New Orleans has been nicknamed the "Crescent City" because it wraps around a bend in the Mississippi River like a crescent moon. “The river” as it’s simply known defines the city’s geography. While some visitors might stray out to the New Orleans neighborhoods of the Bywater or the Ninth Ward to learn more about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, most of the areas of interest are near downtown. The French Quarter, Central Business District and Arts District are side by side, merging at the edges, but each of these New Orleans neighborhoods is quite distinct, with its own personality. When you’re looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter, find it in the tree-lined streets of the Garden District.
Bounded by Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue, the French Quarter is the quintessential New Orleans that many visitors come to experience. The party atmosphere of Bourbon Street is just the beginning; you’ll also find history, architecture, great cuisine, music, shopping and more. This entire New Orleans neighborhood is a National Historic Landmark; some buildings date back to the 1700s. Decatur Street is the main thoroughfare and the French Quarter’s main attractions include Jackson Square, French Market, Woldenberg Park and Bourbon Street.
Uptown New Orleans runs along St. Charles and Carrolton Avenues and stretches to the banks of the Mississippi River. It encompasses many smaller New Orleans neighborhoods and features everything from residential streets with “shotgun” houses—narrow bungalows with their rooms in a single line from font to back, so named because a single blast from a shotgun could clear them out—and Victorian mansions to retail shops and corner neighborhood restaurants. This area of the city is also home to the Garden District, an area noted for well-preserved architecture, oak-lined streets and elegant mansions. Some notable attractions Uptown include Lafayette Cemetery, Commander’s Palace, Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, the streetcars and the Riverbend area which is chockfull of bars and restaurants.
Central Business District
As the heart of the Crescent City, the Central Business District encompasses everything from Canal Street to the Warehouse District and from the river to Claiborne Avenue. A lot of business takes place here, but also a lot of fun. There are a number of great restaurants and hotels plus the Louisiana Superdome, the home turf of the New Orleans Saints. Other attractions in the CBD include Harrah's Hotel & Casino, the Aquarium of the Americas, the Riverwalk Marketplace, Spanish Plaza and Lafayette Square. Many travelers stay here because it’s convenient to all parts of the city and generally offers less expensive accommodations than the French Quarter.
Sometimes known as the Warehouse District, this part of New Orleans is home to almost two dozen art galleries and the 10,000-square-foot Contemporary Arts Center, which features cutting edge art, music and performances. The Arts District is also site of the National World War II Museum. Other popular destinations include restaurants including Emeril’s and Michaul’s and music clubs like Howlin’ Wolf and Republic New Orleans.
It’s only across Esplanade Avenue but the Faubourg Marigny may as well be worlds away from the French Quarter. Known by locals as simply “the Marigny,” this neighborhood is far more residential but offers travelers everything from music clubs and restaurants to arts markets and funky dive bars. Much of the action centers on Frenchmen Street, a Mecca for live music, where clubs such as Snug Harbor, Blue Nile and d.b.a. regularly host some of New Orleans best musicians.