Encompassing New Orleans International Airport, Kenner is the largest incorporated suburban city of New Orleans, and the source of European settlement in the New Orleans area.
It was here in 1682 that the explorer and fur trader, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) became the first European to set foot on what would become the New Orleans area.
That location in Kenner is now marked with a monument climbing the levee, and can be found in Rivertown, a welcoming district loaded with interesting things to see and do.
Kenner is a great food city, full of unpretentious but acclaimed neighborhood restaurants for Creole and New Orleans classics.
Where Williams Blvd arrives at the levee on the Mississippi there’s a 12-block district with restored old buildings, family attractions, cultural venues and restaurants.
For historical significance you’ll find LaSalle’s landing, thought to be the exact spot where Robert Cavalier De La Salle stepped ashore in 1682.
This is marked with a monumental twin stairway scaling the levee, and you can contemplate the bustling waterway from the benches at the top.
At the foot of the stairway is a sculpture commemorating the first ever World Heavyweight Championship prize fight, fought at this spot between ”Gypsy” Jem Mace and Tom Allen in 1870.
We’ll cover many of the attractions in Rivertown later in this list, and these include a history museum, a theater for Broadway shows and a planetarium.
2. Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar
Kenner’s food scene is one of its best qualities, not least because the top eateries are long-established neighborhood joints popular with the people who live here, which is always a good sign.
One such place is Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar at 3201 Williams Blvd, loved for its po’ boys, boiled shrimp or crawfish (when in season) and authentic swamp specialties that you may never have tried before.
If you’re feeling brave you can go for the Swamp Platter, which has fried alligator, etouffee, fried frog legs and Cajun alligator sausage, amongst other things.
3. Lafreniere Park
Just east of Kenner in Metairie is Jefferson Parish’s largest public park, covering 155 acres on the old site of the Jefferson Downs Racetrack.
As you would expect for this low-lying region, Lafreniere Park is rich with water, which in turn attracts a lot of wildlife.
Keep an eye out and depending on the season you should see turtles, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, opossums and nutria, as well as a wealth of waterbirds like white ibises, black-bellied whistling ducks, geese, black swans and great egrets.
For an even better view, there’s a section of boardwalk taking you over the marshland on one side of the park.
When it comes to facilities, there’s a two-mile trail, a carousel, two playgrounds, eight picnic shelters, an 18-hole disc golf course, an events center and multi-use sports fields.
4. Kenner Planetarium and Space Science Complex
One of a few family attractions in Rivertown is this planetarium and museum dedicated to space science. The headline here is the planetarium and megadome cinema, with a 50-foot domed screen and stadium seating for 118 spectators.
Here you’ll be thrilled by high-end presentations for astronomy and the natural world, as well as laser light shows.
Alongside the planetarium are enthralling displays, including an interactive weather exhibit, the 4 billion-year-old Gibeon Meteorite and a genuine prototype for the NASA International Space Station.
5. Rivertown Heritage Park
Another highlight in Rivertown is this small but charming outdoor attraction replicating an historic village scene. Rivertown Heritage Park is part of Rivertown Museums, and is open to the public on Saturdays.
On neatly landscaped pathways you’ll come across a blacksmith shop, an ice house, a packing shed from the turn of the century, a gas station from the Great Depression and a replica of St. Mary’s Church, the first Catholic place of worship in Kenner.
Recently added to this ensemble is an adorable little pond and covered bridge. In spring and summer, Heritage Park hosts live music and outdoor movie screenings, so check the city website for details.
6. Kenner Seafood
This combined restaurant and market is all about Creole cooking and New Orleans signatures, whether you want to cook at home from scratch, heat and serve, or dine in.
Assuming you’re traveling light and want to dine in, Kenner Seafood has recently been voted the best restaurant in the city. And as a badge of honor, this spot is big with locals.
It’s hard to do the long menu justice with just a few lines, but some of the favorites are the boiled crawfish (in season), gumbo, red beans and rice, boudin, jambalaya and the raft of grilled or blackened seafood plates.
If you’re getting something to-go, you can’t forget the po’ boys, 13 or 9 inches, with more than 20 fillings to choose from, although the must-tries are oysters, shrimp, crawfish and crab cake.
7. Mississippi River Trail
Starting or ending at Rivertown, there’s a paved trail atop the levee by the Mississippi, taking you into New Orleans as far as Audubon Zoo.
This entire stretch, almost 12 miles, long is paved: West of Rivertown the trail continues for many miles, as far as Reserve, but with a mix of paved and unpaved sections.
On the walk or ride to Audubon Zoo you’ll be treated to marvelous vistas of the mighty river and its traffic, especially around Colonial Golf and Country Club in Harahan. If you’re heading westwards from Audubon Zoo to Rivertown, you can take a break at LaSalle’s Landing.
8. Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail
Kenner lies between two famous bodies of water, and in the north this is the seemingly endless expanse of Lake Pontchartrain. Despite the name, this is officially a brackish estuary, on a dumbfounding scale with an area of 630 square miles.
You can navigate the entirety of Kenner’s northern waterfront via the Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail, which will take you all the way to the northeast corner of Bucktown.
On the way you’ll see the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world’s longest continuous bridge over water, at almost 24 miles long.
At Kenner’s western end the trail crosses the levee and cuts south for several miles, looking across the massive swampy landscape that yawns out to the west, glinting in the sunset.
A long stretch of the trail next to Lake Pontchartrain takes you past 30 acres of green space next to the Pontchartrain Center and the Hilton Garden Inn.
Laketown is home to Treasure Chest Casino, which we’ll talk about later, but this land is also the site for a proposed destination casino resort by Atlantis Gaming.
For now Laketown is a lovely place to walk or ride a bike by the water and take picnics, with several shelters provided.
The views are glorious, and there’s also a playground, a fishing pier and a boat launch. A short walk away you’ll find Coconut Beach, a 22-acre facility devoted entirely to sand volleyball.
10. Veterans Park
Close to the airport at 1900 Williams Blvd is an unusual park that doubles as an outdoor museum thanks to a display by the Kenner Naval Museum Commission.
On show there’s an attack jet, a fighter jet, two pieces of artillery, a 1941 Dodge Army staff car and a war monument. Veterans Park also shines a light on local history.
Pontchartrain Beach was an amusement park in Kenner that opened in 1928 and closed in the 1980s, and part of the Zephyr roller coaster has been preserved here, along with a shelter inspired by the Bali Hai Tiki-style restaurant that used to sit in front of the Pontchartrain Beach’s gates.
11. Treasure Chest Casino
Docked in Kenner’s Laketown is the only casino to be found in East Jefferson. This 24,000-square-foot riverboat is managed by the Boyd Gaming Corporation and borrows from New Orleans, Mardi Gras, the Caribbean and Las Vegas for its theming.
Treasure Chest Casino has close to 1,000 slot machines, along with a host of table games including mini baccarat, roulette, craps, blackjack, 4 card poker, mississippi stud, 3 card poker, Texas hold’em and pai gow.
Added to that you’ve got the Fanduel Sportsbook, with a giant video wall featuring more than 20 screens.
You can grab New Orleans favorites like po’boys at Cafe Pontchartrain, and there’s a packed schedule of live entertainment to look out for.
12. Lakeside Shopping Center
The top mall in the New Orleans area is within ten minutes of Kenner, and has been around since 1960, making renovations in the last few years.
Lakeside Shopping Center features more than 120 stores and eateries, and among the many popular brands are Zara, J.C. Penney, Apple, Macy’s, Sephora, Michael Kors, Gap, Foot Locker, Forever 21 and American Eagle.
Food-wise there are branches for Cheesecake Factory, Raising Canes and food court mainstays like Chick-Fil-A, Sbarro, Subway and Mandarin Express.
For something a bit more New Orleans-specific, you can head for Café Du Monde, famed for its beignets under an avalanche of powdered sugar.
13. Swamps and Bayous
If you want a taste of the South Louisiana wilderness you have plenty of options in Kenner. Directly to the west, I-10 leads you into a vast swampy landscape.
Fifteen minutes away in LaPlace is Cajun Pride, offering tours on a privately owned wildlife refuge to see American alligators in their natural habitat.
LaPlace is also the drive-out location for New Orleans Swamp Kayak Tours, taking you out into the swamps on a paddling adventure led by an experienced guide.
Within Jefferson Parish, Bayou Segnette State Park is on the west bank of the Mississippi, with a flourishing ecosystem supporting alligators, nutria and bald eagles, to name a few.
If you have your own boat or canoe/kayak you can set off to see what you can find, while there are also several attractions at the park, including a much-loved wave pool.
14. Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts
Rivertown also has an effervescent performing arts scene, anchored by this complex next to Heritage Park.
At two auditoriums, separated by a cute courtyard, Rivertown Theaters brings fresh productions to the New Orleans area, while also providing a creative platform for talented local artists.
For more than a decade the company has put on stellar musicals, comedies and children’s theater, complemented by high-quality set design, makeup, costumes and effects.
Among the recent productions are Kinky Boots, Mary Poppins, Matilda, Legally Blonde, Spamalot and Gypsy.
15. Pontchartrain Center
On the lakefront in Kenner is a large but versatile convention center with more than 45,000 square feet of exhibit space and additional meeting space across seven rooms.
If there’s a big trade show, exhibition or convention coming to the New Orleans area there’s a good chance it will happen here.
Also on the agenda are sports events, cheer championships, concerts, theatrical performances, religious gatherings, graduation ceremonies and dance recitals.