While we always recommend a City Tour to get a great overview of New Orleans neighborhoods, history and culture, there are travelers looking to delve deeper into history. Guided walking tours take guests on slow, narrated promenades through the beautiful Garden District, the history-soaked streets of the French Quarter, or fascinating St. Louis #1 cemetery.
While there is inevitably some overlap between the small luxury-coach city tours and more in-depth walking tours, there is so much history in each of these areas that it could never be squeezed into a single tour. Walking tours enable the traveler to soak up the scents of blooming jasmine or pungent gumbos as they take in the neighborhood and imagine its history while remaining firmly planted in the present.
Every person has unique thoughts, loves and likes. Some may be drawn to the old American Sector of the Lower Garden District, its antebellum architecture and, of course, it's visible and hidden gardens. Others drift towards the sultry French Quarter, steeped in history, mystery and its own Spanish-Caribbean-Creole architecture. Regardless of your preferred flavor, licensed local guides--well studied on New Orleans history--open up a world beyond what many knew or expected.
The Garden District - Irish Channel - Lafayette Cemetery
After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Americans began to stream into what was once French--then Spanish, then French again--Louisiana. In New Orleans the Creoles lived on the downriver side of Canal Street--the French Quarter. As both groups looked a bit down on one another and wanted some separation, the Americans settled in the American Sector, now known as the Garden District. Great wealth accompanied the Americans and ostentatious mansions were built which later became home to the rich and famous: authors, movie stars and even football greats. Nestled in the heart of the Garden District (right across the street from the much-loved Commander's Palace restaurant), Lafayette Cemetery is known as one of the more beautiful cemeteries in the city and is incorporated into the tour.
As one of the great and busy port cities of the United States, New Orleans was the first stop for many people immigrating. A great many Irish arrived here and settled in an area near the Garden District, now known as Irish Channel.
The French Quarter
Known as the Vieux Carre (Old Square), the French Quarter was founded in 1718 as the original settlement of New Orleans. The narrow streets are soaked in history and many of the unique homes and buildings of the Quarter are known for their lush courtyards. The New Orleans style of living has always tried to incorporate indoor and outdoor living spaces blended together, hence the beautiful courtyards, patios and verandas that double as outdoor living and dining rooms. You will see and hear about famous St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, as well as the Cabildo, Prebytere and Pontalba buildings and the old Ursuline Convent. Stroll by former residences of writers William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams and hear of the special Creole culture that shaped the city.
St. Louis #1 Cemetery
Amazingly, more than 100,000 burials have taken place in this small cemetery since it opened in 1789. You'll hear about the "different" method of burial here, natural cremation and the reuse of tombs. Many people come to see the tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau but you will also hear of other famous residents; of Storyville--the only legal red light district in the United States--and see the site of the filming of Easy Rider. Part time resident and actor Nicolas Cage recently finished a million-dollar tomb inside the walls and you can find visitors googling the Latin inscription for translation as you move down the narrow lanes between crypts and tombs all the time wondering, "How can 100,000 bodies be interred here?" Take the tour and find out.