Haunted New Orleans: A Spooky City Guide to New Orleans
When visitors come to New Orleans hoping to get spooked, there’s a good chance they’ll get their chills and thrills on the New Orleans #1 Haunted Ghost, Voodoo, & Vampire Tour. Racking up more than 4,000 glowing reviews, this spine-tingling tour takes travelers on an evening stroll through the darkened alleyways and hushed corners of the city’s famous French Quarter.
At the haunted heart of the tour are master storyteller guides like Taylor, who has been giving travelers goosebumps since 2019. Originally hailing from the south Arkansas Delta, he came to Louisiana for culinary school and connected with New Orleans traditions through his passion for Creole and Cajun cooking.
“Learning about the humble origins of those foods in African American kitchens got me interested in the deeper roots of history in the city, and paranormal folklore as well,” explains Taylor. “As for the tour itself, you can expect to have your skin crawl more than a little bit. I use my stories to illustrate how close mortality can be, and to make you think about what's behind the veil.”
A haunted history of New Orleans
With a reputation for dark deeds and profound paranormal activity, New Orleans is generally hailed as the most haunted city in the US. According to Taylor, both geography and history have made it fertile ground for ghosts and ruffians. “A hostile swamp in the early 1700s was a tough place to live,” he explains. “Hurricanes, fires, floods, plagues, and epidemics ravaged the city ... Sometimes an imprint from a different time gets left on a place.”
Aside from lingering spirits, New Orleans is also celebrated as the stomping ground of vampires. If you ask Taylor, New Orleans is a natural fit for these legendary, bloodthirsty residents. “Like many seeking their fame and fortune in the last few centuries, vampires came to New Orleans looking for something different than the crowded streets of Europe,” he adds.
African voodoo traditions also add to the city’s captivating, multicultural allure. “Many West Africans were brought to our shores during the Transatlantic slave trade, and they tried to keep their culture and religion alive,” Taylor says. “Voodoo and the Catholic faith of the French began to intertwine, and now it's one of the many religions in the city.”
New Orleans’ most haunted attractions.
You can hardly throw a string of Mardi Gras beads without hitting something haunted in New Orleans. Taylor says anyone can ghost hunt with only a smartphone, and suggests Pirates Alley or the Mississippi River right before sunrise for the best chance of documenting spirits. Cemetery tours are a great way to learn about New Orleans’ unusual above-ground burial traditions—born out of necessity since the city sits below sea level. Taylor also recommends contacting the mystical realm with a nighttime fortune telling in Jackson Square, or booking a private reading with the witches at Hands of Fate or voodoo practitioners at Voodoo Authentica.
Don’t-miss spirited establishments.
Have a bite at the Vampire Cafe on Royal Street, featuring specialty “blood type” cocktails and a decadent menu served with gold utensils (to cater to vampiric silver allergies). Try “the green fairy”—absinthe—served dripped over sugar cubes at Pirate’s Alley Cafe, a hidden eatery near the site where real-life pirate Jean Lafitte was once imprisoned. For spirited shopping, Taylor points travelers to Dark Matter oddities shop or Road Kill for fashion fit for a vamp.
Find out what goes bump in the night.
If you dare, book a room at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, considered among the city’s most haunted after a tragic fire swept through what was once a boys’ orphanage during a yellow fever epidemic. “Stay in the back guest houses if you can, but don't call the front desk if you hear kids running up and down the hall or mischievously banging on your door at night,” Taylor warns.
If you have the urge to splurge, stay at the Omni-Royal Orleans for luxury with ghoulish amenities like a rooftop lounge said to be haunted by the ghost of a murderer who threw himself over the railing.
New Orleans’ most famous ghosts.
Of all the ghoulish tales Taylor dishes up on his tours, among his favorites is the legend of the “gentleman vampire” Jacques St. Germain, a mysterious and dashing figure said to have appeared throughout the centuries in Europe and New Orleans. Known for his ageless complexion and lavish dinner parties at which he never ate a bite, St. Germain was accused of attempting to drink a woman’s blood before fleeing the city, leaving only bloodstains in his wake.
Another is the bone-chilling, true crime saga of the New Orleans Axeman, a Jazz Age serial killer who terrorized the city with a string of brutal murders. “If you want to hear the stories, you have to come experience them on the dark streets where they happened,” Taylor adds.
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