During Family Days Out time in New Orleans, we visited the Historic Voodoo Museum and St Louis Cemetery No 1 with Island of Algiers Tours, and what an adventure it was.
When we first arrived in New Orleans, we knew that high on our list of places to visit were the Historic Voodoo Museum and St Louis Cemetery No 1, and luckily for us we found Island of Algiers Tours who cater for both.
There is so much history in this incredible city, that it is always an advantage to meet with someone who knows it inside out, and can offer a truly authentic experience. And we met "Nu Awleans" Nate!
Let's start with the Historic Voodoo Museum. This small but charming museum is probably the most authentic interaction with the "voodoo" history you could have in the Big Easy.
Not really suited to the younger children (with human skulls and alligator heads adoring the exhibits), the Historic Voodoo Museum really packs in everything you could want to know about the history of voodoo, and even the connection with West Africa. Much of what we learnt might just surprise you!
Nu Awleans Nate gave us the deluxe tour, and was every bit of charismatic that you would want from a tour guide in the Deep South. He was witty, knowledgable, charming and just drew the attention of everyone who came into the museum.
The exhibits span the origins of voodoo, and what it means to the local culture and heritage, with a number of artifacts focusing on Marie Laveau - the Queen of Voodoo as she is known in the region.
There really are only two exhibit rooms in the museum, but we couldn't fit more in if we tried! There are information sheets next to most of the artifacts, and these really help with understanding it all.
Before you move on, make sure you spend time in the gift shop. From voodoo dolls, to tarot cards and spells, it's almost as interesting as the museum itself! (And you can get your tarot read if the psychic is in!)
Once we were finished in the museum, we began the trek to St Louis Cemetery No 1 on foot, with Nate leading the way, via some key points of interest.
Our first pit stop was the site where Marie Laveau's house once stood (you will find it by the plaque!), and here is a great spot to ask even more questions that you might have on the infamous Marie and her history.
Next stop was Congo Square, an open space that really was instrumental in the history of African American music. Nate explained to us that this was the place where both enslaved and free African Americans gathered during the 19th century, and the drumming and the singing formed the foundations of jazz as we know it today.
Whilst the en route exploration is normally longer, we were pressed for time so we moved straight to St Louis Cemetery No 1 after Congo Square, and what an iconic New Orleans attraction this is.
Most people know the image of those grand above ground mausoleums, and at St Louis Cemetery No 1, that's exactly what you experience. You were able to visit independently in the past, but now the laws have changed so you do need a licensed tour operator to take you in - and Island of Algiers Tours is of course one of them!
The tour around the cemetery is super relaxed, and Nu Awleans Nate's >
If you see a giant white pyramid - ask about the strange Hollywood connection!
Here's a tip when at the cemetery - take sun protection! There wasn't really any shade, and because the cemetery shuts at 3pm, most of the tours are going to be in the heat of the day.
Whilst we only enjoyed the one tour with Island of Algiers Tours, they do offer more. You can join the 3 or 5 hour Gumbo tour, and they also have a tour that takes you to the oldest African American community in the entire USA.
Watch this space though, because they are going to start tours geared towards kids very soon!
For more details on their tours, check out their website
When you book - say hi to Nate for us!