Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is unlike most national parks; rather than occupying a single location, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve has six different locational components that make up the park and preserve. These locations are the Barataria Preserve, Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, French Quarter Visitor Center, Acadian Cultural Center, Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, and Prairie Acadian Cultural Center.
Jean Lafitte was a French pirate in the Gulf of Mexico during the early 19th century. He and his brother, Pierre Lafitte, smuggled and distributed goods from New Orleans before moving their operation to an island in Barataria Bay in the first decade of the 1800s. An American Naval force captured most of Lafitte's fleet in 1814, and ultimately it offered Lafitte and his men a pardon if they would help defend New Orleans against British attack in the War of 1812.
Aside from the different locations, some of which are several hours away from the others, each site has a slightly unique feel and aim to it, yet the theme that connects all locations is an effort educate visitors on Cajun and Acadian culture.
Barataria Preserve (6588 Barataria Blvd, Marrero LA 70072 | 504.689.3690): The preserve has a visitor center and 23,000 acres of marsh, swamp and hardwood forest with walking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities. The visitor center and parking lot gates are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The preserve offers ranger-led walks and has over 200 species of birds and mammals throughout its area. Additional information can be found here.
Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery (8606 West St. Barnard Hwy, Chalmette LA 70043 | 504.281.0510): This was the site of the January 8, 1815, Battle of New Orleans, which many cite as a symbolically decisive moment in the British retreat of the war. Today the battlefield has a visitor center with displays and rangers and a 122-step obelisk tribute to soldiers. The cemetery is the final resting place for many soliders, though only a single person interred in the cemetery participated in the Battle of New Orleans. Battlefield and Cemetery hours are from about 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. Additional information can be found here.
French Quarter Visitor Center (419 Decatur Street, New Orleans LA 70130 | 504.589.2636): Lying within the protected historic district of the New Orleans French Quarter, the visitor center shares the history, traditions and culture of the lower Mississippi River Delta through displays, film, and ranger-led talks and presentations. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additional information can be found here.
Acadian Cultural Center (501 Fisher Road, Lafayette LA 70508 | 337.232.0789): The Acadian Cultural Center tells stories of the origins, migration, settlement, and contemporary culture of the Acadians (Cajuns). Exhibits, film, and events featuring cultural music, food and dance are presented by the cultural center. Open Tuesday through Saturday, varying hours. Additional information can be found here.
Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center (314 St. Mary Street, Thibodaux LA 70301 | 985.448.1375): Exhibits and film display information on Acadian cultural recreation, clothing, cuisine and furnishings. The Cultural Center also has a 200-seat theatre used for productions. Open Monday through Friday, varying hours. Additional information can be found here.
Prairie Acadian Cultural Center (250 W. Park Avenue, Eunice LA 70535 | 337.457.8499): Exhibits, artifacts and films display information on Acadian culture. Open Wednesday through Saturday, varying hours. Additional information can be found here.