World Coffee keeps caffeine-consumers running smoothly with a saccharine selection of coffee, tea, espresso, latte, cappuccino, and cider drinks. Avant garde guests can break free of stereotypical brews, adding up to two shots of syrup to concoct such heady mixes as the chocolate-covered-cherries latte, seasoned with Ghiradelli chocolate and cherry flavorings. Earthy options include the trail-mix latte—infused with shots of almond, hazelnut, and chocolate— and the sugar-free zebra steamer pays homage to the world's most confusing-looking equine by muddling sugar-free white and milk-chocolate syrups in warm, frothy milk. The shop's free WiFi allows gulpers to send unlimited apology emails to former gym teachers until closing time.
For the last 20 years, satanic cults, monsters, and the undead have been congregating at The House of Shock to perform unspeakable horrors in the name of Halloween. Envisioned by a crack team of fright experts, including Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, this seasonal haunt has been featured in the Travel Channel's Halloween's Most Extreme, Rolling Stone, Maxim, and Top Haunts magazine's list of the Top 13 Haunts nationwide. The house's exhibits are so scary that they've caused some extreme reactions. Allegedly, one patron's heart stopped beating. After she was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital, it was determined she had technically been dead for a short period.
As a live metal band strikes its first ominous chords, the fright fest kicks off with a nightly horror show of pyrotechnics, death metal, live stunts, and masochists. Adrenaline levels soar as courageous guests tiptoe through the coffins, ornate gravestones, and crumbling mausoleums of an ancient graveyard. The house's professional actors don't just slink by waving chainsaws and body parts—they tear apart bodies and scare the dickens out of guests who brave the interactive horrors of a funeral parlor, a morgue, and a butcher shop's dreadfully rotten cuts of beef. The adventure reaches terrifying new heights in a controversial satanic church, where flickering candles and hellfire cast eerie shadows on demonic worshipers and their torture victims. The onsite Hell's Kitchen churns out thematic eats and adult beverages to help frightened guests regain their senses before they revert to a mental world where the only conflict is over which Teletubby wore it best.
Given New Orleans' great wealth of stories, it's no surprise that the city itself would certify its master storytellers. This certification, held by every one of French Quarter Phantoms' guides, is put to good use as they lead small groups of travelers through the city’s dark alleys on historically accurate ghost and true-crime tours. The guides' expertly spun, chilling tales earned French Quarter Phantoms the accolade of second-best haunted tour in America from HauntedAmericaTours.com, as well as a certificate of authenticity from Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang.
Southern Style Tours gives first-time visitors and longtime residents alike a mind-stretching perspective of New Orleans heritage and culture from its fleet of small coaches, which seat no more than 25 people. The three-hour tour begins with an in-depth look at both the greenery-bedecked Garden District and the historic French Quarter, so named because it is shaped like a quarter. Southern Style's expert guides narrate the journey, cruising by important buildings and ethnic enclaves and getting special notice of celebrity homes, including those of Sandra Bullock, the Manning family, and all three Musketeers. The group eventually disembarks for a short walking tour of the St. Louis Cemetery #3 and its gothic, aboveground tombs.
Formed in 1989, the Louisiana Tour Company started out by organizing Swamp tours narrated by knowledgeable boat captains. Today, the company has grown to offer other excursions such as city Ghost tours on foot, visits to plantations in a van, and Airboat tours of swamp and marshland on the backs of indigenous amphibians. Three-hour New Orleans City and Post-Katrina tours invite sightseers to load up into a minibus to visit city landmarks and areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The streets of New Orleans aren’t always draped with Mardi Gras beads and blaring with the sound of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” NOLA Native Tours invites its groups to experience the French Quarter and the Lower Garden District as locals would, led by native, city-certified guides. Invoking such names as Tennessee Williams and Ignatius J. Reilly, the guides take their groups for crack-of-dawn strolls by the St. Louis Cathedral and past the secret retired-parade-float colony. More esoteric routes include surveys of local celebrity homes and conspiracy theories that stretch back to the JFK assassination.
Even unbelievers can glean some new knowledge from Magic Tours. Professors, historians, and journalists are among the guides that lead the cemetery and ghost tours, so they're not only spooky, but also historically accurate. And since New Orleans has a reputation for its cemeteries and outlandish burial customs, they have plenty of facts to spill on each tour. The oldest haunt they explore is the Saint Louis Cemetery, which has been open for business since 1789. Over the past two centuries, thousands of locals—famous and anonymous—have come to their final rest there, including legendary voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau.