Footloose and Fancy Free
Free Tours By Foot offers visitors a top-notch experience for a can’t-beat-it price
When visiting a city, for the first time or the tenth, the best way to see it is on foot. The pace allows you to observe details and interact with locals in a way that will truly enhance your experience. And in New Orleans, you can take a guided tour for free.
Free Tours By Foot New Orleans is a company that offers professionally guided tours of many New Orleans neighborhoods and historic sites, and there is no base charge. It’s free! What’s the catch? Well, like most things in the service industry, tipping the tour guide is encouraged.
“Free Tours By Foot allows the consumer to name their own price, and if free is their price, so be it!
Says Sarah Vogue Hester, the owner/operator of the company. “This way if they do not enjoy the tour all they have lost is their time. This also encourages the guide to work as hard as they can to create an amazing experience. On many other tours, guides are not instigated to work hard since they are paid a flat rate.”
Hester continues, “the tours are truly ‘Pay What You Think The Tour is Worth.’ For that reason the guides typically range being paid $5 to $30 per head. The average tours with similar content to ours cost $20 to $35 dollars per head.”
Free Tours By Foot offers a variety of walking tours including the French Quarter, St. Louis Cemetery #1, Garden District/Lafayette Cemetery, the Voodoo Tour, and the French Quarter Culinary Tour, which is a wonderful way to learn about the food and culinary history that gives New Orleans its unique palate.
Of course, free isn’t for everyone, and reservations can be made for private groups at a reasonable cost. The company will also arrange tours outside of the city to visit area plantations and swamps.
In response to some of this demand, Hester is launching a new business at the end of August. Named Real New Orleans Tours, it will operate as a paid tour with a price range of $10-$25 per person.
“Real New Orleans Tours will be different than the rest as we intend to intertwine the history of our great city, and bring those facts into the present to represent why New Orleans is different than anywhere else in the world,” she says. “We want people to catch that "New Orleans Bug" and come back time and time again.”
Both tour companies employ only professionally licensed guides as a way to ensure quality control and safety. Hester, who has been giving tours for five years, shared her favorite piece of advice for visitors: “Whenever guests ask me what is the one thing a tourist should do in the city, I always say ride the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar in its entirety. It is one of the only historic streetcar systems in America that is predominantly used as public transportation. You hear the accents of the city and you interact with locals, all while hearing the music of the whirring of electricity and the click-clacking of the tracks.”
To reserve your spot for a free tour and read more details, visit www.freetoursbyfoot.com/neworleans. Real New Orleans Tours will launch their website in August at www.realneworleanstours.com