Planning a trip to New Orleans?
It's Jason with Carltonaut's Travel Tips. New Orleans is the perfect place to tell ghost stories. Between the voodoo shops of the French Quarter and the above-ground cemeteries throughout the city, it's easy to talk of ghosts, mysteries and haunted houses.
But is a New Orleans ghost tour appropriate for kids?
Last time I was in New Orleans, I booked a haunted history tour of the French Quarter for about 20 people – we were all there for a work conference. One of my colleagues brought his pre-teen daughter with him. She seemed about the right age to handle a tour like this.
But it got me thinking – how young is too young for this type of tour?
Here's what you can expect on the tour. Then you can decide if your child will enjoy it, without nightmares for months to come.
If you do a Google search for a New Orleans ghost tour, you'll find several options. Some specifically say they cater to kids or teens – as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Do your research and find one you like with good reviews from families. I chose to book with Haunted History Tours.
It's best to book your tour online in advance. Some tours allow same-day, onsite registration. But you run the risk of the tours being full and you're left to tell your own spooky stories on the streets of New Orleans.
A daytime tour may be less intimidating for some children. Location is a factor as well. The French Quarter has a lot of places that look like haunted houses you'd see in movies. Above-ground cemeteries may be too chilling for some children.
We chose the French Quarter Ghost and Legends Tour. It was a walking tour that started in the evening and lasted two hours. Other tours may focus on cemeteries, vampires, voodoo or the Garden District. They may be walking tours, bus tours or a combination.
Related: Tips for Visiting the WWII Museum in New Orleans
What to Expect
Our 2-hour Haunted History Tour through the French Quarter started at 8 PM. We were asked to meet at a voodoo shop at 7:45.
Once gathered, we headed to an alleyway behind St. Louis Cathedral. After getting the rundown of rules, our guide told us stories about duels, and how the sounds of clanking swords can still be heard today in the square. We quickly learned that the focus of our tour was history, with a dash of haunted.
During the next two hours, we wandered through the streets of the French Quarter hearing ghost stories. There was a lot of variety in the stories – some playful, others disturbing – but it was difficult to stand for so long. We had been working all day. Some of our group left the tour early.
The LaLaurie Mansion
Our tour wrapped up at the famous LaLaurie Mansion.
I was expecting to hear stories of ghosts. Instead, we learned about how evil Madame LaLaurie allegedly tortured slaves. It was disturbing, and I'm not sure my teenage son would've slept that night. He's a little sensitive about stuff like that.
We listened to the history of the mansion for about 30 minutes before the guide thanked us for booking the tour and we headed back to the hotel.
Will You See Ghosts?
Probably not. This isn't an episode of Ghost Hunters.
Our tour guide did not have special equipment to help us see or hear ghosts. He was a storyteller and historian. We learned interesting facts about New Orleans and some of the stories made my skin crawl.
It was fun, and even a little educational, but we did not experience anything paranormal.
Is a haunted history tour of New Orleans appropriate for your kids? Here are four questions you might ask yourself.
- Can they stand on their feet listening to stories and history for two hours?
- Will they get scared when people talk of ghosts and other spooky things?
- How will they handle stories of human torture, murders, and crimes?
- Will they handle being out until 10 PM without breaking down?
I thought that this tour was interesting and fun, but it's not for everyone. Some history-loving kids will really enjoy this New Orleans ghost tour, and some really will not. I hope that my experience gives you the information you need to make the right call for your family.
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