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The French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street — these are a few staple neighborhoods that first pop into one’s head when contemplating a trip to New Orleans.
But for travelers who have already done the beignets-booze-beads trifecta on trips past or simply want to go deeper, another neighborhood has more recently become the talk of the town: the vibrant Bywater Historic District, located about 2 miles from the French Quarter.
Much like the rest of the Big Easy, Bywater is filled to the brim with multicolored homes, quirky shops, eclectic restaurants and bars, southern hospitality, a strong culture and a poignant history — but its laid-back vibe and slower pace is all its own.
Following are five of the best spots for getting acquainted with the up-and-coming NOLA destination.
Bacchanal WineEspecially on warm summer evenings, folks from near and far gather at Bacchanal Wine for soulful, Mediterranean-inspired fare and an ambiance that begets many a warm-and-fuzzy feeling. Grab a seat on the house-turned-restaurant’s patio, where talented local musicians take the stage to croon and play original jazz tunes every night
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Bacchanal (@bacchanalwine) on Aug 13, 2018 at 10:45am PDT
A post shared by Bacchanal (@bacchanalwine) on Aug 13, 2018 at 10:45am PDT
While tapping their feet to the beat, guests can munch on outstanding small plates, including patatas bravas (thick, crispy baked potato wedges) with tomato, esplette (pepper) and chimichurri aioli; gulf shrimp marinated in sherry and red pepper flakes; and a hefty portion of braised pork shoulder, dressed in caponata, garlic jus and zucchini mustard seed.
Guests can also choose their own cheeses from Bacchanal’s fridge; a staff member will then assemble the selection with bread, nuts, olives and jam, thus making the ultimate cheese plate. Of course, sipping on quality wine to wash everything down is a must.
Crescent Park A 20-acre, 1.4-mile-long linear park that hugs the Mississippi River, Crescent Park provides a bit of respite from the boisterousness that embodies much of New Orleans. Here, manicured gardens, lush foliage and gently lapping waves of the nearby river provide a sharp and interesting contrast with modern art installations, abandoned railroad tracks, charred wharfs and iron bridges.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Adam (@adamjeversole) on Aug 8, 2018 at 9:31am PDT
A post shared by Adam (@adamjeversole) on Aug 8, 2018 at 9:31am PDT
Dine alfresco on picnic tables, or take to the park’s trails for a run, bike ride or leisurely stroll — all while enjoying an unobstructed view of the New Orleans skyline in the distance.
The Country ClubFor more than 40 years, The Country Club in all of its 1884 Italianate manse glory has been a Bywater neighborhood fixture. Though it once was a members-only, clothing-optional country club, today it invites all revelers ages 21 and over to dine, drink and take a dip in its pool (albeit no longer in the nude).
Reservations are recommended for The Country Club’s restaurant, which offers a mean brunch including fried green tomatoes with poached eggs, and buttermilk fried chicken and waffles. Bottomless mimosas, a stacked bloody mary bar and a substantial cocktail selection are also not to be missed. Lunch and dinner menus feature other delectable fare, inspired by Creole, Southern, Italian and French cuisines.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by The Country Club New Orleans (@thecountryclubneworleans) on Mar 20, 2018 at 7:18am PDT
A post shared by The Country Club New Orleans (@thecountryclubneworleans) on Mar 20, 2018 at 7:18am PDT
On Saturdays, a drag brunch is sure to entertain, with showtimes at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Admission for the pool club is $15 per day, and both towel and locker rentals are available for $2 each. (The pool contains saltwater and is heated.) The poolside menu has something for every palate, from Thai noodle salads and tofu wraps to elote (Mexican grilled corn) and pork rinds.
The Music Box VillageThe radical result of a collaboration amongst more than 50 artists and under the guidance of nonprofit organization New Orleans Airlift, The Music Box Village is part interactive sculpture garden, part music venue — and a truly incredible, immersive experience. Though tucked away and practically hidden in Bywater, it has attracted big-name artists such as Wilco, Solange and Animal Collective, as well as legions of devoted fans.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by New Orleans Airlift (@neworleans.airlift) on Jun 7, 2018 at 4:38pm PDT
A post shared by New Orleans Airlift (@neworleans.airlift) on Jun 7, 2018 at 4:38pm PDT
On an average day, though, the setup of metal-and-wood shanties alone is enough to impress — each structure is actually an improvised instrument, rigged with items such as amplifiers, wind chimes, steel strings, plastic piping, foghorns and more.
The Music Box Village reopens for its fall season on Sept. 15, and a suggested admission is $12.
St. Roch MarketOpen since April 2015, this Southern food hall is a feast for the senses. For starters, it’s a sight to behold, thanks to a 30-foot ceiling, stately columns, original pendant lights and marble countertops — all in a striking white-and-black color palette. Then, there’s the tantalizing aromas, followed by tasty flavors, that are sure to strike any visitor’s fancy.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by St. Roch Market (@st.rochmarket) on Aug 20, 2018 at 9:06am PDT
A post shared by St. Roch Market (@st.rochmarket) on Aug 20, 2018 at 9:06am PDT
A variety of vendors peddle everything from fresh-roasted drip coffee (Coast Roast Coffee) to smoked brisket tacos (La Mezcla Mexicana), dressed-up quinoa bowls (The Daily Beet) and shrimp po’boys (Elysian Seafood).