Ever since the birth of New Orleans in 1718, visitors have toured the city by carriage. Today, you can still ride through the historic neighborhoods of New Orleans in what many consider to be an intimate, charming experience. Please keep in mind that, depending on the company, carriage drivers can be more entertaining than historically accurate. While there are a few different companies to choose from, most tours discuss history, culture and architecture, and some visit St. Louis Cemetery #1, where they share stories of ghosts and vampires.
The primary reason mules are used in New Orleans rather than horses is their natural ability to be more resistant to extreme temperatures like heat and humidity. Most carriage mules in New Orleans are crossed with either Percheron or Belgium draft horses, which are bred to pull heavy loads. Historically, mules in New Orleans were used for deliveries and transportation, pulling streetcars and even the Mardi Gras floats throughout the city.
To prevent animal abuse, rules have been created and are enforced through a partnership between the Louisiana SPCA and the Department of Safety and Permits. Mules can only work for four hours at a time and must take 15-minute breaks between tours to rest and rehydrate. When the National Weather Service declaires a heat advisory, mules must be brought inside and tours must stop until the advisory ends. Requirements also dictate that when the temperature is about 95 degrees or the heat index is 105 or more, carriage operation must be suspended.