27 Fun Things to Do in Louisiana Northshore

When looking for things to do in Louisiana Northshore, consider that St Tammany Parish landscape varies from swamp to equestrian rolling hills to gorgeous lakefront. The geography lends itself to amazing outdoor adventures and the proximity to the big city makes Louisiana Northshore an ideal New Orleans day trip. Please see below for a map of Louisiana Northshore.

Fun things to do in Louisiana Northshore include amazing outdoor adventures, remarkable restaurants, authentic jazz at Dew Drop, and quirky Abita Mystery House.

Thank you to Visit Louisiana Northshore for hosting us.

Things to Do in Louisiana Northshore

New Orleans residents historically and currently escape to Louisiana Northshore, to summer homes along the lakefront and within two blocks of Lake Pontchartrain. The Parish is close to New Orleans but far enough away to empower a relaxed vibe—with southern charm. Louisiana Northshore residents are sophisticated but simple.

Where is Louisiana Northshore?

As you can see in this Louisiana Northshore map of St Tammany Parish, getting to Louisiana Northshore is quite convenient. Mandeville is about a 45 minute drive from New Orleans Airport, most of it is on the causeway across Lake Pontchartrain.

Louisiana Northshore map—from LouisianaNorthshore.com
Louisiana Northshore map—from LouisianaNorthshore.com

Outdoor Adventures in Louisiana Northshore

Insta-Gator Ranch

Alligator Wrangler Royce McMullen leads the tours at Insta-Gator Ranch and my goodness he runs such a fun show. Royce entertains and teaches (enterteaches?) all about the American alligator and if you are lucky the Nile crocodile. For a special treat, visit in August for the baby gator hatching experience. Hold an egg, help the baby gator out, and put it in water.

McCool Travel tip: onsite is a white gator, perhaps the only one in the world. It hatched here in a girl’s hand and is named Blondie.

Enjoy the Tammany Trace

Walk or bike the Tammany Trace, a 31 mile paved path from Covington to Slidell. Offering plenty of green spaces and bridges over bayous and waterways, Tammany Trace is the only rails-to-trails conversion in the state of Louisiana. Rent bikes from Brook’s Bike Shop (in Covington or Mandeville) or Bayou Adventure (Lacombe). An easy, convenient, and gorgeous section of Tammany Trace is Covington to Abita Springs (only 3.5 miles), including this crossing of the Bogue Falaya River.

fun outdoor things to do in Louisiana Northshore: bike Tammany Trace
biking Tammany Trace

Kayak tour with Bayou Adventure

Bayou Adventure calls themselves the “concierge for the refuge and bayou area” and will outfit you for whatever you want to do in Real Louisiana—bike Tammany Trace trail, fishing, crabbing, etc. They even provide transport to/from the Big Easy, making this a perfect group or family New Orleans activity. My #FeedYourSoul experience was a #LiquidRoadTrip, kayaking between Fontainebleau State Park and Lake Pontchartrain on Bayou Cane. If you are lucky, an alligator will bump your kayak, as happened to me (really!).

kayak with gators Bayou Adventure in LaCombe Louisiana
kayak with gators Bayou Adventure in LaCombe Louisiana

Choose from several kayaking experiences in three adjacent bayous (including Big Branch National Wildlife Reserve). A sunset paddle to Lake Pontchartrain (see my amazing Gulf coast sunset photo from there). Birders want to see woodpeckers or ospreys. Fishing fans enjoy the varied salinities, as you can catch crab, then redfish, then trout.

McCool Travel tip: Bayou Adventure has the best selection of Louisiana craft beer in the state.

Louisiana Northshore Attractions

HJ Smith & Sons General Store & Museum

While strolling around downtown Covington, take time to visit HJ Smith & Sons General Store & Museum. Explore the general store as long as you want, for scenes like below, but make sure you visit the back room which is a museum.

HJ Smith & Sons General Store & Museum in Covington LA
HJ Smith & Sons General Store & Museum in Covington LA

Lousiana Northshore Farmers Markets

So convenient that Louisiana Northshore communities farmer markets are located at all Tammany Trace trailheads. Covington, Mandeville, and Abita Springs farmers market events are on Saturday and Slidell on Sunday. I visited the Covington Farmers Market, listened to some live music, sampled some homemade goodies, and even had a quick neck and shoulder massage ($1 a minute).

Covington Louisiana farmers market
Covington Louisiana farmers market


Visit Acquistapace’s market in Covington to sample several dozen cheese samples (wow), admire Louisiana’s largest wine selection, explore gourmet and standard foods and products, and more. Acquistapace’s is Covington’s favorite grocery store but an exceptionally appealing secret find for visitors. Also visit their wine and cheese shop in Mandeville.

Dew Drop Jazz Hall concert

The Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Jazz Hall was built in 1895, the year jazz was “invented.” Dew Drop hosted black musicians not permitted to perform in New Orleans. Mandeville was diverse with Native, black, white, and Creole people in 1890s and the underground jazz musicians crossed Lake Pontchartrain in order to perform in public. Crazy times.

Dew Drop is largely unchanged except for some unauthorized painted stencils (for movie Pretty Baby with Brooke Shields) and a little electric modification. During events, enjoy prepared food next door at the church. See my Dew Drop Jazz Hall video.

Fontainebleau State Park

See sugar mill ruins by the visitor center and giant oaks that have stood for centuries at the wonderful Fontainebleau State Park. Louisiana’s most visited state park has 12 overwater cabins, campsites, plentiful hiking opportunities, and a beach area.

Also visit nearby Northlake Nature Center, home of the Louisiana Bird Fest.

Abita Mystery House

John Preble moved from New Orleans to Abita Springs 40 years ago with some friends for artistic inspiration. His main project is the quirky, conversation-sparking Abita Mystery House. Most likely, you will see more visitors from other countries than locals at Abita Mystery House.

Abita Mystery House Louisiana Northshore
Abita Mystery House Louisiana Northshore

See some of my Abita Mystery House photos and videos.

Abita Brewing Company

Louisiana’s largest craft brewery and USA’s 13th largest is Abita Brewing Company, located in Abita Springs. Before or after spending time in Abita’s tasting room, take a guided or self-guided tour. Make sure to try some of Abita’s craft brewed root beer and sodas.

Abita Brewing Company Louisiana
Abita Brewing Company Louisiana

Louisiana Northshore Restaurants #TammanyTaste

The variety and quantity of places to eat in Louisiana Northshore is astounding. Over 400 independent places to eat in St Tammany Parish means that even the fussiest palates will be happy.

The first three restaurants have a similar and interesting theme—young chef/owner couples with a child operating an amazing restaurant in downtown Covington. Following those three listings are some of my favorite places to eat in Louisiana Northshore.

LOLA Restaurant

Keith and Nealy met at Brennan’s in New Orleans and at LOLA Restaurant in Covington they serve contemporary Louisiana cuisine and Southern comfort food. For the past 13 years, the old Covington train depot has been Lola’s home but the new extension is a vintage train car from the 1920s Philadelphia world’s fair. Lunch is a casual affair where you order at the counter, while dinner is table service and finer food options.

daily specials at Lola in Covington Louisiana
daily specials at Lola in Covington Louisiana

Oxlot 9

Located in Southern Hotel, Oxlot 9 draws rave reviews from foodies, critics, and guests alike. The restaurant is known for Southern and Gulf-inspired food. Jeffrey Hansell is chef/owner at Oxlot 9 and previously worked at Commander’s Palace and was executive chef at Verandah in Birmingham.

one of the best restaurants in Covington Louisiana is Oxlot 9
one of the best restaurants in Covington Louisiana is Oxlot 9

See more of my Oxlot 9 photos.

Del Porto Ristorante

David and Torre, chef/owners of Del Porto in Covington, have received several James Beard semi-final Best Chef accolades. They moved to Covington from Napa Valley California and specialize in rustic Italian cuisine. Explore the menu, sample appetizers (cheese stuffed peppers is divine) but the pasta at Del Porto is magnificent.

pasta is a must at Del Porto in Covington Louisiana
pasta is a must at Del Porto in Covington Louisiana

The Dakota Restaurant

The daily catch special at Dakota in Covington is reliable. Pictured below is fresh red drum topped with fried oysters. Dakota’s crab soup is an excellent meal starter.

order the daily special local catch at Dakota in Covington LA
order the daily special local catch at Dakota in Covington LA


Get your pastry and morning tea (or coffee) fix at Autonomy in Covington.

great breakfast spot in Covington LA is Autonomy
great breakfast place in Covington LA is Autonomy

Mandeville Seafood

The 1/2 and 1/2 po’ boy was outstanding at Mandeville Seafood, a super popular seafood market and casual dining space. Also consider the crawfish when in season.

amazing shrimp and oyster po' boy at Mandeville Seafood in Louisiana Northshore
amazing shrimp and oyster po’ boy at Mandeville Seafood in Louisiana Northshore

Sunday Brunch at The Lakehouse

One of the oldest buildings in Mandeville—built in 1830s by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville)—serves as the home for The Lakehouse. Sunday Brunch is especially popular at The Lakehouse, with outside seating and a lake view, omelette and carving stations, and bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys.

Rips on the Lake

Our waiter at Rips on the Lake recommended a few things which totally delighted us. Order the grouper with crab instead of shrimp—although I stuck with the #BigShrimpin topper because #USGulfCoast pride. Choose the rum sauce and pecans on the cheesecake. He told a story about a dessert creation—cheesecake stuffed with key lime pie—which was a favorite of a guy who went on a ship for a year, sailing and working around the world. The day he returned, he requested that custom dessert.

Rips on the Lake Mandeville Louisiana
Rips on the Lake Mandeville Louisiana

Liz’s Where Y’at Diner

Come to Liz’s Where Y’at Diner in Mandeville for the food but stay for the artwork. Oh, the food is incredible, especially for breakfast. I simply HAD to have shrimp and grits (outstanding) but my breakfast crew ordered various eggs Benedict dishes. Everyone was happy.

shrimp and grits for breakfast at Liz's Where Y'at Diner in Mandeville Louisiana
shrimp and grits for breakfast at Liz’s Where Y’at Diner in Mandeville Louisiana

But the artwork—I love this story. The artist Wendy Grantham is from Santa Rosa Beach on Florida Gulf Coast and creates colorful, vibrant, and happy artwork. Wendy decorated the walls of Liz Munson’s diner before it opened and Wendy’s signs are displayed (and for sale) in the diner. A hurricane hampered Wendy’s business and lifestyle, and Liz and friends pitched in, collected a bunch of money, and delivered it to Wendy.

Mama D’s Pizza Place in Abita Springs

For a quick casual lunch between visiting Abita Mystery House and Abita Brewing Company, stop into Mama D’s Pizza Place. As you can see below, the calzones are wonderful creations (it tasted amazing).

muffaletta calzone at Mama D's in Abita Springs
muffaletta calzone at Mama D’s in Abita Springs

Hoodoo Ice Cream

By offering their small batch, natural ice cream flavors in flights, Hoodoo Ice Cream in Covington takes the angst out of “which one should I order.” When visiting Hoodoo with another person, order two flights also that you can sample eight flavors! See more of my Hoodoo Ice Cream photos.

Louisiana Northshore Lodging

Southern Hotel, Covington

After sitting vacant for decades, the renovated Southern Hotel opened its doors in the summer of 2014 and is the main draw in downtown Covington’s historic district. 40 rooms and two suites are located in the original building and the new Garden House across the parking lot has five additional suites.

McCool Travel tip: Southern Hotel principal owner (Lisa Condrey Ward) is the aunt of the owner of the spectacular Coastal Mississippi boutique hotel The Roost (Ted Condrey).

Covington's Living Room. Cypress Bar at Southern Hotel.
“Covington’s Living Room.” Cypress Bar at Southern Hotel.

Here is a video of my Southern Hotel room.

De La Bleau B&B

Located one block from Lake Pontchartrain and behind Barley Oak Brew Pub is the lovely De La Bleau B&B. Three gorgeous rooms with a color theme are in the main house. A suite and apartment are steps away in the back guesthouse. Between the two buildings, relax in the hot tub and swing or ride along the Mandeville lakefront with one of their many bicycles.

orange room at De La Bleau in Mandeville Louisiana
orange room at De La Bleau in Mandeville Louisiana

Click here to watch my video of the orange room at De La Bleau B&B.

Abita Springs Hotel

Consider a cozy Louisiana getaway stay at the boutique Abita Springs Hotel. The historic house lovingly provides five rooms—two standards, two suites, and one apartment for long term stays. McCool Travel tip: whether or not you opt to stay at Abita Springs Hotel, check out the magnificent giant oaks across the street from the back entrance.

Abita Springs Hotel is a great place to stay in Louisiana Northshore
Abita Springs Hotel is a great place to stay in Louisiana Northshore

Fontainebleau State Park

Stay in one of the 12 overwater cabins at Louisiana’s most popular state park. Fontainebleau State Park also has a campground so that you can explore its 4,000 acres day and night.

We recently did a Tentrr experience at Fontainebleau State Park. Tentrr provides nearly everything for you to have a fun and memorable glamping type experience—including the tent, camping cot (very comfy), Adirondack chairs, fire pit, 5 gallons of water, camping toilet, and more.

Tentrr camp site at Fontainebleau State Park Mandeville LA
Tentrr camp site at Fontainebleau State Park Mandeville LA

Extraordinary Oaks in Louisiana Northshore

Louisiana Northshore towns appreciate their magnificent oak trees so much that streets are paved around the trees. Seemingly everywhere you walk and look, there are more beautiful oak trees. Some convenient spots to enjoy oak trees are in Fontainebleu Park, along the Mandeville waterfront, biking along Tammany Trace, and walking all around Covington (especially around Bogue Falaya Park). See my Tammany Parish oak photos.

Louisiana Northshore Mardi Gras

Even on one visit to Louisiana Northshore a week after Mardi Gras, the Carnival spirit remained, as it does all along the US Gulf Coast.

Covington Cemetery Louisiana Northshore
Covington Cemetery in Louisiana Northshore

Other Things to Do in Louisiana Northshore

Hopefully this article provides an idea of the variety of funness to experience in Louisiana Northshore. On future trips, I hope to explore some of the following St Tammany Parish attractions and discover even more.

Also see my US Gulf Coast Events, which includes Louisiana Northshore festivals and events.

Please let me know your favorite Louisiana Northshore restaurant, museum, or secret place.

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