Best New Orleans Guided Tour 2024 1
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Best New Orleans Guided Tour 2024

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Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect New Orleans guided tour day! Though I have never lived in New Orleans, my mother was from the city. And her mother’s family has lived in New Orleans for over 150 years.

So I feel entitled to think of myself as partially a local and I know how to plan a morning-to-night New Orleans guided tour day.

And the first thing any local knows is that if you want to listen to jazz in New Orleans, you shouldn’t go to Bourbon Street. Head to Frenchmen Street instead for some fine music at all hours.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: New Orleans Guided Tour

#1 TOP PICK

Best New Orleans Guided Tour 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
FRENCH QUARTER FOOD TOUR
✔️ New Orleans has the best food
✔️ Amazing bang for your buck

#2 PICK

Best New Orleans Guided Tour 2024 3

JAZZ TOUR
✔️ Unique experience
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

Best New Orleans Guided Tour 2024 4

ALL OTHER NEW ORLEANS TOURS
✔️ Choose your favorite tour
✔️ Find the best deals

New Orleans guided tour day

On my most recent trip to the Big Easy, I didn’t have so much time to spend exploring. That’s why I suggest doing all an day tour featuring food and jazz!

The morning part of the tour is a food tour in the French Quarter, and the evening part is a jazz tour on Frenchmen Street.

You can read all the five star reviews for the food tour right here!

You can read all the five star reviews for the jazz tour right here!

In the middle, I’ll take you on a self guided cocktail tour. We’ll have so much fun, you won’t believe it.

New Orleans guided tour day

Morning: French Quarter Food Tour

The French Quarter is the most famous historic neighborhood in New Orleans. It’s also an excellent place for a food tour. There are so many tourist traps in the French Quarter, and a good guide can efficiently help you avoid a disastrous meal.

I estimate that there are currently a flobbityjillion food tours running in the French Quarter, but I strongly recommend the French Quarter Food Tour.

This tour does an excellent job of leading you to more obscure, local stops instead of the famous places that everyone already knows about. (Often those famous places are also delicious! But we’re trying to be adventurous here, Internet Stranger.)

Check tour rates and availability by going here!

I don’t want to give away all the fun facts and secrets I learned on this New Orleans guided tour day. But I will whet your appetite with…

approximately top 5: french quarter food

new orleans guided tour day
1) beignets at the french market!

The first stop on the New Orleans guided tour day was the French Market for beignets. The French Market is the oldest public market in America. Right now it’s divided into two places.

One is the more touristy part where you can get tacky T-shirts and things I’m sure no reader of this blog would ever purchase. The other is where you can buy delicious food and cool local souvenirs. I’m sure I know which part you’d prefer!

We started our day right with some beignets, fried squares of dough topped with a psychotic cloud of powered sugar. Never wear black when you’re eating a beignet.

I’ve eaten all manner of beignet in my life, but these were special. They were the first beignets I had ever eaten that were stuffed with pralines. This is a beautiful idea whose time has most definitely come. And you can’t enjoy a New Orleans guided tour day without beignets.

new orleans guided tour day
2) man bites alligator

Our next stop was for one of the most local treats possible in New Orleans: alligator bites. Alligators are quite plentiful in the swamps of Louisiana. (Unlike crocodiles they don’t usually eat people. I mean, unless you are tiny, like a toddler.) The meat is very lean, so usually chefs add pork fat to the alligator meat to make it delicious enough to live to New Orleans standards.

It’s very hard to find alligator outside of Swamp Country, so I urge you to snack on it when you get the chance. I promise you’d never know it was alligator unless someone told you!

new orleans guided tour day
3) gumbo time!

When you’re enjoying a New Orleans guided tour day, you just have to indulge. That’s why there’s no point in getting just one gumbo. I insist you chow down on three! We feasted on the gumbo sampler, which included a seafood, a chicken, and a turkey special. Gumbo is a traditional stew in New Orleans.

The first thing you will notice about gumbo is how thick it is. There are two main ways of thickening your gumbo. You can use a vegetable called okra, or you can use file powder, made from ground-up sassafras. (PS. Sassafras is a fun word to say.) My mom usually made gumbo with file powder because it’s easier to keep on hand than fresh okra.

Whether you’re making a meat, seafood, or even vegetarian gumbo, you can’t forget the Holy Trinity. These are the three vegetables you find in almost every savory Louisiana dish: peppers, onions, and celery. I’m pretty sure they send the Ursuline nuns after you if you forget the Holy Trinity. And nobody wants to make a bunch of nuns angry!

new orleans guided tour day
4) a muffu-whatta?

We’ve already had beignets, alligator, and gumbo, so it’s time for another New Orleans classic: the muffuletta sandwich.

Many people think that New Orleans was entirely settled by the French, but in fact many ethnic groups, like my Irish ancestors, contributed to the development of the city. And it’s the Sicilians we have to thank for the beautiful muffuletta.

A proper muffuletta is made on a special type of round, sesame-dotted bread. You stuff it with various Italian meats and cheeses, top the whole thing with a tangy olive salad, and voila! You got yourself a muffuletta, cher! The most famous muffuletta is at Central Grocery, but I was happy that this food tour stopped at another instead. They make a warm muffuletta, which I had never tried before.

This is also a family-run business, so I got to meet some of the assorted relations and hear them gently rag on each other as they make their sandwiches. That’s how we express love in New Orleans: hot food and mild insults.

new orleans guided tour day
5) pralines!

It’s not a proper trip to New Orleans without the local candy. Pralines look kind of like cookies, but there’s no flour in them. They’re made with butter, brown sugar, and pecans. The original pralines came from France, but there they are made with almonds. Almonds don’t grow in Louisiana, so the Creoles had to adapt and use the local pecan. They’re a total immigrant food.

We picked up the pralines at a famous local candy company. They’ve been around for over a century, and you can still watch them making pralines in the back of the shop.

My guide, Butch, said they save this stop for last because if people are too full to eat something else, they can always save the praline for later. But I needed to open mine right away and eat it so that I could get the perfect photo for this blog post. Everything I do is for you, Internet Strangers!

24 Hour Tip

That’s it for the food tour! If you think this is a great part of a New Orleans guided tour day, and you want to get all its secrets, go on ahead and check it out.

Check rates and availability by going here!

new orleans guided tour day

Afternoon: New Orleans Cocktail Tour

Now that our bellies are full, it’s time on the next part of our New Orleans guided tour day to use all that food to soak up some NOLA booze! This self guided cocktail tour will take you through 5 of the best cocktails New Orleans has to offer. (Think 5 sounds excessive? Then you’re not getting into the proper New Orleans spirit yet!)

Now, the cocktail probably wasn’t invented in New Orleans, no matter what the city’s bartenders tell you. But bartenders have been mixing drinks in the Big Easy for almost two hundred years, so there’s more cocktail lore in the town than you can shake a swizzle stick at.

three very fun facts: new orleans cocktails

new orleans guided tour day
1) what do the locals drink?

Some locals will tell you they don’t drink in the French Quarter. But when they do, they’ll stop at this hidden gem Molly’s at the Market. There’s no screaming topless girls on Spring Break here, just a quiet-ish bar where friends can hang.

The signature drink here is the frozen Irish coffee, the world’s most addictive adult milkshake. As I mentioned, my family is Irish from New Orleans, so I’m just going to go ahead and assume that my great-great grandfather invented this drink.

new orleans guided tour day

After Molly’s, I stopped at a different local bar for the much less labor intensive whiskey and coke. This is what a lot of locals would sip on after work with their pals while watching the Saints play.

Notice that the drink comes in a plastic cup. That’s so you can take it with you when you walk down the street! New Orleans is one of the few open carry cities in the United States, and any restaurant on your New Orleans guided tour day will let you get your drink to go. Let the good times roll!

new orleans guided tour day
2) what are some classic Nola cocktails?

Man, are you in luck on this New Orleans guided tour day if that’s the kind of question you’re interested in! Any discussion of New Orleans cocktails needs to begin with a Sazerac. This was probably the first New Orleans cocktail. (And it was definitely invented in New Orleans.)

The Sazerac is made like an Old Fashioned, with whiskey, sugar, and bitters. The difference is that with a Sazerac, you add an absinthe rinse that gives the drink a slight licorice taste.

You might be asking where the word Sazerac comes from. Was the drink invented by a M. Sazerac? Mais non! It used to be made using Sazerac brandy. But nowadays the whiskey version is a lot more common.

If you want to get a little classier, try a French 75, made with champagne, gin, lemon juice, and sugar. It’s like champagne for people who want to get real drunk, real fast.

new orleans guided tour day

I got the French 75 at Antoine’s, which is probably the most famous place in New Orleans to sip on this cocktail. I put my drink in a go-cup while I browsed the hidden rooms in the back of Antoine’s containing their wine cellars and assorted Mardi Gras memorabilia.

At least, I hope that I really went to these rooms and actually saw those things and I didn’t just hallucinate them. (That French 75 is a powerful drink.) At a certain point I feel sure I saw a giant snail on the wall, and that doesn’t seem possible to me.

new orleans guided tour day

Or is it…?

new orleans guided tour day
 3) help! What do I do about my hangover?

An excellent question Internet Stranger! And we’re about to head to Frenchmen Street for some jazz, so you need to clear your head right away. For the last drink of the New Orleans guided tour day, let’s grab a Ramos Gin Fizz. It’s made with gin, orange blossom water, egg whites, and heavy cream. (It was also invented in New Orleans, naturally.)

This is the most thrilling drink to watch because the bartender has to shake vigorously until it turns into a snow-white, boozy volcano.

I don’t know if the Ramos Gin Fizz actually cures hangovers, as the bartender claimed it did. But I do know that I consumed five cocktails on this tour, and I didn’t even have one hangover the next day. Thanks Mr. Ramos!

new orleans guided tour day

Evening: Frenchmen Street New Orleans Jazz Tour

There’s no better place to spend an evening of A Day in New Orleans than around Frenchmen Street listening to jazz. But if you’re not a local, it’s hard to keep up with the coolest spots and the newest musicians. That’s why I wanted to take the New Orleans Jazz Tour. This way I could hear the latest stuff with someone who’s actually paid to find out what the latest stuff is.

Check tour rates and availability by going here!

Now, it’s hard to blog satisfyingly about a music tour because I can’t exactly pull your head through my computer screen so you can hear the same music I heard. But I certainly can share with you…

three fun facts: jazz and frenchmen street

new orleans guided tour day
1) how was jazz invented?

Jazz got started in New Orleans, naturally. Enslaved people in New Orleans were allowed to take some free time on Sundays, and many of them gathered in a place called Congo Square to play music. This music used a lot of improvisation, just like jazz does today.

Today, Congo Square has been turned into Louis Armstrong Park. Mr. Armstrong is the greatest and most famous jazz musician who ever lived, and he was from New Orleans. He left the city because of segregation and ended his days in my hometown of New York City.

Nowadays, New Orleans names just about everything in the city after Mr. Armstrong, including the airport. If only he could still be alive to see it.

new orleans guided tour day

One of our Louis Armstrong stops was in the Hotel St. Pierre. There’s a sign here showing visitors that Mr. Armstrong once spent the night here. Usually only presidents get signs like that, which just shows you how big a deal Louis Armstrong is in the Big Easy.

The Hotel St. Pierre has cookies out for its guests, but my guide Kiaser told me that I could have one. I gotta say that any New Orleans guided tour that includes cookie theft is aces in my book!

new orleans guided tour day
2) so where’s a good jazz place on frenchmen street?

There are about a million good places on Frenchmen Street! One of the reasons for this is that cover bands aren’t allowed on Frenchmen Street. Any band that plays on Frenchmen Street has to play their own stuff. So if you want to hear covers, you’ve got to go back to the French Quarter. But why would you want to do that? Aren’t you cool, Internet Stranger?

It’s hard to know exactly when each show is going to stop and start on Frenchmen Street. You just have to wander around a bit and see which places have music on at which times.

I was happy that we stopped at a place with food, which is not true of every club on Frenchmen Street, as well as live music. So I got to snack on a giant plate of oysters (not included with the price of the tour) while listening to some dudes in porkpie hats sing about Storyville.

If Congo Square was where jazz was born, Storyville was where it developed. Storyville used to be the red light district of New Orleans. There was a stuffy city alderman named Sidney Story who wanted to move all the prostitutes and other scofflaws to a designated district. He was successful, but to his dismay, the waggish citizens of NOLA named the area “Storyville” in his honor.

Naturally something needed to be done to entertain the gentlemen who were waiting for their designated ladies of the evening. And that entertainment? Jazz music of course. So if you ever read newspapers from the 1920s and wonder why people were calling jazz immoral, now you know.

new orleans guided tour day
3) is there an artist community in new orleans?

It certainly seemed that way! Kiazer was an artist, not a jazz musician, but he still seemed to know everyone we met on the tour. We stopped in for a show at another fine club, even though it’s not exactly on Frenchmen Street.

The band performing that night was fronted by a very charming young local lady. At the end of the show, she came over to chat with us about the show. I asked Kiaser how he knew her, and he explained that they used to be engaged. That’s not the sort of experience you can have on just any jazz tour!

new orleans guided tour day

At the end of the tour, Kiaser took me to the Palace Market on Frenchmen Street. It’s the best open air art market in the city, and we talked to some of his friends who were selling their work there.

You can get anything from jewelry to lamps to skincare products. But I ended up getting my own free piece of artwork because Kiaser drew this chalk head for me as a way of saying thanks for taking the tour.

24 Hour Tip

And I’m sure you’ll get your own if you take the tour with him as well! If you want to try the experience for yourself, just go ahead and book the tour!

Check rates and availability by going here!

new orleans guided tour day

Where to Stay?

New Orleans is the kind of city where you want to splurge a little on your hotel. After all, the motto is “laissez les bons temps rouler”, and nothing makes the good times roll faster than a little luxury. Plus it’s easier to take advantage of the New Orleans nightlife if you’re in a centrally located hotel, and those are a bit pricey.

I recommend the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It’s located right in the French Quarter, but it’s not crazy expensive. The rooms are comfortable and beautiful. Plus, the hotel is haunted! What more could you want for a New Orleans guided tour day

If you want something a little less expensive, on the north end of the French Quarter, try the Homewood Suites by Hilton French Quarter. This hotel is a little bit more of a walk from the main attractions in the French Quarter, but the rooms are massive and comfy, and the price is definitely right.

Finally, I recommend the Le Pavilion Hotel. It’s got an amazing location in the Central Business District which is within walking distance of the French Quarter, but not as noisy. It’s in a gorgeous historic building. Plus they have a free peanut butter and jelly spread every night. What more could you want?

If you’d rather find great deals for tons of other hotels in New Orleans, go here.

This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your time in New Orleans. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

new orleans guided tour day

That’s a A Perfect New Orleans guided tour day

What would you like to do on a New Orleans guided tour day? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in New Orleans now? Have you ever met a tour guide’s fiancee? And what’s the penalty for stealing cookies from a historic hotel? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just try here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY try a perfect New Orleans guided tour day.

If you’d prefer a different experience, try this one day in New Orleans itinerary. And if you’d rather add a day with the historic Treme neighborhood, add what to do in Treme New Orleans LA. Fall for the best New Orleans food walking tours.

On top of that, we have a day of New Orleans fun things to do. Go for the best walking tour of Garden District New Orleans. Get on the best New Orleans swamp and plantation tours. How about trying 24 hours in New Orleans? And you can even follow the New Orleans schedule Saints travel tips.

Best New Orleans Guided Tour 2024 5

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