Read Caption
Crescent Park, in New Orleans's up-and-coming Bywater neighborhood, extends along 1.4 miles of the mighty Mississippi, providing unparalleled views of the downtown city skyline. (Photograph by James Houser New Orleans / Alamy Stock Photo)

Beyond the Quarter: The Perfect Day in New Orleans

The 21st century granted two of New Orleans‘ historic 19th-century working-class neighborhoods a new lease on life.

Located downriver from the French Quarter and filled with Creole architecture, the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater’s grace-and-grit attracted artists, gays, and iconoclasts fond of doing things their own way. (Case in point: the local Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus‘s sci-fi-themed Mardi Gras parade.)

My prescription for the perfect day along the Mississip’:

Press Street Station: Begin the day with a plate of eggs, toast, and creamy grits and slow drip coffee at a new bistro that’s part of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).

Crescent Park: Find New Orleans’ newest riverside destination over a rusty rainbow of a bridge that vaults over railroad tracks. Stroll the 1.4-mile-long linear park along the Mississippi, stopping at Piety Wharf to take in views of the downtown skyline and Algiers, the only west bank neighborhood in NOLA.

Euclid RecordsAt the base of the Crescent Park bridge sits an honest-to-God record store selling vintage vinyl. Knowledgeable staffers can point you in any direction from collectible R&B treasures to freshly pressed discs from an assortment of local musicians.

St. Roch Market: After sitting empty for a decade, the classic public market has been reimagined as a showcase for locally sourced produce and prepared meals. Grab a mid-day pick-me-up at Sweet Spot Bakery, Coast Roast Coffee, or Elysian Seafood (try the gumbo).

View Images
The Jesse Morrow Trio perform in the backyard of Bacchanal, a wine and cheese bar in the Bywater neighborhood. (Photograph by Kris Davidson)

Pizza DeliciousMillennials and mushrooms, hold the tradition. This Kickstarter enterprise founded by two New Yorkers brought thin-crust pizza to the masses with pie toppings such as vodka sauce, pancetta, and peppadew. Save room for garlic knots and a cold craft brew.

Marigny Opera House: Catch an evening show at one of the city’s newest cultural venues. The dreamy-shabby venue, a deconsecrated church, is now home to a resident dance troupe and hosts visiting theatrical and performance artists—including NOLA local Solange Knowles.

Oxalis: Late-night cocktails or a burger and frites are on offer at this Dauphine Street gastroteria, which sits kitty-corner from pioneering Bywater restaurant Booty’s.

New Orleans-based writer Andrew Nelson is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler. Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewnelson.