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Best Local Things to Do

Best Revitalized Spaces in New Orleans

Auction House Market
Auction House Market (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

A city filled with doers and creators, changers and makers – New Orleans never stops reimagining. Abandoned buildings make way for abundant businesses, long-gone storefronts transform into local hangouts, and historic hubs are restored. You never know what unique stories lie beneath some of your favorite spots in the Crescent City.

Check out our GoNOLA roundup of revitalized spaces so you can experience the joy of exploring NOLA like a newbie, but with the insight of a local. 

Pythian Market (Photo: Justen Williams)

Pythian Market

Dubbed the “food hall for all,” Pythian Market has remained a longstanding fixture in New Orleans’ Central Business District. The market’s story predates its spring 2018 grand opening. Its story begins in 1908, when the Colored Knights of the Pythias, an African-American fraternal organization, first built the building. 

The building quickly drew black business owners, organizations, musicians, and others to come together in frequent celebration and congregation. In times of strong racial divide and tension, the Pythian was a safe space for expression and being for African-Americans in New Orleans. So much so that it was often referred to as the Pythian Temple. 

Today, the Pythian Market food hall continues to build its roots of inclusion and community. Vendors represent all walks of New Orleans cuisine and cultures. Middle eastern eats, Vietnamese bites, Cajun and Creole Cuisine, and Latin American meals are all among the hall’s many offerings. 

Vessel (Photo: Paul Broussard)


Featured by Vogue, Thrillist, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, and several others, Vessel New Orleans is known and loved both locally and outside of New Orleans. In addition to their delectable lunch, dinner, and brunch menus and can’t-miss daily happy hours, Vessel catches the eyes and piques the interest of travelers and locals with its stunning, revitalized structure located in a Lutheran church from 1914. 

When renovating the century-old structure, owners did not shy away from its original concept. Elegant stained glass windows and finished wooden ceilings are highlighted throughout the architecture, and its name pays homage to the holy vessels used in the church services. 

Whether you’re looking for a perfect after-service brunch spot, or if food is your religion, Vessel should be on your list. 

Hotel Peter & Paul (Photo courtesy of Hotel Peter & Paul)

Hotel Peter & Paul 

Named one of the “best new hotels in the world,” by Travel + Leisure, Hotel Peter & Paul’s unique story has made it highly buzz-worthy since its opening in fall 2018. Located in the heart of New Orleans’ Marigny neighborhood, the hotel previously housed the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, school, and an accompanying rectory. 

For decades, the space was a staple in the neighborhood’s community. The rectory housed 10 nuns, the average Sunday Mass attendance was 1400, and at its peak, the school welcomed 530 K-8th grade students. 

Sts. Peter and Paul’s School closed in 1993 and the church followed shortly after in 2001. After 17 years of vacancy, the church underwent a two-year renovation that led to the opening of Hotel Peter & Paul. The stunning transformation plays on the space’s historic roots, keeping its rustic charm. The schoolhouse now serves as the hotel’s reception lounge and holds 59 guest rooms. The rectory is home to the phenomenal Elysian Bar and courtyard, the church has been repurposed as an event venue with the convent now a storefront. 

Bar Marilou (Photo courtesy of Rush Jagoe)

Bar Marilou 

An extension of Maison de la Luz, Bar Marilou is a bold and vibrant cocktail lounge in the Warehouse District. First-timers are awed by the lavish bartop, the French-inspired spirits, private speakeasy seating, and the bar’s epic in-house library. What may at first seem misplaced has an interesting yet easily explained connection. 

Prior to its revitalization as Bar Marilou, this location housed the law library of the old City Hall Annex. Today’s selection of mixed-genre literature sends a playful nod to its former life. Whether you’re into poetry, mysteries, or nonfiction, Bar Marilou is the perfect spot to grab a craft cocktail and a beloved book. Pro-tip: BYOB (bring your own book) for a guaranteed good read. 

Empanola at Auction House Market (Photo: Michelle Martin)

Auction House Market

Auction House Market is known for its assortment of delicious bites, weekly game nights, and occasional live music – at least since 2017. 

Before transforming into THE food hall of the Arts District, the building was home to the New Orleans Auction Galleries, which is where it gets its name. In lieu of bidding on fine art and antiques, guests of the Auction House Market can choose between Thai comfort food, Indian street food, freshly-shucked oysters, or signature poke bowls. Enjoy a meal surrounded by the Market’s beautiful, custom-made plant creations, or take a selfie inside of the Insta-famous lipstick bathroom. Whatever you do, don’t miss happy hour at the Mayhaw Bar, featuring specials on their classic cocktails, wines, and beers. 

The Eliza Jane Hotel (Photo: Andrew Lee Thomas)

The Eliza Jane Hotel 

Seven abandoned warehouses went into the making of the one and only Eliza Jane Hotel. Nestled on Magazine Street, the hotel also includes the French-inspired restaurant Couvant and its courtyard centered Bisous Wine Garden. 

At different points in time, the seven warehouses held a number of New Orleans’ local businesses including Gulf Baking Soda company, Peters Cartridge shop, and Peychaud Bitters factory. Most notably, and ultimately the reason behind the hotel’s namesake is the Daily Picayune newspaper, which was published by the first female publisher, Ms. Eliza Jane. Ms. Jane’s influence can be found throughout the hotel with antique typewriters, books, and other novelty items.

Mariah Hickman is a Minneapolis native who landed in the Crescent City by way of Dillard University, and stayed to feed her festival fever. She loves writing about the hidden stories of New Orleans, and shedding light on diverse and locally-owned businesses. She is a self-proclaimed listicle queen, so get ready to write down a few of her suggestions for food and fun in New Orleans.

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