New Orleans: Places to Explore

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CBD and Warehouse District

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Catchy flags hung in the Warehouse District bear a repeating pattern of encouraging slogans these days. "Welcome to your blank canvas." "Raise your own bar." "Get caught in our brainstorms." These banners reflect the ongoing growth of new and established businesses and cultural sites in this neighborhood, which is a particularly ripe atmosphere for art, design, and entertainment. No longer just bland commercial and urban residential neighborhoods, the CBD (Central Business District) and Warehouse District (also, appropriately, known as the Arts District) now comprise a vibrant, vital sector of downtown New Orleans.

Maybe it's that the Warehouse District does truly feel like a blank canvas—the landscape is one of solid, old, brick-and-stucco walls that, though aging, somehow feel fresh and make one think of starting anew. (To wit, some artists have even used them as literal canvases for mural work—local favorite Michalopolous, famous for his impressionistic images of New Orleans houses, painted a creamy-yellow classic home on the side of a building at the corner of Commerce and Girod; there's also a soothing mural of rural life at the site of the weekly Farmer's Market.) Maybe it's the expanses of blue sky here, where the buildings feel a bit more spread out than in the French Quarter, or the spirit of creativity that pervades a neighborhood chock-full of art museums and galleries. Perhaps it's the more modern, sleek feel of the CBD in close proximity—or the bevy of contemporary restaurants and bars popping up or gaining renown here. Whatever the "it" factor is, this neighborhood has got plenty, and it's inspiring a new host of entrepreneurs, creative types, and their patrons to flock to the Warehouse District and the CBD. Confidence in the area is reflected in the fact that the American Institute of Architects opened AIA New Orleans here in November 2010, Louisiana's only design center and one of only seven AIA Centers in the United States.

By day, the CBD hums with commerce and productivity, and the Warehouse District hosts visitors to the New Orleans Morial Convention Center and to this neighborhood's many museums and art galleries. You'll find the National World War II Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Louisiana Children's Museum, and Louisiana's Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall—all within a three-square-block radius. Art lovers will appreciate the concentration of upscale contemporary-art galleries and artist studios in the Warehouse District and can even try their hand at glassmaking and printmaking. Discerning palates with a taste for culture and cuisine are sated, feet itching to dance are scratched, and throats craving custom libations can be slaked in this up-and-coming cosmopolitan playground.

By night, you'll find hip, successful restaurants, bustling live-music venues old and new, and numerous neighborhood and hotel bars ranging from the most casual to the very chic. All of these places are patronized by scores of young professionals and graduate students, who mix with tourists and longtime residents who know what's up.

CBD and Warehouse District at a Glance

Experience CBD and Warehouse District

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