New Orleans may be known for its upbeat Jazz music, exciting Mardi Gras and a million different takes on Jambalaya, but did you know that along with its celebratory culture, this famous city has a dark side, one that some may even call, infamous?
New Orleans was the starting point for slave trade in the country, a frequent stop for pirates and ist the place where voodoo originated. Many of these dark times saw deaths of many people, like voodoo queen Marie Laveau, pirate Jean Lafitte and victims and soldiers of the War of 1812 who are said to still haunt the city today. In fact, an article published in USA Today named New Orleans one of America’s 10 most haunted cities.
So, when planning a trip to New Orleans, don’t miss out on the town’s eerier side by taking these top five haunted tours during your stay.
1. The Haunted Mortuary
Once home to a family with six children, this 1872 mansion was later purchased and converted into a grand funeral home that is said to have performed more than 20,000 funerals between 1928 and 2004. But business suffered in the later years and it was sold, awaiting renovations. However, when Hurricane Katrina hit, plans were abandoned, and so was the building.
In 2007 the property was purchased, with the new owners turning the decaying funeral home into the Haunted Mortuary that seems to have actual souls occupying it. According to its website, a phantom woman in white has been seen on the top floor crying for her husband who had long since passed on. There have been legends told of a tall, well-dressed man who shows himself when he believes people are disrespecting the cemeteries nearby. Two rambunctious children, a boy and a girl, have been said to play pranks on the unsuspecting living. There have even been accounts of a former mortician who spies on employees as he continues his work in the basement.
These are just some of the stories that paranormal investigators have found, and what you may just find on your haunted tour.
2. Voodoo History Tours
While being scared can be fun and entertaining, it can also be educational. That’s why we’ve added the Voodoo History Tour to our list.
In the late 1700s, slaves were stripped of their African religions and forced to convert to Christianity. These were the darkest of days, and some rebelled in a massive revolt in 1791 on the island of St. Domingue, where present-day Haiti is, spurring a spiritual practice that is known as voodoo.
The famous Voodoo History Tours conducted by Haunted History Tours explores the mysterious world of voodoo in New Orleans. You’ll visit actual voodoo altars and hear tales of old New Orleans, when hysteria grabbed hold of the city for more than 100 years.
3. New Orleans Cemetery Tours
New Orleans is located below sea level, making digging graves, a swampy, impossible feat. This is why tombs in the city’s 42 cemeteries sit above ground instead of below, and it is also what makes the cemeteries in these parts rather eerie.
The New Orleans Cemetery Tours by Ghost City Tours take you through the city’s first cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, home to voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s grave; the Lafayette Cemetery, a popular location for several movies that have been shot in town; and The Old Mortuary Chapel, originally built solely for the blessing of the thousands of yellow fever victims.
But don’t hold your breath — or do, depending on how superstitious you are.
4. Save our Cemetery Tours
Perhaps you’re interested in the darker history of New Orleans, but prefer not to focus on the haunted perspective. Rather, you’d like to take a more historical conservationist approach. The Save our Cemetery Tours offer tours of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.
However, unlike other cemetery tours that aim to fear, these tours have a goal of inspiring. Since 1974, Save our Cemeteries has worked tirelessly to bring the cemeteries of New Orleans back to life, after many have been threatened to be condemned and destroyed.
These tours take place during the day and can be scheduled through the Save our Cemeteries website.
5. Ghost and Vampire Tour
If you’re not a believer in the underworld or even an afterlife, but you like a good scare and story to go with it, then you want to take the Ghost and Vampire Tour conducted by French Quarter Phantoms.
This tour is guided by experienced storytellers who not only know their history, but can create pictures in your mind with their carefully crafted words. During your tour, you’ll be told about Madame LaLaurie and the LaLaurie Mansion as you tour the darkened streets of the French Quarter—a place said to be crawling with spirits.
This “historically accurate fun-filled tour” is full of New Orleans ghost stories and tales of vampires that will leave you questioning or confirming what you already knew to be true.
When your tours are over, if you’d like to unwind in a slightly less-haunted place, Staybridge Suites, located in the French Quarter is sure to give you a restful sleep after a day of experiencing New Orleans haunted side.