What are the best tours of New Orleans?
New Orleans is a vibrant and culturally rich city. I fell in love with this city the first time I arrived on a visit back in 2001 and that’s why I started my own walking tour company in 2012. So what tours do I recommend for first time visitors? If I have to be honest, there are countless companies offering a wide range of tours to explore its history, music, cuisine, and unique atmosphere. So what tours should you take to get the best out of your time in New Orleans? Drawing on my experience of being a tour guide here since 2011, Here are what I think are some of the best tours you can take in New Orleans:
French Quarter Walking Tour:
If you only have a day or two in New Orleans you should start with a tour of The French Quarter. The French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans, known for its charming streets, historic architecture, and lively atmosphere. A guided walking tour will take you through the neighborhood’s highlights, including Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and Bourbon Street, while providing insights into the city’s history and culture. Many people erroneously judge the French Quarter as being a tourist trap, and while it is touristy it is still unique. It is one of the few existing entact old neighborhoods in the United States, featuring buildings dating back to before the USA even existed. That’s why we are so happy to offer a Free Walking Tour of the French Quarter daily at 10am.
Our tour not only touches on the history and architecture but also the food and culture of New Orleans. After our tour you will walk away with a deeper understanding of why New Orleans is such a unique and special place!
Garden District Walking Tour
The Garden District is renowned for its stunning mansions and beautiful gardens. New Orleans is well known for it’s surviving 19th century architecture and the Garden District might be the crown jewel. We think it should be on everyone’s bucket list. Join a guided walking of the Garden District or check it out at your own pace on a self-guided tour. There’s lots to do, like admire the elegant architecture, learn about the district’s history, and catch glimpses of celebrity homes.
Check out our guide to The Garden District to learn more about why you should check it out.
Swamp and Bayou Tour:
Explore the unique ecosystem of Louisiana’s swamps and bayous on a guided tour. You’ll have the chance to see alligators, birds, and other wildlife, while learning about the region’s ecology and folklore. Airboat and kayak tours are popular options for getting up close to nature.
We think a swamp tour should be on everyone’s bucket list.
While airboat tours are a popular option we strongly recommend considering taking a kayak tour if you really want to get a great feel for the wetlands. Did you know the closest swamp tour to New Orleans is a Kayak tour?
Jazz Music Tour
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and a music tour is a must for music lovers. Did you know that New Orleans Jazz come out of our infamous red-light district in the late 19th century? Classically trained French Creoles played music with Southern Blacks and Scilian immagrants to create a unique art form. Considered by many the only truly American Art, Jazz! Visit famous jazz venues, such as Preservation Hall and Fritz’s, or venture down to Frenchman Street and learn about the city’s musical heritage. We are excited to announce a new Free Jazz Music tour with Sal, learn more here.
Sal’s been a gigging jazz musician on Frenchman street for over a decade and he’s excited to share his knowledge with you!
Learn more about Jazz Tours with this video:
New Orleans is renowned for its delectable cuisine, influenced by Creole, Cajun, and French traditions. While we talk about Creole Cusines a bit on our French Quarter Walking Tour if your a real foodie you should probably consider taking a food tour to sample dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, and po’ boys. You can also read about where locals eat in the French Quarter in the article
With its rich history and reputation for being haunted, New Orleans offers numerous ghost tours. We think ghost tours are overrated. Everyone thinks they have to book a ghost tour in the city but we think New Orleans rich history which you can learn on our historic walking tours is unsettling enough. If you really want to explore New Orleans creepy side consider a cemetery tour. New Orleans cemeteries are totally unique. Learn more about our cemeteries here
Experience the charm of the Mississippi River with a riverboat cruise. Enjoy live jazz music, dine on delicious Creole cuisine, and take in the breathtaking views of the riverfront. A riverboat cruise can be a great way to explore the Mississippi river, which is really why New Orleans exists. You can also consider strolling on the Riverwalk, which is a park along the Mississippi river in the French Quarter or taking the ferry to Algiers point (which is only $2)