Metairie Louisiana is located on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, to the north and west of the French Quarter and central New Orleans. To its west is the suburb of Kenner and the Louis Armstrong International Airport. Unlike Kenner, this was not an area of prosperous plantations when it was first founded in the mid-eighteenth century. Its name comes from the French language, and refers to a practice of tenant farming. Several French and Creole residents of New Orleans became rich in the eighteenth century by purchasing land in this region and leasing it to farmers for a percentage of the profits. One of the attractions in Metairie is the area around what is known as Old Metairie, today full of gracious old mansions and prestigious hotels, and lovely parks and golf courses.
The best shopping in Metairie is found in the old part of the suburb. There are some very large malls here, including the Lakeside Mall (highest grossing mall in the metropolitan area) and the Clearview Mall. The Lakeside Mall boasts more than 120 stores and boutiques and a variety of restaurants. You will find more shopping in Metairie a bit to the west on the border with Kenner at the Barlon Plaza.
There are some excellent hotels here as well as great dining spots serving regional cuisine. A number of Metairie Louisiana golf courses are available for visitors, including the Metairie Country Club and the New Orleans Country Club. Among the things to do in Metairie is visiting the famous and atmospheric New Orleans cemeteries. A number of these are clustered together at the end of Canal Street on the boundary that separates this suburb from the Mid City neighborhood. If you like outdoor activities, there is excellent fishing in Lake Pontchartrain. And just over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway are the communities of Mandeville, Covington, and Slidell where many of the Cajun people settled after their exile from Canada. This is an area of swamps and bayous, and you can enjoy wildlife tours of places like Honey Island Swamp looking for alligators and other wildlife.
Things to do in Metairie if you are enjoying family vacations with children include some of the special events that are often less adult oriented than similar events in the French Quarter. This is especially true of the Metairie Louisiana Mardi Gras, which is just as joyous with just as much traditional music and as many colorful parades, but more family friendly. Be careful, because if you’re looking for shopping in Metairie on Mardi Gras Day (February 16) many of the malls are closed.
Beautiful City Park, a spacious 1,300 acre park with hundreds of mature live oak trees, is set on the eastern boundary of the suburb. Things to do in Metairie in this park are some of the most popular activities and attractions in all of New Orleans. Here is one of the finest museums in the South, the New Orleans Art Museum. Next to that is a beautiful sculpture park. And there is more here for children—an amusement park (no hair-raising thrill rides) with one of the last remaining wooden carousels in the United States.