New Orleans is a city like no other for so many reasons, one of which is that it truly lends itself to being a place with “small town charm and big city experiences.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Central Business District (CBD) and Warehouse District of downtown New Orleans. Originally established as an industrial area in the 19th century to store grain, coffee, and produce shipped through the port of New Orleans, the Warehouse District, or “Arts District” has evolved into the “SoHo of the South” allowing an artful, loft lifestyle coupled with the convenience of being close to the commerce of New Orleans.
Having lived in the CBD, I love the proximity of great food, a headstrong entrepreneur community and now, even more living amenities like yoga studios, high-end boutiques and art galleries galore. Here’s my top eight must-dos in the CBD and Warehouse District right now.
1. Crescent City Farmers Market – When I say “small town meets big city,” this is pretty much exactly what I’m talking about. The Farmers Market on Saturday morning takes place in a parking lot smack in the middle of downtown New Orleans! Get the most amazingly fresh shrimp, tomatoes, okra, blueberries, sunflowers and other seasonal goodies. The Crescent City Farmers Market is open on Saturday mornings from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
2. Reyn Studios – I simply cannot say enough great things about Reyn Studios. Started by my dear friend, Reyn Lambert, the yoga studio was built out perfectly. Reyn made the loft space (above Bittersweet Confections) look like a New York studio married with the beauty of a New Orleans skyline. Check out one or all of the classes. My favorite teachers are Lauren D., Heidi S., and Cheryl G. At the very least, just go “like” the Facebook page because their photo-marketing is unparalleled.
3. Pêche Seafood Grill – Donald Link’s new restaurant child is the perfect, lighter sister to swine-loving brother restaurant Cochon. Link doesn’t miss a step and this New Orleans restaurant is the perfect mixture of Louisiana seafood and culinary expertise.
4. Steamboat Natchez Riverboat Cruise – Jazz Cruises (brunch is a favorite) are a great way to get out and “do” something without having to lift a finger! I love everything about the Steamboat Natchez, and its old New Orleans charm.
5. The Howlin’ Wolf – There’s always amazing music to be heard in New Orleans. The Howlin’ Wolf does a great job at supporting and featuring a ton of local musicians and comedians, as well as hosting major touring bands. Check out their killer lineup on the Howlin’ Wolf New Orleans calendar.
6. Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel – The Sazerac Bar is a lounge steeped in New Orleans history and the ambiance is perfect for a mid-evening cocktail.
7. International House Hotel (and Loa Bar) – The International House Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in the city. In 1943, it was the world’s first World Trade Center emphasizing “peace through trade,” and when Sean Cummings purchased it in 1998, he paid homage to its New Orleans history while also breathing new life into the structure. Inspired by hotels in London, San Francisco and New York, the International House and Loa bar, which serves elaborate and intricate craft cocktails, make an eclectic and comfortable home for travelers.
8. Buff Beauty Bar – Get comfortable and enjoy the classic sounds of the passing streetcar while you dip, primp, polish and pamper yourself in the newest beauty indulgence downtown. Buff Beauty Bar offers a luxurious spa experience in the CBD.
Lagniappe – It’s impossible to include all the charms of any given New Orleans neighborhood in a top 10 list, so we’d like to give honorable mention to Luke, Capdeville, Republic, Lucky Rooster, Rusty Nail, all the Julia Street art galleries and heck – everything else in the Warehouse District and CBD. Because let’s be honest – it’s all incredible.