Last updated on July 26, 2023 by Wandering our World
Fans of supernatural TV series and movies might be intimately familiar with the unique and interesting tales and folklore surrounding New Orleans, Louisiana. In fact, this city has built quite a tourism industry on voodoo and vampires!
New Orleans is a place of history, mystery and some surprising dark tourism sites that are some of the strangest in the USA. No wonder too, as it has its fair share of folklore surrounding the darker side of the town.
We’re not talking about thieves and scammers. We’re talking about the lesser-known attractions that’ll steal your breath away and help you learn more about the city’s diverse culture, but sometimes macabre past.
Most tourists head to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras celebrations, Jazz, and a taste of Cajun Cuisine. The infamous Bourbon Street is rarely quiet, and weekends, whether rain, sleet, or snow, are packed with people throwing beads and trying luck with Hurricane cocktails.
We’ve been there and done that, and it was a blast! But the town breathes a unique odd energy that we feel tourists seldom embrace. Weird? Maybe at times. But who isn’t? And that’s why we’re on the hunt to show you the weird and wonderful New Orleans attractions and dark tourism sites that you have to check out.
So grab our hand, and let’s get exploring.
15 Macabre, Strange & Interesting Dark Tourism Destinations In New Orleans
1. New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Opened in 1972, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum prides itself on offering a unique view into the history that created the famous NOLA culture as its known today.
Voodoo has been given a bad reputation, and while it’s enchanting and sometimes terrifying to think of otherworldly power, Voodoo was ironically used more for good than bad.
Voodoo was initially brought to the Mississippi shores through the slave trade and, over the years, developed a new identity by combining elements of Catholicism and other African beliefs.
It’s more than just bad juju and hexing people you don’t like. It’s about spiritual guidance, healing, and protection.
Of course, you’d have to see it to believe it, and this museum is the perfect way to help you do that! Take a guided tour through their halls and regale you on stories of Marie Laveau and the Haitian Revolution.
They even offer a broader tour where the guides will lead you around New Orleans to other dark tourism sites with significant history. You can learn all about the good that Voodoo was used for, as well as the bad, and finally understand what that little doll with pins your girlfriend keeps hiding is all about!
Location: 724 Dumaine St, New Orleans
2. St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery
St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery is one of New Orleans’ oldest and most significant cemeteries, and now a popular dark tourism destination.
It is the final resting place of many important figures, including the famed Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau. This is far beyond your regular burial ground and gives a unique insight into the burial customs that are prominent in this region of America.
For one, the cemetery lacks underground burial sites. Instead, mammoth mausoleums and tombs take center stage, adorned with intricate decor, carvings, and sculptures. Frankly, if you get past the fact that it’s a graveyard, it’s an understandably beautiful tribute to lost loved ones.
The cemetery can only be visited with a licensed guide, as it is considered sacred, but that’s part of the fun.
You’ll learn about NOLA’s most prominent Creole families and hear riveting stories of ghostly encounters, all while exploring a historic gem of The Big Easy.
Location: 425 Basin St, New Orleans
Tags: Paranormal; Dark History; Grave Tourism
3. Abandoned Jazzland – Six Flags New Orleans
Urban explorers rejoice! Abandoned Jazzland is a paradise waiting to be ventured by anyone brave enough.
Once a source of joy and entertainment for thousands of visitors a year, and part of the famed Six Flag theme parks franchise, kids and adults alike used to flood through the gates to enjoy roller coaster rides and carnival games.
Unfortunately, when Hurricane Katrina struck and left a path of immense devastation, the Six Flags suffered irreparable damage and extreme flooding that forced the site to be abandoned. Now it sits, like some dystopian horror set, a hollow shell of what it was.
Sun and weather damage has taken its toll, and graffiti artists have flocked to turn the abandoned rides and buildings into canvases for their less-than-legal artwork.
It’s a haunting reminder of the tragedy brought on by Hurricane Katrina and evokes a sense of the jeebies when you’re staring a sun-bleached plastic clown figure in the eyes.
Maybe you’ll like it, but we’ve seen IT, and we’re not going anywhere near a Pennywise look-a-like thanks.
Location: Intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 510 in New Orleans
Tags: Dark History; Urban Exploration
4. LaLaurie Mansion
Fans of American Horror Story know the name LaLaurie all too well. Considering the show loosely bases its stories on dark historical moments, you’ll know exactly where this is going.
The Mansion is haunted, to say the least, thanks to the less-than-ladylike behavior of one Madam LaLaurie that resulted in dozens of deaths of house servants in her care. She was a socialite and a serial killer and has left in her wake a building rumored to be cursed.
It’s one of the most famous dark tourism attractions in New Orleans and has had many occupants over the years who’ve admitted to having encountered a few wayward souls.
At one point, Nicholas Cage was even a notable owner, but we guess the frightening appearance of people walking through walls chased him off. We’re kidding. It was financial issues. Good going, Nick.
Now it stands abandoned, with too many superstitions lingering about a curse keeping realtors at bay. Maybe try that cute little condo around the corner. It’s got far fewer roommates to steal your cereal.
Location: 1138 Royal St, New Orleans
Tags: Paranormal; Supernatural; Dark History
5. The Singing Oak
On a less terrifying note, we bring you the Singing Oak.
This beautiful tree is a hidden gem tucked away in NOLA’s City Park and is a living artwork by artist Jim Hart. From afar, it doesn’t look like anything other than a nice shady spot to rest your legs, but when you sit beneath the branches, and a slight breeze whistles through, the Singing Oak begins to chime!
Hundreds of little fixtures have been hung from the branches that give the oak its unique name. It sounds like something whimsical, and the star feature in a children’s novel for that exact reason.
The tree is an unusual feature, but worth a visit if you want to feel like you’re brushing shoulders with gnomes and fairies.
Location: City Park, New Orleans
Tags: Urban Exploration
6. Boutique du Vampyre
Look out, Bella, we’re coming to steal your man!
Boutique du Vampyre is exactly what you’re thinking, a Goth kid’s paradise, selling all the nifty doodads and thingamajigs that’d make you fit that classic vampire aesthetic perfectly.
Opened in 2013 by a self-titled “Vampiress,” this shop has blossomed in popularity amongst tourists who like seeing what drip Dracula would’ve worn in the glory days.
All the unique oddities and novelties sold in the store are hand-crafted by NOLA locals and tie in with the unique history the city has with this particular supernatural creature.
Plus, if you’re interested to hear more about why exactly New Orleans is the base for “Interview with a Vampire,” you can always book a Vampire Tour through the shop and get a guide to take you to NOLA’s most infamous vampire hideouts.
Location: 709 St Ann St., New Orleans,
Tags: Supernatural; Urban Exploration
7. The Mystery of Jackson Square’s Cats
Most residents of The Big Easy know when to call it a night, but if you’re prowling around Jackson Square after sunset, we promise you’re not the only one.
Looking through the wrought iron fences that lock the Place d’Armes at night, you’ll be staring into the furry faces of Jackson Square’s many feline visitors.
Strangely enough, though, it’s not a colony grown out of control but a congregation of cats from all around. You may catch one or two walking around the rest of the Square, but most prefer to stay in this particular region; the weirdest thing is nobody can tell you why they come there.
This phenomenon has been happening for decades, so much so that it’s been hinted at by novelists throughout the years!
It’s by far one of the cutest mysteries of New Orleans, but a mystery nonetheless, and for those of you who adore these fluffy little beasts, you’ll really enjoy finding out.
Location: 701 Decatur St, New Orleans
Tags: Urban Exploration
8. Honey Island Swamp
If New Orleans is synonymous with anything, it’s swamps and bayous. These bodies of water are often associated with garish stories of mystery and horror, and it’s pretty easy to understand why.
The muddy black waters and eery silence make it easy to startle at every movement, but if there’s one swamp in New Orleans to be a bit warier of, it’s Honey Island Swamp.
The term “Swamp Monster” had to have come from somewhere, and rumors of a huge monstrous primate lurking in the backwaters of Honey Island Swamp have kept whispers stirring.
Of course, if you push aside the menacing thought of some bog beast watching you as you idle by on a boat, the swamp is a rather beautiful feat of nature. Just watch out for the gators.
Location: Honey Island Swamp, New Orleans
Tags: Paranormal; Supernatural
9. Muriel’s Seance Room
This esteemed restaurant serves up a mean meal in a building that’s been around since the late 1600s. But with a building that old, there’s bound to be some wayward souls hanging around.
The most famous ghost of the restaurant is Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, a former owner of the building, who, after losing it in a poker match, decided to make it a fitting final resting place.
He’s got his own permanent table reserved on the second floor of Muriel’s, a rather well-decorated seance room. And while not many know of this room, the restaurant staff are happy to show curious onlookers where Jourdan usually hangs out.
Of course, if you feel like dining with the apparition, you’ll be paying an extra service fee. What? Ghosts need to make a living too!
Location: 801 Chartres St, New Orleans
Tags: Urban Exploration
10. Nicolas Cage’s Pyramid Tomb
Don’t worry, the actor isn’t gone yet. Instead, the National Treasure star has decided to pave the way for preparations by slapping a unique little Pyramid Tomb in the middle of St. Louis No.1 Cemetary. There’s no way you’ll miss it!
The pyramid stands out like a sore thumb, just like Cage would in a crowd, amongst the typical mausoleums and tombs.
There’s been no justification yet for why the actor has decided to buy such a unique cemetery statement piece, but who are we to judge? But if you decide to pay the St. Louis No.1 Cemetary a visit, you should keep an eye out for it.
There’s no markings, aside from the ominous latin phrase “Omnia Ab Uno,” which translates to “Everything from One.”, but you’ll be able to identify it by the multitude of lipstick smears across it. Mr. Cage, sir, you’ve got some weird fans.
Location: 425 Basin St, New Orleans
Tags: Urban Exploration
11. The Music Box Village
Located in the Bywater district of New Orleans, sits a miraculous little village. Founded in 2011 by artist Delaney Martin, the Music Box Village is an interactive display that blurs the lines of art, music, and architecture.
From a distance, you wouldn’t think it was much more than a shanty town with rusty tin sheeting and boarded facade, but this interesting collaboration is a group of interactive houses designed to make music.
Not so off-character for New Orleans, now is it?
The space creates an abundance of different genres and is used to host events, workshops, and educational days throughout the year.
It is a popular tourist spot that’s just out-of-the-ordinary enough to make it onto our list. So while not a dark tourism site, it’s definitely odd enough to be worth a visit when in New Orleans.
Location: 4557 N Rampart St, New Orleans
Tags: Urban Exploration
12. The Museum of Death
The Museum of Death in New Orleans is not a dark tourism destination for the faint of heart, and if you’re in any way squeamish, we wouldn’t recommend visiting.
This museum is a rather macabre tribute to gruesome and grisly. It is one of a few of the same name throughout the country that aim not to disturb but rather educate people on that truly uncomfortable topic of death.
It’s filled with all sorts of terrifying memorabilia, including letters from Jeffrey Dahmer, paintings by John Wayne Gacy, crime scene evidence, and a small collection of shrunken heads.
We do urge caution and remind visitors to maybe skip their lunch. But at least you can earn a fun little t-shirt if you faint from all the gory displays… Wear it like a badge of honor. You’re braver than we are!
Location: 227 Dauphine St, New Orleans
Tags: Dark History
13. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Jean Lafitte is a notorious figure from New Orleans history, a scoundrel of a pirate that once called the riverside city home.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a means of putting yourself in his shoes, or at the very least, sitting back and enjoying a drink in one of the USA’s oldest bars.
Obviously, the place has undergone some renovations since the 1800s, but it’s easy to feel as though you’re thrown back in time.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop was considered a cover-up for some of his more illicit activities, which may or may not have included the slave trade. Now it’s just an old reminder of the days of piracy that doesn’t mean downloading the latest Sandra Bullock movie.
Just remember to say hello to the local ghosts. Yes, they have those too, who sip invisible drinks at the end of the bar from time to time.
Location: 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans
Tags: Dark History
14. Old Ursuline Convent
This stunning French Colonial convent has an interesting history that has plenty of twists and turns. Unlike some of the other old architecture in New Orleans, the convent has remained in pristine condition.
It often serves as a function venue that caters to weddings, birthdays, and even corporate parties. It’s beautiful, with sweeping lawns and ornate stylings that’d definitely make for some great Instagram content.
So why are we including it here? Well, the legend of the “Casket Girls” of the Old Ursuline Convent is a well-told ghost story around New Orleans. Initially, the girls came with a single suitcase, a casquette, which soon became twisted by the creativity of some somewhat estranged writers.
The legend states that the nuns had placed full caskets in the attic, only to discover that they had all been opened and the contents removed.
Fearing some unnatural force, they had the caskets nailed shut, and the Pope came to bless the room. In 1972 however, two curious reporters got a bit more than they bargained for after breaking into the attic to find the caskets, only to be brutally murdered and left on the Convent stairs.
Location: 1100 Chartres St #2505, New Orleans
Tags: Dark History
15. The Gates of Guinee
According to Voodoo belief, there are seven gates that must be passed through in order to enter the afterlife.
Upon arrival at each gate, the deceased will meet a “guede” who will guide them to the next gate until they reach their final resting place with their ancestors, known as the “deep waters”.
It’s hardly the torture and torment we might associate it with but requires a certain skill for voodoo witchdoctors to navigate.
Marie Laveau, amongst other practitioners at the time, deeply believed that the Gates of Guinee could be found in and around New Orleans in their physical forms.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where they are, but the belief is that they are scattered amongst the local cemeteries and French Quarter’s Canal Street. Many have tried to decipher their locations, following various tips and maps.
All we know is that the gates clearly hold something powerful, and the caution of voodoo priests and priestesses is messing with the gates can unleash some horrible entities.
You can find maps that hint to their locations in local voodoo shops, it might not be a treasure hunt, but at least you’ll get to see more of New Orleans and its dark tourism sites along the way!
Location: New Orleans
Tags: Dark History; Supernatural