One facet of Louisiana that makes it such an appealing visitor destination is its deep and colorful history. European explorers found their way to the region and inhabited the area very early relative to settlement of much of the rest of the continent. As a result, some communities in Louisiana are among the oldest in the United States. Before those explorers arrived, of course, people we now know as Native Americans populated the region. Reaching still farther back in time, ancient peoples left their mark on the area thousands of years ago. The state of Louisiana offers many ways to explore the region’s rich history, in hundreds of museums, historic structures, landmarks, artifacts and works of art. The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.
Much of Gretna’s historic architecture reflects the shotgun homes and Creole cottages of New Orleans, its neighbor just across the Mississippi River. A more laid back, small-town feel has always set Gretna apart. Beginning in the 19th century, an agreeable marrying judge made the area a destination for couples seeking quickie weddings. A legacy celebrated each Valentine’s Day when the local justice of the peace conducts ceremonies and renewals of vows over the anvil inside the historic Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop. A free pedestrian ferry ride delivers visitors from New Orleans to the heart of Gretna’s historic downtown. It is home to many restaurants and museums that honor the city’s original settlers. On Saturday mornings, a lively farmers market convenes by the site of a historic train depot with local artists displaying their work on the second Saturday of each month for the Gretna Art Walk.