of Cajun history, especially about the people who have lived in the region for nearly 250 years. Find out where Louisiana’s famous signature gumbo originated from and take this mouthwatering trip in the middle of a beautiful swamp, surrounded by alligators and snakes.
Pros: Seeing alligators and snakes.
Cons: Seeing alligators and snakes.
If you’re a hopeless romantic, why wouldn’t you take a scenic cruise along the Mississippi River? Bust out those dance moves while listening to live jazz music. Watch the most beautiful New Orleans orange sky during sunset and treat yourself to a delicious buffet dinner. Then you can go out on the deck and watch the city lights come alive.
Pros: Breathtaking views of the New Orleans skyline.
Cons: If you are bored, there’s nowhere to escape until the cruise is over.
This tour seems like it’s worth all our money, simply for having such an epic name. This is a 2-hour tour around the main attractions of New Orleans, where the local guides will lead you on a journey of the French Quarter’s rich history. You will hear all about the haunted stories involving vampires and voodoos, while having the opportunity to indulge in some liquid essence along the way. Although alcohol isn’t included in the tour, there will be many stops outside local bars for quenching that thirst. In case you do see a vampire, they may or may not be real depending on how many bars you stop at.
Pros: A fun and exciting walking tour where the drunker the merrier.
Cons: Possible blurred vision and vampire seduction.
If walking tours are too slow for you, why don’t you breeze past everyone on a bike tour instead? Your enthusiastic guide will take you through the neighborhoods such as Marigny and Bywater and then you’ll whiz through St. Louis Cemetery. All you must do is show up. The tour includes a rental bike, a helmet, basket for some flowers, and water. This tour of New Orleans goes in small groups, so you will have the chance to get to know other people quite well. They could become your best friends for life so there’s no point waiting any longer to book this tour.
Pros: It’s faster than a walking tour if you want to see a lot in a shorter time.
Cons: You may get stuck in traffic with horse carriages.
Why limit yourself to a bicycle with a basket when you can look hipper on a Segway? This is a 3-hour tour of attractions in New Orleans that will take you through the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, so you can catch some incredible tunes and taste even more incredible foods. You will also learn about the local history and culture, while Segway-ing through town. These are very easy to use, and the guides work hard to help you fall less. Don’t worry, you will receive proper information and safety instructions.
Pros: It’s faster than a bicycle!
Cons: Riding a Segway might be a little scary at first, but you’ll catch on quick!
You cannot tell people back home that you’ve been to New Orleans unless you visit the St. Louis Cemetery to prove it. This is the oldest and most famous cemetery above ground. This 1-hour guided tour of New Orleans by Steven will tell you all about the burial practices that are unique to the culture of New Orleans. If you are fascinated by the voodoo queen Marie Laveau, this is the best place to be. You will get to see her tomb!
Pros: Get a glimpse of Marie Laveau’s tomb and then watch American Horror Story and enjoy even more chills.
Cons: Wear sunscreen because there’s hardly any shade in the cemetery. Or you can come at night if you dare.
Another fantastic tour hosted by Gray Line, this 2.5-hour tour will walk you through the most famous neighborhoods, enjoying some famous cocktails as your guide tells you all the stories about each of the drinks provided. Some of these may include Ramos Gin Fizz, and the Pimm’s Cup and Sazerac. These are not free though. You will receive a complimentary local punch when the tour starts and the longer you walk, the skinnier your wallet will feel. It’s worth the investment because you will have a lot of fun playing trivia as you learn all the historical facts about why these drinks are famous.
Pros: Playing trivia to exercise the mind while drinking.
Cons: Only an introductory drink is free.
New Orleans has some great cemetery walking tours and this one is no exception. In this 2-hour tour, you will get to see America’s best collections of antebellum mansions. The Livery Tours’ Garden District and Cemetery Tour will show you the best of the 19th century architecture. Feast your eyes upon the fanciest homes and gardens which belong to former celebrities and athletes. The tour will end, but not until after a visit to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 which has been featured in a lot of movie scenes.
Pros: The mansions owned by rich people might inspire you to become rich too.
Cons: The mansions owned by rich people might make you feel bad about your own life.
Nothing beats celebrating while being on a Celebrations Tour of the city of New Orleans. On this 3-hour tour, you will be riding in a classy van with 14 other fun travelers as you embark on a historical adventure to the best attractions in New Orleans. The van will take you through French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Hurricane Katrina sites, cemeteries, and the musicians’ village. This is one of the most comprehensive tours in New Orleans to get a great overview. Ask your guides as many questions as you’d like because they are extremely knowledgeable.
Pros: Get driven around comfortably to all the best sites in New Orleans.
Cons: You won’t be able to make the same connections with the city as when you explore on foot.
This 8-hour tour will take you to see the Oak Alley Plantation House that was built in 1837. As you drive up to the house, you will see 28 evenly spaced oak trees that line the driveway. Your guide will dress up in an old school costume to tell a more compelling story. Feel free to dress up as well, there are no rules against it! See the mansion, the blacksmith shop, and then stop for a meal at the onsite restaurant. You will then hop on a swamp boat to ride along bayou’s waterways and see a lot of nature along the way.
Pros: See a historical plantation house and then take a comfortable swamp boat ride.
Cons: Makes for a long day with children.
If you enjoy sitting on top of an open red bus, then this is the ideal tour for you. These Double Decker Bus Tours are famous all over the world and they are a great way to casually tour all of the attractions in New Orleans, especially if you don’t feel like walking. The bus stops at all the exciting landmarks and tourist locations. All you have to do is hop-on and hop-off.
Pros: Sit on top of the open bus and enjoy the wind in your hair.
Cons: The tour runs regardless of weather- so bring sunscreen for nice days and a poncho for not-so-nice days.
It may feel impossible to make a grand entrance – unless, that is, you’re on a horse drawn carriage. This 1-hour tour will take you through landmarks such as Napoleon House, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and the St. Louis Cemetery. You will get to see the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau’s tomb again, only this time you’ll arrive there stylishly in a horse carriage.
Pros: Your guide will tell you all about the sights as you are riding along.
Cons: Have you ever smelled a horse up-close?
There are plenty of ghost and voodoo tours in New Orleans, but there’s also a lot of true crime history to learn about. This is an adult-only tour (for good reason) where you will walk through the French Quarter and your guide will explain all the gruesome details of horrible crimes that took place there. These stories are taken from many headlines and police reports, but your guide will go into a lot deeper detail. You’ll get to hear about the famous LaLaurie and Trunk Murders. Don’t forget to ask your guide about Katrina Cannibal.
Pros: Not for the faint-hearted.
Cons: Tour is offered in the evening so it’s spookier.
This is a very emotional 3.5-hour tour that will show you how New Orleans suffered during Hurricane Katrina. The bus tour will take you to the most heavily impacted areas. You will also pass by the Hurricane Katrina Memorial and learn about the critical levee system.
Pros: The tour passes through rebuilding projects such as Make it Right homes.
Cons: This tour is emotionally heavy. However, this tour is very important to help understand what New Orleans had been through, and how they came together to rebuild.
This is the most luxurious tour in New Orleans. Get treated like a real VIP in a small plane that glides over everything you need to see in the city. Choose whether you want champagne and chocolates, or wine and cheese, or treat yourself to both sets of extras for an additional cost. Why bother choosing if you don’t have to! The flight can be between 30 and 60 minutes long and it’s quite a breathtaking view from above. You’ll get to enjoy magnificent aerials of the French Quarter, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the bayous, cemeteries, and so much more. It’s the perfect tour to spoil a loved one.
Pros: See the whole of New Orleans in less than an hour!
Cons: You need a good camera with a strong zoom function to take photos from above.