Regardless if the Big Easy is calling your name for your first (or zillionth) Mardi Gras, or if you’re just planning a trip any time of year, there’s no doubt that New Orleans has a mighty rich history. Taking a stroll through its colorful streets past sundown, you might feel the spirits in the air — or so the city's rich lore might encourage you to believe. For the brave, consider visiting these historic landmarks with dark, twisted, and scary backgrounds known to provoke goosebumps among visitors (who believe in that kind of thing).
1. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Not only is it touted as the scariest place in the city, but it’s reportedly the most haunted cemetery in the entire country. Gulp. Among those buried here are the town’s first black mayor, Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, chess pro Paul Morphy, and voodoo legend Queen Marie Laveaus. So they say, the queen strolls in the cemetery, dressed in carnival style with a red and white turban while humming along a curse that is so loud, people can hear it streets away. And when she isn’t dressed to (literally) kill, the New Orleans Secret Society says her soul can appear as a cat with red eyes — and should this creature come your way, it’s in your best interest to walk away. Legend has it that if the cat sees your back, you’ll be cursed forever. Among the cemetery's ghost stories is the one about Alphonse. Apparently, this spirit of a young man will grab your hand and introduce himself, and then start to lead you around the graves, asking if you can help him out because he’s lost. He’s a sad kind of guy, and might start crying and then disappear, or warn you to stay away from certain tombs.
2. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Especially if you booked a flight near Mardi Gras (or you picked NOLA for your college Spring Break destination), you likely spent a lot of time on one special lane: Bourbon Street. With an open-container law that’s pretty, uh, permissive, it’s hard not to have a fun time when you’re downing some local brews. However, inside one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter is a shop with a sinister story: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. The most popular ghost that haunts? The owner, Jean Lafitte. He’s best known for his part in helping protect the Big Easy during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and for being a pirate. The rumor mill says the ghost spends his time lounging by the fireplace. He doesn’t wreak havoc, but can’t seem to leave, along with a female ghost that takes her haunting to the second floor, though no one can attest to her identity. Another tale? You might spot a pair of mysterious glowing red eyes while you’re there too — so consider yourself warned.
3. The LaLauire Mansion
Arguably one of the most haunted places in all of the city is LaLaurie Mansion, located in the heart of the French Quarter. It’s a well-known and frequented spot for ghost-hunters, looking to get a thrill from what they might encounter while visiting this Southern hotspot. Listen to how the mansion got its name: Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her husband Leonard, built the house in 1832, but they didn’t have the most kind of intentions. The family enslaved immigrants and didn’t treat them fairly, so much so that when a fire broke out in 1834, the bodies of malnourished and ill-treated slaves were discovered. In retaliation, the slaves haunt the mansion, hundreds of years later, with many reports of strange noises, visions, and apparitions of those who died at this household.
4. The Gardette LaPrete House (Sultan’s Palace)
Even if you’re a huge NOLA fan, there’s a chance you haven’t heard of the Gardette LaPrete House. It’s actually usually referred to as "Sultan’s Place," due to some of the ghost stories surrounding this old beauty on Dauphine Street. So, what’s the scoop? Legend has it that way back when in the 1800’s, an unknown man arrived in New Orleans, along with attractive women and slaves. Since he needed a place to live, he selected Sultan’s Palace and he outfitted it with worldly, luxurious linens and homegoods, since his brother was the Sultan of Turkey. Though everything was seemingly hunky-dory, on the night of a terrible storm, everyone was brutally murdered, with bodies being severed and the strange man was rumored to be buried alive. This tale might not have a ton of historical facts available for backup (some locals say it’s actually Civil War soldiers who haunt the grounds), but it sure does make for an epic fireside chat.
5. The Hotel Monteleone
With so many people checking in, checking out, and chickening out, it’s no question that Hotel Monteleone’s parade of spirits intrigues guests to try their best to catch a glimpse. It's said that all who entered and died on the grounds just never seem to leave. The hotel was created in 1886 by an Italian immigrant, Antonio Monteleone, and today, it’s still family-owned and operated and serves as the city’s oldest place for visitors to rest their heads — you know, if that all sounds restful. Where might you be most likely to share a seat with a spirit? According to local folklore, The Carousel Bar (which is still open today) was a watering hole for many back in the day, and continues to be a place where former employees will haunt those who stop in for a drink. Though friendly, the ghosts are said to disappear once they’re spotted — even if you stand eye-to-eye with them. Another established tale is of a couple that got off on the wrong floor and saw a group of ghost children that freaked them out so much they ran back to push the elevator button... ASAP.
6. The Hotel Villa Convento
Though currently a place you can book a room (if you dare), The Hotel Villa Convento has a checkered history: It has been a personal residence, an apartment building, and in the earlier days, a local brothel. (And if you are familiar with the song, "House of the Rising Sun," it’s this home that inspired the lyrics.) Likely due to how many owners who have claimed this building, the ghost stories vary greatly, depending on who you talk to. Some guests report that they’ve seen the old madame of the brothel hanging out in their rooms, while others say it’s only the men that get the haunting treatment.
Jet Set is Bravo's launch pad for the most extravagant, luxurious, and unforgettable travel experiences. Ready for takeoff? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.