A Traveler’s Guide to Central Business District (CBD), New Orleans
The New Orleans Central Business District (CBD), or Downtown New Orleans, is truly the city’s hub. Right outside of the French Quarter, it is home to historic sky-rise buildings, countless art galleries, and some of the most iconic streets in the city known as The Big Easy.
Due to its proximity to the French Quarter, Mid-City, and the Garden District, it is the ideal spot to explore the city whether you are visiting for work, an event, or a vacation. Below we’ve compiled your guide to getting the most out of your stay in the New Orleans Central Business District.
About The New Orleans CBD
New Orleans is more than just Mardi Gras and the best fried beignets, although it will always hold the crown for both! Originally a residential neighborhood, the CBD was one of the first expansion efforts of the city beyond the French Quarter in the 18th century.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, New Orleans experienced rapid development as a city. As a result, the New Orleans Central Business District transformed from a quiet neighborhood to a business hub.
Throughout the early and mid-1900s, it grew to include the city’s largest public transportation system, offer a variety of theater and entertainment options, and become the premiere destination for shopping and dining.
Getting to the Central Business District from the Airport
Downtown New Orleans is approximately 20 minutes from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). From the airport, visitors have multiple options to get to their CBD rental destination:
- Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available at the airport outside of the Level 1 Baggage Claim.
- Taxi services are also available outside Level 1 Baggage Claim Door 7. Taxi rides average $36 for up to two passengers and an additional $15 per person beyond two passengers.
- Airport shuttle services provide transportation from the airport to Downtown. It is $24 each way per person, and further information can be found here.
- Public transportation includes a bus option called the Airport Express. It is $1.50 per trip and runs nine times per day. More information can be found here.
*Please note that prices are current at the time of publication.
Getting Around the Central Business District
There is one mode of transportation that has become famous in New Orleans, and that’s the Streetcar. New Orleans is home to the oldest operating streetcar line in the world, The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar. Today, there are four operating streetcar lines in the city.
One of the lines, the Canal Street Streetcar, runs from the French Quarter to Mid-City, passing the Central Business District along the way. It is $1.25 per ride, or visitors can purchase a Jazzy Pass for unlimited trips on official buses, streetcars, or ferries during their stay.
Both functional and entertaining, the Canal Street Streetcar is a practical way to explore Downtown New Orleans while enjoying a scenic view along the way (and partaking in history!).
Beyond public transportation, we recommend renting a car, utilizing rideshare options, or walking on foot. The Central Business District is pedestrian-friendly, with countless restaurants, shops, parks, museums, and more within a 5-mile radius.
The French Quarter is also nearby and easily walkable. However, if traveling by car, be aware that you will need to pay to park throughout New Orleans Downtown.
What to Do in the Central Business District
See a Live Performance at Saenger Theatre
- Address: 1111 Canal Street
- Website: www.saengernola.com
Saenger Theatre is an iconic building on Canal Street that has remained a staple for live entertainment since its opening in 1927.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Saenger has invited guests for nearly a century to enjoy Broadway shows, silent films, live plays, and more. It is the perfect place to dress up, get a feel for Downtown Nola, and enjoy live performances while you’re here.
For a list of shows and ticket information, click here.
Visit the Sazerac House
- Address: 101 Magazine Street
- Website: www.sazerachouse.com
The famous New Orleans Sazerac cocktail is always a crowd favorite – and you will know why as soon as you get a front-row seat to its creation at the Sazerac House.
The Sazerac House is three floors tall and offers complimentary tours to explore the history and makings of the Crescent City’s classic cocktail. In addition, visitors can explore exhibits on all three floors, including the distillery, tastings, and the unique history of the New Orleans cocktail culture.
For a more intimate experience, reserve an exclusive tasting here.
Root for the Home Teams
New Orleans is a city that rallies around its people, including its beloved sports teams. Between the New Orleans Saints (Who Dat!) and the Pelicans, there are endless opportunities to enjoy an action-packed game for the sports fans.
The Smoothie King Center is home to the New Orleans Pelicans, Nola’s professional basketball team. If you visit during the NBA season, chances are you can make it to one of their lively games. The New Orleans Saints have long been a symbol of the city’s communal support and resiliency against all odds.
There’s nothing like a packed Saints game in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. You can find Pelicans tickets here and Saints tickets here.
Delve into Local Art Galleries
The Arts and Warehouse District within Downtown Nola is home to some of the best art exhibits in New Orleans.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
This city area combines rich cultural history with contemporary arts, local restaurants, and cocktail bars.
We recommend heading to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art first for a taste of traditional New Orleans art. It holds the world’s most extensive collection of Southern art and is open seven days a week.
Ticket information can be found here.
The Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center is another must-visit destination for guests wanting to immerse themselves in the local arts culture. The arts center honors local artists through exhibits of their work and offers youth programs to engage high school students in the power of art.
Fun fact: It’s within walking distance of the National World War II Museum, another visitor favorite!
Visitor information can be found here.
Finally, we recommend strolling down the infamous Julia Street, which is nicknamed “Gallery Row” due to its dozen art galleries lining the historic street. Julia Row within this area refers to the thirteen side-hall row houses between St. Charles Avenue and Camp Street, also known as the Thirteen Sisters.
Take a Cooking Class at NOCHI
- Address: 725 Howard Avenue
- Website: www.nochi.org
New Orleans doesn’t mess around when it comes to the culinary arts. The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI), located in the CBD, is at the forefront of culinary training here in Crescent City.
They offer guests the chance to dive into the world of professional cooking through hands-on courses designed to beef up any home cook’s skills! Visitors can sign up for their Enthusiastic Classes or book a private class for their group.
Why not leave your stay in New Orleans with a souvenir you can use over and over?
Try Your Luck at Harrah’s Casino
- Address: 228 Poydras Street
- Website: www.caesars.com/harrahs-new-orleans
There are several fun casinos in New Orleans. Just steps away from the Mississippi River is Harrah’s Casino, a favorite spot for both locals and visitors to try their luck.
With over 1,100 slot machines, 116 video poker machines, and a multitude of table games such as craps, blackjack, and poker, it offers the largest variety of gambling options in the Central Business District.
The casino’s atmosphere echoes that of the French Quarter streets and provides visitors with a lively spot for entertainment, food, and gambling.
Where to Eat and Drink in the Central Business District
The question may be better phrased, where isn’t there a great place to eat and drink in New Orleans CBD? Here are some of our favorites.
- Price Point: $
- Address: 821 Baronne Street
- Website: www.mammothespresso.com
If you’re a coffee person, you will want to start your day with Mammoth Espresso. Mammoth Espresso is a locally-owned coffee shop serving craft coffee, specialty drinks, and fresh baked goods in a warm, inviting atmosphere.
Side note: If you’re on the other side of the CBD, pop into The French Truck on Poydras Street, another local coffee shop that’s a favorite around here!
- Price Point: $$
- Address: 845 Carondelet Street
- Website: https://cbd.bearcatcafe.com/
Bearcat CBD is the perfect casual spot for your breakfast or lunch. Originally an Uptown favorite, Bearcat expanded into a chic Downtown building offering a great atmosphere and fresh, high-quality breakfast and lunch items.
You can’t go wrong when ordering from their menu, but some of our favorites include the Cajun Gravy Biscuit and the Cave Breakfast. Bearcat also offers an extensive list of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
- Price Point: $$$
- Address: 600 Carondelet Street
- Website: www.josephineestelle.com
Located inside the Ace Hotel, Josephine Estelle is an upscale restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its Italian-meets-Southern menu is full of fresh, seasonal ingredients and family recipes.
The mid-century interior is funky, modern, and elegant – a perfect reflection of the neighborhood’s vibrancy. With a wrap-around bar, cozy green velvet seating, and award-winning menus, it’s a local favorite for a reason.
- Price Point: $$$
- Address: 701 St Charles Avenue
- Website: www.herbsaint.com
Herbsaint is all about excellence. As the flagship restaurant of Chef Donald Link, this fine-dining establishment offers seasonal French-Southern cuisine in a quaint bistro on St. Charles Avenue.
Herbsaint is consistently rated one of the top 10 restaurants in New Orleans, and you will see why when you visit. Their menu celebrates Gulf produce and the farmers and fishermen who produce it. With an extensive wine list and unique dessert options, guests are invited to take a culinary ride from start to finish.
- Price Point: $$
- Address: 544 Carondelet Street
- Website: www.barmarilou.com
Bar Marilou is a cocktail lounge next to the Maison de Luz Hotel in an old converted library. Guests enter through a lush ivy-covered walkway into a funky interior filled with warm red bookshelves, zebra-print floors, and velvet seating.
Bar Marilou is known for its unique cocktail menu and delicious small bites. Reservations are recommended as it is a crowd favorite!
The Sazerac Bar
- Price Point: $$$
- Address: 130 Roosevelt Way
Almost as iconic as the drink it is named after, the Sazerac Bar comes with loads of history and charm. Located on the first floor of The Roosevelt, a classic New Orleans hotel, The Sazerac Bar oozes Great Gatsby vibes with its plush seating, dim lighting, and large walnut bar.
Of course, the bar is known for its Sazerac, but guests also rave about their French 75s and Ramos Gin Fizz. So if you’re looking for a classic spot that screams old New Orleans, this is it.
Staying In the Central Business District FAQ’s
Is the Central Business District family-friendly?
The New Orleans Central Business District is the business center of the city. It is ideal for travelers in town for business or an event or desire a central location to land during their stay.
However, there are many family-friendly activities in the CBD! Families with children can head to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans’ award-winning aquarium, for a day of sea creature fun on the Riverwalk.
Families can also visit the National World War II Museum to immerse themselves in WWII history through interactive experiences, tours, and exhibits.
How far is CBD from the French Quarter?
The Central Business District neighborhood borders the French Quarter. Depending on where you are staying in the CBD, you could be anywhere from 1 to 10 blocks from the French Quarter. The CBD and the French Quarter are joined by the Riverwalk along the Mississippi River.
How does parking work?
Parking varies street-by-street in the CBD. Depending on your destination, there will be options for street parking or garage parking. If you are renting a car or bringing your own, expect to pay to park at each destination.
Are there medical facilities nearby?
Yes. Here is a list of hospitals and urgent centers in the neighborhood:
Enjoy Your Stay in New Orleans Central Business District
You can’t go wrong when staying in New Orleans’ Central Business District. Its prime location makes it the perfect spot to explore Crescent City.
The historic neighborhood is lined with restored warehouse buildings that welcome visitors inside to eat, shop and drink. From the art culture of Julia Street to the sights on Canal Street, you’ll get a front-row seat to both new and old New Orleans and all that makes it special.