Enjoy Louisiana’s Northshore - TravelMole

Enjoy Louisiana’s Northshore

Wednesday, Aug 16, 2023 0


St. Tammany Parish, also known as The Northshore, is a quaint yet booming area just a short distance from New Orleans.


Get an up-close look at the Northshore’s natural grandeur with a walk or bike down the Tammany Trace. The 31-mile Tammany Trace is a rails-to-trails conversion was once a corridor for the Illinois Central Railroad, and many of the markers along the path were actual train stations. Along this stretch you’ll see quiet bayous teeming with wildlife (look out for alligators and amazing amounts of birds), remodeled railroad trestles, pedestrian bridges and the charming towns of Mandeville and Abita Springs. If you don’t have a bicycle, don’t worry. Brooks Bike Co-Op and Museum has rentals in Historic Mandeville, directly next to the lakefront. Park your car, rent a bike for the desired time and go explore. You can venture on your own, or arrange for a guided tour based on your interests!


Just three miles from Mandeville is Fontainebleau State Park, a convenient and scenic getaway with some truly spectacular kayaking. Fontainebleau is a park with a past. It was once the site of a large sugar mill built under the direction of Creole planter and senator Bernard de Marigny in 1829. Marigny’s plantation fell into disrepair long ago, but today you can tour the brick structures that remain. You’ll also learn more about the illustrious man himself inside the park’s visitor center, where handmade tools and furniture are on display. Outside the visitor center you’ll find a pier stretching over enormous Lake Pontchartrain, a prime spot for sunset-watching. A man-made beach offers sunbathers a chance to catch some rays, and for younger visitors, a water playground is open seasonally. An old rail line at the north end of the park has been converted into part of the Tammany Trace, a 27-mile path that visitors can walk, bike or horseback ride through. By the way, this and the other trails in Fontainebleau State Park offer fabulous chances to see some of the more than 400 species of birds and other wildlife that live or migrate through the park. Relax in comfort after a day of hiking, biking and birding at one of the primitive campsites, cabins or RV sites. You may also indulge yourself with a stay at one of the park’s waterfront cabins overlooking Lake Pontchartrain.


Over in Madisonville, Fairview-Riverside State Park occupies some of the prettiest real estate you’ll find on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. This is thanks in part to its dozens of crystal-clear streams, of which the Tchefuncte River is arguably the most photogenic. The Tchefuncte runs through the park, offering scenic vistas that entice pro and amateur photographers alike. The waterway has the kind of wildlife typical to the Northshore wetlands. You may see alligators and migratory birds while ambling down the boardwalk overlooking the swamp. Fairview-Riverside State Park has more in store for outdoorsmen and day trippers alike. Fishermen frequently catch bass, bluegill, redfish, speckled trout and other species in the park, from shoreline or boat. Crabbing in the river is another popular pastime, and casual hikers will enjoy the trails overlooking the Tchefuncte. One of the park’s main attractions isn’t a natural feature at all, but a historical home reminiscent of Louisiana Travel’s heyday. Otis House was built in the 1880s for a sawmill owner, later purchased and renovated by house namesake Frank Otis, and, upon Mr. Otis’ death, it was bequeathed to the State of Louisiana with the request that it become part of a state park. Today, Otis House is open for tours, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Fairview-Riverside State Park offers 101 RV campsites, with water and electrical hookups. Whether you stay the night or not, make time to visit nearby attractions such as the Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery in Covington, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center in Madisonville, or the Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall in Mandeville.


Cane Bayou slithers through St. Tammany Parish between the towns of Mandeville and Lacombe, and offers one of the wildest rides you’ll find in southeast Louisiana. This is pristine Louisiana wilderness, where massive cypress trees emerge from the swamp, and roseate spoonbills and eagles make their nests. There are multiple launch sites and numerous outfitters, such as Bayou Adventure, so getting on the water is easy. Head to Slidell for even more adventure, climb aboard a flat bottom boat and traverse through flooded forests and around giant cypress trees as you go deep into the Honey Island Swamp ecosystem. On your two-hour tour, your knowledgeable captain will tell you all about the flora and fauna of Louisiana, throw in a little culture and history, and introduce you to resident alligators of the Honey Island Swamp. Keep your eyes peeled for the legendary Honey Island Swamp monster!


A full day of paddling and biking requires a little bit of rest and relaxation. What better solution than a leisurely pontoon tour on the Tchefuncte River? Area expert Captain Mike with Louisiana Tours and Adventures can accommodate. And with easy access to the Rigolets, Lake Borgne, Lake Catherine, Lake Pontchartrain, Biloxi Marsh, as well as rigs, reefs, and bridges, there are more than a dozen experienced charter captains launching out of Slidell. Each captain shares his secret spots, favorite baits and tricks.


What’s better than having an outdoor excursion and dining experience merge? Situated across the Bogue Falaya River from downtown Covington, The Chimes offers some of the most spectacular views of any waterfront dining destinations you’ll find. The Cajun and Creole traditions are strong here, with menu items that include everything from boudin to alligator. Combine your trip to The Chimes with a leisurely paddle down the Bogue Falaya — local outfitter Canoe & Trail Adventures launches from The Chimes’ boardwalk. Experience elegance at the Tchefuncte River waterfront, courtesy of its namesake dining destination. Tchefuncte’s Restaurant, located in Madisonville, offers top-tier dining with a focus on local ingredients. Dine on roasted snapper, blackened tile fish and other Gulf of Mexico delicacies while overlooking one of the region’s most scenic waterways. In Mandeville, The Barley Oak serves up local craft, specialty and seasonal beers overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. Pair your pint with snacks like Cajun or German sausage platters, or fill up on the likes of a bratwurst dog, smoked brisket sandwich or juicy burger. Right down the road, you’ll find Rip’s on the Lake, which specializes in mouthwatering seafood dishes. Rip’s has been a local favorite for decades, and is the perfect place to dine al fresco and savor that Lake Pontchartrain breeze. Or, let loose at T-Rivers Bar and Grill – a popular family-friendly spot on the Tchefuncte serving up pizzas, po’boys, fried seafood, raw oysters and more along with jammin’ live music. And over in Slidell, Palmettos on the Bayou (Bayou Bonfouca, to be exact) is the place to be. This charming venue offers classic Creole cuisine with fresh Louisiana ingredients. Enjoy dinner indoors surrounded by swamp murals, or take it outside on the climate-controlled deck for its famous weekend Brunch with live music. Nearby, Phil’s Marina Café in Slidell offers a wide menu of seafood dishes and Italian fare with prime views of Lake Pontchartrain.


The Northshore is also a hot spot for local markets. The Mandeville Trailhead Community Market is an outlet for over 75 crafters, jewelers, artists, farmers, and food processors to sell their wares directly to the public. The Covington Farmers Market has an abundance of fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef and free-range chickens, fresh seafood, dairy, honey, herbs, baked goods and prepared foods such as fresh pasta, juices, homemade soups and more. Or grab fresh locally grown produce, local wild caught seafood, baked goods, art and crafts, and locally made personal care products at the Abita Springs Art & Farmers Market.


The Northshore is the perfect outdoor haven right outside the hustle and bustle of the Big Easy. Learn more at ExploreLouisiana.com.

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