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Havin' fun in 'The Big Scary'

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New Orleans offers lots of ways to have fun. Photo courtesy of New Orleans CVB/Jay Combe.

You probably know New Orleans is nicknamed “The Big Easy.” But for some the city has another, not-so-well-known tag, too: “The Big Scary.”

Between the jumpin’ joie de vivre of Mardi Gras, the screaming horns at jazz festivals and letting the good times roll in the French Quarter – especially on anything-goes Bourbon Street – it’s hard to imagine that the city is packed with haunted houses and the like (even a haunted old-time brothel). What’s more, New Orleans has some of the spookiest cemeteries on the planet.

The folks at one of the city’s most popular hotels, the Maison St. Charles Hotel and Suites, want you to know New Orleans has tours showcasing everything from “ghosties and ghoulies to long-leggedy beasties” (to misquote an old Scottish prayer).

Haunted History Tours, for example, takes guests to sites covered in the company’s best-selling book, New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo & Vampires. Among highlights of various tours offered by HHT are stops at the city’s legendary St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, actual Voodoo altars, the tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, the home of Anne Rice (author of lots of scary books including The Vampire Chronicles), a “vampire tavern,” spots where documented hauntings took place and many other spooky eye-poppers.

Bloody Mary’s Tours is another specialist in the dark side of the city. Guides unveil its haunted history on tours from the French Quarter and the Treme to the Garden District along the way stopping at the likes of three cemeteries, a “vampire lair” and a crawl around reportedly haunted bars, restaurants, hotels and what was once a house full of shady ladies.

Among other top tour operators, French Quarter Phantoms is said to offer ghost- and vampire-hunting adventures combining “fun with a hint of serious history.” Groups explore eerie attractions like the Andrew Jackson Hotel, where the ghosts of five boys who died in a fire there in 1788 (the building was a boy’s school at the time) are said to haunt the building.

The Maison St. Charles Hotel and Suites is located on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in the lower Garden District. Combining historic Louisiana charm with modern style and amenities, the hotel offers easy access to the French Quarter and other area attractions. Guests enjoy complimentary continental breakfasts, high-speed wireless and gym access as well as an outdoor pool and spa.