With Mardi Gras just around the corner, some of you might be planning a trip down to the Big Easy. And while NOLA is an amazing city to experience, you might be looking to get off the beaten path. Head beyond the city limits and explore Jefferson Parish if you’re looking for what to do in New Orleans to escape the crowds and venture out.
Take an Airboat Ride
Louisiana is the perfect spot to take an airboat ride. The coastal waterways will lead you deep into the swamp, where those southern swamp images will come to life. You’ll spot some birds, signature mossy trees, and even gators!
We took an airboat tour with Louisiana Tour Company and the experience was both adventurous and educational. Our guide pushed the limits on speed and cornering, while also sharing his extensive knowledge of the area wildlife and plants.
Here’s a video that captures my experience:
Visit a Planetarium
Here is a surprising find in the tiny town of Kenner. The Kenner Planetarium and Megadome Cinema houses a 50-foot domed screen where they showcase out of this world shows. Currently they’re featuring a Big Bird show that helps kids find constellations in the sky, a show called Nine Planets and Counting, which teaches about what planets are, and also a Flying Monsters show that talks about dinosaurs. Be sure to check their schedule and times.
Admission to the Planetarium also includes access to the Science Center and Space Station exhibit. Both feature great hands on activities for kids. Walking through the Space Station exhibit is even something adults would enjoy, and is really educational! Be sure to take note that the Planetarium is only open on Saturdays to the public.
When you head down to Louisiana, it’s kind of expected that you try some of their famous local oysters. I never knew there were SO many different ways to serve oysters until my trip to Jefferson Parish!
Jefferson Parish features an Oyster Trail which was created as an experience for tourists and focuses on Jefferson Parish restaurants serving Louisiana Oysters. Currently there are 23 participating restaurants and each have a little something special that will make you want to visit. Each participating restaurant features a 3-foot tall oyster sculpture hand-painted with the flare of a local artist.
I think one of the most popular draws for visitors is the historical architecture that New Orleans is known for. If you’re ready to get out of the busy streets of NOLA, head over to Gretna. It’s located just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans.
Gretna is one of Louisiana’s largest historical districts. It’s a great spot to stroll around and check out all the shotgun houses. They also have some quaint museums like the David Crockett Fire Museum, and the German American Heritage Center. Gretna also hosts a lot of festivals and events, so it’s always a good idea to check out what they might have planned during your visit.
Stroll in Nature
You might be craving a little bit of nature after being in the city center of New Orleans. Head out to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve to get back in touch with nature. This park actually contains a few different sites, but I explored the Barataria Preserve.
The Preserve features some great boardwalks for exploring the marsh land, and also a visitors center. They also host some special nature walks and events, so check in to see if there’s anything of interest.
As you can see there are some great activity options in Jefferson Parish. So when you’re planning what to do in New Orleans for your next trip, don’t forget to look just beyond the city limits and discover what lies off the beaten path!
Thank you to Jefferson Parish for hosting me on this trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own and written based on my experience.