Note: Some tour providers on this list may have limited or ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
To get the full experience of a city like New Orleans, there’s no better way than to follow a local’s advice. With the help of traveler reviews, U.S. News tracked down 18 guided tours that will give you a true lay of the land – from walks through famous cemeteries and tales of haunted mansions to finding the best beignets and live street music.
Airboat Adventures – New Orleans Airboat Ride
Experience the wild side of Louisiana on a New Orleans Airboat Ride. For nearly two hours, you’ll zip through the area’s swamplands and bayous while keeping your eyes peeled for the swamp’s resident animals, including alligators, herons, ibises and turtles. Visitors love being close to wildlife and seeing the animals’ natural habitats. They also compliment the friendly guides for their entertaining and informative commentary. Tickets start at $75 per person on a large airboat (up to 30 passengers) and $99 per person on a small airboat (up to eight passengers). Children ages 5 and younger and pregnant women are not permitted to ride. Tours are offered several times daily. Keep in mind: The departure point for the boat tour is located approximately 30 miles from downtown New Orleans. You can arrange your own transportation or pay extra for round-trip transportation provided by the company.
Two Chicks Walking Tours – Grand Garden District Tour
Take a stroll through one of New Orleans’ most picturesque neighborhoods and soak in the area’s rich history on Two Chicks’ Grand Garden District Walking Tour. On this two-hour tour, guides take you on an intimate stroll past Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and by local mansions, including Buckner Mansion (featured in “American Horror Story: Coven”). Reviewers enjoy the storytelling and humor of Two Chicks’ tour guides, as well as their vast local insight. Tours are typically offered Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m., though Saturday tours may also be available, depending on the month. Tickets cost about $30 per person. Two Chicks’ other tours include guided walks through the French Quarter and several famous cemeteries.
Witches Brew Tours – New Orleans Ghost, Voodoo, and Vampire Tour
Get your adrenaline pumping and your ghost radar up on this two-hour walking tour through the French Quarter’s most haunted areas. Guides take a maximum of 28 people along for the ride, while recounting stories of famous ghosts and local witchcraft. The tour also includes a stop at New Orleans’ most haunted house, which was featured in “American Horror Story: Coven.” Along with the beautiful scenery and architecture, reviewers love the tour guide’s local knowledge and stories about the area. Tours are available daily in the morning, afternoon and evening at various times. Tickets start at $27 for adults and $15 for kids ages 6 to 12. If you’re craving more chilling experiences, check out the company’s cemetery tour.
Destination Kitchen – New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter
Satisfy your inner foodie (and stomach) on this three-hour food tour from Destination Kitchen. A local guide takes you to some of the French Quarter’s most famous restaurants for six to seven food tastings. Some of the dishes sampled may include jambalaya, muffuletta and pralines. Tickets cost about $70 per person and include all food tastings (cocktails can be purchased separately). In addition to the eclectic tastings, travelers commend the knowledgeable guides and the history they share. Reviewers are also impressed by the generous portion sizes. Tours are available daily in the morning and afternoon. Destination Kitchen also offers a version of this tour that includes a cooking class.
Confederacy of Cruisers – Creole New Orleans Bike Tour
Hop on a bike and let Confederacy of Cruisers show you a new side of New Orleans. With the help of a local expert, you’ll cover 6 miles of New Orleans at your own pace (tours generally last three hours), cruising through the historic Bywater and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods, down Esplanade Avenue and through Treme. Reviewers appreciate that the route takes you beyond the typical sights. Meanwhile, other participants love the tour’s leisurely pace and the ease of riding the company’s cruiser bicycles. Tours are generally offered seven days a week in both the morning and afternoon. Tickets start at $49 per person, which includes the bike rental. If you plan on bringing your own bike, tickets start at $44. Tours are capped at eight people. The company also offers culinary and cocktail bike tours.
Royal Carriages – New Orleans History and Haunts Carriage Tour
For a hair-raising tour of the French Quarter, consider this nighttime carriage ride. The one-hour tour details the city’s purportedly haunted past and features landmarks like the LaLaurie Mansion, the Ursuline Convent and Pirate’s Alley. Though the tour focuses on the city’s ghost lore, it’s still labeled as a family-friendly experience by the company. Reviewers praise the guides for their humorous storytelling and say this is the perfect activity for tourists. Tours, which are capped at eight participants, are offered Thursday through Tuesday on the hour from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $50 per person. Travelers also have the option to book private carriage rides, as well as daytime tours of the French Quarter.
Kayak-iti-Yat offers a relaxing, yet active, way to see New Orleans.(Randy P. Schmidt/Courtesy of Kayak-iti-Yat)
Kayak-iti-Yat Original Kayaking Tours of New Orleans – Big Easy Bayou Tour
See Bayou St. John from the water on Kayak-iti-Yat’s Big Easy Bayou Tour. If you want to relax, this is the tour for you as you’ll spend most of the two-hour trip leisurely paddling by architectural must-sees and interesting landmarks, including homes built in the late 1700s. Along the way, guides will give you the rundown on local trivia and historical lore. In addition to the engaging and informative guides, reviewers also enjoy the tour’s laid-back pace. Tickets cost approximately $49 per person. Tours are generally offered Wednesday through Monday in the morning and evening. If you’re looking for more fun on the water, the company also offers a longer, more active paddle along Lake Pontchartrain.
FreeWheelin’ Bike Tours – Creole & Crescent
Breeze through New Orleans’ most famous neighborhoods with FreeWheelin’s Creole & Crescent bike tour. The three-hour excursion will take you through the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, along Esplanade Avenue, through St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 and back through Treme. Tickets, which include the bike rental, helmet, basket and water, start at $55; tours are capped at 10 people. Reviewers rave about the energetic tour guides as well as the local history they share. Tours are available Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you’d rather set out on your own, FreeWheelin’ also offers bike rentals, in addition to a variety of themed tours.
Wild Louisiana Kayak Swamp Tours – Manchac Swamp Tours
Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, eagles, snakes, egrets, herons and owls as you paddle through Manchac Swamp on this two-hour kayak tour. The swamp, which was once used as a logging waterway, features slow-moving currents, making this an ideal trip for beginners and children. Reviewers gush about the beautiful cypress trees and many animal sightings, and say guides are experts in the swamp’s history and ecology. Tours can be booked daily at 10:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets start at $59 per person and include use of the kayaks, life vests and necessary gear. Note that the swamp is located about 30 miles northwest of the French Quarter. For an additional charge, you can use Wild Louisiana’s shuttle to get to and from the city. Wild Louisiana also offers kayak rentals and kayak fishing trips, among other options.
Cajun Encounters – New Orleans Swamp and Bayou Boat Tour
See New Orleans’ Honey Island up close on one of Cajun Encounters’ swamp tours. This two-hour tour will take you through wildlife territory on a flat-bottomed boat for up-close views of Louisiana alligators, boars, snakes and egrets – all with a minimal impact on the environment. Reviewers enjoy the adventurous feel of the tour and the company’s experienced guides. Tickets start at $30 for participants ages 12 and older and $20 for children ages 4 to 11; infants 3 and younger ride free. For an additional charge, the company also provides round-trip transportation from select locations within downtown New Orleans. Tours are offered daily multiple times in the morning and afternoon. Cajun Encounters also offers city bus tours, plantation tours and sunset swamp tours, among others.
City Sightseeing New Orleans Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Create your own adventure with the help of City Sightseeing’s Hop-On Hop-Off tour. Along the 90-minute route, you’ll stop at some of New Orleans’ top attractions, including the National WWII Museum, Frenchmen Street and the Garden District, for a total of 18 stops. Buses service each stop every 30 minutes. Reviewers appreciate the convenience and ease the bus provides for touring the city and applaud the knowledgeable onboard guides, who provide commentary throughout the journey. However, a few reviewers note that the quality of the guides can vary widely. Tours are available Thursday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. One-day tickets start at $39 for adults and $10 for children ages 3 to 12. A package that includes a two-day hop-on, hop-off pass and a guided Garden District walking tour are also available.
Buzz Nola – Garden/Quarter Combo Bike Tour
Cycle your way through the city and see the best of the Garden District and the French Quarter with the help of Buzz Nola. This three-hour guided bicycle tour takes you through two of the most popular areas of the city with historical trivia and interesting tidbits about New Orleans’ early beginnings shared along the way. The tour also includes a walking portion through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Reviewers rave about their guide’s storytelling, as well as the ease of the company’s electric bikes. Tours are typically available Tuesday through Sunday at 10 a.m. Tickets start at $50 per person and include bicycle and helmet rental, as well as water. Riders must be at least 12 years old. Ready to explore beyond the French Quarter? Buzz Nola offers a variety of bike tours that venture into other parts of the city, such as Bayou St. John.
Tours By Steven – Garden District & Lafayette Cemetery Walking Tour
Stroll by celebrity homes, famous filming locations and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 on this two-hour walking tour of the Garden District. Along the way, your guide will share information about the district’s distinct architecture and history, as well as the unique burial customs of the city’s famous cemeteries. Reviewers appreciate the personable tour guides and say the experience made them appreciate the district’s unique architecture and history. Tours typically run Thursday through Monday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets for participants ages 12 and older cost $25; children ages 6 to 11 can join for $15. The company also offers walking tours of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
Visitors will sample New Orleans’ staple cuisine while learning about the city’s history and culture on Doctor Gumbo’s Food History Tour.(Courtesy of Doctor Gumbo Tours)
Doctor Gumbo Tours – Food History Tour in New Orleans
See the role food has played in shaping New Orleans’ past and present with Doctor Gumbo’s Food History Tour. During this leisurely, three-hour walking tour, you’ll taste classic and signature dishes (think: gumbo, po’boys and muffulettas) at up to six restaurants in the French Quarter. In addition to the food, tour guides share a variety of local stories and historical trivia – a highlight for participants. Travelers are also complimentary of the venues and the dishes. Tickets start at $70 per person. Tours are generally offered Wednesday through Sunday at 1 p.m. If you’re looking to further enrich your experience (and trivia skills), Doctor Gumbo also offers a cocktail history tour, as well as a combo food and cocktail history tour.
Gray Line – New Orleans Original Cocktail Walking Tour
If you want to experience all the French Quarter has to offer in the cocktail department, allow Gray Line to assist. This 2 1/2-hour tour will take you through the famous neighborhood with stories (and samples) of famous cocktails, including the Ramos gin fizz, the Pimm’s cup and Sazerac. The tour begins with a complimentary local punch. Additional drinks are available throughout the tour for purchase. Tourgoers especially like the diversion from a traditional pub crawl and that Gray Line includes history and culture trivia. Tickets start at $29 per person; participants must be 21 or older. Tours are offered Tuesday through Friday and Sunday at 4 p.m. Gray Line offers additional walking tours, as well as ghost, plantation and swamp tours, among others.
Livery Tours – Garden District and Cemetery Walking Tour
See one of America’s best collections of antebellum mansions and 19th-century architecture with Livery Tours’ Garden District & Cemetery Tour. On the two-hour walking tour, you will see the exquisite homes and manicured gardens of former celebrities and athletes and finish with a visit to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, home to noteworthy crypts and the setting for popular film and television scenes. Along with the beautiful homes, reviewers also praise the engaging, entertaining and informative tour guides. Tours depart daily at 10 a.m. Tickets start at $30 per participant ages 12 and younger. Livery Tours also offers a French Quarter and cemetery tour.
New Orleans Secrets – Magazine Street Foodie Tour
Satisfy your inner foodie with New Orleans Secrets’ Magazine Street Foodie Tour. During the three-hour tour, you’ll venture to four savory restaurants and one dessert boutique in the Garden District. Along the way, you’ll enjoy six menu items and a pint of local beer or soda for approximately $80 per person. Reviewers praise the beauty and charm of the Garden District, and are not disappointed by the quality or quantity of food. What’s more, tour sizes are capped at eight people, making for an intimate experience. Tours are offered Thursday through Monday at 11 a.m., with an additional 3 p.m. tour on select days. New Orleans Secrets also offers history, swamp and ghost tours.
Steamboat Natchez – New Orleans Steamboat Natchez Harbor Cruise
Cruise down the Mississippi River on a historic riverboat during this two-hour tour. As you take in the sights along the riverbank, you’ll hear commentary from the captain while live jazz music is performed. You also have the option to upgrade your ticket to include lunch. Reviewers are complimentary of the cruise, calling it relaxing. They are also impressed by the live jazz music. However, a few travelers advise against booking the lunch option, describing the food as average. Tickets start at $38 per adult and $15.50 per child ages 6 to 12. Tours are generally offered daily at 11:30 and 2 p.m. Dinner and brunch cruises are also available.
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