The Best New Orleans Tours

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 some of the best guided New Orleans 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.

Steamboat Natchez – New Orleans Steamboat Natchez Harbor Cruise

Price: Adults from $39; kids from $16
Duration: 2 hours

Cruise down the Mississippi River on a historic, paddle-wheel 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 family-friendly 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 $39 per adult and $16 per child ages 6 to 12. Children ages 2 to 5 ride free. Tours are generally offered Monday to Saturday at 11 a.m. An evening cruise is also available.

Two Chicks Walking Tours – Garden District Walking Tour

Price: From $30
Duration: 2 hours

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 by local mansions, including Buckner Mansion (featured in “American Horror Story: Coven”) while regaling you with history about the homes and neighborhood. Reviewers enjoy the storytelling and humor of Two Chicks’ tour guides, as well as their vast local insight.

Tours are typically offered daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets cost about $30 per person. Two Chicks’ other tours include guided walks through the French Quarter.

Witches Brew Tours – New Orleans Ghost, Voodoo, and Vampire Tour

Price: Adults from $29; kids from $20
Duration: 2 hours

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 (belonging to Madame Delphine LaLaurie), which was featured in the TV show “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 $29 for adults and $20 for kids ages 6 to 12. If you’re craving more, check out the company’s Voodoo, cemetery and French Quarter tour.

Destination Kitchen – New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter

Price: From $76
Duration: 3 hours

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 or seven food tastings. Some of the dishes sampled may include jambalaya, muffuletta and pralines. 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.
 
Tickets start at $76 per person and include all food tastings (cocktails can be purchased separately). Tours are available daily in the morning and afternoon. Destination Kitchen also offers a version of this tour that includes a cooking class.

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

Airboat Adventures – New Orleans Airboat Ride

Price: From $59
Duration: 2 hours

Experience the wild side of Louisiana on a New Orleans Airboat Ride. For nearly two hours, you’ll zip through the Lafitte National Preserve 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 $59 per person on a large airboat (up to 30 passengers) and $89 per person on a small airboat (up to 10 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.

Confederacy of Cruisers – Creole New Orleans Bike Tour

Price: From $44
Duration: 3 hours

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 bike 6 miles 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, though there are no tours on summer Tuesdays. 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 & Haunts Carriage Tour

Price: From $70
Duration: 1 hour

For a hair-raising tour of the French Quarter, consider this nighttime mule-drawn carriage ride. The one-hour tour details the city’s purportedly haunted past and features landmarks like the LaLaurie Mansion, the Gardette-LaPrete Mansion and Muriel’s Restaurant. Reviewers praise the guides for their humorous storytelling and say this is the perfect activity for tourists.

The small-group tours, which are capped at eight participants, are offered multiple times daily; exact departure times vary by season. Tickets cost $70 per person. You’ll meet carriages in front of Jackson Square. Travelers also have the option to book private carriage rides, as well as daytime tours of the French Quarter.

City Sightseeing New Orleans Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Price: Adults from $42; kids from $10
Duration: 1.5 hours

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 19 stops. You’re welcome to get off the double-decker bus at any stop and get on again at your leisure; 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 daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. One-day tickets start at $46 for adults and $10 for children ages 3 to 12. Packages that include multiday hop-on, hop-off tours plus walking tours of different neighborhoods, are also available.

Best New Orleans Tours

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

Price: From $49
Duration: 2 hours

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 start at $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 paddle of the full length of Bayou St. John.

Wild Louisiana Kayak Swamp Tours – Manchac Magic Kayak Swamp Tours

Price: From $59
Duration: 2 hours

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. as well as 1 and 4 p.m.; an 8:15 a.m. tour is also available in the summer months. 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 fishing trips and photography tours, among other options.

Cajun Encounters – Daily Swamp Tour

Price: Adults from $32.75; kids from $21.75
Duration: 2 hours

See the Big Easy’s 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 $32.75 for participants ages 12 and older and $21.75 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.

Buzz Nola – Garden/Quarter Combo Bike Tour

Price: From $50
Duration: 3 hours

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 visit to an above-ground cemetery. Reviewers rave about their guide’s storytelling, as well as how much ground they covered in a short time.

Tours are typically available daily at 10 a.m. and/or 1:30 p.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. Need some help riding? Sign up for the company’s electric bike tour instead.

Best New Orleans Tours

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

Price: From $75
Duration: 3 hours

See the role food has played in shaping New Orleans’ past and present with Doctor Gumbo’s Food History Tour. During this three-hour walking tour, you’ll taste classic and signature dishes (think: gumbo, po’boys and muffulettas) at up to five 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 $75 per person. Tours are generally offered Wednesday through Sunday at 1 p.m.; private excursions run Monday and Tuesday. 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 Craft Cocktail Walking Tour

Price: From $68
Duration: 2.5 hours

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 three cocktails, stopping at places like the Carriageway Bar and Pirate’s Alley Café & Old Absinthe House. 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 $68 per person; participants must be 21 or older. Tours are offered daily at 4 p.m. Gray Line offers additional walking tours, as well as ghost, plantation and swamp tours, among others.

New Orleans Secrets – Magazine Street Foodie Tour

Price: From $125
Duration: 3 hours

During this 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. 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 nine people, making for an intimate experience, according to reviewers.

Tours are offered Thursday through Monday at 11 a.m., with an additional 3 p.m. tour on select days. Tickets cost approximately $125 per person. New Orleans Secrets also offers history, swamp and ghost tours.

Tours By Steven – Garden District & Lafayette Cemetery Walking Tour

Price: Adults from $30; kids from $22
Duration: 2 hours

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 daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets for participants ages 12 and older start at $30; children ages 6 to 11 can join for $22. The company also offers walking tours of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

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