Louisiana's Largest Historic Districts
Welcome to Gretna!
Situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River directly across from New Orleans, the city of Gretna boasts a quaint, small-town environment within its 4.5 square miles that includes a cultural district and two nationally-recognized historic districts. More than one hundred years since its incorporation in 1913, the city continues to emulate a streetscape of small-town America from long ago, while simultaneously embracing the future with its first female mayor, Belinda C. Constant.
Experience Gretna’s charm and rich history as you stroll through its landmarks and enjoy the good food, friendly faces, and exciting seasonal activities. You will find Gretna a delight for all ages.
Things to Do in Gretna
Gretna is home to a range of festivities and weekly events. Best known is the annual Gretna Heritage Festival, which occurs each year in the fall. This event is family-friendly and has local and national musicians perform on seven stages spread over a 25-city block footprint. The whole crew will enjoy the carnival rides, arts and crafts, and local food favorites. Other annual events include a colossal Food Truck Fest in April, Maifest (a Maypole celebration) in May and Oktoberfest in October (both nods to their German roots), and a Christmas Parade/Tree Lighting ceremony in early December. Additionally, our annual Riverfront Fall Concert series and family-friendly Movies on the River series on Fridays and Saturdays in October offer free entertainment at the Riverfront Amphitheater and a breathtaking view of the New Orleans skyline. Our Shop the Huey holiday market is held biannually on Saturdays just before Easter and again in December. And every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. under the covered market at Huey P. Long Avenue near 4th Street, our weekly Gretna Farmers’ Market provides residents and visitors an opportunity to enjoy local produce and products, and also hosts Gretna Artwalk, where local artists and artisans sell their works on the second Saturday of non-summer months.
Places to See and Visit in Gretna
Stroll through one of Louisiana's largest national historic register districts and discover the unique architecture and landmarks. Settled by German immigrants in 1836, Gretna is steeped in history and intrigue. See the oldest volunteer fire company in the US, the David Crockett Firehouse, which is home to the Louisiana Fire Museum. And do not miss live demonstrations at the Gretna Blacksmith Shop, as well as a chance to be married or renew your vows there on Valentine’s Day! Gretna got its name from Scotland’s Gretna Green, which was famous for its runaway marriages of young couples who would escape England to tie the knot in Scotland, where marriage laws were more relaxed. Across the river from New Orleans, the German settlement of Mechanickham (now Gretna) also became known for its quick marriages with more accommodating justices of the peace. The Blacksmith Shop pays homage to that practice every Valentine’s Day.
Next door to the Blacksmith Shop and also a part of the Gretna Historical Society Complex, visit the Kittie Strehle Home, circa 1845. Nearby, see the St. Joseph Catholic Church and Gardens. Established in 1857, it is built in the Spanish baroque style with an imposing bell tower and beautiful, tranquil garden. Stop by another baroque style structure, Gretna City Hall, and browse the photo exhibit of Old Gretna and famous Gretna residents. Also, study the German influence on the area at the museum in The German-American Cultural Center.
Pause for a few moments at the Jefferson Memorial Arch, which was originally designed as a monument to fallen heroes of WWI and was later dedicated to all Jefferson Parish veterans. The redesigned Memorial Plaza that encompasses the arch also boasts a splash pad for the kiddos and is surrounded by many local and tasty restaurants.
The Gretna Bike Path, which runs atop the levee from the Gretna Ferry Terminal to Algiers, is a local favorite for those who enjoy walking, jogging, and biking. It is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy a beautiful view of the New Orleans skyline or simply watch the ships of the world pass by.
Finally, be sure to drop in at the new Heritage House Welcome Center. Dating back to 1840, this historic house, previously referred to as the “Linden House,” was formerly located at 111 Lavoisier Street. After being donated to the city, it was relocated to its present location at 1035 Huey P. Long Avenue. The Heritage House Welcome Center acts as a "gateway'' to the city and teaches visitors about Gretna's history.
Looking for things to do near New Orleans? Add Gretna to your list! It's just ten minutes away, right across the Mississippi River! Visit the City of Gretna website for more info and up to date information on events.