Discover the Past: Best New Orleans Cemetery Tours- 2024

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On my latest getaway to New Orleans, I had the chance to dive into something a tad different from a typical attraction – a cemetery tour. I know the idea of traipsing through graveyards might not scream ‘family weekend getaway’, but New Orleans isn’t your typical city, and its cemeteries are anything but ordinary, so participating in one of the New Orleans cemetery tours really should be a part of your trip!

New Orleans is a city brimming with tales, where every corner tells a story, and in this city, the dead have some of the best stories to share. The city’s cemeteries, with their above-ground vaults, are more than just final resting places. They’re historical goldmines, giving us a peek into the past and showcasing the unique blend of cultures that make up this incredible city.

🤩 Planning your New Orleans adventure? Click here to book your combined city and cemetery tour!

Why are New Orleans Cemeteries Above Ground?

And why are they aboveground? Well, it all boils down to New Orleans’ below-sea-level quandary. Early settlers learned the hard way that traditional burials just didn’t cut it here (the bodies float to the top when it floods!). So they adopted these unique burial practices, creating not just a practical solution but a visually stunning landscape that’s as much a part of New Orleans as beignets and jazz.

Thanks to my many years of planning the ins and outs of our family getaways, I get how hard it is to find fun things to do for everyone in the group. You want experiences that are engaging, enlightening, and worth every minute of your precious vacation time. That’s why I did the work to help you find the best cemetery tours in New Orleans. And yes, even though they are a bit creepy, there are several that are totally kid-friendly.

Best Combined New Orleans City & Cemetery Tours

When you are tight on time, a combined city and cemetery tour is perfect for families. This is what we did on our recent New Orleans getaway. We hopped on a small bus with a few other visitors and got to experience the hidden gems scattered throughout the city.

On this particular tour, you’ll see the elegant Garden District, feel the rhythm of Treme, and catch a glimpse of the resilience in the 9th Ward. It’s a chance to dive deep into the heart of New Orleans, cruising along Frenchmen Street, Esplanade Avenue, and beyond, all while soaking up tales that breathe life into the city’s history and culture.

Top 3 Benefits of This City and Cemetery Tour:

  1. Maximize Your Time: This tour is all about getting the most out of your New Orleans visit. Cover more ground in less time and leave no stone unturned—from vibrant neighborhoods to sacred resting places.
  2. Diverse Discoveries: Beyond the jazz and jambalaya, you’ll see the real New Orleans. Each neighborhood tells a part of the city’s story, from its triumphs to its tragedies, making for an eye-opening experience.
  3. Educational and Entertaining: Perfect for curious minds of all ages. This tour blends fun facts, historical insights, and engaging stories to keep everyone entertained and informed.

For first-time visitors or those on a short weekend trip (maybe a combination New Orleans and beach vacation?), this combined tour is a game-changer. Instead of having to choose between soaking up the city’s lively streets and delving into its hauntingly beautiful cemeteries, you get the best of both worlds.

Plus, after experiencing a tour like this you’ll have a good feel for where you’d like to go back to and explore in-depth (this is how I figured out I want to do just a cemetery tour on our next visit). With prices ranging from $55 to $65, it’s an affordable way to explore New Orleans’ rich tapestry of cultures and histories.

headstones in a New Orleans cemetery

2. New Orleans Architectural & Cemetery Tour

If you are at all into architecture as well as history, this would be the ideal combined city & cemetery tour for you. It’s a journey through the architectural marvels of New Orleans, coupled with an intimate look at St. Louis Cemetery #3, and some delightful pit stops that are sure to make your heart (and stomach) full.

The tour guides you into the sacred grounds of St. Louis Cemetery #3, where you’ll get out and explore a bit offering a rare glimpse into the city’s past, encapsulated within the silent stories of its tombs and mausoleums.

Why This Tour Stands Out:

  1. Architectural Focus: Showcases the best of New Orleans’ architectural diversity. You’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for the city’s design heritage.
  2. Cultural Immersion: The visit to St. Louis Cemetery #3 isn’t just about the graves; it’s a lesson in the traditions, beliefs, and histories that define New Orleans (which are super interesting!.
  3. Indulgent Intermissions: What’s a tour without a little treat? Enjoy a serene break in City Park, check out the sculpture garden at NOMA, and cap it off with the world-famous beignets at Cafe du Monde. It’s the perfect blend of culture and indulgence.

Priced between $95 to $100, this tour offers a more comprehensive exploration of New Orleans, making it perfect if you want a little more than a basic overview.

Cemetery in New Orleans from the bus

3. Dead of the Night Ghosts & New Orleans Cemetery Tour

If you’re drawn to the mysteries that linger in the moonlit streets of New Orleans, and the tales of the past that whisper in the shadows, then the Dead of the Night Ghosts & Cemetery Tour is perfect for you. This evening tour invites you into the darker side of New Orleans, blending the eerie beauty of its cemeteries with the spine-tingling thrill of ghost stories, all under the cloak of night.

As dusk falls over the city, this tour takes you beyond the ordinary into the realms of the extraordinary, including the enigmatic St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, where the night adds a layer of mystique to the historical and architectural wonder. You’ll also hear the stories of the Charity Hospital Cemetery and a poignant stop at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial – a sobering reminder of the devastation that occurred during that hurricane not too long ago.

Highlights of the Dead of the Night Tour:

  1. A Night to Remember: Experience New Orleans when it’s most magical—at night. There is nothing spookier than a cemetery at night!
  2. Eerie Exploration: Delve into the haunted history of New Orleans, from its legendary cemeteries to the ghost stories that have been passed down through generations. It’s a thrilling peek into the city’s spectral side, and if you have teens with you they will probably love this creepy aspect.
  3. Culinary Comforts: After a night of exploration and chills, wind down with a stop for coffee and beignets at the iconic Cafe du Monde in Central Park. It’s the perfect sweet note to end on, and you’ll have fun talking about all the spooky stories you heard.

Priced between $110 to $120, this tour is pricier but super cool if your family wants to experience the haunted tales of New Orleans – and I’ve found this aspect to be a good way to get teens interested in a cemetery tour!

Best Standalone Cemetery Tours in New Orleans

Tombstones at a New Orleans cemetery

4. New Orleans St. Louis #3 Cemetery Walking Tour

This is the tour I’ll be taking on my next trip to New Orleans – since we’ve done the city tour, I want to dive into the heart of one of New Orleans’ most storied resting places with the New Orleans St. Louis #3 Cemetery Walking Tour.

This particular tour is a deep dive into history, culture, and the intriguing world of the dead, guided by Sally Asher, a renowned author and historian. Her book, “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans,” brings the stories behind the headstones to life and you’ll be walking through these stories, guided by her expert knowledge.

It’s a cool way to get up close and personal with the past. You’ll meander through the winding paths of St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, absorbing the solemn beauty and chill vibes. Sally will also unravel the mysteries behind the different types of tombs you’ll encounter, from grand mausoleums to humble resting places.

Ever wonder about the stories of the folks buried in cemeteries? I know I do, and Sally’s got the scoop on some of the cemetery’s most notable residents, sharing tales that might just make these stone markers feel a bit more… alive.

Here’s why this tour is a must-do:

  • Walk and Learn: This tour is strictly on foot, offering you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the surroundings. It’s a chance to stretch those legs and your mind at the same time.
  • Expert Insight: With Sally Asher leading the way, you’re not just getting a tour; you’re getting a narrative journey crafted by someone who has dug deep into the cemetery’s history. It’s like walking through a live documentary.
  • Cultural Deep Dive: Understanding the burial practices and tomb architecture gives you a unique glimpse into the cultural fabric of New Orleans. This tour goes beyond the surface, exploring the why and how behind each stone.

This walking tour is super affordable at just $25 – $30 per person!

tombstone in a New Orleans cemetery

5. New Orleans Cemetery Bus Tour After Dark

If you’re intrigued by the tales that dance on the edge of darkness, the New Orleans Cemetery Bus Tour After Dark is your gateway to a world shrouded in mystery and legend. On this tour, you’ll get to explore the haunted heart of the city under the veil of night, where history and the paranormal intertwine.

You’ll board your bus and embark on a journey through New Orleans’ most infamous “haunted” locales. Whether you’re a skeptic or a full-fledged believer in the paranormal, there’s something undeniably eerie about venturing into cemeteries after dark.

Here’s what makes this tour a must-experience adventure:

  • Nighttime Narratives: With a knowledgeable guide at the helm, you’ll be treated to interesting stories that paint a vivid picture of New Orleans’ haunted history and culture. From the eerie to the downright chilling, these tales are enhanced by historical insights that bring the shadows to life.
  • Paranormal Pursuits: Ever fancied yourself a ghost hunter? Here’s your chance. Armed with EMF readers, you’ll delve into the spectral side of the city, seeking out the paranormal signatures that linger in these age-old resting places.
  • Sip and Sightsee: The tour offers a unique twist—guests are welcome to bring their own drinks aboard the bus. Sip your favorite beverage as you cruise from one hauntingly beautiful site to the next, making for a relaxed yet riveting journey through the night.
  • Exclusive Access: Your adventure begins at Odd Fellows Rest, entering the gates of a cemetery that opens its doors to your group alone after dark. It’s an exclusive opportunity to tread where few dare to go once the sun sets.
  • Iconic Stops: Beyond the cemeteries, the tour doesn’t shy away from New Orleans’ other dark gems. You’ll visit the Hurricane Katrina Memorial under the moonlight and even stop for a snapshot outside the infamous Coven House from “American Horror Story,” adding layers of cultural context and eerie excitement to your night.

At $55 to $65 this tour packs a punch since it includes the night aspect as well as a bus tour.

New Orleans cemetery

Tips for Taking Cemetary Tours in New Orleans

Taking a cemetary tour in New Orleans is a truly unique experience. To ensure your adventure is as smooth as it is enlightening, here are a few pro tips:

1. Know the meeting spot & arrival time

Some tours kick off with a bit of local lore right from the start, and you wouldn’t want to miss the opening act. Plus, often they want you at the designated meeting spot fifteen to thirty minutes early, so check your tour details so you aren’t late.

When we did tours in New Orleans, we scouted out the locations ahead of time (just while exploring the city on foot) so we knew how much time we’d need to get to the meeting spots – it made it much less stressful.

2. Understand how much walking you’ll be doing

Given that these tours can cover quite a bit of ground, read the fine print so you’ll know how much walking you’ll be doing. If it’s a lot, make sure you are capable of it, and wear your most comfortable shoes.

3. Check age suggestions if you have kids along

It’s also smart to check if the tour is kid-friendly or if it leans more toward an adult audience, ensuring it matches your group’s vibe. There are plenty of kid-friendly tours in New Orleans – just read the fine print and understand what the kids in your group can handle.

4. Book your cemetery tour in advance

Booking in advance is key—these tours fill up really quickly.

5. Don’t overbook yourself

Here’s a little piece of advice from someone who’s done quite a few tours in New Orleans – limit yourself to one organized tour per day. New Orleans is a city of unexpected wonders, and leaving room for those spontaneous moments can turn a great trip into an unforgettable one.

original structure in New Orleans French Quarter

Beyond the Grave: Other Ways to Experience New Orlean’s Haunting History

If you’re itching to peel back more layers of the city’s haunting history in addition to one of the cemetary tours of New Orleans, don’t worry—the city has plenty more goosebump-inducing experiences up its sleeve.

My first suggestion is to join a ghost tour. New Orleans’ streets are practically a maze of ghost stories, and there are dozens of options to choose from. With a local guide leading the way, you’ll explore the French Quarter’s dimly lit alleys and learn about the spirits that lurk in the shadows of the city’s oldest buildings. A ghost tour was one of the highlights of our last trip to New Orleans.

👻 Book this ghost tour to experience the spooky side of the French Quarter.

If you are on an adults-only New Orleans getaway, the city’s haunted pub crawls are a must. During this type of tour, you can sip on a cocktail while soaking up stories of the bars and spirits (the paranormal kind, that is) that call them home. It’s a social, slightly spooky way to see a different side of New Orleans’ nightlife and maybe make a few friends along the way.

👻 Get your drink on with this Ghost Tour and Haunted Pub Crawl

FAQs About Cemetery Tours in New Orleans

Which New Orleans Cemetery is the best to visit?

All of them are interesting and well worth a visit, but you can’t go into some of them without a guide.

Can you visit the New Orleans cemeteries without a guide?

Yes to some of them, but no to others.

Are New Orleans cemetery tours worth it?

Yes, the cemeteries are so unique and interesting that the tours are well worth it.

How long is a New Orleans Cemetery Tour?

Anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours depending upon the tour.

What is the most visited grave in New Orleans?

Marie Laveau, legendary voodoo queen of New Orleans is in St. Louis Cemetery N. 1

🤩 We love the Kimpton Fontenot when we stay in New Orleans

New Orleans above-ground cemetery

Conclusion: Including New Orleans Cemetery Tours to Your Itinerary

Wrapping up our ghostly gallivant through the crescent city, it’s clear that whether you’re stepping softly through centuries-old cemeteries, listening to tales of the past at dusk, or sipping spirits among spirits on a haunted pub crawl, New Orleans serves up history with a side of the supernatural like nowhere else. My own journey into the heart of the city’s cemeteries was a departure from my typical tourist activities but it revealed a side of the Crescent City that was as enriching as it was unexpected.

In New Orleans, diving into its cemetery tours offers a glimpse into the soul of New Orleans. From the architectural artistry of its above-ground tombs to the vibrant lives of those it commemorates, these cemeteries are chapters in the ongoing story of the Big Easy.

But don’t just take my word for it. With tours aplenty, from the informative and insightful to the downright eerie, there’s a perfect choice for everyone. Remember, booking ahead ensures you won’t miss out on these popular excursions.

So, whether you’re a first-timer looking to soak up as much as possible or a returning visitor eager to explore deeper, the cemetary tours of New Orleans await to unveil the layers of history, mystery, and culture that lie beneath the surface of this unforgettable city. Here’s to discovering the stories that linger long after you’ve left the graveyards behind and to the serendipitous moments that await around every corner in the enchanting city of New Orleans.

New Orleans Weekend Getaway

New Orleans Weekend Itinerary

Visit my Etsy store to get a “done-for-you” weekend itinerary for New Orleans with your teens. All the planning is done for you – just print it out and follow along!



Best New Orleans Cemetery Tours