New Orleans’ Riverbend neighborhood is a stunning area of Uptown New Orleans beside Carrollton Avenue and the levee next to the Mississippi River. From the French Quarter, it’s just a thirty minute, gorgeous streetcar ride along the St. Charles streetcar under the ancient Oak trees (or a quick car ride). Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this beautiful, residential part of town filled with local gems like restaurants, shops, and scenery. In our humble opinion, it’s one of the best neighborhoods to take a leisurely stroll in. To help guide your Riverbend visit, we’ve compiled this list of what to see and do there.
Start your day with a cup of coffee from Rue de la Course, a Riverbend coffeehouse inside of a beautiful historic bank building. This spot is mostly filled with locals who are getting their caffeine fix or students using the lovely atmosphere as a study spot. Breads on Oak is another fantastic spot for a quick breakfast fix - their vegan bread is delicious and sold around town!
Oak Street has indescribable local charm. From Carrollton to the river, there are about ten blocks of all locally-owned shops and stores ranging from restaurants to bookshops. Sift through the book shelves at Blue Cypress Books, where you’ll find tons of books about New Orleans (and any other topic that may interest you). To get a feel for a true family-run operation in the Crescent City, check out Haase’s, a shoe store that’s been run by the Haase family since 1921. Keep walking to find antique and thrift stores like Rabbit Ears. Along the way you’ll be able to take in the sights of refurbished historic architecture.
After you’ve spent ample time on Oak Street, take a leisurely stroll to Maple Street, a nearby street filled with even more quaint establishments to explore. There are trendy women’s clothing stores like Angelique and Gae-tana’s, and secondhand shops like Swap, where you can discover vintage finds and designer goods on deep discount. If you’re hungry for lunch, Ba Chi Canteen is a delicious and casual Vietnamese spot with outdoor seating, or you can pop into Satsuma Maple for a green juice and fresh salad.
Chais Delachaise is a charming wine bar on Maple Street with an extensive menu and outdoor seating. Stop by for a drink and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere before continuing on with your day, and be sure to ask for an order of their legendary fries. Other fun spots to stop for a drink are Bourreé, which specializes in fried chicken and daiquiris made from fresh and local ingredients, and DTB, an Oak Street restaurant known for its cocktail program.
In Riverbend you’ll the Audubon Zoo, where you can see everything from albino alligators to monkeys to elephants. Spend some time walking around here, especially if you’re traveling with kids. During the summer months, be sure to stop by the Cool Zoo so children can play in the lazy river and splash around.
The Fly, located along the Mississippi River past Audubon Park and Zoo, is an expansive green space where locals love to come relax, grill, host crawfish boils, and play sports. It’s one of the most beautiful places to catch the sunset in New Orleans, as you’ll see the reflection of the sun glimmering on the Mighty Mississippi. Pro tip: bring a sno-ball from Plum Street Snowballs to enjoy as the sun goes down.
For dinner, Jacques-Imo’s on Oak Street is one of the most iconic New Orleans eateries. The restaurant’s slogan is “real New Orleans food,” and it’s true. Here you can have everything from alligator cheesecake to a deep fried roast beef po-boy served within a wonderfully colorful interior. For parties of 4 and under, service is first-come, first-serve, so we recommend arriving early for dinner. Other incredible nearby restaurants are Brigtsen’s, an award-winning Creole restaurant in a cottage Uptown. Dante’s and Carrollton Market are other nearby favorites.
When in New Orleans, do as the New Orleanians do and see live music at the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street. It’s conveniently next to Jacques-Imo’s and often hosts amazing brass bands, like Grammy-award winning Rebirth Brass Band, who plays every Tuesday night. Be sure to check out their official website for a schedule and prices for entrance.
Riverbend is filled with COOLinary restaurant specials throughout the month of August at lovely fine dining spots like Brigtsen’s, Carrollton Market, and Dante’s. For more specials in the area, see the full COOLinary guide here.
Riverbend is also home to the famed Oak Street Po-boy Festival in the fall. While Oak Street is typically a spacious, uncrowded street, during Po-boy Fest, visitors and locals flock to Riverbend to taste every type of po-boy imaginable, enjoy drinks, and listen to live music. Make sure to check out details about the next Oak Street Po-boy Fest!