The 6 Best Neighborhoods in New Orleans to Spend a Weekend

From Treme’s music-filled streets to laid-back Uptown living.

When first-timers venture into New Orleans, chances are they’ll only ever see the French Quarter. And while the Quarter is undoubtedly the city’s most famous district—not to mention an obvious crash course for those looking for a quick entrée into New Orleans nightlife and dining—tourists all too often miss out on what makes this city truly unique: There are few cities in America with neighborhoods as proud and as colorful as those dispersed throughout New Orleans. 

Emerge from the Quarter and you're bound to stumble into countless hidden gems, vibrant museums, friendly dive bars, and classic restaurants ready and willing to show you one helluva good time. To help you plan your off-the-beaten-path excursion, we’ve rounded up six corners of New Orleans guaranteed to make you feel right at home, whether you’re here for a weekend or charmed enough to stick around indefinitely.

Marigny 

The Faubourg Marigny (pronounced fo-burg mare-uh-ny—you’re welcome) gets its name from Bernard Marigny, who once owned a plantation on the land where the neighborhood now stands. It’s adjacent to the French Quarter—Esplanade Avenue is the dividing line—and is teeming with eye-catching Creole cottages, corner stores, neighborhood bars, and live music.

Elysian Bar
Elysian Bar

Where to stay: A neighborhood fixture, Hotel Peter & Paul is a restored Catholic church, school, rectory, and cloister. Be sure to stop for drinks or dinner at the Elysian Bar, even if you end up staying elsewhere. Auld Sweet Olive is a traditional B&B with well-appointed rooms plus a breezy veranda perfect for people-watching, and the Royal St. Inn sports an array of funky, comfortable rooms stashed directly (and conveniently) above the beloved watering hole, the R Bar.

Spotted Cat Music Club
Spotted Cat Music Club

What to do: The Marigny is ground zero for live music, thanks to the sheer number of clubs in this little slice of New Orleans. Frenchmen Street, located just one block from the eastern edge of the French Quarter, is where you’ll hear live tunes pouring out of nearly every doorway for four solid blocks. Check out The Apple Barrel, the Spotted Cat, and d.b.a, or head to St. Claude Avenue for more even music, stand-up comedy, and drag queen performances at clubs like the Hi-Ho or The AllWays Lounge. For daytime activity, local bike tour company Confederacy of Cruisers offers fantastic neighborhood tours, including a cocktail crawl and a food tour, and Crescent Park offers unparalleled views of the city.

St. Roch Market
St. Roch Market

Best restaurants: Start your day with coffee at the Orange Couch, or opt for something a little more substantial with a stop at Small Mart Vegetarian Cafe, recently relocated from a tiny bodega-style store in the French Quarter and now serving an expanded vegetarian and vegan menu. Food hall St. Roch Market is definitely worth a lunchtime look-see, with vendors hawking upmarket coffee, seafood, BBQ, fresh smoothies, salads, soups, and sandwiches. 

For dinner, you have a ton of options: live music, cocktails and chef-driven food at Three Muses; new-school regional Italian food at Paladar 511; a classy bistro vibe at The Franklin; smoked meat meets Vietnamese fare at Em Trai; meat, meat, and more meat (plus housemade pasta) at Shank Charcuterie; classic New Orleans cuisine and craft cocktails at Morrow’s; casual falafel and ethically sourced sandwiches at Kebab; or small plates with a party vibe at Anna’s.

Bars and nightlife: Aside from club hopping, some other awesome after-dark options include belting out karaoke at Kajun’s Pub, enjoying a housemade beer at Brieux Carre Brewing, or simply kicking back at a neighborhood bar like Marie’s or Iggy’s.

Lower Garden District

Long ago, the LGD was home to a sizable population of working class immigrants due to its close proximity to both the city’s downtown economic hub as well as industrial opportunities along the busy nearby riverfront. Today, however, the neighborhood is buzzing with hip coffee shops, bars, restaurants, antique and vintage shops, and galleries, among other attractions.

Hotel Saint Vincent
Hotel Saint Vincent

Where to stay: The neighborhood’s newest addition to its accommodations lineup is the Hotel Saint Vincent, an ultra-hip escape perched on the edge of bustling Magazine Street. The Pontchartrain Hotel on Saint Charles Avenue is inspired by one of its most famous past guests, Tennessee Williams, and the location can’t be beat (neither can the views from its rooftop bar, Hot Tin). Art Deco-inspired modern glamour abounds at the upscale Henry Howard Hotel, housed in a pristinely restored double-gallery Creole townhouse originally designed by the eponymous Mr. Howard, an architect of great renown in 19th-century New Orleans.

NOLA MIX Records
NOLA MIX Records

Things to do: Although Magazine Street offers several magnificent miles of shopping, the stretch in the LGD is by far the funkiest. Check out Century Girl for flirty vintage clothes, Miette for offbeat gifts—including the famous “Carnival flowers” that decorated area homes during the parade-free pandemic Mardi Gras in 2020—the Sunday Shop for interior design and lifestyle inspiration, Bella Umbrella for a variety of parasols and umbrellas, NOLA Mix Records for all your vinyl needs, Tchoup Industry for recycled canvas bags of all shapes and sizes, and 1920 Magazine for cool wares made by local artists. Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is great for groups or families, and very committed to educating passers-by all about Mardi Gras and why we’re so into it. 

Birdy's Behind The Bower
Birdy's Behind The Bower

Best restaurants: You’re looking at the highest concentration of quality breakfast spots in town right here. A stop at Molly’s Rise and Shine is a must—it’s owned and operated by the same crew that helms nearby sandwich paradise Turkey and the Wolf, which is well worth a visit in its own right. Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar often has a line snaking out the door on weekends, and for good reason; it’s a hip little joint with options to please everyone, including vegans and vegetarians. HiVolt Coffee boasts strong coffee, baked goods, and a varied selection of breakfast and lunch items for vegans and the gluten-free set alike. Birdy’s is a standout brunch spot, especially if you’re rolling with a large group (just make sure to snag a reservation ahead of time). 

For lunch, grab a banh mi or bowl of pho at Lily’s Cafe, or pop into Gris-Gris across the street, which also serves dinner and has an excellent cocktail program. Blue Giant Chinese, the brainchild of two fine dining chefs who yearned for a place to get classic American-style Chinese food, also holds its own. For something a little fancier, check out Jack Rose at the Pontchartrain Hotel, which combines New Orleans and Southern cuisine with rebellious flair and stands as one of the best decorated restaurants in the city, hands down.

Barrel Proof
Barrel Proof

Bars and nightlife: Beer and whiskey lovers will want to hunker down at the Avenue Pub, know for pouring the good stuff 24 hours a day. For local suds, check out Courtyard Brewery and Urban South Brewery, both of which offer high quality brews alongside frequent pop-ups and food trucks. You’ll find a great happy hour and even better whiskey collection at Barrel Proof, and if you find yourself ending up at The Saint, it’s quite possible you should have gone home already, but you might as well revel in the wild late-night vibes well into morning.

Bayou St. John

Bayou St. John and the Fairgrounds are amid the city’s most historic districts, thanks in part to their importance along early trade routes connecting the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain to the north. Today, these neighborhoods are home to offbeat restaurants, cozy coffee shops, and quirky boutiques. The area is also perfectly situated for out-of-towners attending large events like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Voodoo Fest in the fall.

La Belle Esplanade
La Belle Esplanade

Where to stay: A night or two spent at La Belle Esplanade is a vivacious, exuberant experience heightened by its master of ceremonies, Matthew King (to call him an innkeeper really doesn’t do him justice). Just a couple houses down sits the Degas House Bed & Breakfast, once home to painter Edgar Degas. Right on the bank of the bayou you’ll find Bayou St. John Bed & Breakfast, stocked with two rooms and a super homey ethos. 

What to do: Although the Lafitte Greenway starts in the Treme and ends in Mid-City, a good amount of the walking and biking path runs through Bayou St. John. The banks of bayou are a wonderful place to stretch your legs after a big meal or even do a little kayaking if that’s your style—check out the bright blue Cabrini pedestrian bridge as well as the historic Pitot House (one of the oldest buildings still standing in New Orleans). Le Musee de f.p.c. relays the history of enslaved folks, free people of color, and the African-American experience in an intimate setting via guided tours. And don’t miss the chance to explore the various sights and shops along Bayou Road including Southern Rep Theatre, the Community Book Center, and Domino Sound Record Shack.

Parkway Bakery and Tavern
Parkway Bakery and Tavern

Best restaurants: Start your day right with breakfast at Toast or Pagoda Cafe. Come lunchtime, choose between a famous roast beef po-boy at legendary Parkway Bakery and Tavern or the BBQ shrimp po-boy at the equally legendary Liuzza By the Track. Later, spring for dinner at the sophisticated Cafe Degas French bistro, the ever-inviting 1000 Figs, the lively Spanish restaurant Lola’s, or the perpetually-busy Neyow’s for tasty Creole dishes, and polish things off by grabbing a bottle of wine for an al fresco nightcap at Swirl Wine Bar and Market.

Bars and nightlife: For such a small, eclectic neighborhood, there’s something for everyone here. Take, for instance, neighborhood vibes and cheap drinks at Pal’s Lounge, a sports bar vibe at Wrong Iron on the Greenway (literally right on the Lafitte Greenway), cigars and whiskey at Whiskey & Sticks, and laid back hangs Bayou Beer Garden, which shares a huge outdoor patio (and ownership) with an adjoining wine garden.

Treme

Recognized as the oldest Black neighborhood in America, Treme packs both a joyful and tragic history. It was here that many New Orleans traditions were born, including second-lines and Mardi Gras Indians. And while residents whose families have lived there for generations are currently struggling with rising housing prices, there’s still no better way to get to know New Orleans’ Black community than by experiencing neighborhood’s bounty of jazz clubs, soul food spots, and cultural centers.

Rathbone Mansions
Rathbone Mansions

Where to stay: B&Bs line this stretch of Esplanade, with Rathbone Mansions standing out as one of the area’s more luxurious yet still attainable options. Jazz Quarters, just off North Rampart, sits steps away from the French Quarter, sports a killer courtyard, and—bonus—the curator of the Petit Jazz Museum also rents out the room above the museum. Ashton’s Bed and Breakfast, which housed Serena Williams when she wed Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, is also a first-rate pick.

Congo Square
Congo Square | William A. Morgan/Shutterstock

What to do: As mentioned, this neighborhood is rife with tributes to New Orleans’ rich Black cultural history. For a more traditional museum-y experience, stop into the New Orleans African American Museum, and don’t miss the Backstreet Cultural Museum, where you can learn about Mardi Gras Indians and second-line traditions. At the Petit Jazz Museum, the amount of knowledge you’ll gain drastically dwarfs the one-room museum. For outdoor sights, definitely check out the musician statues and other public art installations around the Congo Square area in Armstrong Park. Stroll by the iconic St. Augustine Church (the first African-American Catholic Church in the country) to see the sobering Tomb of the Unknown Slave, paying homage to all the enslaved people who lived and died in New Orleans.

Willie Mae's - NOLA
Willie Mae's - NOLA

Best restaurants: Early risers should hit up Old Road Coffee or Backatown Coffee Parlour first thing for coffee and housemade baked goods. Fatma’s Cozy Corner offers more substantial breakfast and lunch options with global influences (think Turkish coffee with a Cuban sandwich), and you’ll find top-notch Ethtiopan fare at Addis NOLA.

A two-block radius around Orleans Avenue features several restaurants steeped in New Orleans lore. Dooky Chase, where the late Leah Chase treated everyone from local council members to the President of the United States to her homestyle cooking, has been serving as a safe space for Black folks to gather since well before the Civil Rights Era. Gabrielle is a family-run institution with Uptown roots serving classic Creole dishes, and last, but certainly not least, Willie Mae’s Scotch House’s legendary fried chicken is absolutely worth the inevitable wait time.

Bars and nightlife: There are a slew of tiny corner bars (many with live music) dotting the neighborhood, especially as you drift closer eastward to the Seventh Ward. Duck into Bullet’s Sports Bar or Kermit’s Treme Mother In Law Lounge, which combines the star power of two local icons, Kermit Ruffins and the late Ernie K. Doe. 

Warehouse District

Once a busy industrial area, this ‘hood serves as a bridge between the busy Central Business District and more residential Uptown. And perhaps because of this key location, the Warehouse District is now one of the most culturally rich and restaurant-dense neighborhoods in the city. With the Convention Center right along the river, the internationally lauded World War II Museum, and its very own Arts District, the area is always hopping.

The Eliza Jane New Orleans
The Eliza Jane New Orleans

Where to stay: Hotel developments, restorations, and renovations seem to pop up around here at a rapid pace. A couple of the more interesting options include the arts-oriented Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery, the Art Deco-influenced Maison de la Luz, the always hip Ace Hotel(complete with a coveted pool bar), the gorgeous multi-building restoration The Eliza Jane, and the Lafayette Hotel, with its central location and timeless, easy hospitality. Virgin Hotels is also soon to open an outpost here, and Kimpton recently entered the neighborhood with the Hotel Fontenot.

What to do: The World War II Museum has grown into a hugely successful operation, both in popularity, content, and general scope. It’s a must-do for anyone with any interest in American history. Stop by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art for a perspective on regional art, then mix things up at the Contemporary Arts Center across the street. Keep the cultural jaunt going by perusing the six blocks of Julia Street, also known as Gallery Row, and exploring spaces that highlight local and international artists.

Maypop Restaurant
Maypop Restaurant

Best restaurants: Stop by Willa Jean, a full-service bakery and restaurant with a buzzy brunch scene. Come for the addictive pastry and Intelligentsia coffee, then stay for the fried chicken biscuit. Elsewhere, Carmo showcases Latin American flavors and offers a great lineup of vegetarian and vegan dishes in a casual setting; Compere Lapin is the flagship restaurant from chef Nina Compton; Maypop fuses the flavors of Southeast Asia with those of Southeast Louisiana; Gianna (Italian) and Peche (seafood) are Donald Link Group restaurants, a family that also includes the more Cajun-focused Cochon and its casual sister deli Cochon Butcher nearby. Sofia breathes new life into coastal Italian cuisine, while Otra Vez offers upscale Mexican cuisine from tacos to mole. 

Bars and nightlife: No matter what you’re in the mood for or how you want your evening to shape up, this district has you covered. Catch live music at The Howlin’ Wolf, drink and play Simpsons pinball (along with tons of other games) at Barcadia, bowl for funsies at Fulton Alley, or post up at dog-friendly dive bar The Rusty Nail. And not-to-be-missed cocktail stunner Bar Marilou is a sumptuous space with Parisian flair and a speakeasy vibe.

Uptown

Nestled between the Garden District and the point where the Mississippi River bends, Uptown covers a lot of ground. The area encompasses smaller neighborhoods like the Irish Channel, Riverside, the Garden District, and Freret, with the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line providing access to all. Even a self-guided tour of beautiful Uptown homes could give you plenty to do in a day, but we’ve got a host of other suggestions to keep you busy.

The Chloe
The Chloe

Where to stay: Somewhat of a local institution, The Columns Hotel is right on St. Charles and recently benefited from a full-blown restoration. For a budget-friendly yet still stylish option, check into the mid-century modern Alder Hotel, located within a stone’s throw of action-packed Freret Street. Hotel Chloe, a swanky 14-room boutique hotel in a converted mansion on St. Charles, counts among the neighborhood’s more recent additions.

What to do: Wandering Freret Street generally makes for a fun (not to mention delicious) time. While here, check out Windowsill Pies, Crescent City Comics, and, if you’re so inclined, get acquainted with some puppies or cats at Zeus’ Rescues. The Uptown section of Magazine Street features some higher-end boutiques, galleries, and antique shops. Favorites include the unique Imaginarium from Lady Delaney, where you can discover whimsical miniatures and other curios for sale, Magpie for vintage clothing and jewelry, Dark Garden Corsetry and Couture, and locally designed jewelry at Mignon Faget. Or make your own, if you’re so inspired, at The Bead Shop. And if you’re looking to take a load off, head to the Prytania Theater, which features arthouse films and afternoon classics.

The Company Burger Downtown
The Company Burger Downtown

Best restaurants: Cherry Espresso is a great place to kick back with an expertly brewed cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon. In the mood for oysters? No-fuss, hard-working Casamento’s is the place to be. Freret Street is teeming with options for places to eat, but Company Burger, High Hat Cafe, and Vals are sure-fire standouts. Go high-end at Saffron, or tuck into French-influenced New Orleans cuisine at La Petite Grocery. Grab a sandwich at Guy’s Poboys or the St. James Cheese Company. Visit old-timey ice cream parlor Creole Creamery for hand-churned ice cream in locally influenced flavors like Black and Gold Crunch, Green Fairy, or King Cake. Or partake in an age-old local tradition with a sno-ball from Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, where the finely shaved frozen treats come spiked with syrups that run the gamut. 

Bars and nightlife: There’s a bar for every occasion and mood in Uptown. Head to Tipitina’s for rowdy crowds and live music, or seek out Le Bon Temps Roule for pool and a corner bar vibe. Port Orleans Brewing Company offers freshly brewed beer a stone’s throw away from Tipitina’s, and its expansive outdoor space is family-friendly. Finally, popping into nationally recognized cocktail den Cure for a spirited nightcap or happy hour tipple is a definite must.

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Chelsea Brasted is a freelance writer in her hometown of New Orleans.