Hidden Histories of New Orleans - March 15, 2018 - Atlas Obscura Trips

New Orleans, Louisiana

Hidden Histories of New Orleans

Explore the cobblestone streets and complex histories of New Orleans, one of America's oldest and most fascinating cities.

As New Orleans celebrates its 300th birthday, join us for a four-day tour of its unique history and landscape, from literature and jazz to swamps and cemeteries. Together, we'll discover plenty of surprises as we unlock the city's lasting influences on U.S. culture.

This trip is limited to a small group of 12 explorers.


Joseph Makkos runs a design and print studio in New Orleans. He salvages and restores historic printing equipment, and focuses on artful print production and independent publishing for local businesses, writers, and artists. He’s also a historian and archivist who curates a one-of-a-kind collection of 30,000 historic New Orleans newspapers.


A $300 deposit is required to secure your spot. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. We have a limited capacity, and we expect the trip to fill quickly. The program will cost a total of $1,296—the $300 deposit plus $996 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including meals, activities, and transport listed in the itinerary below. Accommodation is not included in your trip cost, and can be arranged independently or through Atlas Obscura for an additional cost (see details in the Fine Print).


Please email us at trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.

Day 1
Arrival & Literary History Tour
  • Arrive in New Orleans by late afternoon and check into your accommodations. We recommend staying at the Q&C Hotel or The Picayune (both located on Camp Street), and are happy to help arrange your reservations.
  • We'll meet for a group welcome dinner downstairs in the Picayune Social House, a restaurant located in a newly renovated building that served as the headquarters for The Daily Picayune newsroom from 1850 to 1920. Over dinner, we'll have a chance to get to know our main guide and fellow travel companions.
  • After dinner, we'll set out on N.O. Lit, a 90-minute walking tour of the French Quarter led by the literary and cultural historian Dr. Nancy Dixon. We'll learn about the city's legacy of letters as we stroll by the homes and hangouts of William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote as well as lesser-known landmarks, such as the site of Loujon Press, which published The Outsider magazine. We'll also pass by the first apartment building in the country, and what was once the most popular French opera house outside of France.
  • Afterwards, turn in for an early night's sleep, or, if you've still got energy, head out on your own to explore more of the city's nightlife armed with some inside tips from your guide.
Day 2
Birthplace of Jazz
  • This morning, we'll be treated to a tour led by John McCusker, veteran photojournalist and author of Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz. As we explore some less-trodden neighborhoods, we'll learn more about the birthplace of Jazz. Then we'll catch a private ride to the New Orleans Jazz Museum, where we'll get an exclusive tour of the collection in a building that once housed the old U.S. Mint.
  • Following lunch at a favorite local venue, we'll take a leisurely stroll into the French Quarter to visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, where we'll hear about America's first licensed pharmacist, Louis J. Dufilho, Jr. Special exhibits on bloodletting, surgical instruments, and questionable medical practices are featured on the ground floor of this historic apothecary shop, owned and operated by Dufilho himself in the early 19th century.
  • This evening, take some time to relax and enjoy dinner on your own. Afterwards, we'll gather back together for a special, private musical performance.
Day 3
Around the Lake & Back Again
  • We'll depart first thing this morning in a private bus, driving out of the city and across the eastern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Our first stop will be an adventurous tour of one of the wildest places in Louisiana: Honey Island Swamp. The swamp is home to a unique variety of flora and fauna, including alligators and  exotic bird species.
  • Afterwards, we'll head west for a visit to the Abita Mystery House, a quirky roadside museum showcasing thousands of art pieces, antiques, and bizarre found objects.
  • We'll enjoy a late but hearty lunch of Louisiana comfort food at The Chimes, a popular local hub, and then swing by Abita Brewing Company. After a tour of the brewery and taphouse, accompanied by a tasting, we'll drive back to New Orleans. Along the way, we'll cross the Pontchartrain Causeway which, at 23.83 miles, is the longest bridge outside of Asia and one of the longest in the world.
  • After taking some time to rest and refresh, we'll meet up for dinner, followed by an evening exploring Frenchman Street and its colorful jazz and art scene.
Day 4
Cemetery Tour & Departure
  • Our last morning together, we'll join up with local historian and French Quarter resident Arthur Smith for a tour of the historic St. Louis Cemetery. Arthur will shed light on the cemetery's unique architecture, fascinating burial customs, and Afro-Catholic spiritual practices. The cemetery is home to famous and infamous residents, including the Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, the civil rights pioneer Homer Plessy, the chess wizard Paul Morphy, and (someday in the future) the actor Nicholas Cage, who’s already built himself a tomb here.
  • Our time together ends today at noon. From here, depart for home or onto your next destination. If you choose to stay and spend more time in New Orleans, we're more than happy to provide additional recommendations.
  • Until the next adventure!
The Fine Print



  • One breakfast, two lunches, and two dinners during the program.
  • A talented local guide, an Atlas Obscura representative, and additional specialist guides throughout.
  • Private bus transport for sections of the tour.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, including tours and concert.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that New Orleans has to offer!


This tour is fairly active. Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking three to four miles each day on pavement as well as dirt paths. Be prepared to remain outside and on your feet for long periods of time. Note that the swamp tour will include time on a boat.


You should plan to arrive in the city by 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 15 to allow yourself time to settle into your accommodations and meet up with the group at 7 p.m. The tour ends at 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 18; any return flights should be timed accordingly.


The cost of this trip does not include accommodation in New Orleans.

If you'd like, we are happy to reserve you a room at either the Q&C Hotel, a 3.5-star Marriott member, or The Picayune, a newly renovated luxury condo. These two options are located next to one another and just two blocks from the French Quarter. Costs per person vary depending on single or double occupancy. Please email trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at 646-961-4857 to discuss your accommodation preferences and make your reservation, or feel free to book directly.

If you arrange your own accommodations, it would be best to stay within walking or short driving distance of the French Quarter. The Picayune is located at 326 Camp Street and will serve as our meeting point on several occasions. 


Itineraries and pricing are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific activities and events in mind, whose schedules and availabilities may change in coming months or be affected by weather during the trip. If any activity or attraction that is advertised is missed or not available, then we will always replace it with another activity or location of significant interest and value. We do expect to have the chance to see everything on this itinerary, if perhaps not in this precise order. However, as always, flexibility and an adventurous spirit are key. 


You will be charged a $300 deposit to hold your space. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. The final payment of $996 will be due by January 31, 2018. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the trip's Terms & Conditions.


  • Flights and other transport to and from New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (optional).
  • Baggage charges.
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including all alcoholic beverages.


Please email us at trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment. 

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