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New Orleans Weekend Tour
Exploring the Communities of Jefferson Parish
Discover the unique and vibrant charm of the City of New Orleans. The Big Easy is known for its festivals, nightlife, food, music, and people, in addition to the many surrounding communities within Jefferson Parish. Let’s check out the French Quarter, Fat City, the Sala Ave. Historic District, and the sights of the Northshore.
No matter where you’re from, New Orleans is one of those cities that stay with you; the culture, the music, the food, and dialect are all unique to Crescent City.
From the Vieux Carré to the cozy eateries on the Northshore, the many spots of metro NOLA are energetic escapes for visitors and residents alike.
This one’s easy (no pun intended). The French Quarter is the epicenter downtown New Orleans. This famed landmark of the American south is NOLA’s oldest neighborhood, and world-famous as the host of the French Market, the annual hoopla that is Mardi Gras, and distinct food, live music, and performance art.
A National Historic Landmark, the French Quarter features well-known attractions like Jackson Square (where you can do everything from getting your palm read or your portrait painted to stepping inside the Saint Louis Cathedral), and the many storefronts and restaurants throughout the Quarter.
Come nightfall, head for Bourbon Street and sign up for Haunted History Tours, try karaoke at Cat’s Meow, or just post up on one of the many balconies for some great people watching. And as tradition dictates, one must always end a night in the French Quarter with some beignets.
A good car activity for visitors and locals of New Orleans is to simple gaze out the window during a drive through the historic and impressive Garden District.
A National Historic Landmark, the Garden District of New Orleans is loosely bordered by St. Charles Avenue, First Street, Magazine Street, and Toledano Street. Dating back to the 1830s, the Garden District some incredible historic mansions and structures. Highlights include the 1874 George Washington Cable House, the 1890 Commander's Palace, and the 1912 McGehee School.
When it’s not too humid, it’s fun to get outside in New Orleans. A great example of Louisiana history and atmosphere is the public City Park. At 1,300 acres, City Park is the country’s 87th biggest park, and happens to date back to 1854 – though some of the iconic oak trees decorating this urban park date back 600 years.
There are many attractions within the park, including the 13-acre New Orleans Botanical Garden, the Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, and two 18-hole golf courses – collectively called the City Park Golf Courses.
The largest suburb of New Orleans, Metairie lies just northwest of the downtown area, and is bordered by Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi River.
Metairie hosts the well-known Zephyr Field, the home field of the New Orleans Zephyrs – a Triple-A baseball team (and affiliate of the Miami Marlins) within the Pacific Coast League.
With a capacity for 10,000 cheering baseball fans, Zephyr Field offers not only great baseball within metro NOLA, but also some unique concessions to the area – including po' boys, jambalaya, and gumbo.
If you’re looking for a break from the car and need some shopping, dining, and possibly nightlife on your itinerary, check out Fat City in Metairie. Find excellent seafood at eateries like Drago's and Acme Oyster House, recognize some familiar chain restaurants, or walk the Metairie mall – otherwise known as the Lakeside Shopping Center.
There are a great many acres of parkland in this community of Jefferson Parish. Several playgrounds include the Jim O'Ryan Playground, Johnny Bright Playground, Lakeshore Playground, and Pontiff Playground – the oldest in the parish.
Metairie is also home to Lafreniere Park – the largest park in town at 155 acres. Lafreniere features playgrounds, ball fields, and wildlife viewing, and is known for hosting movie nights, festivals, concerts, and more.
Set on the west bank of the Mississippi River north of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, Westwego is another vibrant community in metro New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
The Sala Ave. Historic District is yet another unique example of the history, architecture, food, and flavor of metro New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana.
Your first stop is the Westwego Historical Museum (housed within the historic Fisherman’s Exchange Building), and open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum features an early 1900s hardware store, and plenty of antiques and artifacts from the early days of southern New Orleans.
The Westwego Farmer's Market is a weekly event held along Sala Avenue, and offering fresh local produce, hot food, arts and crafts, and special events.
Known locally as simply “The Market” – the Westwego Farmer's Market hosts annual events through the year, including the Westwego Volunteer Fire Co. Fair & Fire Safety Expo, the Westwego Farmer's Market Crawfish Cook-off, and the Free Friday Night Concert series.
Set within the boundaries of Westwego and operated by the Louisiana Office of State Parks, Bayou Segnette State Park covers 676 acres of scenic wetland. Open daily at 6 a.m., the Bayou Segnette park features awesome bird watching and wildlife viewing, plus a one-mile nature trail, picnic spots, playgrounds, and even a wave pool.
Visitors can also look forward to fishing, canoeing, and maybe spotting a gator or two.
Several inviting communities and attractions are found on what is known as the “Northshore” of Lake Pontchartrain – the 630-square-mile body of water found just north of New Orleans.
Slidell is the largest city on the northeastern side of Lake Pontchartrain – reached by Interstate 10 from central New Orleans, and one of the original communities on the Northshore.
The Camellia City (Slidell’s nickname) features the quaint Olde Towne Slidell – a shady district known for street festivals, boutiques, lunch spots, and dinner joints brimming with outdoor lighting. See if you can catch the spring Antique District Street Fair, or the fall’s Arts Evening culture festival.
Several historic plantation homes are found on the North Shore – just cross the 24-mile (you read that right) Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and check out the Benedict's Plantation in Mandeville, and Annadele's Plantation in Covington. Head slightly west toward Hammond and find the Albany Plantation in Albany and the Carter Plantation in Springfield.
You can partake in just about any form of water recreation on Louisiana's Northshore, including fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing – you name it. Reel in some trout and redfish after a visit to the Lakeshore Marina & Yacht Harbor in Slidell on Lake Pontchartrain, paddle down the Tchefuncte River, or sign up for a tour of Honey Island Swamp (alligators are not a rarity here).
Dryer activities include hiking and biking in Tammany Trace, plus golf courses, bird watching, and dozens and dozens of beautiful city parks.