Nanoparticles with plasmon-resonance absorption in the near-IR (NIR) optical range are of great interest in optical coherence tomography (OCT) for contrast enhancement and diagnostic interventions in molecular imaging. In this study, we characterized the optical properties of multifunctional NIR dye-loaded PLGA nanoparticles (approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to assess the feasibility of using contrast agent for photo-thermal OCT (PT-OCT) imaging. Tissue phantoms containing NIR dye-doped PLGA nanoparticles were prepared in 2% agarose solution. To study the feasibility of detecting the particles using PT-OCT, imaging was performed with a custom built PT-OCT system, and specific contrast was obtained with the prepared tissue mimicking phantoms. The excellent photo-thermal properties in combination with the positive tissue phantom results qualify the feasibility of dye-loaded PLGA particles as promising candidate for PT-OCT imaging applications.