This Louisiana Destination Is the Laid-back Second City to New Orleans

Gretna is a great place for history buffs and those looking to get hitched in a hurry.

View of downtown Gretna and Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.

When most people think about vacationing in Louisiana, their first thought is to head down to New Orleans. And sure, this is a great call. But, we’d invite you to look just outside the Big Easy’s boundaries and take a peek at its neighboring city, Gretna. 

Located just across the banks of the Mississippi River sits Gretna, the second-largest city in Jefferson Parish. Sure, it doesn’t come with the same splashy atmosphere as New Orleans, but it does make for the perfect respite for those looking to experience the region with thinner crowds and a quieter atmosphere. Here’s what you need to know about Gretna, Louisiana.

Related: 8 of the Best Small Towns in the South

When to Visit Gretna, Louisiana

To put it bluntly, things can get hot in Gretna. According to WeatherSpark, temperatures rarely ever fall below 47°F and can climb as high as 92°F. And, temperatures hover closer to that higher end for much of the year, including from early May to late September, when the average temperature hits 86°F.

To avoid the absolutely sweltering and downright muggy days, it’s best to plan a trip to Gretna in the late winter and early spring. This is when the weather is warm enough to be enjoyable but not yet oppressive. Of course, this is also an excellent time to visit nearby New Orleans for both Mardi Gras and its annual Jazz Fest, which runs from late April to early May. 

Gretna City Hall

Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.

Things to Do in Gretna, Louisiana 

Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop

This old-timey blacksmith shop is based on a historic Scottish smithy of the same name located in Gretna Green, Scotland. As the Gretna Historical Society explains, the original venue became a popular spot for those looking to get hitched in a hurry, thanks to an agreeable justice of the peace. Now, every February in Gretna, Louisiana, the historical society hosts the Gretna Green Valentine's Day Weddings (which includes couples looking for fast vow renewals, too).

The German-American Cultural Center

This cultural center honors the German immigrants who founded the town of Gretna. Visitors can come and explore the small museum, learn from its curators, or time their visit to one of its always lively festivals honoring German heritage. 

Gretna Art Walk

Every Saturday, the town hosts a farmers market so visitors and locals alike can come to get something fresh. But, every second Saturday, it combines this with an art walk showcasing its best local talent, so if you can, stay for two Saturdays to experience both.

David Crockett Firehouse

During a visit to Gretna, take a little time to pay a visit to the David Crockett Firehouse, the oldest continuously operating volunteer fire department in the nation. Visitors can tour the Louisiana Fire Museum at the 1859 firehouse, which displays the "pride and joy," an 1876 steam fire pumper that's still in pristine condition. 

Where to Eat


Located in the middle of the town’s historic district, Gattuso’s has been a local favorite for more than two decades. It’s the ideal spot for a happy-hour treat. From 2-6 p.m., it offers half-priced apps and drink specials, so get there early and dig in. 

The Red Maple

Looking for a local bite? Head to The Red Maple, which serves massive steaks alongside locally caught seafood. The fine dining establishment has called Gretna home for more than 50 years, with people particularly loving its Redfish Pontchartrain.


Anyone hunting for more casual fare need not look further than Rivershack. Serving easy foods like burgers and fries, it’s a prime place to come for a quick but delicious bite. Don’t miss out on its more than 40 beers on tap, either. 

St. Joseph Church in Gretna New Orleans Louisiana

benedek/Getty Images

Where to Stay in and Near Gretna, Louisiana

There aren't many hotels in Gretna proper, but if you want to stay in the heart of the city, make the Homewood Suites your go-to spot. The comfortable rooms include living and bedroom spaces and even full kitchens. There are many more options if you check out Airbnbs or expand your search into nearby New Orleans.

Danny B's Airbnb

Get a feel for what living in Gretna is really like by booking Danny B's, a charming Airbnb built in 1907. The home has two bedrooms and two baths, making it great for small groups, as well as a fully renovated kitchen, and plenty of outdoor space to enjoy those warm southern nights.

Windsor Court Hotel

Those hoping to enjoy a little luxury during their stay can make their way across the river to Windsor Court Hotel. Yes, it's located in New Orleans, but it really is just a stone's throw away. And, it comes with English afternoon tea, live jazz, and more than 300 thoughtfully appointed rooms, which all helped it become the number one hotel in New Orleans in Travel + Leisure's 2022 World's Best Awards

Getting There

The easiest way for out-of-towners to get to Gretna is to fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, located less than 15 miles away. From there, just drive down the I-10 east to US-90, and you should be there in under 30 minutes. 

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles