New Orleans’ Arts District, aka: The Warehouse District, provides a complete cultural travel experience…for locals and visitors alike.

There are always intriguing experiences that will entice one to get Out and About in the Warehouse District.  This weekend the activities don’t just entice but practically demand your presence.

The Warehouse District, known today as the New Orleans Arts District, was originally established as an industrial area in the 19th century to store grain, coffee, and produce shipped through the Port of New Orleans.

Needless to say, as commerce changed, so did the district.  A once thriving commercial district became rather derelict. Now the pendulum has swung back again, to a repurposed Warehouse District where you will see Sugar Mills as concert halls, Fiber Mills as Condos, and an old ice cream factory as the anchor of this resurgence.  In 1976, that old ice cream factory became the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).

Almost 40 years later, the CAC sits amidst a thriving neighborhood filled with the rich culture of New Orleans…food, music, art.  What is a day in New Orleans without food, music, art?  Well, it is likely a day you slept through or were buried.  Actually, if you were buried, you would have a second-line and repast – which includes food, music, and art.

Let’s get back to the Warehouse District ( I rarely use the term Arts District, that’s just me, but all the light pole banners in the area read Arts District).  A delightful way to acquaint yourself with this ever changing urban-scape is the Creole Pub Crawl.  Their social guide will take you on a walking tour of the area intertwining historic tales with historic cocktails in contemporary establishments.  As I said, delightful.

The tour includes a stroll down Julia Street which is now packed with art galleries.  Take note of the exhibits as you pass the windows so that you can peruse your favorites following the tour.

This Saturday is an excellent opportunity to max out a visit to the Arts District.  Start with the Pub Crawl which ends at 5:30 PM.  Hit your favorite gallery (galleries are open late on the first Saturday of each month – this Saturday) on the way to the American Sector, yet another delicious John Besh restaurant, located in the National WWII Museum on Camp Street.  Here you can snack on a few sliders and fantastic fries (!!!) to tide you over until your late dinner.

Why the late night dinner?  Because there is a must see show tonight at the CAC.  The aforementioned CAC that, after over 35 years, is still “entertaining and enlightening” visitors with an eclectic array of music, theater, and dance in their two theaters which are nestled within their cutting-edge visual art galleries.

The show: Hannibal Lokumbe.  Lakumbe  is a masterful composer, trumpeter, conductor, and band leader.  He did a residency in New Orleans in the late 1990’s.  As usual, the seductive nature of the Crescent City inspired him and his art as well as captured his heart.  It happens.  A lot.  During this time he composed 4 major orchestral works and a dozen or more additional pieces.

I recall one piece he presented at the Saenger Theater that had emotions bubbling up from deep inside. I’ll repeat myself… masterful.

His performances this weekend will include a special preview of a visual art exhibit comprised of the scroll type paper on which he composed during his residency.  A rare look inside the composers method and inspirations entitled “and their voices cry freedom again”.

He will perform two shows (Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM) with an all-star quintet plus choral pieces performed by both Dillard University Choir and the Nichols State Choir.
Actually, you may want to start your Arts District experience at Friday nights performance.   Explore the district Saturday afternoon (as described above) and return to the CAC for Saturday night’s performance.

He will be performing a completely different show each night.

Afterwards, unwind with a good meal at one of the sublime eateries that serve dinner late, such as La Boca – an Adolfo Garcia Argentinian steak house.  YUM.  Or Tommy’s Cuisine on Tchoupitoulas.  Tommy’s service and Creole Italian dishes are classic.  It’s a lively room that fosters a friendly atmosphere. The Duck Tchoupitoulas is one of my favorites – crispy and glazed.

There are so many more experiences awaiting you in the Warehouse District you can keep coming back for more…

and on and on and on.


Much love,

Out and About is a weekly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans. Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ (and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.