Central Business District New Orleans—referred to as New Orleans CBD by locals—was once like many other "downtown" areas in large cities. At five o'clock in the evening, workers would head home and it would become a virtual ghost town. Today, this neighborhood throbs with the sounds of free concerts and hopeful visitors flock to Harrah's by the river, one of the city's many casinos.
Once part of the plantations owned by the city's founder, this section of town was settled primarily by English speakers and called the "American" sector. Canal Street separated it from the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, which were settled by French speaking Creole people. It was developed largely during the early 1800s after the Louisiana Purchase brought settlers from other parts of the United States. Today, Canal Street is one of the main thoroughfares for the city's streetcars, which run all the way to the famous cemeteries of Mid City and Metairie.
Many of the things to do in the Central Business District are concentrated around Lafayette Square. Free concerts draw crowds in the evenings. It was known as Place Gravier until it was renamed in 1825 after the Marquis Lafayette visited the city. Across the street is historic Gallier Hall, a beautiful Greek revival structure built between 1845 and 1853 that was the former City Hall. All around this area in Central Business District New Orleans are numerous dining spots serving traditional Cajun and Creole fare, a wide selection of hotels and bed and breakfasts, and many music bars. The park itself is a wonderful place for relaxing walks, and it hosts the free Wednesday at the Square concert series.
One of the important New Orleans CBD attractions is the famous Superdome, home of the beloved Saints football team—now even more beloved after their historic upset win over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl. This is the largest fixed dome stadium in the world. It was a source of great pride to the city before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and once again is a source of pride because of the Super Bowl win. If you plan to attend a Central Business District New Orleans Saints home game during your vacations, you should definitely purchase tickets and make hotel reservations as far in advance as possible. There are concerts and other sporting events held here during the off season. Other CBD attractions include the National World War II Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Louisiana Children's Museum.
Down by the Mississippi River waterfront, things to do in the Central Business District include some excellent shopping and the Audubon Nature Institute. Here is the famed Aquarium of the Americas, set on Canal Street between New Orleans CBD and the French Quarter. This is one of the most respected aquariums in the United States. The Audubon Institute also manages the respected Audubon Zoo, also on the river but located up river in the Uptown District. If you're looking for things to do in the Central Business District that involve shopping, head for Canal Place, a 32-story skyscraper near the waterfront that contains offices and three floors of shops, galleries, and boutiques. It is connected to the Westin New Orleans Hotel and within walking distance of other luxury hotels, including the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the Hilton Riverside, and the Windsor Court Hotel.