PONTCHARTRAIN TO GRAND ISLE

08/24/2015
EDUCATIONAL TRAVEL

Looking for an adventure? One with a heap of history, a hearty helping of nature, and a whole lot of culture all blended with fun? Jefferson Parish Louisiana, neighboring New Orleans, is a sprawling 60 miles from the shores of Lake Pontchartrain to the sandy beaches of Grand Isle.

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It’s a diverse community boasting some of the nation’s best historic districts, cuisine, nature trails, shopping, and unique bayou and marsh adventures. Established in 1825, the parish is named for Thomas Jefferson, commemorating his role in purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803.

Come explore Jefferson’s historic districts, which include Kenner’s Rivertown, a 16-block district recognized in 2014 as a Main Street USA district. The area features Heritage Park’s display of turn-of-the-century replicas such as the hardware store and gas station. The Kenner Planetarium and MegaDome Cinema is “out of this world” with a 50 foot domed screen featuring a variety of galactic shows as well as laser-light displays set to musical themes.

Visit LaSalle’s Landing, the site of the first World Heavy Weight Championship Boxing match in 1870. Jefferson’s Gretna historic district is one of the nation’s largest and is steeped in history of life along the mighty Mississippi River. Gretna is the governmental seat of the parish and is considered to be one of the oldest neighborhoods. Visit the Louisiana State Fire Museum, the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop, learn the history behind the railway system and see memorabilia housed inside “the red caboose”; the Southern Pacific Freight Depot and the Illinois Central Caboose.

Visit the German American Cultural Museum where you will learn the history of our beloved immigrants, get a “taste” of culture and even enjoy music and dance! The City of Westwego was once a passageway for pioneers headed for the western frontier, the story is Westwego got its name from folks often shouting — “west-we-go”! A fun fact for a fun district filled with culture and heritage. Sala Avenue is the heart of the historic district featuring the Westwego Historical Museum with authentic trapping, fishing and hunting displays. The Old Hardware Store, the Art Guild and Farmers and Fisheries Market complete with musical entertainment, round out an area steeped in tradition.

Excitement along the waterways of the Barataria Basin, considered by Thomas Jefferson as the crown jewel of the Louisiana Purchase, comes in the form of high-speed airboat adventure or the slow-moving pontoon exploration of our swamps and bayous. Native Cajuns will navigate your waterway experience through the marsh and bayous of Louisiana’s wetlands. See alligators, turtles, egrets, and Louisiana’s bayou rat, the nutria. Experience holding a baby alligator! Learn the importance of this fragile ecosystem. Tour the Lafitte Barataria Museum which tells the story of this 200 year old fishing community and its most famous resident Pirate Jean Lafitte, then stroll the nature boardwalk to experience nature up close.

Visit Jefferson Parish where you come for the tour, and leave with a tale!
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Issue 18.3 | Winter/Spring 2017

Southeast Education Network

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