Intrigued by the past? Step back in time by visiting Jefferson Parish’s quaint historic districts. Enjoy beautifully restored period pieces and follow the development of communities into a melting pot of cultures. From the 1700s to World War II and now, Jefferson hugs both the east and west banks of the Mississippi and has played a significant role in shaping the New Orleans metropolitan area from the 1700s to World War II, and now.

The city of Gretna is steeped in history and intrigue. Listed as one of Louisiana’s largest national historic register districts, Gretna offers a plethora of venues and museums for travelers to enjoy. To see railroad memorabilia, visit the “red caboose,” which houses the Southern Pacific Freight Depot and the Illinois Central Caboose Museum. The German American Cultural Center documents German immigration to southeast Louisiana in the early 1700s and their contributions to the community. Pause for a few moments at the Jefferson Memorial Arch. The marker is a monument to the fallen heroes of Jefferson Parish. Plan a visit to the Gretna Historical Society Museum, which features a unique history and displays such as the David Crocket Fire House. This is the oldest continuously active volunteer fire company in the United States and is home to the Louisiana State Fire Museum as well as an 1876 horse-drawn steam pumper. The live demonstrations in the art of metalworking at the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop transport you back to the days of early craftsmanship. The Gretna Historical Society also hosts marriages and vow renewals annually during their “Gretna Green Valentine Day Wedding Celebration,” a nod to the centuries-old tradition of Gretna’s namesake, Gretna Green, in Scotland, which is famous for its runaway marriages. 

photos by Kerry Maloney @TravelerBroads

Kenner’s Rivertown offers a host of cultural and family attractions. Located along the shores of the mighty Mississippi River, Kenner’s Rivertown is a sixteen-block historical epicenter. Treat the kids to the Kenner Planetarium and Space Science Complex. A full-size NASA International Space Station prototype allows visitors to get a first-hand look at daily life and working in space. Visitors can explore spin-off technology with a Space Robot, touch the 4-billion-year-old Gibeon Meteorite, and take a walk through the history timeline of the 20th century.

Kenner is said to be the first city in the metropolitan area where Europeans set foot. La Salle’s Landing, a monument to Kenner’s enduring history, displays several flags that have flown over the city since Robert Cavalier de La Salle first arrived. A pair of boxers immortalized in bronze can also be found on La Salle’s Landing. “Gypsy” Jem Mace and Tom Allen, the first World Heavyweight Championship prizefight in the sport’s history, square off in the exact location of their famous bout. 

Westwego’s historic district provides an enthralling glimpse into this charming city. The Westwego Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. It houses an early-twentieth-century hardware store as well as living quarters with period furnishings. The Westwego Farmers & Fisheries Market, an open market with fresh local produce, seafood, an outdoor amphitheater, and arts and crafts, is sure to please the whole family. Nobody knows how the town got its name. However, Westwego was the site where the state compensated a railroad to head west. According to legend, as passengers exited the station, they would hear the conductor yell, “west we go.” 

As families seek more meaningful experiences away from the crowds when they plan their travels, historical districts offer a fresh perspective on southern hospitality. They enchant you with their history, architecture, and endless stories.