Nestled on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River in Southern Louisiana, New Orleans is famous for its rich jazz and blues heritage, delicious Creole cuisine, and attractive colonial architecture. Fondly nicknamed ‘The Big Easy’, the city is a melting pot of cultures drawing on influences from Africa, Native America, France, Spain, and the Caribbean. 

This warm and inviting coastal city is ideally suited to music and food lovers looking for a hit of creativity and culture. Away from the city, the swamps and bayous are home to a dazzling array of native wildlife and offer a welcome escape to nature. 

Take to the Waves on a Mississippi River Steamboat Cruise

There’s no finer way to admire the coastal Louisiana scenery than from a Mississippi River steamboat cruise, and there’s a wide selection of day and evening tours – with meal and live music options to choose from. 

Step aboard your traditional paddle-wheel riverboat as the old-timey sounds of the calliope steam whistle fill the air, and admire spectacular river views from the many vantage points on deck. You’ll cruise out from the Bienville Street wharf in the French Quarter, and pass points of interest like the site of the Battle of New Orleans. And as you gracefully drift downriver, your captain shares insight into the city’s colorful history and heritage. 

Depending on the tour option chosen, you might sit down to a delicious buffet-style lunch or dinner of chicken and sausage jambalaya, bayou seafood pasta, or Creole creamed spinach. During your meal, sip a Mardi Gras-themed cocktail as soulful live jazz from the talented Dukes of Dixieland fills the elegant dining room – to be carried off down the river on the warm Louisiana winds. 

Experience New Orleans’ Cuisine, Cocktails, and Nightlife

Louisiana Creole cuisine blends influences from a whole host of cultures and nations, including West Africa, France, Spain, Native America, and, of course, the southern United States. One of the best ways to get to know the Big Easy is through its fresh and tasty food scene, and a New Orleans culinary and cocktail tour is the perfect recipe.

The experience begins with an informative demonstration class at the New Orleans School of Cooking, where food lovers learn the basics of traditional Louisiana cuisine. Professional chefs prepare well-known Cajun and Creole dishes, with a tasting menu of local specialities such as jambalaya, gumbo, and moreish pralines. 

When the tasting part of the tour comes to an end, it’s time to explore the French Quarter’s bar and restaurant offerings with a guide. You’ll visit a selection of warm and welcoming New Orleans bars, enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife, and stop to sample some of the Big Easy’s most celebrated cocktails.

Discover the Dark Side of New Orleans on a Haunted History Tour

The Big Easy has experienced its fair share of hardship over the centuries – from devastating fires to dramatic shipwrecks and more. By exploring the darker side of the city’s history on a New Orleans ghosts and spirits walking tour or a New Orleans city and cemetery tour, you’ll better appreciate the colorful and vibrant city we see today. 

Follow your knowledgeable guide through ancient neighborhoods such as the French Quarter – or the Vieux Carré – and Jackson Square. Hear spine-tingling tales of haunted hotels and courthouses, visit a former exchange for enslaved people, and discover the relics of ancient voodoo ceremonies. Follow the tracks of the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar downtown, and find out for yourself why New Orleans is widely considered the most haunted city in the US!

Explore the Wild Side of Louisiana on a Swamp and Bayou Tour

A swamp and bayou tour from New Orleans gives you unrivalled access to Louisiana’s watery wilderness. Take a seat aboard an airboat – the best kind of vessel for exploring the marshland, bayous, and open waterways outside New Orleans – and zoom out into the wetlands and swamplands. 

With your expert guide at the tiller, explore the historic fishing village of Jean Lafitte – named after a notorious 19th-century privateer and smuggler – and keep watch for native alligators, egrets, snakes, raccoons, birds, and large river rodents called nutria. As you cruise through the swamps and bayous, gain insight into the coastal erosion damaging this pristine wilderness – and learn of the efforts being taken to protect the vulnerable habitat for the future.

Learn from History on a New Orleans Plantation Tour

From the early 18th century to the end of the American Civil War in the 19th century, slaves harvested crops of sugar cane, cotton, and indigo in Louisiana – to be shipped to trading ports all over the world. The elegant mansions on historic plantations such as Whitney, Oak Alley, and Destrehan have withstood colonial and civil war, Union Army occupation, dereliction, and decay. Today, beautifully renovated to their former glory, the mansions offer valuable insight into the enormous wealth the crops brought to the region – and the unimaginable human toll taken on the slaves. 

Plantation tours from New Orleans shine a sensitive light on the people who were enslaved in antebellum Louisiana, and forced to work the land up until the abolishment of slavery. Depending on the tour chosen, visitors can learn about the German Coast Uprising of 1811 – the largest slave revolt in US history – and gain an understanding of the history of slavery in Louisiana through insightful stories and exhibits.

With Mississippi River cruises and bayou wildlife tours, food-tasting and cocktail-making socials, plus haunted history walks and plantation visits, there’s something for everyone in New Orleans. Add a selection of these tours and adventures into your travel itinerary, and you’re sure to fall in love with Louisiana and the Big Easy.