1. Dining Destinations
New Orleans’ next door neighbor, Jefferson Parish, has many family-friendly restaurants that are sure to satisfy, offering a range of options. Begin your culinary journey in Metairie, Louisiana’s fourth-largest city. Suggestions include Semolina, which bills itself as “a family-friendly haven for pastatarians.” R&O’s is a legendary Metairie restaurant that specializes in Italian-meets-Cajun dishes — it might be the only place in town where you’ll find spaghetti and crawfish pies on the same menu.
Other Metairie standouts include café b, Bevi Seafood (famous for its boiled crawfish), Deanies (home to its own crawfish festival) and Bear’s Poboys at Gennaro’s. In nearby Harahan you’ll find Oak Oven, a farm-to-table restaurant where meals are cooked to perfection over open flames.
And because no trip to Louisiana is complete without trying our awesome seafood, a trip to Drago’s Seafood Restaurant is absolutely a must. Drago’s is so beloved by Louisianans that local potato chip maker Zapp’s added a Drago’s-flavored chip to its line in 2016. The restaurant’s most famous dish is its charbroiled oysters.
2. Bayou Segnette State Park
You can get away from it all by hardly leaving the city. Bayou Segnette is just a 20-minute drive across the Mississippi River from Metairie, and it offers endless opportunities for families seeking some chill time outdoors. Boating, fishing, canoeing, hiking, picknicking and overnight camping are just a few of the highlights, though perhaps the biggest draw for families visiting during warm weather months is swimming in the park’s wave pool.
3. Downtown Gretna and Historical Society
Downtown Gretna is a slice of Louisiana history, with charming, walkable streets that look like they’re from a different era. The city, possibly named for an 1830s play about runaway marriages that were also often performed in the city, is rich in Louisiana-German history. Learn all about this hidden Jefferson Parish gem at the Gretna Historical Society Museum, housed within a historic Creole cottage.
4. Treasure Chest Casino
It’s a safe bet you’ll have a night of fun aboard this floating casino, located in Kenner on the Lake Pontchartrain waterfront. Featuring nearly 1,000 popular slot titles and 36 table games, Treasure Chest Casino has everything you need for a night out. The games are complemented by two restaurants and a luxurious concert space called the Caribbean Showroom.
5. Grand Isle State Park, Birding Trail and Tarpon Rodeo
Pack up the sunscreen, grab your sunglasses and head to Grand Isle, a barrier island where you’ll find Louisiana’s premier Gulf front beach. Grand Isle State Park is a refuge for numerous bird species that migrate through the area, stopping by on their way to or from nesting grounds as far away as South America. It’s also a fun place to bring the family to dip your toes in the water, fire up the grill or even stay overnight.
The Grand Isle Birding Trail, Louisiana’s first, was founded by The Nature Conservancy. It takes outdoors enthusiasts through south Louisiana’s fragile ecosystem to see some of the hundreds of species of feathered friends.
Finally, there’s the Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo (July 27-29), billed as the oldest fishing tournament in the nation. Tarpons are big and beautiful Gulf fish, and you better believe the pro’s participating in this fishing rodeo will be reeling in some giants. Other events taking place include the kids crab races, Miss Grand Isle pageant, live music and dancing.
6. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve
As one of just a handful of sites in Louisiana administered by the National Park Service, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve is a treasured ecosystem located just a short drive from the cities. Here you’ll find south Louisiana at its swampiest, where alligators bask, shorebirds wade and the sounds of the forest are unlike anything you’ll hear elsewhere on Earth.
7. Fishing in Lafitte
Mention “fishing village” to many Jefferson Parish locals, and the first thing that might come to their mind is Lafitte. Also known as Jean Lafitte, the city was named for the legendary pirate and privateer who assisted Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, one of the final episodes of the War of 1812. Lafitte residents live and breathe the fishing industry, which is evident when driving down streets where boats aplenty are parked beneath houses built on high piers. There’s no shortage of saltwater fishing outfitters here, who can get you deep into the brackish (saltwater and freshwater-mixed) swamps to catch redfish and speckled trout.
8. Uncle Sam Jam
In honor of the nation’s founding, Jefferson Parish puts on the Uncle Sam Jam in Lafreniere Park in the heart of Metairie. The park is a massive green space where families unwind, cook out and play, and on July 3, the atmosphere will be enhanced with fireworks and live music by the likes of Cajun music legend Marc Broussard.
9. Jefferson Parish Oyster Trail
Fact: 70 percent of oysters caught in the U.S. come from the Gulf Coast. Many of those harvested come from Louisiana, and Jefferson Parish is home to some of the state’s main oyster grounds. It makes sense, then, that the parish has a series of restaurants specializing in the delicacy, each of which feature three-foot-tall, hand-painted oyster sculptures. Twenty-three restaurants participate in the program. Some local favorites include Acme Oyster House, Deanie’s Seafood, Don’s Seafood and Perino’s Boiling Pot.
10. Rivertown in Kenner
Rivertown is a 16-block historic district located in the heart of Kenner. This community is a scenic slice of old-school Jefferson Parish and offers family-friendly entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere, right next to the levee overlooking the Mississippi River. Highlights include the Kenner Planetarium and Megadome Cinema, Rivertown Space Science Complex, the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, the Castle Theater, and LaSalle's Landing.