The Lafayette Hotel’s Guide to the New Orleans Arts District
New Orleans is rightly famous for its historic French Quarter and Garden District. But the city’s bustling Arts District, dubbed the “SoHo of the South,” is attracting a new generation of visitors. Originally called the Warehouse District, it sprang out of the city’s old riverfront warehouses and now boasts world-class museums, contemporary art galleries, and fine-dining restaurants.
At the heart of all? Lafayette Hotel. Ideally situated on St. Charles Avenue, just a few blocks from the Quarter and a streetcar ride away from the Garden District and other uptown attractions, our historic boutique hotel puts you right in the middle of old and new New Orleans.
Choosing the Perfect Room
Plan to spend most of your time exploring the city? Our cozy Petite Room is your best bet at the best price. Fancy a bit more space? Book an elegantly-appointed Deluxe Room or a streetside Balcony Room, where you can people-watch from high above St. Charles. Or spread out in style in our luxurious suite, which has a lovely parlor.
If you’re staying at the Lafayette, getting around the Arts District is a breeze. You’re within walking distance of Gallery Row on Julia St., two of the city’s finest art museums and the world-renowned World War II Museum.
You can also easily explore the French Quarter on foot; it’s just a six-block walk to Canal St., where St. Charles turns into Royal St. when you cross the street into the Quarter. But there are plenty of other options, from pedicabs and taxis to Uber and Lyft to renting a bike, which lets you pedal wherever you want to go.
Heading uptown? The historic St. Charles streetcar line stops right in front of the Lafayette Hotel and offers magnificent views through the open-air windows as you roll past stately mansions up to Audubon Park.
To explore more of the city, Hop-On City Sightseeing New Orleans Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours. These red double-decker buses have designated stops that let you experience different neighborhoods, like all the cool shops on Magazine St., at your own pace. Lagniappe: The Hop-On, Hop-Off 3-day pass comes with free walking tours.
What to See
There’s plenty to see and do right on St. Charles Avenue near the Lafayette Hotel. We are located next to Lafayette Square, site of many free concerts and festivals, and only a half-block away from historic Gallier Hall. During Mardi Gras, you can enjoy parades from right outside our front doors by purchasing Mardi Gras grandstand tickets on NewOrleansParadeTickets.com.
Once you cross Canal St. you enter the alluring world of the French Quarter, with all its charms.
Read on to learn more about what’s happening in and around the Arts District.
Where to Eat & Drink
Foodies hit the jackpot when they book a room at the Lafayette, where one of the city’s top fine-dining establishments is right on the premises.
As its name suggests, Desi Vega’s Steakhouse is rightly famous for its sizzling cuts of tender prime-aged beef, seared to order in its hotter-than-Hades broiler. But there’s also plenty to entice seafood lovers, from blackened tuna and shrimp remoulade appetizers to the pan-seared Gulf Fish of the Day, topped with jumbo lump crabmeat. Spicy local sides like andouille-spiked mac & cheese and onion rings laced with Crystal hot sauce round out a menu that includes delicious marinated chicken dishes and surf & turf combos of filet and lobster tail.
Top off your meal with one of Desi Vega’s yummy house-made desserts, like crème brûlée and chocolate bread pudding. Or burn up some dinner calories and get your sugar rush at nearby sweet shops. Bittersweet Confections makes fancy chocolates and truffles.
Get caffeinated at the nearby PJ’s Coffee, French Truck Coffee, Mammoth Espresso or Drip Affagato, which pairs coffee with ice cream. And when late afternoon rolls around, head back to the hotel. Desi Vega’s Lounge hosts a terrific Happy Hour every Tuesday-Friday (4-7 PM), where you can wash down a Chef’s selection of small plates with potent discounted drinks.
What to Do
Founded by a passionate collective of Louisiana artists, the Contemporary Arts Center midwifed the birth of the entire Arts District when it opened in 1976 and remains a vital hub of creative activity, from large-scale visual art exhibitions to music, dance, and theatre performances.
Just across the street from the CAC, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art boasts the largest collection of Southern art in the country, ranging from traditional folk art to cutting edge contemporary art. Pro tip: Visit both museums on Thursday, when you can start at the CAC and hit the Ogden in time to catch great live music at the weekly Ogden After Hours (6-8 PM).
Julia Street, where standout galleries include Jonathan Ferrara and Arthur Roger, is fun to explore anytime, But it’s especially lively from 6-9 PM the first Saturday of every month, when all the galleries, the Ogden and the CAC open their latest exhibits with wine-fueled receptions.
History buffs need at least one full day to explore the National World War II Museum. Housed on a six-acre campus with five soaring pavilions, the country’s official WWII Museum tells the story of the global conflict that changed the world through the experiences of the men and women who lived through it. Cap off your visit at the 1940s-themed American Sector Restaurant & Bar.
Guests combining business with pleasure will find plenty of cool co-working spots close to the hotel. We also have tips for doing the Arts District in style on a budget, ranging further afield to nearby neighborhoods, and embarking on some of New Orleans’ storied tours.
Where to Shop
Shopaholics don’t have to venture far to indulge their passion. Two of the city’s finest men’s shops are just up St. Charles Avenue. Rubensteins, a classic-school haberdashery, specializes in bespoke made-to-order suits, while Meyer the Hatter, founded in 1894, is the South’s premiere hat shop. Guys can also stay ahead of the curve with fashion-forward finds by consulting our Gentlemen’s Guide to the Arts District.
Two nearby one-stop shopping emporiums offer something for everyone. The Shops at Canal Place, an upscale collection of stores like Anthropologie, Michael Kors, and Saks Fifth Avenue, is housed in a soaring atrium and showcases fine local artisans at the LA Crafts Guild. And you’ll find great deals on popular labels like Gap, Guess and Tommy Bahama at The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, which boasts a terrific riverfront view.
Fast-fashionistas make a beeline for H&M New Orleans, which offers 32,000 square feet of trendy clothing whipped up hot off the runway into affordable styles. Designer label mavens can score incredible deals at UAL French Quarter, while Stonefree offers an exquisitely-curated boutique collection, including fresh and flirty Flynn Skye dresses and sleek Blue Life bikinis.
Nightlife & Late-Night Eats
New Orleans is world-famous for its great live music, and some of the best in town are within blocks of the Lafayette Hotel.
Just up St. Charles on Lee Circle, the tiny-but-mighty Circle Bar hosts a terrific roster of free early-evening shows, which segue into slammin’ multi-band line-ups at 10 PM. Two popular venues on N. Peters St. also keep the Arts District rockin’. Hot 8 Brass Band is the Sunday house band at The Howlin’ Wolf, which also presents national headliners, while EDM ravers and bounce music fans keep things keep the party going at Republic NOLA.
House of Blues, on the Canal end of Decatur, is a regular tour stop for national headliners, and lets the good times roll, New Orleans-style, at its famous Sunday Gospel Brunch. Want to keep the party going? Follow our guide to top music hotspots in the Quarter and on Frenchmen St.
All that dancing and drinking works up an appetite. And, unlike the 24/7 bar scene, most of the city’s restaurants close fairly early. Luckily, there are a few nearby eateries that stay open late or even all night. Our guide to Late Night Eats will help you satisfy your cravings, and includes 24/7 delivery service from Daisy Duke’s, just up St. Charles from the Lafayette Hotel.
When to Go
New Orleans loves to celebrate, and not just at signature events like Mardi Gras. We let the good times roll throughout the year!
No sooner have the Mardi Gras floats returned to their dens then March roars in like a lion with St. Patrick’s Day parades, St. Joseph’s Day altars and the Mardi Gras Indians’ Super Sunday. Then it’s peak festival season when French Quarter Festival segues into the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which segues into Bayou Boogaloo and beyond.
Summer used to be a hot & humid sleepy season. Now it’s got a full dance card of festivities for visitors who don’t mind breaking a sweat, from Creole Tomato Festival to the Running of the Bulls. And the hottest spot to be is the Arts District, where art mavens don their coolest whites and flock to White Linen Night the first Saturday in August.
Fall brings delightful temperatures and signature festivals, from the Crescent City Blues & Barbecue Festival to the Krewe of Boo parade, one of multiple Halloween extravaganzas. Holiday season in the Crescent City is as dazzling as you’d imagine, and before you know it Twelfth Night on January 6 kicks off a whole new Carnival season.
For a more detailed look at what to expect, check our season-to-season guide.
What to Pack
Late fall and winter can swing both ways, so layering is your friend—be sure to bring cozy sweaters and jackets.
Spring heats up in early April, though you may still need a light jacket or wrap at night. Pack sunscreen, sun hats, ponchos and umbrellas for spring festival season and summer.
Forget something? There are plenty of places to pick up essentials near the Lafayette Hotel.
Before You Book
No matter when you decide to visit, be sure to take advantage of our best-rate guarantee by booking on our website.