Since the late 1800s, New Orleanians have flocked to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain to relax. Friendly folks, great restaurants, and an abundance of natural attractions still entice 21st-century visitors to drive across the Causeway—the world’s longest continuous bridge over water—to unwind on Lake Pontchartrain’s North Shore.
What to do
From whichever way visitors approach the Northshore, they’ll discover small-town atmosphere cradled knee-deep in nature. For unobstructed views of Lake Pontchartrain, stroll beside the seawall on the Mandeville lakefront and snap a photo in the gazebo. To get on the water, schedule a midday or sunset excursion aboard a 42-foot sailing vessel with Delaune Sailing Charters. Departing out of Bayou Castine, the 2.5-hour cruises allow up to six guests.
Spend an afternoon or evening paddling along Cane Bayou, a scenic waterway bordering Fontainebleau State Park and Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Kayak or canoe beside otters, great blue herons, ospreys, egrets, and alligators. Book a sunset excursion with Bayou Adventure in Lacombe. Guests paddle to the mouth of the bayou, watch the sunset over the lake, and return with headlamps to light the way.
Move your adventure on land to the Tammany Trace, a 31-mile paved hiking and biking trail that links Covington with Slidell and passes through Abita Springs, Mandeville, and Lacombe. Numerous entry spots are located along the trail, a former corridor for the Illinois Central Railroad.
Rent bikes from Brooks’ Bike Shop—with locations in Covington, Mandeville, and Slidell—and take advantage of the shops’ guided tours of the Trace, Old Mandeville and
the lakefront, historic Old Covington, and area breweries.
Several companies also provide tours of the nearly 70,000-acre Honey Island Swamp, where woodpeckers, turtles, great blue herons, and alligators are frequently spotted among the flora. Typical excursions run for two hours, and guests sit on flat-bottomed boats launching from Slidell.
Encounter more wildlife at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, where more than 4,000 free-roaming endangered, exotic, and threatened animals live. Hop aboard a covered wagon and come face-to-face with the zebras, bison, giraffes, kangaroos, and more that populate the 900-acre preserve. Buy plenty of feed and have your camera ready.
Where to shop
Peruse the Covington Farmers Market or Mandeville Trailhead Community Market for jellies, baked goods, plants, and handmade items. The annual Three Rivers Art Festival brings some 200 juried artists together to showcase gifts, paintings, jewelry, and more every fall (November 13–14 this year).
Where to eat
Breakfast beside the Tchefuncte River at the Abita Roasting Company in Madisonville. Lunch on scrumptious daily specials at Lola (pictured bottom right), located in a former Covington train depot. One dining area is a renovated train car. For an afternoon snack, grab a pastry from one of two Northshore locations of Nonna Randazzo’s Bakery. Dine on contemporary Italian fare at Covington’s Del Porto Ristorante.
Where to stay
The sophisticated yet cozy Southern Hotel in Covington charms with local art, a library, and a peaceful courtyard. Its chic Cypress Bar is a lively gathering spot. Outdoor enthusiasts can opt for a cabin at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville.
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