From the French Quarter to Bywater

Forget the French Quarter, there’s a new cool neighbourhood in New Orleans. Bywater is becoming the hip part of the city and it’s changing quickly.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Bywater, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

If you’ve been following my stories about New Orleans, you’ll know that I’ve written a few things about how the city has changed since Hurricane Katrina ten years ago.

There has been the physical recovery, still not finished, which has relied on volunteers in recent years to get houses back to a state where they are liveable.

There has been a rejuvenation in the city’s arts scene with a new focus from outside and an influx of young artists who are bringing fresh ideas. (You can read my story here about the new art scene in New Orleans.)

And there’s also been a transformation in the restaurants with new styles of cuisine gaining in popularity, chefs moving from interstate, and some really exciting new dining options. (You can read my story here about the best food in New Orleans.)

But it’s not just particular cultural aspects that have changed in the past decade. Entire neighbourhoods are also changing.

Some might call it gentrification – and that wouldn’t be an inaccurate description – but I feel it’s a bit more complicated than that.

From speaking to people, there’s a feeling that New Orleans had become stagnant and there was little change before Katrina. Although the natural disaster was horrific, it has led to some reassessment and certain parts of the city have used the opportunity to adapt to modern trends.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

I think the most obvious example is in a neighbourhood called Bywater, which has been described by some people as “contemporary bohemianism”.

I would put it more simply, and call it “hipster”.

Even before the devastation of 2005, artists and ‘bohemians’ had started to move into Bywater, drawn by the cheaper rent and the proximity to areas like the French Quarter. (Bywater is only about a 15 minute walk east from the edge of the French Quarter.)

In the early days, it was probably harder to notice the trend and the small businesses in the area gave no indication of the new residents.

In recent years, though, you can see in the style of cafes and shops that have opened that this is a hipster town… sorry, a contemporary bohemian town.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

The architecture of the houses hasn’t changed and the low level building with French or Spanish styles and Caribbean colours are beautiful. There’s so much vibrancy when the sun is out.

There are definitely still blocks that feel a bit rundown but you can also see that many of the houses have been refurbished, perhaps because there’s now a bit more money in the area – or maybe it’s just a bit more pride.

I don’t think the average tourist would venture to the Bywater – there’s enough to see in the French Quarter and the surrounding areas. It’s not famous and there are no landmarks, as such.

But one afternoon I go for a walk to the neighbourhood and spend a good few hours exploring it, stopping at a couple of cafes, and chatting to some of the local residents.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

There’s a relaxed vibe. It’s certainly a lot less crowded than the French Quarter and the life seems a little slower here – which is saying something for Louisiana.

It’s slightly artistic without being pretentious but still has a suburban community feel that you might lack in places like Shoreditch in London or Williamsburg in New York.

If you do make it to Bywater yourself, you might be wondering what there is to do. I’ve put together a short list of some of the places I found that I thought were quite cool and fun.

Here are some of my suggestions of what to see in Bywater in New Orleans:

Dr Bob’s Folk Art

It’s pretty obvious that there is a very unique style to all the work here at Dr Bob’s Folk Art (3027 Chartres St) and there is a lot of it.

There are plenty of things on display in the gallery and, because it comes in all shapes and sizes, you should even be able to find something to fit in your luggage. It’s worth a look around and a chat with the people working there.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans
Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

Euclid Records

You know that you’re in a trendy neighbourhood when there’s a record store and Euclid Records (3301 Chartres St) is a fantastic one. There are two levels here with records sorted into genre.

If you’ve been looking for something in particular, it’s worth trying here, or just have a look around for a dose of nostalgia.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans
Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

Crescent Park

Across the road from the record store is Crescent Park, which was opened in 2006 after redevelopment. It stretches along the Mississippi River for about 2.2 kilometres and has facilities for joggers, cyclists and dog walkers.

The idea behind the park is to create a space for the community to gather, to make Bywater an even more popular part of the city. It’s also just a really pretty park, I think!

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

The Old Ironworks

You may be lucky, you may not. The Old Ironworks (600 Piety St) is, as the name suggests, an old factory that has been turned into a community and arts space. So there are lots of events that happen here, including a monthly flea market.

There is a little cafe called Snoballs that is open most days, otherwise you might want to check a New Orleans events listing to see if there’s something on when you’re in town.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

Porché West

Even from the outside, you can tell that Porché West (3201 Burgundy St) is not a typical gallery.

Most of the works here focus on people and the idea is to find the common elements that bind everyone together. Some of the photos have been taken in New Orleans but there are others from around the country and the world.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

Bon Castor

Perhaps shopping is your thing – well the Bywater has a very cool little boutique shop for you called Bon Castor (3207 Burgundy St). It’s right next to Porché West and specialises in little things like soaps, cards, journals, pillows and purses.

Satsuma Cafe

And finally, if you’re feeling a bit hungry after all that exploring, a great place to stop for a drink or a bite is Satsuma Cafe (3218 Dauphine St). There’s a really chilled vibe and the emphasis is on local and organic ingredients.

As the owners put it, there’s no high-fructose corn syrup here! The hipsters have truly taken over.

Things to do in Bywater, New Orleans

If you’ve been to Bywater yourself – or even live there – I would love to hear any other suggestions you might have.

Please feel free to drop a note in the comments section below with any other places you would like to have seen on the list.


You’ll be able to find some hotels in gorgeous Art Nouveau buildings and there are lots of affordable options in Riga’s historic centre.


For a fun backpacker option, there’s India House.


There aren’t a lot of good cheap hotels in New Orleans, but I would suggest French Market Inn.


For a hotel with more style, you can try the wonderful Hotel Peter and Paul.


And the beautiful Maison de la Luz is one of the best luxury hotels in the city!

Time Travel Turtle was supported by the New Orleans CVB but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

10 thoughts on “From the French Quarter to Bywater”

    • Gee, Jules, be a jerk to a stranger because he walked around a neighbothood ang enjoyed it.

      Rather than being such the know-it-all judgemental prick being mean to those who have not learned any better, maybe just say that there is more to that are than he saw. Point to one of your many articles, including your own that can show how wrong he is.

      Michael, Your fourth paragraph was pretty darn offensive to locals who have enjoyed our city for decades, but no more offensive to me as the petty little scene bitches who have lost the civility that used to make this city pleasant.

      If you come back, talk to more people, losing our pas is not considered the best for everyone, just the ones who want to erase it’

    • Hi Jules. I’ve deleted your comment because it was offensive and dangerous, not because it was negative. Please feel free to comment again with any thoughts about the article. I’m always happy to hear other opinions because that’s how we learn about the world… and that’s the point of this site!

  1. The Bywater is also the best place to be the victim of a robbery since the socio economic gap there is so huge. Seriously, don’t walk around by yourself after dark.

  2. well as a teenager who was raised in a sheltered neighborhood for most of my life, and is starting to “get out there” I personally love bywater, its so colorful, and there are a bunch of amazing local restaurants, but some parts can feel kind of shady or scary, especially after dark. I would not recommend going there at night unless you are specifically going to a restaurant or place there and you parked really close, but at the same time, maybe it is safe and I just am not used to it because i was so sheltered for most of my life. But…anyway I go to bywater quite often, I just love it there. I really recommend going to Sneaky Pickle, the food is out of this world, and almost everything is vegan there! Also a couple blocks over they have the crepe place (i think its called The Bywater Hideout Cafe)which is delicious and they have vegan crepes! yes, i am vegan, and given that bywater has like so many vegan friendly places in such a small area in comparison to the rest of the city, i love bywater!

  3. Jules, do you have any information on the mirliton festival. I was searching for recipes and ran across an old article(2014) about it in Bywater. I would love to learn more about it. My sister said my mom used to cook these all the time and I don’t ever recall it. Thanks

  4. Articles like this only fuel the gentrification of this neighborhood. Its not there for tourists or for those from Cali or NY to settle into. Hopefully New Orleans won’t fall prey to this in the same way Charleston or Savannah has. If you visit or move here, do so because you fell in love with it – as it is. This ain’t NYC or LA, so don’t try to make it as such. The Marigny is the last stronghold against gentrification. Let’s keep it that way.


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