WESTWEGO, La. -- Jefferson Parish is stepping out of neighboring
New Orleans' shadow and building its own tourism business.
Established in 1825,
Jefferson Parish covers 426 miles, from Lake Pontchartrain to the
fishing community of Grand Isle on the Gulf of Mexico. The area
offers diverse attractions, ranging from humble fishing villages
and swamp territories to historical districts and contemporary
Jefferson Parish has built a solid ecotourism trade, luring
travelers with fishing in Grand Isle, hiking in Jean Lafitte Park,
canoeing in the waterways of Bayou Segnette, boating from Kenner's
new launch in Laketown and cycling along Lake Pontchartrain or in
any of several parks.
Jefferson is Louisiana's largest parish and is bisected by the
Mississippi River. Curiously, East Jefferson lies to the west of
New Orleans and West Jefferson lies to the east.
In the late 1920s, when many of New Orleans' inhabitants began
to search for a more suburban life, their first stop was Jefferson
Jefferson Parish has about 500,000 residents, and the population
has grown steadily in recent years.
East Jefferson, a suburban area of about 350,000 people,
encompasses Metairie, Kenner and Harahan, all of which offer a
variety accommodations, restaurants and entertainment options.
East Jefferson also is a destination for sports fans. It houses
the new Zephyr Stadium, home to the New Orleans Zephyrs' Class AAA
baseball club and the Storm soccer team. In their first year in the
stadium, the Zephyrs (who won the Class AAA World Series in
September), attracted 507,164 fans for the season, setting an
The stadium can be used for group functions. Use of its swimming
pool or one of the 10 large hot tubs provides a unique vantage
point for viewing a game.
Kenner's Rivertown is the oldest section of East Jefferson. The
area was founded by French explorers in 1718 and originally was
called Cannes Brulee, or Burnt Canes, for the sugarcane fires
natives once set to drive out wild game. Rivertown offers
attractions for families with young children.
The town, where everything is within walking distance, features
a wildlife and fisheries museum, a Mardi Gras museum, a toy train
museum, a science center, a children's castle, a Native African
museum, the Coca-Cola Hall of Fame, restaurants, a ferry and a
On the other side of Kenner, at Lake Pontchartrain, there is
adults-only fun at the Treasure Chest Casino. This dockside gaming
facility is across the street from the Pontchartrain Center,
Jefferson Parish's convention and special events venue.
On the West Bank, Gretna, Westwego, Jean Lafitte National
Historic Park and Grand Isle are the main attractions. Gretna is
one of Louisiana's largest historical districts, featuring 19th
century buildings of diverse architectural styles.
Jean Lafitte Park, named for the legendary pirate who made the
spot his hideaway, features Bayou Barataria, a scenic estuary. The
area offers a bayou country ambience with inn-style accommodations
overlooking marshlands. Grand Isle is noted as a fishing
Family-owned and -operated restaurants, small inns and
bed-and-breakfast properties provide intimate, at-home lodging for
Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce, Phone: (504) 527-6900