Bayou St. John is a quiet part of New Orleans known for its beautiful nature. Home to many a festival including Bayou Boogaloo, Praise Fest, and the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, on any given day you’ll find people running, walking their dogs, or just taking in the sun. Whether you choose to kayak on the water or picnic on the banks, Bayou St. John is the perfect place to enjoy a New Orleans afternoon.
Bayou St. John isn’t named arbitrarily - the neighborhood’s namesake waterway is perhaps the highlight of this Mid-City micro-neighborhood. The bayou makes for a tranquil place to picnic, watch the sunset, toss a frisbee, or even practice yoga. Most notably, you can easily rent kayaks or paddleboards (try here or here) and get on the water yourself, taking in views you’ll only find in this neighborhood.
Just across from Bayou St. John lies the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). The beautiful building sits beside Big Lake in City Park and beckons any traveler looking for an art fix. But another gem is the FREE Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden that sits behind NOMA. Over 60 sculptures by renowned global artists live here and serve as constant inspiration to Bayou St. John residents, and all who visit the park.
Just a block away from the water, you’ll find two connected bars with outdoor patios: Bayou Beer Garden and Bayou Wine Garden. Walk back and forth between them or choose your favorite: at either, you’ll find a local crowd enjoying seasonal sips. At Bayou Beer Garden, choose from hundreds of brews - local, Louisiana-made, and beyond. Plus, during crawfish season, you can join in the bar’s weekly crawfish boil. At the wine garden, grab a bottle of vino and sit in the outdoor garden. Treat yourself to a cheese plate - you deserve it.
As you can tell by now, Bayou St. John is a treasure trove of hidden gems. Running perpendicular to the bayou, tree-lined Esplanade Avenue is full of local restaurants just a hop and a skip from the water. Grab dinner at one of the adorable local spots you’ll stumble upon in the neighborhood: Lola’s for sangria and paella, 1000 Figs for Mediterranean fare, Café Degas for French food under twinkling lights, and Santa Fe to satisfy your Mexican cravings. All are great for solo dinners, date nights, or group dinners - they’re cozy and low-key with cuisine and cocktails that don’t disappoint.
One of the best parts about traveling to New Orleans is the welcoming atmosphere. It’s a perfect combination of Southern hospitality and a “come as you are” policy at each doorstep that gets visitors booking their next trip before they’ve even returned home. And Pal’s really embodies that energy. A favorite among locals and visitors alike, this dive bar is the perfect place to cheer on the Saints and try out some new brews or their signature Gingerita.
Grab takeout from Parkway Bakery & Tavern and enjoy your meal along the banks of Bayou St. John. Known for their po-boys, this classic New Orleans eatery features the best fillings between two slices of French bread: roast beef, fried shrimp, fried fish, and more! Grab a long-neck bottle of Barq’s root beer and feast away.
The Lafitte Greenway runs through the Bayou St. John/ Mid-City neighborhood all the way through Tremé and to the French Quarter. Many people like to walk or bike down the trail, but right around Bayou St. John there are places to stop and grab a drink. If you’ve got a craving for coffee, French Truck is the answer. Want to grab a pint and catch the game? Wrong Iron has you covered. There are plenty of spots to stop and enjoy along the Greenway.
Held on Thursday evening right next to Parkway Bakery, the Mid-City Crescent City Farmer’s Market is a great place to find fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, and cooked meals. Visit from 3-7 p.m. (or 3-6 p.m. during winter) to support local farmers.
The Bayou St. John neighborhood is home to Pitot House, a circa-1799 West Indies-style home and garden. It was home to the first U.S. Mayor of New Orleans, James Pitot, and his family from 1810-1819. Visit Pitot House for a tour of the Louisiana Landmark. Just outside of the Bayou St. John neighborhood, Le Musée de f.p.c. is another historic house museum dedicated to the legacy of free people of color with tours available by appointment.
Bayou St. John is home to many festivals throughout the year. In May there’s Bayou Boogaloo, in which music lovers and foodie arrive by boat—or by foot. In October, Praise Fest takes over the bayou with a lineup of all-star musicians. Come December, Greenway Supernova illuminates the area with a free, three-night, light and art experience highlighting New Orleans artists, musicians, and food. Check the festival calendar here to find what’s coming next to Bayou St. John!