Touring Honey Island Swamp, one of many ways to explore Slidell and surrounding Northshore communities
Flyboarding on the lake
Scouting for birds at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe
View from the Tammany Trace hike and bike trail
Big Fun Brass Band performs in a parade
One of Bayou Paddle Co.’s stand up paddleboarders near Madisonville
Deep in the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge
An art fan considers Covington’s vibrant works
A meet-and-greet at Global Wildlife Center in Folsom
Taking a rest from kayak fishing at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville
More to explore on the Northshore
Once a getaway spot for wealthy 19th-century New Orleans residents who came to escape the heat of the city, St. Tammany Parish is home to fun attractions, inventive restaurants and verdant expanses of the great outdoors, making Slidell and the surrounding Northshore communities the perfect place to play. Slidell, on the eastern edge of the parish, offers a vibrant arts scene, family friendly attractions and the pristine Honey Island Swamp.
As you travel west through St. Tammany, you’ll find Lacombe adjacent to Big Branch Marsh Wildlife Reserve, a great place to experience the Northshore’s natural beauty. Abita Springs is quirky, artsy and full of positive energy. Mandeville offers views of Lake Pontchartrain and ancient oaks, fun shopping and bed-and-breakfast inns. Covington is a charming town with great restaurants and shopping, and a lovely historic district. Madisonville on the Tchefuncte River celebrates maritime history with its Wooden Boat Festival and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum.
There are about 32,400 hectares of national wildlife refuge set aside on the Northshore, including Big Branch Marsh and the Northlake Nature Center on Bayou Castine. Kayakers find easy access points along many of the bayous and rivers and on Lake Pontchartrain, with Bayou Cane being a popular launching point. In Slidell, go on a guided swamp tour for an up-close look at the beautiful Honey Island Swamp and its wildlife, or take the kids to Insta-Gator Ranch to hold a baby alligator and see them hatch seasonally. Visit Global Wildlife Center to get up close and personal with giraffes, camels, llamas and more.
The 50-kilometer Tammany Trace is a jewel of a bike trail threading through many Northshore communities. It’s a Rails to Trails Conservancy project that turned old railroad tracks into a wide, paved bike path. Visitors walk or rent and ride bikes through the stately pines. Explore expansive Fontainebleau State Park on an equestrian trail, by canoe or on a hike. There are also a number of great golf courses here, and anglers can cast a line off a pier on the lake or spend an afternoon on one of the Slidell area’s charter fishing boats for some monster trout or redfish.
Tempting Tastes & Historic Downtowns
Exciting flavors inspire menus in elegant dining spaces and mom-and-pop seafood emporiums here. You’ll find sophisticated fare at restaurants like Palmettos on the Bayou or a more down-home setting at local joints like the Abita Brew Pub in Abita Springs, Liz’s Where Y’at Diner in Mandeville and LA Pines in Slidell (loved by “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” of Food Network). Find happiness in perfectly fried shrimp or a mountain of spicy boiled crawfish at scores of local po' boy shops and seafood markets. Head to Historic Downtown Covington, which is charm personified and offers bed and breakfasts, whimsical art galleries, cute shops and fresh local fare.
Can’t get enough of the area’s character? Stop in to Olde Towne Slidell, a 10-square-block downtown district of historic buildings, antiques and specialty shops and museums. Experience eclectic folk art at the eye-opening Abita Mystery House at the UCM Museum, a roadside attraction for all ages in Abita Springs. Live music can be found at the historic Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Jazz Hall in Mandeville or at the community concerts held at the Tammany Trace trailheads around the Northshore. And don’t forget to whet your palate: Enjoy wine-tasting at Pontchartrain Vineyards or beer-tasting at the Abita Brewery.
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Fontainebleau State Park, the most visited state park in Louisiana, was originally a sugar plantation and so named for the beautiful forest near Paris, a favorite recreation area of the French kings.
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, connecting Mandeville and Metairie, is considered the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.
Abita Springs was a popular retreat for 19th-century New Orleanians, who came for fresh air produced by the numerous pine trees and to drink and swim in the spring waters, said to have medicinal qualities.