If you love outdoor adventures, fabulous food and family friendly activities, schedule a visit to St. Tammany Parish on the Louisiana Northshore. Located just 45 miles north of New Orleans, this area has some of the best food and fun to be found in the Southeast. Whether you love to kayak, fish, hike, drink beer, or eat a lot of great food, there is something for everyone on the Louisiana Northshore.
6 Reasons to Visit the Louisiana Northshore
I often hear clients talk about their desire to visit New Orleans along with their fear of taking their children along with them. My recommendation – visit the Louisiana Northshore. The Northshore is located just 45 miles from the heart of the French Quarter and offers many of the same things New Orleans is known for. Amazing cajun food, mouthwatering beignets, and family friendly activities are just a few of the things you can expect to find. St. Tammany Parish consists of several must-visit cities: Mandeville, Covington, Abita Springs, Folsom, and Lacombe to name a few.
Here are 6 reasons I think everyone should plan a visit to the Louisiana Northshore.
Global Wildlife Center – Folsom, LA
Located in Folsom, Louisiana, the Global Wildlife Center is a 900-acre refuge to over 4,000 rare, endangered and extinct in the wild animals. This Non-profit conservation foundation has been in operation since 1991 and is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the United States.
Schedule a Private Pinz Tour or a Safari Wagon Tour where you can hand feed giraffe, bison, elk, deer and more. Here you will learn about the many different animals through touch. The Global Wildlife Center is open 7 days a week. Call (985) 796-3585 for safari check–in times and availability. Additionally, you can check the website each Friday for new tour times.
Kayak the Cane Bayou – Lacombe, LA
There is no better way to explore the area’s bayous than by kayak. Schedule a kayak adventure down the beautiful Cane Bayou with Bayou Adventure. Bayou Adventure “For the Fairly Adventurous” is located in Lacombe, Louisiana. Here you can experience nature at its finest spotting eagles, osprey, otters and sometimes alligators . On a recent visit my family and I kayaked our way down the Cane Bayou into Lake Pontchartrain. We saw turtles, fish and even a Blue Heron on our journey. It was a little too cold in mid-November to come eye to eye with an alligator (thankfully)! Though I am told most of the time when you kayak the Cane Bayou you come face to face with “Big Momma” – a giant alligator that lives in the Bayou. I think my kids (and myself) would have freaked had we run into her.
Daily unguided paddle trips include the kayak, paddle, map of the Bayou, life vest and complimentary drop off and pick up at the Main Street Boat Launch in Bayou Lacombe. Single kayak rentals are $35/ a day, while tandem kayaks are $85/day. You can also choose to take a guided sunset paddle for $55.00/person which includes the kayak rental, snacks and drinks. Contact Bayou Adventure at 985-882-9208 to book your kayak adventure.
TravelingMom Tip: I would recommend renting a tandem kayak if you plan to take your younger children with you. My daughter is 10 and this was her first ever kayaking experience. She ended up soaking wet before the day was over.
Liz’s Where Y’at Diner – Mandeville, LA
This laid back Mandeville diner is home to some of the best food you will ever put in your mouth. Seriously. Owned and operated by Liz Munson, the restaurant is the perfect place for a family breakfast. My family and I dined with Liz for breakfast and we were amazed at how fabulous everything was.
If you are a fan of eggs Benedict, this is the place for you! With 10 different variations of “Where Y’at Bennies” to choose from it is hard to choose. Can’t pick just one? No worries – Liz lets you mix-N-match your bennies. I chose to mix-and-match the Fried Chicken Benedict and the Pulled Pork Benedict. Absolutely amazing! Thanks to Marie, our server, for the recommendation.
Liz took a few minutes from her busy morning to come and welcome us to her place. We talked of how my son was looking at colleges and trying to decide what to do after graduation. Liz had some inspiring words for him. “Don’t go into a job for the mullah. Do something you love and it will feed your soul. You’ll never work a day in your life.” Thank you Liz!
Abita Springs, Louisiana
Spend the day in the charming Abita Springs. There are so many different activities you and the family can participate in. If you love craft beer, take a tour of the Abita Brewing Company. Founded in 1986, Abita Beer has no preservatives, additives or stabilizers. Complimentary tours of the brewery are available. Check the website for tour times.
The kids will enjoy the Abita Mystery House at the UCM Museum. The maze of buildings include a vintage gas station, a hot sauce house, a big exhibition hall, and the beautiful “House of Shards.” Using thousands of found objects, artist John Preble created an incredible mini town that pokes fun at Southern life including Mardi Gras Parades, UFO landings, fortune tellers, alligator wrestlers and more. Open 10:00 am – 5:00 p.m. daily, admission is $3.00 for anyone 4 and up.
If you are feeling adventurous, rent bicycles and tour the Tammany Trace. This 31 mile trail follows the old Illinois Central Railroad corridor connecting Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell, Louisiana.
Before you leave Abita Springs make sure to eat at the Abita Springs Brew Pub. My family swears this is the best cheeseburger they have ever eaten. Their wings are pretty amazing as well.
The Candy Bank – Mandeville, LA
Located in Historic Mandeville, this vintage candy store and ice cream parlor was one of our favorite places we visited. The Candy Bank is located in the century old St. Tammany Bank Building one block from Lake Ponchartrain. “Featuring a gazillion nostalgic candies, an out-of-this-world jellybean station, and more” the entire family will enjoy their visit. Visiting the Candy Bank puts new meaning to “feeling like a kid in a candy store!” I could have spent hours in there looking through the different candy options. From mega gumballs to chewy Spree they have it all.
The Candy Bank also serves Nitro Cold Brews. Think Coke float but with coffee. One of their soon-to-be-famous Nitro Brews is the ButterAle. If you have been longing for something similar to the amazing ButterBeer served in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, look no further than the Candy Bank. Other Nitro Brew flavors include Pumpkin Spice Latte, Mocha Latte, and Orange Dreamsicle Soda.
Oxlot 9 – Covington, LA
Oxlot 9 is a charming restaurant located inside the Southern Hotel in Historic Covington, Louisiana. My family and I had the pleasure of dining here for Sunday brunch and we were amazed by the dishes prepared by Chef Jeffrey Hansell. I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere with live Jazz. We started brunch with a delicious pressed pot of coffee from the Abita Springs Roasting Co. As an appetizer (yes, you can have appetizers for brunch) my family and I split an order of OL9 Beignets. You cannot come to Louisiana without eating beignets and these do not disappoint.
As a main course I went with the “Knife and Fork” Chicken Biscuit which was incredible. Saving the best for last, we split a Campfire for dessert. The Campfire is by far the most decadent thing I have ever put in my mouth. Kuddos Chef Hansell. The Campfire consists of a layer of graham crackers, a layer of chocolate, and a layer of ice cream all incased inside a layer of decadent marshmallow. Words cannot begin to describe how amazing this really is. I highly recommend you visit Oxlot 9 and try this for yourself.
My family and I thoroughly enjoyed our time visiting St. Tammany Parish and the Louisiana Northshore. If you are looking for a place to enjoy outdoor activities, nature, amazing food and local craft beer, this is the place for you.