The Best Tours in New Orleans, Louisiana

The 15 Best New Orleans Tours You Have to Book!

New Orleans is one of the most culturally diverse and historically rich cities in the US. From the charming Creole restaurants and buzzing jazz venues in the French Quarter to the beautiful swamplands and plantations on the outskirts of the city, there are a staggering number of things to do in New Orleans. So much so that it can be tough to wrap your head around! 

If this is your first visit to NOLA (or your fifth!), tagging along on a tour or two is one of the best ways to delve a little bit deeper into everything this dynamic city has to offer. Whether you’re interested in sampling all of the best foods in New Orleans or getting up close and personal with gators in a moss-laden swamp, you’ll have tons of unique tours to choose from. 

New Orleans is the perfect place to explore on a guided or self-guided walking tour. You can easily get to know the city by taking a few hours to cruise around the French Quarter or the Garden District and checking out all of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Once you’re a bit more acquainted with your surroundings, you can tap into NOLA’s Creole culture on a food tour before learning all about its boozy history on a group pub crawl or cocktail tour. Or, if it’s history you’re after, you’ll definitely want to learn about New Orleans’ complicated past at a sprawling plantation or educate yourself about voodoo culture at the city’s oldest cemeteries!

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best tours in New Orleans for you. Stick to these fun and unique NOLA tour recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time getting to know this one-of-a-kind Louisiana city.

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best New Orleans Tours You Have to Book!

15 Fun and Unique Tours in New Orleans 

1. Take a Walking Tour of the Garden District

Unique Tours to Book in New Orleans: Garden District

The French Quarter might get most of the attention, but if you want to experience one of New Orleans’ most charming and historic neighborhoods, you really can’t go wrong with a walking tour of the Garden District

While you can easily stroll through this lush district on a self-guided tour, it’s well worth booking a guided tour if you’d prefer to walk away with a deeper understanding of the history, culture, and architecture of the area. 

This two-hour tour will take you down oak tree-lined streets, past stately 19th-century mansions, and through beautiful gardens as your guide showers you with interesting stories and facts. Along the way, you’ll even spot celebrity homes belonging to Anne Rice, Sandra Bullock, and John Goodman! 

You’ll also get to see the historic gravesites in Lafayette Cemetery, which is one of the oldest cemeteries in New Orleans, as well as the filming locations of films and television shows like Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Diaries.

Book a Garden District: Walking Tour

2. Send Shivers Up Your Spine on a Vampire & Voodoo Tour

Fun Tours to Book in New Orleans: Vampire and Voodoo Tour

Another one of the best walking tours in New Orleans is the Ghosts, Vampires & Voodoo Tour of the French Quarter. If you’re fascinated with all things vampires, voodoo, and witchcraft, then you’re going to love this unique New Orleans walking tour!

You’ll meet up with your knowledgeable and entertaining guide on the steps of the Louisiana Supreme Courthouse. During the tour, you’ll walk to haunted New Orleans sites like Muriel’s Restaurant, the Old Ursuline Convent, and the LaLaurie Mansion, which is rumored to be the most haunted building in New Orleans. 

New Orleans Tours to Book: Vampire and Voodoo Tour

If that’s not enough to spook you, you’ll also have the chance to check out the famous St. Germain House, which was the home of the notorious vampire Jacques Saint Germain in the early 1900s. You’ll learn all about the mysterious antics of the age-defying Saint Germain, as well as the wild parties he once threw at his New Orleans home.

Finally, you’ll hear all about the city’s historic Voodoo queens and contemporary Voodoo culture as you make your way to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Book your Vampires and Voodoo French Quarter Tour here!

3. Eat Your Way Through the French Quarter on a Food Tour

New Orleans Tours You Have to Book: Food Tour

One of the best ways of experiencing any new city is by taking a food tour – and that couldn’t be more true in a city like New Orleans! With its Creole, Cajun, and French influences, New Orleans has a unique culinary landscape you won’t find anywhere else. 

If you don’t know where to start your foodie journey, it’s well worth booking this French Quarter Food Tour. During this three-hour jaunt, you’ll have the chance to sample New Orleans’ most iconic dishes at six local eateries. From cheesy chargrilled oysters to classic po-boy sandwiches and praline-encrusted treats, you won’t walk away from this New Orleans food tour hungry!

Plus, along the way, you’ll chat with the local food vendors and learn all about New Orleans’ unique culinary history and culture. And the best part is, you’ll walk away having an excellent grasp of New Orleans’ best foods, meaning you’ll know exactly what to order during the rest of your trip.

Book a French Quarter Food Tour

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4. Marvel at the Historic Oak Alley Plantation

Cool Tours to Book in New Orleans: Scenic Oak Alley Plantation

One of the most interesting and sobering tours in New Orleans is easily the Oak Alley Plantation Tour. Located in Vacherie, a little over an hour from the French Quarter, this stunning plantation and National Historic Landmark dates back to 1839, and it’s easily the best New Orleans plantation to visit if you’ve only got time for one plantation tour. 

If this place looks familiar, that’s because it’s one of the most photographed plantations in the US. It was also used as a filming location for movies like Interview with a Vampire and Primary Colors.

One of the standout features of the Oak Alley Plantation is the picturesque canopy created by the 250-year-old oak trees that stretches for 800 feet from the mansion to the Mississippi River. 

Given this plantation’s dark and disturbing history with slavery, a visit to Oak Alley Plantation isn’t for everyone. But if you do decide to visit, you’ll get a sobering glimpse into this grim reality through a series of informative placards and exhibitions.

Book an Oak Alley Plantation Tour

5. Learn How to Make Creole & Cajun Dishes

Fun Tours to Book in New Orleans: Creole and Cajun Dishes

If you’re searching for fun New Orleans tours and activities, you might consider taking a cooking class! With this Cajun & Creole Cooking Class, you’ll have the chance to check out a demonstration cooking class and sample a range of local dishes at the New Orleans School of Cooking. 

You’ll learn how to cook popular Cajun and Creole foods with the help of a professional chef who will prepare a variety of local dishes in front of you. Think gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, crawfish étouffée, bread pudding, or bananas Foster, to name a few. While the chef is chopping, sizzling, and sautéing, they’ll also entertain you with useful cooking tips and fun New Orleans food history facts. 

But the best part comes at the end of the demonstration when you get to sample all the dishes yourself! Come hungry because this will be a 3- or 4-course Cajun and Creole meal, which you can wash down with a Dixie beer, iced tea, or lemonade.

After your meal, you’ll be given a coupon to the on-site general store, where you can pick up locally sourced ingredients so you can prepare each of these dishes back at home. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all the steps and ingredients because you’ll be given copies of the recipes before you leave the tour!

Book a Cajun & Creole Cooking Class experience here!

6. Spot Gators On a High-Speed Airboat Swamp Tour

Must Book Tours in New Orleans: Swamp Tour

You pretty much can’t go to New Orleans without taking a swamp tour. And if you’re looking for a thrill, you have to embark on a High-Speed New Orleans Airboat Swamp Tour!

New Orleans is surrounded by tons of swampland, so you won’t have to go far to see all sorts of fascinating local wildlife. These small-group tours take 6-10 passengers to the wetlands just 40 minutes outside of the French Quarter.

During the 1-hour and 40-minute boat ride, you’ll have the chance to glimpse a range of swamp creatures, from bald eagles, pelicans, and osprey to turtles, wild pigs, and alligators. Do note that you will get up close and personal with giant gators, though the guides will be sure to keep a safe distance! 

New Orleans Tours to Book: Swamp Tour

Aside from spotting gators, the most fun part is gliding through swamps, marshes, and lakes at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. If you’re looking for the most fun tour in New Orleans, this is your best bet!

If you have your heart set on seeing as many alligators as possible, you’ll have the best chance during the summer months, as they hibernate when the weather is too cold.

Book a New Orleans Swamp Tour

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7. Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at NOLA’s Mardi Gras Floats

What Tours to Book in New Orleans: Mardi Gras World

While we highly recommend visiting New Orleans during the city’s (in)famous Mardi Gras celebration at least once, chances are you’re not planning to visit in late February. But that’s OK because you can still revel in NOLA’s Mardi Gras spirit by getting a behind-the-scenes look at Mardi Gras World!

One of the most unique tours in New Orleans, this one-hour self-guided tour gives you access to a huge warehouse that’s brimming with massive Mardi Gras floats and other paraphernalia. As you stroll around, you’ll be able to watch as artists and architects design, build, paint, and decorate their elaborate floats. There are over 500 floats built each year for the festivities, so you’ll have a lot of ground to cover!

New Orleans Tours You Have to Book: Mardi Gras World

After that, you can watch a fun film about New Orleans’ Mardi Gras traditions while enjoying a complimentary slice of king cake, a Mardi Gras classic. This tour also includes a free shuttle that will whisk you to and from Mardi Gras World!

Experience a Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

8. Take a Scenic Cruise Along the Mississippi River

Unique Tours to Book in New Orleans: Scenic Cruise Along the Mississippi River

One of the coolest ways to experience New Orleans is on a tranquil cruise along the Mississippi River. On this two-hour tour, you’ll board the old-fashioned Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez and make your way down the river, past the French Quarter and the New Orleans skyline.

Along the way, you’ll learn all about the history of New Orleans and why it was founded along the Mississippi River via the live narration. You’ll also be treated to a live jazz concert, which is the perfect backdrop to the river views!

If you’re feeling peckish, the wait staff will serve you a delicious Creole lunch. Just be sure to select this option when you book your tickets. Expect traditional New Orleans dishes like Southern fried fish, red beans and rice, and jambalaya served alongside coffee and iced tea. 

Book a Mississippi River Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

9. See Historic Tombs on a New Orleans Cemetery Tour

Fun Tours to Book in New Orleans: Cemetery Tour, St. Louis Cemetery

It might sound strange, but one of the best ways to tap into the city’s history and culture is on a cemetery tour, and one of the most highly-rated cemetery tours in New Orleans is this Cemetery Walking Tour. 

On this 90-minute tour, your super knowledgeable guide will take you to five very different cemeteries in the northern (lakeside) part of New Orleans. You’ll start at the Old Fellows Rest Cemetery and the Masonic Cemetery.

New Orleans Tours to Book: Cemetery Tour in St. Louis Cemetery

After that, you’ll learn all about the early Irish immigrants in St. Patrick Cemetery, the havoc that was wreaked by yellow fever at the Charity Hospital Cemetery, and the history behind the lavish tombs in Greenwood and Cypress Grove cemeteries. This tour ends with a sobering look at the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial Cemetery.

If you’re looking for something more offbeat, there are tons of different cemetery tours on offer. From spooky nighttime ghost hunting tours to tours dedicated to the historic tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, you’re sure to find a New Orleans cemetery tour that’s perfect for you!

Book a New Orleans Cemetery Walking Tour

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10. Sip Iconic NOLA Cocktails & Snack on Award-Winning NOLA Dishes 

New Orleans Tours You Have to Book: Combo Cocktail and Food History Tour

If you’re looking for classy but boozy New Orleans tours, you honestly can’t go wrong with the Combo Cocktail and Food History Tour. Come hungry and thirsty because this walking tour plies you with a whopping four cocktails and nine dishes and snacks! Plus, at the end of the tour, you’ll walk away with tons of knowledge about New Orleans’ food and cocktail history.

You’ll start your foodie journey at the award-winning Red Fish Grill in the French Quarter, where you’ll sample alligator sausage and seafood gumbo while learning about Louisiana’s colonial past. 

After that, you’ll mosey four blocks down the road to Pepper Palace, where you’ll get educated about the Cajun influence on New Orleans cuisine while testing your limits with everything from hot sauces and dry rubs to spicy salsas and sauces. You’ll even get a free bottle of Louisiana-style hot sauce!

What Tours to Book in New Orleans: Combo Cocktail and Food History Tour

You’ll then sample praline-infused confections at the iconic Leah’s Pralines before hunkering down with a muffuletta sandwich and a signature Pimm’s Cup cocktail at Napoleon House. We hope you’re still hungry for more because, after that, you’ll move on to Dickie Brennan’s award-winning Tableau for a French 75 cocktail and Creole Cookery for red beans and rice.

You’ll end the tour at the James Beard Award-nominated Cane & Table, where you’ll snack on their famous curry pork skins and sip on a classic daiquiri!

Book your New Orleans Cocktail and Food History Tour here!

11. See New Orleans’ Most Famous Landmarks on a City Highlights Tour

Cool Tours to Book in New Orleans: City Highlights Tour

If this is your first trip to New Orleans, the best way to get to know the city is by booking a City Highlights Tour. We highly recommend doing this tour on the first day so you can make the most of your trip! 

The guides are always incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining and offer the perfect mix of historical facts and social commentary. On this tour, you’ll meander through the French Quarter, where you can check out all the historic buildings while learning about the important roles jazz and Mardi Gras play in New Orleans’ culture. 

You’ll also get to check out all the eclectic shops on Magazine Street and the lavish graves at New Orleans’ oldest cemetery. From soaking in the views at Lake Pontchartrain to learning about the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward, you’ll walk away with a much better understanding of this dynamic Louisiana city and its most iconic landmarks.

Book a City Highlights Tour

12. Take a Fascinating Tour Through Tremé

If you’re looking for unique tours in New Orleans, it’s well worth booking a spot on the African American & Creole History Tour in Tremé. This is an exceptionally fun and insightful tour, especially if you’re a fan of the HBO show Tremé. You’ll see tons of filming locations from the show throughout the tour!

But you don’t have to have seen Tremé to enjoy this tour. The tours are all led by licensed guides who are local historians, so you can rest assured that you’re in very capable hands. 

By the end of the tour, you’ll walk away with an in-depth understanding of Tremé’s African-American history, role in the civil rights movement, Creole culture, jazz and modern brass history, and so much more. You’ll also get to visit St. Augustine Church, the tomb of an unknown slave, and a laundromat that actually made its way into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!

Book an African American & Creole History Tour

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13. Get Tipsy on a Haunted Pub Crawl

There’s no shortage of wild and boozy tours in New Orleans. So if you’re looking to let loose and have a good time during your trip, a Haunted Pub Crawl might be right up your alley!

You’ll meet up with your guide and fellow pub-crawlers at the Jax Brewery building on Decatur Street. With a drink in hand, you’ll explore the French Quarter while stopping off for drinks in some of the most haunted bars in the French Quarter.

Along the way, you’ll learn all about the tortured past of the haunted Lalaurie Mansion, the gruesome mass murder that took place at the Sultan’s Palace, and so much more. 

Plus, you’ll have the chance to stop off at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which dates back to the 1700s and is one of the oldest bars in the United States. And, of course, it’s rumored to be haunted too!

Experience New Orleans Haunted Pub Crawl

14. Take a French Quarter Walking Tour

New Orleans Tours to Book: French Quarter Walking Tour

First-timers looking for the best New Orleans tours should definitely book a French Quarter walking tour. From booze-infused pub crawls to creepy ghost tours, you’ll have tons of different options to suit all tastes!

For one of the best and most highly-rated French Quarter walking tours, we recommend the French Quarter Walking and Storytelling Tour. On this two-hour walking tour, you’ll be able to tick off all of the French Quarter’s most iconic attractions, from the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square to the French Market and the Mississippi River.

As you stroll, your guide will regale you with the fascinating (and often morbid) stories behind the 18th- and 19th-century homes, shops, and businesses and the antics of their former residents, shopkeepers, and patrons. 

You’ll love getting a glimpse into the history and culture of one of the most unique places in the US. Plus, your guide will be more than happy to give you restaurant recommendations, so you’ll know exactly what and where to eat for the rest of your trip! 

Book a French Quarter Walking Tour

15. Go Kayaking in Manchac Swamp

What Tours to Book in New Orleans: Manchac Swamp Kayak Tour

If you’re looking for something a bit more nature-filled, you might consider taking the Manchac Swamp Kayak Tour. Set roughly 30 minutes from the French Quarter, you’ll have the chance to experience the natural and wild side of New Orleans as you paddle your way through the peaceful Manchac and Maurepas swamps.

Don’t worry if you’ve never been kayaking before because these guided tours are tailor-made for beginners (though experts will have a great time, too!). Your guide will give you all the practical and safety tips for a successful and fun kayaking excursion. 

One of the best parts of the Manchac Kayak Tour is that groups are capped at 12, so you know you’re getting an intimate tour experience. Plus, the guides are super knowledgeable and passionate about the local wildlife and eco-system, so you’ll learn all sorts of fascinating tidbits about New Orleans’ swamps as you paddle through thick cypress forests and serene wetlands.

As you make your way down the shallow and narrow waterways, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for small alligators and turtles swimming in the water! This is also a prime spot for bird-watching, and you’ll likely spot owls, egrets, and more during your kayaking trip!

Book a Manchac Swamp Wildlife Kayaking Tour

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There you have it! The 15 best tours in New Orleans. Do you have any tours in New Orleans you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below! 

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About the Author:

  • Justine Lopez

    Justine is a writer and editor who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust!

    In 2013, she left her hometown in California and set off on a yearlong round-the-world journey with her now-husband – they never looked back. Since then, she’s lived the expat life in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, and now Dubai. Along the way, she's written and edited for magazines, newspapers, and websites in Asia and beyond.

    When she's not stoking her wanderlust by working on travel articles for Wandering Wheatleys, Justine is busy caring for her many foster cats in Dubai, seeking out all the delicious vegetarian food, and taking every chance she gets to explore a new corner of the world!

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