The Best Cultural Tours of New Orleans

St Louis Cathedral dominates pretty Jackson Square in New Orleans
St Louis Cathedral dominates pretty Jackson Square in New Orleans | © Susanne Pommer / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Chloe Thrussell
Production Assistant7 September 2021
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The bayou-bound Big Easy is brimming with unique cultural experiences – so soak up the charm on one of these best-selling tours. From paddlewheel cruises on the mighty Mississippi to dynamic jazz in tucked-away venues, here are the best bookable offerings in New Orleans.

New Orleans is one of the many magical destinations in our new collection of expertly curated, small-group adventures called TRIPS by Culture Trip. Join us on the four-day adventure to explore the best of the city with a local insider.

Manchac kayak swamp tour with local guide

Golden light of sunset in a cypress swamp in Louisiana | © South Light Exposures / Alamy Stock Photo

The lowlands of Louisiana that surround New Orleans are known for their wildlife, cypress trees and slow currents. Swap the streets for the swamp to fully embrace the natural rhythms of this region, with a scenic kayak tour. The sleepy southern landscape of the Mississippi River Delta is a watery wonderland of sun-kissed marshes and soothing birdsong. Don’t forget your camera.

Food walking tour of the French Quarter

New Orleans French Market | © Rubens Alarcon / Alamy Stock Photo

For a true taste of NOLA, savour the distinctive flavours of the French Quarter on this walking tour. From seafood gumbo to Louisiana Creole brisket, the stomach-rumbling aromas are sure to whet your appetite. During the three-hour tour, you’ll stop at the historic French Market and various foodie venues, as your knowledgeable guide provides culinary insights into the history of the area. A word of advice: you might want to skip breakfast for this one.

Whitney Plantation tour

For a poignant understanding of the regional history, a visit to this former sugar plantation is a must. Now a museum dedicated to promoting an understanding of slavery in the US, the Whitney Plantation provides an eye-opening insight into the lives of those who worked here over the course of its 260-year history. This restored antebellum property is also one of the best examples of Spanish Creole architecture in Louisiana.

Creole Louisiana: a French Quarter walking tour

St. Louis Cathedral | © Susanne Pommer / Alamy Stock Photo

On this unmissable walking tour, experience the Vieux Carré through the eyes of the Louisiana Creoles who originally called it home. This is old Louisiana – you’ll learn about antebellum life and architecture in historic surroundings: St Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, St Louis Cemetery No. 1 and Hermann-Grima House – a quintessential French Quarter residence from 1831 – are all included in the itinerary.

Private three-hour Cajun roux class

This Cajun and Creole cooking class is the perfect hands-on learning experience if you want to take New Orleans flavors home with you. Learn about the importance of the Cajun Holy Trinity – celery, bell peppers and onions – as you create traditional dishes such as gumbo, étouffée and bananas foster under the guidance of a local expert.

Steamboat Natchez evening jazz cruise

Natchez steamboat | © Patrick Civello / Alamy Stock Photo

In operation since 1975, the old-world Natchez is modelled after traditional steamboats that traversed the Mississippi in the 19th century. This scenic cruise is accompanied by live jazz courtesy of Dukes of Dixieland and a Creole-inspired dinner; just sit back and soak up the sunset views and the twinkle of the city skyline on this romantic cruise.

New Orleans jazz tour with live music

Statues in Louis Armstrong Park | © Patrik Urban / Alamy Stock Photo

If you like your history laced with a classic soundtrack, don’t miss out on this nightlife tour of the best live music venues in New Orleans. Visit jazz landmarks such as Louis Armstrong Park and Frenchman Street while passing through the historic neighborhoods of Tremé and Marigny. Your local guide will take you to their favorite haunts; be on the lookout for impromptu street performances on the way.

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