New Orleans is dedicated to fun. Or, as they like to say here: laissez les bons temps rouler (good times roll)!
Founded in 1718 as part of a French colony, New Orleans has a long and complicated history. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the city became part of the United States, growing to become the third-largest city in the country in 1840.
Slavery was the driving force behind the economy during this time, as New Orleans had the most active slave market in the country. Yet at the same time, the city was home to the largest and most prosperous community of free people of color. After the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, the city’s predominantly black population fought for their rights, equality, and dignity, winning some and continuing to fight for others.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, claiming more than 1,500 lives and wreaking havoc on the city. Yet New Orleans always seems to rebound, and more than 15 years later, the city has rebuilt itself and is enjoying a period of rebirth.
Thanks to the complex history of the city, there is a mixture of cultures here: French, Anglo-Saxon, Spanish, Haitian, and West African, among others. More recently, Vietnamese immigrants are putting their own stamp on “The Big Easy.”
Its colorful chronicles and unique mix of cultures are what makes NOLA so amazing. There’s a reason the city’s vibrant Mardi Gras festival is world-famous!
The best way to get to know and experience this unique city is to take a guided tour. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the city’s past and present, hear some amazing anecdotes about historical figures, and possibly walk away with some super local tips on where to eat, drink, and party.
There are many options to choose from, but these are my favorites:
Take Walks is my go-to company when I want a detailed and in-depth tour without breaking the bank. It offers a few different options in NOLA, including a haunted walk, a tour of the French Quarter (including a stop for cocktails), and a tour of the Garden District with access to one of the neighborhood’s private mansions. If you want a fun, affordable, and educational tour, this is the company to go for!
Nola Tour Guy
David G. Hedges is the Nola Tour Guy in question. He is a historian who loves to treat visitors with entertaining tales of New Orleans history; he also has a small team of other locals who give tours. You can choose from free walking tours of the French Quarter or Bayou St. John, one of the oldest cemeteries in the city. Tours are technically free, but tips are expected at the end of the tour, so bring some cash.
- Free Walking Tours
The name doesn’t lie – the tours are free (although you are expected to leave a tip at the end) and you do it on foot. There are several two-hour offerings: the Garden District, the French Quarter, and Lafayette Cemetery (and other parts of the city), as well as voodoo-themed tours. You can also take a free bike tour; However, it is BYOB (bring your own bike). If you are on a budget and just want a quick overview of the city, this is the tour for you!
G L-f De Villiers
Glenn Louis de Villiers is a born and raised New Orleans native. You can even trace your family lineage straight back to its founders. Lead small groups on a walk through the French Quarter, delighting tourists with fascinating historical anecdotes, as well as stories from his own life and family history. It’s hard to get a better and deeper perspective than Mr. De Villiers. It also offers tours of other parts of the city, as well as LGBTQ-themed tours and food outings. Tours start at $ 30.
Tours Of The Cradle Of Jazz History
- Jazz and New Orleans are practically synonymous. But where did it come from and how did it start? John McCusker, a New Orleans native, longtime jazz historian and tour guide, takes visitors through the history of jazz in NOLA, delving into its history to reveal many off-the-radar jazz articulations while explaining its powerful connection to this very American genre of music. . Tours start at $ 50.
- Two Chick Walking Tours
- Two Chicks takes small groups on walking tours of the Big Easy, covering virtually the entire city with their various offerings. Choose from tours of the French Quarter or the Garden District, or choose by theme (for example, the Brothels, Bordellos, and Ladies of the Night tour is sure to stimulate the senses). Christine Miller, one of the “two girls”, has lived in New Orleans for 30 years and knows it as well as anyone. Tours start at $ 30.
- New Orleans Secrets Voodoo Mystery Tour
- Voodoo in New Orleans can date back to the 18th century. New Orleans Secrets travel company offers a fascinating voodoo-themed tour of this secret amalgam of religions. The guide teaches small groups about their history and connection to slavery in New Orleans, while visiting authentic voodoo sites and a shop. If your interest has been piqued by the city’s past, this is the tour for you. Tours start at $ 32.
- New Orleans Architecture Tours
- The buildings of New Orleans, especially in and around the French Quarter, are easily identifiable. This fascinating walking tour, organized by the New Orleans Architecture Foundation (NOAF), takes visitors through various neighborhoods, highlighting their architectural stars. You can choose from the French Quarter, the Garden District, Marginy, Tremé, or Poydras Street, or from various tours of the cemetery. Tours start at $ 30.
- Drink And Learn
- Wouldn’t it be nice if learning and drinking were married more often? They are, however, on this biblical two-hour walking tour. Drink historian Elizabeth Pearce leads thirsty visitors through New Orleans one drink at a time. Sip on some classic local cocktails as you learn the history of the city through the history of those libations. The tour, surprisingly, doesn’t stop at any bar, but the cocktails are consumed while passing important (and minor) landmarks. Tours start at $ 55.
- Jogging Tours by Steven
- Steven offers the usual walking tours of New Orleans – the French Quarter, the Garden District, the cemeteries, but just because you go on foot doesn’t mean you can’t run. Take Steven’s three-hour jogging tour of the French Quarter to learn some New Orleans history while burning some calories from all those po ‘boys, beignets, and jambalayas you’ve been inhaling since your arrival. Tours start at $ 49.