Ian Dagnall / Alamy
Hadi Ktiri
December 15, 2014

Every now and then I get stuck in a rut.  Each week it’s the same restaurants and the same bars.  I walk down the same streets in the same neighborhoods.  There’s nothing wrong with having a routine, but sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit…and I’ve found that there is no better way to do that then to take a guided tour.

 In New Orleans there are dozens of tours all offering a unique experience in the city.  But the truth is, many of them are contrived, poorly researched, and sometimes downright boring.  Happily, though, this isn’t always the case; in fact, many tour guides in NOLA are brilliant.  Those at the top of their game are entertaining, impressively knowledgeable, and full of insights that even locals don’t have. A good friend of mine, Brian Huff—who also happens to be fantastic tour guide—turned me on to some of the tours on this list; he really knows what he’s talking about.

The Racontours Garden District Tour

The extraordinary man who leads this tour, known only by the moniker “Tree,” is the epitome of what a great guide should be. His fascinating tour starts in the morning and meanders among the gorgeous antebellum mansions of the Garden District; it also takes in the historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. The excursion concludes with a delicious lunch at the famous Commander’s Palace.

Ernie’s Tours Cemetery Tour

It’s the guide that really makes a tour great… and this trip through the city’s old St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is made extra special by the knowledge and passion of Ernest Sylvester (who has run Ernie’s for a decade). Accompany him through the rows of tombs, and you’ll learn about the historic locals buried here, as well as a sinister truth about why New Orleanians are always buried above ground. 

New Orleans Streetwalkers Boos! and Booze Tour

Another fantastic example of a guide making the tour is Brian Huff’s Boos! and Booze Tour. His itinerary leads you on an adults-only, cocktail-fueled tour through the haunted highlights of the French Quarter. You’ll hear some of the city’s spookiest ghost stories, and visit the sites where they took place.

Grayline Cocktail Walking Tour

If it’s cocktail history you crave—and why wouldn’t you, here in New Orleans?—then book this walking tour with Joe Gendusa, easily one of the most jovial and experienced guides in the city.  This walking tour explores the famous cocktails of New Orleans and the bars that make them.  Just remember, with cocktails, it’s a marathon, not a race.

Confederacy of Cruisers

There are few better ways to explore the city outside the French Quarter than on a bicycle. This tour supplies you with a tuned-up bike, and then leads you through the eclectic neighborhoods of Faubourg-Marigny and the Bywater.  After this outing you will be an expert on where to eat and what to do in these less touristy parts of New Orleans.

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