The Bywater neighborhood, located about a mile from New Orleans’ French Quarter along the Mississippi River, has long attracted artists. Now, 10 years post Katrina, it’s become one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods. With the new Crescent Park along its riverfront border and a streetcar line expanding to carry riders closer to the neighborhood, residents, businesses and visitors are flocking to the Bywater.
What gets you on the plane: NOLA’s cool cats are heading to Bywater, a riverside artist enclave just a mile from French Quarter that’s filled with B&Bs, green space, art studios, and a resolution-busting roundup of great eats.
The happy surprise: You could easily center an entire weekend around St. Roch Market, a gloriously restored market hall turned showcase for Nola chefs getting creative with the local bounty. Bookend a day with Coast Roast Coffee & Tea and The Sweet Spot (hello, bacon-pecan cinnamon roll) in the morning, and in the evening, Korean fried chicken from Koreole and a fresh watermelon margarita at the Mayhaw.
Weekend x factor: A soon-to-open streetcar line that links the Bywater to the French Quarter means you can quickly get to Café Du Monde’s beignets without having to lodge in touristlandia.
When to go: Visit New Orleans in fall, when the weather varies between summer and crisper temps. The four-hour direct flight time from the West Coast makes it an easy weekend getaway, and East Coasters have a closer hop.
Where to stay: Get to know the Bywater like a local from your home base at Maison de Macarty, a B&B in a 1860s Victorian home that’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where to eat: New Orleans food is the best cure for air travel, so sample the sweet praline bacon at Elizabeth’s or tender baby back ribs at The Joint. A new restaurant, Press Street Station, benefits the NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) Institute culinary program: Proceeds support programs for students, faculty, and the community.
Where to play: Walk to The Country Club to grab a cool beverage and perhaps a swim in the pool. Get an only-in-New-Orleans souvenir from Bon Castor, a shop with handmade crafts and repurposed textiles, all made by local artisans.
Tip from a local: “Going out here is driven by drinking,” says Elizabeth Pearce, a Bywater resident and drinks historian with Drink & Learn. “Going to a bar that serves great food is like happy hour has been extended.” She prefers Oxalis, with its $5 signature Old Fashioned cocktails and burger topped with marrow. New Orleans’ rich trinity of food, drink and music comes together at Bacchanal Wine, where you can kick back in the outdoor courtyard and let it all happen.
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Jill K. Robinson Jill K. Robinson writes about travel and adventure for AFAR, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Outside, Sierra, and more. She has won Lowell Thomas, Society of American Travel Writers, and American Society of Journalists and Authors awards for her work.