It’s that time of year again when ghost stories and goblins abound in our frightful city. There’s something mystical and simultaneously creepy about the local graveyards, haunted mansions, and all the spooks associated with them in the Crescent City. These stories prick that nagging curiosity about the dead and the afterlife which tickles the imagination of those of us who are still alive. If you’re looking for something eerie (and yes, we know it’s Halloween), then you’re in for a treat as we share with you the top five guided French Quarter and cemetery tours in New Orleans that will scare you out of your skin.
1. Ghost City Tours, (888) 859-5375
The Ghosts of New Orleans Tours are available every night at 8 p.m. for all ages. On Friday and Saturday evenings, they also offer an earlier time (6 p.m.) for groups or families who aren't interested in participating in a later ghost tour. According to Maria Pinheiro, Media and Public Relations Director of Ghost City Tours, “The most popular tour isn't a tour, per se. It's a ghost hunt. Ghost City Tours is the only company in the city to offer a real ghost hunt. Five nights per week at 10 p.m., guests can join our seasoned paranormal investigators at our French Quarter location. The property itself belongs to a Voodoo priestess and the front is an occult shop. The hunt includes a training on how to use the equipment, the history of the building and then a four-hour investigation.” Following the hunt, guests are sent their recordings and evidence via a digital file about three to five days later.
Another fearful fan favorite mentioned by Pinheiro is the Killers and Thrillers East Ghost Tour. “This true crime tour is all about the ladies of New Orleans' past. These guests will hear about female serial killers, murderous madams and voodoo priestesses and their spirits still roaming the streets of the French Quarter,” said Pinheiro. “As they say, ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ This particular ghost tour is one of a kind in New Orleans.”
Ghost City Tours are also appealing for out-of-towners, whether they are skeptics or believers. There is a ghost tour for every person out there including tours of the haunted French Quarter mansions, as well as the Haunted Pub Crawl, which is a perfect blend between the paranormal and a taste of local Louisiana cocktail history.
2. Witches Brew Tours, (504) 413-3120
Thanks to shows like American Horror Story: Coven, and other television shows like Ghost Adventurers, haunted tours like Witches Brew Tours have become popular in New Orleans. Tommy Cook, Owner of Witches Brew Tours, recommends the 4-in-1 Haunted Tour which will visit places like the LaLaurie Mansion, one of the most notorious haunted French Quarter mansions that guests and visitors love to hear about.
Another fun and enjoyable tour for all ages is the 3-in-1 French Quarter, Cemetery & Voodoo Tour, which takes you to the St. Louis Cemetery. On this route, you will see the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo; visit Basin Street Station, stop at Armstrong Park and stand in the place where many would come on Sundays for Voodoo rituals.
Cook indicated that the Cemetery Tour seems to be more attractive to women, but there are quite a variety of tours which will interest all different groups of people. He advised, “Wear comfortable shoes and bring water because the walking tour is approximately one mile spread over two hours.” Discount rates are offered by using the promo code WBT01 for $7 off the original price.
3. Haunted History Tours, (504) 862-2727
According to Kalila Smith, owner of the Haunted History Tours and author of the book, New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo & Vampires, the Haunted History Tours, located at 723 St. Peter St., is the oldest and largest haunted walking tour company with a total of 25 tour guides in New Orleans. Rated as a top 10 choice for a local ghost tour, Haunted History Tours provide family-friendly cemetery tours, daytime historic tours, and guided walks of the French Quarter and the Garden District. Discounted prices apply for students, military, firemen, police, seniors, and children under the age of 12.
4. French Quarter Phantoms, (504) 666-8300
If you are interested in catching a glimpse of the paranormal spirits and ghosts around town, then you should sign up for a tour with French Quarter Phantoms. The French Quarter Phantoms Ghost & Vampire Tour is an exciting experience for all ages because it is historically accurate, and incredibly scary when you can take a picture of an “orb” or a paranormal spirit. “A lot of people send us their pictures because they snap a picture of one of these orbs. It looks like a round bubble spot or spirit in the picture,” said Cindy Richardson, a Bywater resident and owner of French Quarter Phantoms Tours. “Most fear factors happen when you get home or back to your hotel room, when you turn off the lights and sit in the darkness.” The team of 11 tour guides is extremely knowledgeable and has been described by Trip Advisor as “the strangest bunch of real historians in the city.”
The tours are available seven days a week, all year round, rain or shine, and offer a variety of specials. For example, you can receive a $4 discount when you book online, while adults who buy a hurricane cocktail will get one free to enjoy on the tour.
5. Lord Chaz Tours, (504) 638-2895
This "paranormal street theatre" is unique in its nightly walking tours because Lord Chaz, the owner and master guide, creates a theatrical show while dressed in a vampire costume. “Lord Chaz dresses in full costume,” said Joshua Howell, brother of Lord Chaz. “He tells different stories and follows different routes so people can hear new stories as well as their favorite scary ones.” Originally started in 1990, Lord Chaz begins his tour at Johnny White’s Bar, 718 Bourbon St., daily at 7:30 p.m. He invites mystery and magic along the route as he describes and acts out the haunted, historical events. “The Tours are theater-like because Lord Chaz is playing a character and creates magical illusions along the way,” said Howell. “The grand finale is really special because it brings the tour back to the center of the Quarter at the corner of Royal and St. Ann Streets.” Howell advised to book a reservation by phone, since there is a 28-person limit per tour. And he also recommended that special groups like bachelorette or birthday parties call for a private tour.
Ghost tours are great entertainment and fun for families, small groups and tourists. These haunted tours do not always produce a gut-wrenching, screaming reaction, but you may catch paranormal phenomena on your cameras or phones and experience something freaky!
All photos pulled from company websites and/or social media.