When Hotels.com asked us to write about New Orleans we decided to go to the dark side. As one of the oldest cities in America and with a diverse and turbulent history of take-overs, disasters, epidemics, voodoo, and slavery it’s not surprising there are so many spooky and unique things to do in New Orleans.
While it’s true that many people visit for the music, food, and festivals, like Mardis Gras, it’s impossible not to take in a little of haunted New Orleans. And, if you’re someone who loves tales of the macabre and ghost encounters or if you consider a tour of a cemetery or voodoo museum a fun activity you have found your haven.
New Orleans is one of the top cities to visit in the USA and is truly one-of-a-kind. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world where there are so many ways to delve into the world of the supernatural.
Eerie, creepy and darkly unique things to do in New Orleans
Visit a Cemetery
If you like visiting cemeteries as we do you’re in luck. New Orleans is famous for its cemeteries, partly because of all the above-ground tombs, due to being below sea level, and partly because many are said to be haunted. Two of the most visited are St Louis Cemetery No 1 and Lafayette Cemetery No 1.
St Louis Cemetery No 1 is the oldest in New Orleans and home to the tomb of Marie Laveau, the famous Vodou Priestess. Some claim to have seen her apparition near her burial site and there’s folklore that says if you knock on her tomb 3 times and mark it with XXX she will grant your wishes.
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 is in the Garden District and is the final resting place for hundreds of victims of Yellow Fever in 1850. The cemetery is so eerie that it inspired Anne Rice to use it as a prominent site in the popular Interview With A Vampire novels.
There are other cemeteries in New Orleans that are worth a visit if you enjoy that type of thing. Visit solo if you dare or seek the safety of a group and go as part of a tour.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Voodoo (correct spelling is actually Vodou) was brought to Louisiana by African slaves as they attempted to retain their culture and religion. The small Voodoo Museum was founded in 1972 by Charles Massicot Gandolfo whose great-grandfather was raised by a New Orleans Voodoo queen.
The building contains an abundance of creepily interesting information and items used in Voodoo rituals. You’ll find voodoo dolls, voodoo charms (called gris-gris), clay jars called “govi” used for storing souls along with many other bizarre artifacts. You can also learn how to make a zombie or buy a love potion or coffin kit.
Location: 724 Dumaine Street
Hours: Open 7 days a week 10 am to 6 pm
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
This interesting and eclectic museum is housed in the pharmacy originally opened in 1816 by Louis Joseph Dufilho Jr, America’s first licensed pharmacist. You’ll see apothecary jars filled with unfamiliar drugs and Voodoo potions, old wheelchairs and eyeglasses and cringe-worthy bone saws and tools for antiquated practices like bloodletting. You’ll also learn how pharmacists used to prescribe drugs like opium and heroin and even thought soda, like Coca-Cola, to have medicinal qualities that explain the soda fountains in many old pharmacies.
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is a fascinating place but as with many historic buildings, there’s also a dark and spooky side. For starters, two of Dufilhos children passed away in the building and their ghosts are sometimes seen playing around the site.
Then there’s the story of Dr Dupas who bought the pharmacy from Dufilho and was believed to have performed experiments and exploratory surgery on women, in particular, pregnant slave women before he eventually died from syphilis. Some say they’ve seen the ghost of Dr Dupas and items moving seemingly of their own accord.
Location: 514 Chartres Street
Hours: Tues-Sat 10 am to 4 pm with tours daily at 1 pm (except Sat)
Escape my Room
Escape Rooms have become popular all over the world but Escape my Room in New Orleans takes it to another level. The rooms here are inspired by the old DeLaporte Mansion including the décor and the escape stories themselves.
Try to find Mrs DeLaporte’s lost treasure in the “Mardi Gras Study”, solve the murder in the DeLaporte music room with the “Jazz Parlour”, save the DeLaporte’s annual ball in the “Inventor’s Attic”, or find hidden smugglers loot in the DeLaporte dark wine cellar with “Smugglers Den”.
Location: 633 Constance Street
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 10 pm
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
This former blacksmith shop turned bar, dates back to 1722 and is one of the oldest running bars in America. It was once frequented by the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte who is said to still enjoy a drink of absinthe at the bar as he often did while strategizing for his smuggling operation.
Over the years the bar has been a favorite haunt to many including local artists in the 40’s and is now a favorite of local residents and tourists. Lafitte is the most famous apparitions but many have said to have seen other spirits as well as a pair of red glowing eyes in the dark corners.
Location: 941 Bourbon Street
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 3 am
Go on a ghost tour
Taking a ghost tour is a must when in New Orleans and there are many to choose from. There are cemetery tours, haunted house tours, tours with a focus on voodoo, witches or vampires and even haunted pub crawls.
Ghost City Tours have consistently great guides and a popular Night Ghost Hunt Experience. The Voodoo Bone Lady covers everything from voodoo to witches and of course ghosts and their storytelling is said to be fantastic. If you want to go with a familiar name Grayline offers a good Ghosts and Spirits Walking Tour after dark.
Shop for some unique gifts
New Orleans is a great place to pick up a few unique gifts and mementos. Self-proclaimed warlocks, Brain Cane and Christian Day are owners of HEX Old World Witchery where you can purchase all kinds of magical products.
Marie Leveau’s House of Voodoo and Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo Shop are both in the French Quarter and offer a multitude of items for the supernatural curious. You can also get psychic readings done on the premises.
The name is a dead giveaway. The Boutique du Vampyre offers up an array of vampire and other un-dead gifts and curiosities. If you’re lucky you may even be invited to a private vampire club
Location: 790 1/2 St Ann Street
Madame Delphine LaLaurie is one of the most notorious figures of New Orleans’s dark past. Known as the “Cruel Mistress of the Haunted House” LaLaurie was said to have held slaves whom she tortured and abused. After a fire broke out in the kitchen firefighters found several slaves chained in the upper part of the mansion in deplorable condition. The sheriff took no action against LaLaurie so the townspeople attacked the house but Delphine had already fled to the safety of France.
Over the last 200 years the mansion has been home to apartments, where one resident was brutally murdered, and a girls school where many of the young girls claimed to be assaulted by a phantom woman. The story of Delphine LaLaurie was also recently portrayed by Kathy Bates in a season of American Horror Story.
Today, the LaLaurie Mansion is a private home but it’s still a top stop for ghost tours in New Orleans although it can only be viewed from the outside…maybe that’s a good thing?
Location: 1140 Royal Street
Stay in a Haunted Hotel
New Orleans is full of “haunted hotels” just dying to have you as a guest and test your bravery. The Hotel Monteleone has the impressive Carousel Bar as well as generations of ghost stories revolving around children who died in the hotel and long-past hotel employees still going about their business.
Dauphine Orleans Hotel has been the focus of paranormal research and documented letters detailing ghostly sightings. One of the frequently seen spirits has been named the “Lost Bride” due to the belief that Millie, a young girl whose fiance was killed the morning of her wedding, still roams the rooms in her wedding dress in search of her lost love.
If staying in a hotel haunted by a serial axe murderer sounds like fun check into the Haunted Hotel on 623 Ursulines Avenue. Not only does the “Axe Man” pay frequent visits but so does Maime, the past owner who died in her bed.
There are many more hotels in New Orleans with bone-chilling stories but if staying in one doesn’t appeal to you think about just stopping in for a look. Then go to Hotels.com to look for a place with a little less of a story.
Muriel’s Seance Lounge
Once a grand residence, Muriel’s at Jackson Square is now home to a restaurant, bar and the iconic Seance Lounge as well as at least one prominent spirit.
The main ghostly resident is the previous owner, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who committed suicide in the house. The current owners even set dinner for Jourdan daily. Seances are held to contact Jourdan and the other specters that are said to inhabit the building or you can arrange for your own private reading.
Aside from being a supernatural attraction, the lounge makes a cozy spot for a cocktail with moody lighting, red décor, plush sofas and ethereal music.
Location: 801 Chartres Street
Hours: Open 7 days a week for brunch, lunch, and dinner
Old Absinthe House
For over 200 years the Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter has been serving up drinks to locals, visitors and even famous people like Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum, and Oscar Wilde. It’s also said that Pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson used the upstairs rooms to plan a strategy for the Battle of New Orleans against the British.
As with many of the buildings in New Orleans, there are numerous accounts of ghosts roaming the rooms, doors opening and closing and objects moving around the bar on their own plus disembodied voices and laughter. Two of those ghosts are said to be Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson themselves.
Location: 240 Bourbon Street
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 9 am to very late
Pin It For Later
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.