If you’ve never been on a ghost tour, this might sound silly, but my favorite way to learn about local history when I visit a city is to go on a ghost tour. And who can resist a ghost tour in a city like New Orleans?

A friend of mine who is a seasoned visitor to New Orleans suggested French Quarter Phantoms, so we booked our tickets online (there’s a $4/person discount if you book online) for 8 p.m. on a Friday night in September. There was also a 6 p.m. option, but I wanted to be sure it was good and dark. After all, ghosts don’t generally come out during the day!

History with a dose of ghosts and vampires

In all seriousness, if you haven’t been on a ghost tour before, it’s not all hocus pocus. Chadd probably never have gone on a ghost tour if I hadn’t insisted on it, and he loved it.

Much like my other ghost tour experiences, a great deal of New Orleans history was woven throughout the tour. It’s like a true crime thriller where you get to walk the streets and actually see the houses where the murders took place.

A big difference I noticed between this tour and ones I’ve taken in cities like Savannah and Charleston was the number of stories that involved serial killers. Savannah and Charleston ghost stories focus more heavily on slavery, the Civil War and diseases like yellow fever. Our tour in New Orleans, however, was heavy on serial killers – two of whom were apparently vampires.

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I won’t spoil the stories for you, but I will encourage you to venture out on one of these tours the next time you’re in New Orleans. Our guide, Justin, was fantastic. Our group was large (the city limit of 28), but Justin did a great job projecting and making sure we could all hear him. I never struggled to follow along, and that hasn’t been true on every ghost tour I’ve been on in a big group.

The tickets were easy to purchase online but still required that you arrive a few minutes early to check in at the box office, which is attached to The Voodoo Lounge (on the corner of Orleans Street and Rampart Street), so you’ll want to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early – the added incentive is 2-for-1 hurricanes in the bar, which I’m told only enhance your odds of seeing a ghost.

We purchased online because we were afraid the tours would sell out on a Friday night, but there were plenty of people who were buying their tickets when we arrived. Multiple groups go out at the same time, so it seemed their capacity for any one tour time was fairly large.

Prepare to walk about one mile around the city for approximately two hours. There is a short break midway through the tour where you can avail yourself of a restroom and grab a drink.

Children are allowed on the tour, but we didn’t have any in our group. I did see a child in another group clinging to his mother’s leg. I think this was more fun as an adults-only adventure, but if you want to take your child just be aware that the stories include some pretty graphic details about serial killers and murders – these aren’t campfire ghost stories.

Overall, we had a fantastic experience. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we booked a cemetery tour with French Quarter Phantoms later in our trip. Check back soon for that review!