Jefferson Parish is best known as being the “Gateway to New Orleans,” and as a major hub of tourism – being second in the state – offers tons of things to do and see whether you are a visitor or a local. From the historic districts to the relaxing atmosphere of the ocean shore with some of the best fishing Louisiana has to offer, there is a range of attractions in Jefferson Parish.
Jefferson Parish, located to the west, wraps around New Orleans. It is called the “gateway” to the city for good reason. From this vantage point, one can reach New Orleans by car in less than 45 minutes from most locations.
Schools in Outlying Jefferson Parish
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Restaurants & Nightlife
As a major tourist spot, there are a number of restaurants to explore in Jefferson Parish, many featuring traditional Cajun and Creole dishes. However, the restaurant industry in Jefferson Parish also benefits from proximity to the coast, and seafood joints – both small, mom-and-pop-style shops and those featuring gourmet fare – are easy to find.
New Orleans proper may reign supreme when it comes to nightlife, but Jefferson Parish still has plenty to entice those who want to get out for the evening. Its casinos are especially popular, and they feature various types of entertainment and events throughout the year.
Find the diverse range of restaurants in Jefferson Parish scattered throughout the area. Café 615 - Home of Da Wabbit features a down-home family atmosphere and the freshest seafood imaginable, all served with a side dish of Louisiana flavor. No meal is complete without an appetizer of oysters brochette, wrapped in savory bacon and served with rich remoulade sauce made in-house. For a stop that is rich with the culture and scenery of Louisiana, there is no better place to visit than Restaurant des Familles, which is located right alongside the bayou. Start with the alligator stuffed mushrooms, and then try the richly seasoned crawfish etoufee. Of course, one of the most unique things about the NOLA area is the diverse range of cultures to explore. Flavors of India features a range of South Asian dishes. Try the samosa pav, a vibrant potato appetizer served with green chutney.
Those in search of live music are in luck. Both Boomtown Casino and Treasure Island Casino feature live entertainment, with acts ranging from country to rock 'n' roll. However, for a warm and friendly atmosphere, be sure to visit spots like Mo’s Chalet, where the locals get together to enjoy karaoke, live music and a Latin band.
There are plenty of great area bars and pubs, from hole-in-the-wall dives rich in character to more sophisticated spots. Check out Rivershack Tavern for music, beer and a game of pool, or head to Gennaro’s to watch the game on the flat screen while you enjoy a burger and a beer.
History & Culture
Named for Thomas Jefferson, the parish was established in 1825. Though it may have been mostly farmland at first, it boomed with migration from neighboring New Orleans from the 1950s through the 1970s, a fact leading to its status as New Orleans’ first true suburb.
There are no true museums in the area, though there are plenty of historical spots to see, such as Magnolia Lane Plantation. In the present day, Jefferson features a booming arts scene and an active Performing Arts Society. Events and festivals feature throughout the year, the biggest of course being Mardi Gras, with Family Gras being offered as a family-friendly option for those with little ones in tow.
You don't find the iconic trolley cars of New Orleans in Jefferson Parish, but there are still public transportation options available. Though there are a few walkable areas in some of the neighborhoods, for the most part a car or a ride on Jefferson Transit will be required to reach any of the attractions in the neighborhood. Jefferson Transit offers buses to passengers throughout the urbanized area of Jefferson Parish, though it does not reach some of the more rural locations. Meanwhile, those in the area can get a cab, but only if they call in advance for their ride. Uber currently does not offer much in the way of service to the area, either.
Most businesses offer their own free parking, and there is generally parking available on the streets. Though there are no dedicated parking garages for public use, they are not for the most part necessary. No major interstates run through Jefferson Parish, though access to I-10 is fairly easy by way of several major highways that run through the area. Only select areas are easily walkable, and there are only a few dedicated bike paths throughout the area.
The cost of living in Jefferson Parish is well below the national average and somewhat below the average for New Orleans. Those with access to Jefferson Transit can make a one-way trip to New Orleans for just $2, and monthly passes for regular users cost $60. For a one-bedroom
apartment, the average is around $700, though prices may vary depending on the specific location within the parish. You can grab a glass of beer for just a few bucks at one of the local bars, with prices as low as $2 if you happen to land at happy hour. Meanwhile, gas prices on the whole tend to be lower, at around 7 percent less than the national average.
Jefferson, known as the shopping capital of Louisiana, allows buyers to find a little bit of everything, from high-end items to small, hand-crafted trinkets made by local artists. The biggest retail outlet is Clearview Mall, which houses
several big-name stores. Smaller boutiques include Fleurty Girl, which specializes in New Orleans inspired products crafted by locals. For an assortment of gift items and sweet treats, a stop by Old Town Praline & Gift Shop is highly recommended.
There are plenty of local grocery stores, from Zummo’s Supermarket and Rouses to national chains such as Sam’s Club and Whole Foods. Gretna Farmers' Market is open year-round and offers fresh, locally grown produce as well as handcrafted art pieces and jewelry, all with a casual atmosphere and occasional live music.
Jefferson Parish has one major park, Lafreniere Park, as well as numerous facilities for recreation, such as playgrounds and softball complexes. The well-kept grounds make the parks especially appealing for visitors, who can sit by the side of the lake or enjoy the family-friendly picnic areas. Numerous playground areas, as well as a refreshing water-spray park, make the parks perfect for children, and there is plenty of room and green space for pets.
Though there are no dedicated exercise
areas, the trails are perfect for those in need of open space to walk, run or jog. All in all, there is a fair amount to do and see at the local parks. As a bonus, various special events and annual events take place at the park throughout the year, including a holiday gala complete with food, drink and music.