Rediscovering Gretna, Louisiana

Welcome to Gretna, Louisiana – the charming town that’s often overlooked by tourists when visiting New Orleans, but true locals to the state of Louisiana know that this city has so much to offer those who choose to give it a chance. Thanks to this detailed guide from Travel + Leisure, you’ll be able to experience this hidden gem at its absolute best. Gretna offers a unique blend of cultural history, culinary delights, and laid-back vibes that are moving at a different pace than the streets of nearby New Orleans. From picturesque streets lined with colorful homes to delicious seafood restaurants serving up Cajun specialties, this small town packs a big punch.

First of all, Gretna is one of the state of Louisiana’s largest national historic register districts, and this is because the city is filled with culture, history, and intrigue. The architecture and landmarks found in downtown Gretna’s historic district tell quite the story. Gretna is a small city located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. It is an outer suburb of New Orleans, and it is the parish seat of Jefferson Parish. Gretna is known for its laid-back atmosphere, and it is a popular destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Big Easy. There are plenty of things to do in Gretna, and visitors will find that there is something for everyone in this charming city.

One such location is the David Crockett Firehouse, which is both the home of the Louisiana State Fire Museum and the nation’s single oldest continuously operating volunteer fire department. The Firehouse dates back to 1859 and even displays its 1876 steam fire pumper, “pride and joy,” that’s still kept in pristine condition.

Another historically rich spot is the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop, which is a snapshot back in time in and of itself. This classic blacksmith shop is based on a historic Scottish shop with the same name, and it has since become a prime spot for locals to get hitched, matrimonially speaking.

If you’re looking to get a glimpse of railroad memorabilia, then you should check out “the red caboose,” also known as the home of the Southern Pacific Freight Depot and the Illinois Central Caboose Museum.  Additionally, you can stop by the German-American Cultural Center to learn about the state’s history of German immigrant contributions. As the above list of one-of-a-kind historic spots shows, Gretna is abound with niche and culturally-rich destinations that would otherwise go overlooked if you only sought out nearby New Orleans.

Gretna is home to some of the best food in Louisiana. From Cajun and Creole cuisine to fresh seafood, there’s something for everyone in Gretna. Gretna’s restaurants offer a taste of Louisiana’s unique culture and history. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, you’ll find it in Gretna at the following spots: The Red Maple, Gattuso’s, and Rivershack.

So when is the best time to visit Gretna? Spring and fall are generally considered the best times to visit New Orleans as the weather is pleasant and there are fewer crowds than in summer. However, Gretna is a great year-round destination – even in winter, you can enjoy mild temperatures and festive holiday celebrations.

Gretna, Louisiana is a great place to visit for those looking for a laid-back and quiet experience outside of the hustle and bustle of New Orleans. From its charming small town atmosphere to its diverse cultural attractions, there truly is something for everyone in Gretna! No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find plenty of activities that will keep you entertained during your stay. So if you’re looking for an alternative New Orleans vacation spot, be sure to add Gretna to your list!

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Explore the Best Crawfish in the State with the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail

Simply put, Louisiana’s Bayou Country Crawfish Trail is the absolute best way to experience the culture behind eating Louisiana-boiled and raised crawfish first-hand. The Bayou Country Crawfish Trail curates an entire culinary and exploratory experience for you to fill up on the most delicious crawfish at over 30 carefully-selected trail stops. You’ll be supplied with a downloaded guide that lists the best spots for delicious crawfish dishes all year long.

While seeking out delicious plates of crawfish all across the Bayou Country is a rewarding experience all on its own in terms of culinary tastes and restaurant-exploring, there is another facet to the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail that is heralded. You see, if you trek along the trail and collect five receipts from the 38 available restaurants, mark your visits on your travel guide tracker, and send them into or at the Houma Area Visitor Center, you’ll be able to exchange your proof of purchase for your very own Crawfish Trail T-shirt. This is the best way to show those in your life that you’ve conquered the best crawfish spots in the Houma area.

The Bayou Country Crawfish Trail absolutely proves that nowhere else in the state of Louisiana prepares and serves seafood than Houma, LA– especially when it comes to crawfish. The Trail’s culinary road map lists and lays out a total of 38 trail stops from downtown Houma to the Gulf of Mexico for you to enjoy the best crawfish in the state. The listed culinary stops will range from friendly Cajun restaurants to take-out seafood markets, drive-thru boilhouses, and everything in between.

The team behind the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail truly believes in the culinary experience of not only ingesting crawfish but the culture that surrounds it, and they also believe that there’s truly not a bad time of year to enjoy the Louisiana delicacy. They’ve divided the calendar year into two “seasons” in terms of crawfish eating: Heads season and Tails season. The main difference between these two times of year is the matter in which the crawfish is “present on your plate.”

For example, Heads season will begin just before Mardi Gras season, when it is “on the horizon,” and it signals that crawfish traps around the state will soon be filled to the brim with “mudbugs” and the crawfish boils are starting up again. This is the optimal time of the year to eat boiled crawfish wherever you can get it, and you should enjoy it along with all of the available sides like potatoes, corn, sausages, and many more. This time of year will typically wrap up early in the summer, but just because the crawfish boils stop doesn’t mean that you have to wait another year until you can enjoy crawfish dishes in their prime.

This is because Tails season is what follows when the summer is at its hottest and most severe. This is because live and boiled crawfish are much harder to come by in the state, so instead of “scraping the bottom of the barrel” with attending crawfish boils that aren’t necessarily up-to-par, you can check the Bayou Country Crawfish Trail Guide for the spots in Houma, LA where they serve delicious crawfish all year-round. These dishes will come in nearly every form you can imagine because in Houma, Louisiana they know how to best prepare crawfish– whether it’s in a warm bowl of gumbo, éttouffée, or bisque. Similarly, you can also bite into a crawfish stuffed poboy or even a crawfish pie.The options are nearly endless in this season when many think that just because crawfish boils are done, there’s no more fun to be had.

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Businesses, Bridge Side Marina, and more Return to Grand Isle after Ida

Left in the wake of Hurricane Ida’s path, the state of the city of Grand Isle was awfully grim, but as it is outlined in this feature article from, nine months after the storm passed, things are starting to look up as anglers and fishermen return to the nine-mile island.

The feature article spoke directly to citizens of Grand Isle to take a reading on how the community was fairing this long after Ida, thus making the account of the island’s comeback reliable and promising to say the least. One local fisherman, Frank Dreher commented on the striking restoration efforts that have taken place in the area in the last few months.

Dreher said “the one thing everyone has to know is the island and the waters certainly do not look like what they did before the storm. Most of the debris has been removed and the demolition of some camps continues. It’s been a long road, and we got a lot of support from our friends, the fishermen we’ve seen for years. It’s exciting to be back and exciting to see our friends come back.”

After Grand Isle was hit particularly hard by the devastating winds, storm surges, and other effects of Hurricane Ida, the outlook wasn’t positive. The community was left without electricity, water, fuel, food, and all other comforts, making many business owners and camp owners begin their processes of rebuilding and reopening the island with heavy hearts. As outlined in the feature, it would be months before these workers would be aided with electricity being restored or support services coming back to the island, but the strong workers put in their best efforts to repair the island.

In October of 2021, charter fishermen like Frank Dreher worked with professional crews to clean up the island using their materials, boats, and wherewithal. These members of the Grand Isle community used their own free time to round up, procure, and supply the necessary materials to build back the island, and thankfully it paid off. When crews began the process of rebuilding the island’s stores, streets, and shores in October, they were joined by the reopening of Grand Isle’s big grocery store Sureway, which was operating on power from a generator. In the coming months, power and water followed, and hope was gradually restored.

One of the largest projects facing the islanders wanting to assist in the restoration efforts was the resurrection of the iconic Grand Isle staple: The Bridge Side Marina. Because it’s the first marina that visitors to Grand Isle see whenever they’re crossing the Caminada Bay bridge, it’s often synonymous with the city itself, thus making it the perfect restoration site for islanders Buggy and Dodie Vegas, who were interviewed by reporters from

Today, Bridge Side Marina is open once again, and it’s supplied with fuel, ice, live shrimp, tackles, minnows, and food. All of this means that enough is in stock to bring life back to the once-vibrant Marina, and there’s enough bait to ensure that enough life will be caught as well.

Community member Dodie Vegas was confident in Grand Isle’s comeback; he reported that the Bridge Side store’s deli is set to reopen in late May. Additionally, he told reporters, “It’s still a work in progress. We’re shooting to have bait boats providing live croakers for Memorial Day weekend. We had to rebuild docks, and we have a barge in the marina building a new dock,” he said. “And, we’ve rebuilt about half our rooms. The RV park is hooked up 100%, and we’re working around the fishermen in the morning and working on the place the rest of the day.”

Though, this Grand Isle comeback isn’t only because of the Marina’s return, because the Blue Dolphin inn and at least a half of a dozen RV parks are currently reopened and operating in the area alongside restaurants.

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Louisiana State Parks Rebuild Following Hurricane Ida

In their continuing coverage of the commercial, regional, and environmental aftermath left in the wake of 2021’s Hurricane Ida, this recent article from The Advocate outlines that because some of Louisiana’s state parks had received monumental damages from the Fall 2021 storm, they are being altered in their rebuilding.

One such state park is Tickfaw State Park, which is located in an isolated pocket of Livingston Parish and encompasses approximately 1,200 acres (most of which are undeveloped). It was reported that prior to August 29th, when Hurricane Ida made its historic landfall in Port Fourchon, Tickfaw State Park was so heavily set in an overarching shadow as a result of a tree canopy, that the sky was very rarely seen. Then the eyewall of Hurricane Idaknocked down an estimated 80% of the trees and buried them mostly in mud so that the 30-foot arm of a rescue excavator couldn’t reach them from the roads running through the swamp-filled state park.

Unfortunately, the damage observed at Tickfaw State Park is too similar to other parks in the state, which has caused the deputy assistant secretary at the Louisiana Office of State Parks, Clifford Melius, to wonder about both the longevity of these parks and the short-term solutions that may be possible. Melius commented saying, “This is going to be a major change to the ecosystem,” and he also wondered “do we repair the boardwalks when there’s no swamp to walk over?”

For decades, the Louisiana State Park system has been very regenerative, despite the annual state parks budget being regularly lowered in favor of Higher Education and Healthcare budgets receiving the attention whenever the state government faced annual deficits. According to the statistics acquired by The Advocate, “between the fiscal year 2008 and the fiscal year 2017, Louisiana reduced annual state general fund contributions by 34% from $29.7 million to $19.7 million.”

Despite this significant decrease in funding, recent years have shown that the Louisiana State Parks system has only grown in popularity. In fact, Louisiana’s 21 State Parks ended the 2021 Fiscal Year on June 30 with 1.5 million visitors, which is the highest number of recorded visitors in a Fiscal year- in recent memory. Additionally, 11 of the total 21 parks made a profit, which is quite the achievement when compared to the system’s owing of $1.5 million on June 30.

After Hurricane Ida, seven State Parks had to close because of severe damages they received, and thorough assessments are still being conducted by park officials, who estimate approximately $4 million in damages. This figure is determined to be roughly one-third of the parks departments’ funds dedicated to repairing and improving facilities.

Melius stated that he would like to see the parks reopened as quickly as possible, which might mean that he and his office will be “short-circuiting the long ponderous path of paperwork and congressional approvals that delays recovery for months.”

For instance, the state park in Fontainebleau, which is located near Mandeville, has sustained damages to their air conditioning facility, which would normally result in a bidding process to hire contractors. Instead, Melius took action and sent in his own staff to replace the air conditioning unit and reopen the park in just two-day at a cost of just $2,500 rather than the $10,000 cost and several weeks of delay that an “out of house team” would have called for.

Melius had said, “in-house saved us money and we didn’t have to wait on contractors to come in and do it,” because otherwise “during all that time I have to keep the park closed because I can’t air condition the buildings.” This improvement to how we assess and process the damages occurring in our state parks is just one way in which theLouisiana State Parks Department is reinvigorating its park system in the rebuilding stage.

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What to do on a New Orleans Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving serves as a time to gather together to be completely humbled and thankful for all the blessings and benefits of the past year. This is often done over excellently prepared meals, so it stands to reason that there’s no better city to gather for the celebration than New Orleans, Louisiana, and thanks to this excellently compiled holiday resource from, you’ve never been in a better position to enjoy the Crescent City in all its bounty.

Before we give an overview of the food offerings in the city on the infamous Thursday for those of us wishing to take the day off, sit back, and enjoy the world-class cuisine of the various chefs and culinary artists found in the city, you should know about the various Thanksgiving Day activities that are available city-wide this autumnal holiday season.

Particular events that are positioned to be a large draw on Thanksgiving Day are the horse races at the Fair Groundsand the annual Turkey Day Race at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. Outside of athletic racing events, the New Orleans tourism site suggests digesting your Turkey Day meal with a carriage ride across the French Quarter so that you can learn about the elaborate history of the city. And of course, there are always plenty of movie theatres open throughout the city on Thanksgiving Day for those of us wanting to digest amidst amazing narratives and visuals.

However, if you prefer the holiday season that begins immediately following your Thanksgiving Meal, then you’ll be delighted to hear that Celebration in the Oaks will return to New Orleans City Park from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Thursday the 25th, and it’s set to last until January 2, 2022- with tickets costing $35. This annual holiday festivity is always heralded as a must-see of the New Orleans holiday tradition, as this incredible, breathtaking holiday light show transforms the already beautiful grounds of City Park into 25 acres of dazzling lights and impressive festive displays. In total, the winter wonderland is spread throughout the Park, Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park with millions of lights scattered throughout the 2.25-mile expanse.

Now it’s time for the food. On Thanksgiving, you’re essentially left with two options in New Orleans if you want to take the day off from cooking or organizing a family potluck: you can dine out or order catering from the many restaurants offering to do the cooking for you. If catering, some suggested favorites are Deanie’s Seafood, Mother’s, Brigtsen’s, Desi Vega’s Steakhouse, Blue Oak BBQ, Central City BBQ, and Cochon Butcher for your savory meals and Willa Jean, Bywater Bakery, Beth Biundo Sweets, Camellia Grill, La Boulangerie, and Levee Baking Co. for sweets.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to experience the classic and authentic New Orleans dining atmosphere, then you’re left with plenty of options for restaurants open in the city on Thanksgiving Day, leaving you more time to celebrate and less time coordinating, stressing, and planning.

It should definitely be noted that most of the city’s finer hotels offer excellent meals on Thanksgiving, but for those of us who want to enjoy a great meal “in-house,” then the following restaurants are set to be open on Thanksgiving and are recommended for a pleasant, decadent, and well-rounded experience.

Uptown/Garden District

Central Business District/ Downtown

The French Quarter

 Greater New Orleans Area

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Natural Wonders of Louisiana

Branching out of the typical boundaries of famous Louisiana cities is a great way to familiarize yourself with the oft-forgotten, yet unforgettable aspects and natural wonders of Louisiana- thanks to a helpful article from Treehugger.

While our state is rightly famous for its culture, music, and cuisine, most commonly intersecting and resulting in New Orleans and Mardi Gras holding the number 1 spot on quintessential Louisiana locations lists, you’d be doing a great disservice to yourself by not exploring beyond the city limits.

Atchafalaya River Basin

Squeezed roughly between Baton Rouge and Lafayette is the country’s largest wetland and swamp, comprising a whopping 260,000 acres of cypress-tupelo swamps, bayous, marshland and open water. To experience this remarkable,  sweeping wetland ecosystem of south-central Louisiana,  visit the Atchafalaya Wildlife Refuge by traversing the second-longest bridge in the country — the 18.2-mile-long Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

Cypress Island Preserve

This picturesque preserve is known for its thriving rookery as it protects 9,500 acres of cypress-tupelo swamp and bottomland hardwood forest just outside the city of Lafayette. It’s not uncommon to encounter a variety of wading birds, including blue herons, roseate spoonbills, cormorants and a variety of egret species while hiking the preserve’s levee and boardwalk trails. Although the preserve is open year-round, plan to visit the rookery between March and June, which is the peak gathering season for these magnificent avians.


Set off for adventure with this 66,000-acre wetland that is located just outside of New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish, as it is only accessible by 10-mile boat ride. Pass-a-Loutre is an exceptionally scenic place for all kinds of activities, including both freshwater and saltwater fishing, crabbing, camping and even house-boating. Besides its scenic marshlands, man made canals, natural bayous and channels.

Kisatchie National Forest

Despite being Louisiana’s only national forrest, Kisatchie packs a punch amidst the state’s vast stretches of swampland. Originally designated by President Herbert Hoover in 1930, this beautiful 604,000-acre stretch of woodlands is filled with a combination of longleaf pines and bottomland hardwoods. The forest is home for many animals, the rarest of which include the Louisiana black bear, the red-cockaded woodpecker and the Louisiana pine snake; additionally, the area offers a variety of recreational activities, which include camping, horseback riding, boating, fishing, mountain biking, swimming and more.

Breton Wildlife Refuge

Breton Island is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the country , having been established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Roosevelt was prompted to take this action after learning of the ongoing destruction of the island’s birds, nests and eggs. More than 100 years later, the island has transformed into a thriving, low-impact bird watching and fishing destination.

Ouachita River

Originating in Arkansas and running 605 miles south into Louisiana, this is the 25th longest river in the country, which is named for the indigenous Ouachita tribe. While it’s mostly utilized for commercial purposes today, certain parts of the river are popular hunting and fishing areas.

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