If any city can lay claim to being America’s most haunted city, New Orleans would have to be the one, where the dead are buried aboveground and moss hangs heavy in the live oak trees. Two Civil War soldiers appear in a mansion’s upstairs window, singing an old drinking tune. Heavy footsteps echo in the hallway from a man who was buried alive in the courtyard of his crumbling villa. The sound of a piano plays from a room where there is no piano. A young girl appears in a mirror of a hotel room—but she’s not in the room. Visitors to this fabled city can see the sites of these and other supernatural occurrences on tours of haunted New Orleans.
There are a number of tour operators in the Crescent City; some tours specialize in haunted hotels and bars, other tours focus on cemeteries, while still others traverse the gloomy mansions and villas of the French Quarter and the Garden District. Tours can last from 1 hour to an entire day, and group tours for wedding parties, conventions, and school events can be arranged. Most of the ghost and vampire tours operate in the evening; cemetery and voodoo tours are more likely to occur during the day (cemeteries are usually closed at night—to the living). Reservations are often required, and it’s recommended to call ahead to ask about schedules, group sizes, and other specifics. While some tour operators offer great storytelling and historical information, others emphasize the campier, more theatrical side of ghouls and ghosts.
With almost 300 years of colorful history, New Orleans is one of America’s most unique cities, though much of her history has been dark, turbulent, and bloody. It was a wealthy port for most of its early years, and much of that wealth was derived from the slave trade. It was also the site of numerous deadly epidemics and several devastating hurricanes and floods. All of these contribute to the town’s rich store of macabre tales. From voodoo queens and mansion murder scenes to haunted cemeteries and slave quarters, New Orleans and her ghosts are ready to meet you.
New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau ( 800/672-6124 or 504/566-5011; www.neworleanscvb.com).
Tours: Magic Tours, LLC, 714 N. Rampart ( 504/588-9693; www.magictoursnola.com). Haunted History Tours, 97 Fontainebleau Dr. ( 888/6-GHOSTS  or 504/861-2727; www.hauntedhistorytours.com).
When to Go: Year-round.
$$$ Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St. ( 800/535-9595 or 504/523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com). $$ Le Pavillon Hotel, 833 Poydras St. ( 800/535-9095 or 504/581-3111; www.lepavillon.com).