The 18 Best New Orleans Tours

With so much to see and do in New Orleans, these tours will help you maximize your time in the Big Easy.

U.S. News & World Report

The 18 Best New Orleans Tours

Best New Orleans Tours

Tours with Airboat Adventures give travelers a close-up look at New Orleans' famous swamps.(Courtesy of Airboat Adventures)

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. Tickets start at $55 per person on a large airboat (up to 30 passengers) and $79 per person on a small airboat (up to eight passengers). Children ages 5 and younger are not permitted to ride.

Two Chicks Walking Tours – Garden District

Take a stroll through one of New Orleans' most picturesque neighborhoods and soak in the area's rich history on Two Chicks' Garden District Walking Tour. On this two-hour tour, guides take you on an intimate stroll through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and by local mansions, including Buckner Mansion (known for its appearance in "American Horror Story: Coven"). Reviewers enjoy the storytelling and humor of Two Chicks' tour guides, as well as their vast local insight. Tickets start at $24.99 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. Tickets start at $25 for adults and $12 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 and cocktail tour from Destination Kitchen. A local guide takes you to some of the French Quarter's hottest up-and-coming restaurants to try dishes and cocktails with local ingredients and great stories. Tickets start at $125 per person and include six dishes and five alcoholic beverages. In addition to the eclectic tastings, travelers commend the knowledgeable guides and the history they share . Destination Kitchen also offers a variety of other food and cocktail tours, including a St. Charles Avenue Foodie Crawl and the Taste of Oak Street, Bubbles & Bites tour.

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 sites. Meanwhile, other participants love the tour's leisurely pace and the ease of riding the company's cruiser bicycles. 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.

New Orleans Drunken History Tour

Take a spooky (and boozy) tour through the Crescent City with the help of the New Orleans Drunken History tour. During this one- to two-hour tour, guides will share the rich history of the French Quarter, including ghost, vampire and voodoo stories. Along the way, you can try your hand at ghost hunting with real paranormal equipment. Tickets start at $25 per person and do not include alcohol, though stops outside local bars for fills (and refills) are on the route. Travelers enjoy the tour guides' local knowledge and entertaining storytelling and recommend this experience for first-time visitors.

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 the Crescent City 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 $45 per person. If you're looking for more fun on the water, the company also offers a longer, more active paddle along Lake Pontchartrain, as well as a lake and lighthouse tour that includes a stop at the New Canal Lighthouse Museum.

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 $49; tours are capped at 10 people. Reviewers rave about the energetic tour guides as well as the local history they share. If you're game to see more of the Big Easy, check out FreeWheelin's other tours, including a Garden District tour and a Marigny and Bywater tour.

City Segway Tours – New Orleans

If you're looking for a tour that doesn't entail miles of walking or biking, the New Orleans Day Segway Tour from City Segway Tours may be right for you. The three-hour, guided tour will take you through the famous French Quarter and the music-filled Bourbon Street while you learn about local history, architecture and culture. Participants love the ease of using the Segways and note that guides are informative and attentive to safety. Tickets, which include the Segway rental and helmet, cost approximately $75 per person. City Segway Tours also offers evening rides, as well as express, 90-minute rides, among other experiences.

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 $29.75 for adults and $19.75 for children 11 and younger. For an additional charge, the company also provides round-trip transportation from select locations within downtown New Orleans. 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 two-hour route, you'll stop at some of New Orleans' top attractions, including the National WWII Museum, Frenchmen Street and the Garden District, making 18 stops in all. Buses service each stop every 30 minutes. Reviewers appreciate the convenience and ease the bus provides for touring the city and applaud the knowledgeable guides who provide commentary throughout the journey. Tickets start at $39 for adults and $10 for children for a one-day pass. Three-day passes 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. Tickets start at $50 per person and include bicycle and helmet rental, as well as water. Riders must be at least 12 years old.

Tours By Steven – St Louis Cemetery Walking Tour

Discover New Orleans' oldest and most famous above-ground cemetery with Tours by Steven. On the one-hour tour through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, you will learn about burial practices unique to New Orleans culture and visit the tombs of voodoo queen Marie Laveau and sugar innovator Jean Étienne de Boré, among others. Reviewers appreciate the knowledgeable tour guides, but they do warn future travelers to wear sun protection as there is little shade in the cemetery. Tickets for adults and children cost approximately $20 per person. Tours by Steven also offers walking tours of the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery, the French Quarter and a tour about the historical women of New Orleans.

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 Tours

See the role food has played in shaping New Orleans' past and present with Doctor Gumbo's Food History Tours. 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 hit among visitors. Travelers are also complimentary of the venues and the dishes. Tickets start at $70 per person. 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 $31 per person; participants must be 21 or older. 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 settings for popular film and television scenes. Along with the beautiful homes, reviewers also praise the engaging, entertaining and informative tour guides. Tickets start at $27 per person. 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, a pint of local beer or soda, gelato and a cup of coffee for approximately $75 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. New Orleans Secrets also offers tours showcasing seafood and shrimp boils, the best chefs of New Orleans, French Quarter history and the famous Bourbon Street.

Celebration Tours – New Orleans City Tour

Explore the Big Easy like a local with Celebration Tours' New Orleans City Tour. On this van tour, you'll take a roughly three-hour ride through the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, historic cemeteries and the 9th Ward, rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina and home to the Musicians' Village. Reviewers laud the knowledgeable and friendly tour guides and say the tour is a must if you want a comprehensive overview of the city. What's more, tours are capped at 14 travelers. Tickets cost approximately $50 per person. If you're interested in a more intimate experience, Celebrations Tours also offers private tours.

Claire Lawton, Contributor

Claire Lawton is a freelance journalist and producer based in New York. She writes about art, ...  Read more

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