Culinary Bliss & Outdoor Thrills: Spectacular Things To Do On The Northshore of Louisiana

Vacation planning: things to do on the Northshore LA
Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Indulge in mouthwatering cuisine and soft adventures with these things to do on The Northshore of Louisiana. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world in search of good food and adventure. Recently, I visited The Northshore of Louisiana, a foodie destination, along with Houma, Louisiana’s Bayou Country. If you are unfamiliar, let me introduce you to this amazing destination, which harmoniously blends culinary delights with outdoor wonders.

In this Northshore travel guide, I’ll guide you through:

  • My favorite upscale dining experiences
  • Soft adventures and fun outdoor activities in Northshore LA
  • Why you should add this Louisiana gem to your travel list (and fast)

Listen to the podcast episode here or pick from any of the podcast players below.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Pandora | Any Podcast Player

Many thanks to Visit The Northshore for partnering with me on this podcast episode. 

Visit The Northshore is a phenomenal resource for travelers planning their next Louisiana getaway. Discover things to do, places to eat like a local, and events happening all year round. Also, a special thank you goes to Jason Danti, the saxophone, clarinet, and flute player featured in this episode.

If you want to skip to places to eat, click here.

Skip ahead and read about my outdoor experiences by clicking here.

Bayou Bonfouca.

Travel Planning For Louisiana Northshore

Where is Louisiana Northshore?

Located across Lake Pontchartrain, approximately 45 minutes from New Orleans, The Northshore is home to several communities, including Madisonville, Abita Springs, Covington, Mandeville, and Slidell, to name a few. Each community possesses its own distinct identity and a charming small-town vibe.

Some communities, like Mandeville and Madisonville, are directly on the lake. Others, like Covington and Abita Springs, are slightly inland.

Covington is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, cultural events, and historic architecture. Abita Springs is eclectic and a haven for creativity, and Mandeville, situated on Lake Pontchartrain, features serene lakefront parks and well-preserved historic grand homes.

Historically, since the 1880s, New Orleanians would ditch the city and escape to The Northshore. Today, Northshore caters to various interests, attracting visitors who appreciate its unique blend of natural beauty, laid-back vibes, cultural experiences, festivities, events, and culinary delights.

How far is Louisiana Northshore from New Orleans?

If you’re wondering how far Louisiana Northshore is from New Orleans, it’s just across Lake Pontchartrain.

Driving it will take approximately 45 minutes. Remember that travel time depends on traffic conditions and your starting and ending points in New Orleans and The Northshore.

If you’re already visiting New Orleans, it’s easy to add on a day trip, but if you have more time, make an entire vacation out of it like I did.

What is Louisiana Northshore known for?

Louisiana Northshore is known for its outdoor excursions and soft adventures, like the 31-mile Tammany Trace, miles of bayous and rivers, and the 630-square mile Lake Pontchartrain, which plays a significant role in the region’s geography and recreational opportunities.

It also features 80,000 acres of national wildlife refuge, making it a popular bird-watching destination.

I’ll always remember Louisiana Northshore for its sparkly lakefront views and delicious Louisiana cuisine. As a popular foodie destination, food is a big part of the culture and way of life.

While The Northshore is close to New Orleans, it’s very different. Unlike NOLA’s hype party scene, Louisiana Northshore offers a chill escape – think serene landscapes, outdoor adventures, and a laid-back scene with good vibes and nature feels.

How many days should you spend?

While I saw a lot in three days, I wish I spent more time, especially in Slidell. You can easily spend upwards of a week here, but at least two days.

Fun things to do on the northshore. Lake Pontchartrain tourist attractions

How To Get To The Northshore

Getting to Louisiana Northshore from New Orleans is easy. Land at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport, rent a car, or take an airport shuttle. I chose to rent a car so I could make the most of my trip, exploring at my own pace.

Driving from New Orleans (a.k.a. the Southshore), a common route is the 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, considered one of the longest continuous bridges over water in the world. It’ll take around 30 minutes to complete without traffic.

Where To Stay in Louisiana Northshore

To experience fine Southern charm, I recommend staying at Southern Hotel, an upscale boutique hotel in Covington, Louisiana, that opened in 1907. Find comfort, art, good food, and tasty drinks here.

Fun Fact: This luxurious hotel boasted having hot water, electric lights, and carpeting when it first opened in 1907 – a big deal back then. 

Like many historic properties, Southern Hotel had many lives. In the 1960s, the hotel closed its doors. It changed hands a few times until the current owners purchased it in 2011 and fully restored it. The hotel plans to expand by adding 24 rooms and a spa.

Called “Covington’s Living Room,” you’ll find locals and visitors hanging out at the hotel’s cozy lobby, Cypress Bar, or the beautifully decorated tree-lined courtyard.

Order a fancy cocktail, whiskey, or specialty drink at Cypress Bar. If you’re in town on Wednesday, don’t miss the Olde Fashion special and champagne on Thursdays.

Fully restored and beautifully decorated, you’ll feel like you stepped into the past but with a modern twist. Upstairs, the exposed brick walls compliment the black-and-white photographs from 1910, and in the elevator, there’s an interesting floor-to-ceiling scene, which will take you back in time in classic 1920s fashion.

Furthermore, Southern Hotel is within walking distance of galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and music venues. Centrally located in the Covington historic district, ditch your car. Leave it at the hotel’s complimentary parking lot and explore on foot. Several restaurants I’ll recommend are all within walking distance.

Search for other nearby hotels on Booking.com below.

Things To Do On The Northshore Louisiana

Throughout my trip, I had a chance to explore Covington, Mandeville, and Slidell, so I will first recommend things to do in Covington and then the neighboring communities.

Tired of reading? Listen to this podcast episode on YouTube.

Things To Do in Covington, Louisiana: Best Places To Eat  

One of the things I appreciated in Covington was the fine dining experience, which started right at my hotel. The Gloriette features local contemporary Louisiana flavors and French-inspired cuisine. The ambiance is elevated, warm, and inviting, perfect for a fancy dinner.

I recommend the flounder and grenobloise with lump crab and Brabant potatoes as the main course. It’s the perfect mix of crunchy and savory.

Ah, I’m still thinking about that flounder dish. If licking the plate was an appropriate thing to do in public, I’d do it!

A few doors down, make dinner reservations at Tavi, an Israeli restaurant for small plates, pita, and lots of hummus.

Lastly, breakfast or brunch at Mattina Bella, please! The servers are friendly and attentive, and locals love this spot. The breakfast menu features all of your faves, including pancakes, steak and eggs, waffles, omelets, and more. 

I remixed the eggs, Sardou, so instead of two poached eggs, I had two scrambled eggs nestled on spinach florentine and an English muffin with hollandaise. My gosh, this dish was creamy and delicious. 

In summary, culinary hot spots in Covington include: 

  • Mattina Bella (breakfast, brunch, and lunch) 
  • Tavi (dinner) 
  • The Gloriette (dinner) 
  • Cypress Bar at Southern Hotel 

Other Louisiana Northshore Elevated Culinary Experiences

As I mentioned, The Northshore is made up of various towns. Don’t miss visiting Olde Towne Slidell, a historic district where you can find vibrant wall murals, coffee shops, restaurants, antique stores, and more. Here are some of my favorite Slidell restaurants and cafes.

Listen to this podcast episode on Spotify.

1. Roots Plants + Coffee in Slidell

Craving a cup of coffee? Look no further if you need a peaceful atmosphere to work or relax.

Head over to Roots Plants + Coffee, a Black, family-owned coffee shop in Olde Towne Slidell.

Located in a former antique mall, green tropical plants are all around, and velvet accent couches are perfect for those dreamy Instagram-worthy photos.

By the way, the plants aren’t only decor. You can purchase them too.

With the sound of coffee brewing and the sweet aroma of brown sugar in the air, Roots Plants + Coffee offers a warm and inviting atmosphere where you can take a load off and unwind while sipping your beverage of choice.

There’s a wide selection of coffee and tea made with love. Have your pick of Matcha, Chai, Cold Brew, French Press, Drip, and more. Plus, quick bites like croissants, bagels, pastries, and sandwiches.

Fun Fact: Bryisha Lyons, owner of Roots Plants + Coffee, has a background in real estate and interior design with plants. She saw a need for more plants and coffee shops in Slidell and grew that vision into what it is today: a full coffee-indoor dining experience.

Click here to check out a list of Black-owned businesses in St. Tammany Parish.

2. Palmettos on the Bayou Restaurant in Slidell

What people get wrong about financially savvy travel. How to become a financially savvy traveler.

For an upscale dining experience, head to Palmettos, an Acadian-style restaurant serving classic Creole dishes overlooking Bayou Bonfouca.

Known for its local seafood, this is the perfect spot for Sunday brunch or a romantic meal. It’s also kid-friendly, so bring the family too.

On a Sunday, you can hear soft jazz playing from a two-man jazz band in the background.

While there’s indoor and outdoor dining, we opted for outdoor seating on the covered and climate-controlled deck.

The setting is cozy and warm, with soft lights all around. Marvel at the lush bayou, and after your meal, walk over to the patio to enjoy the waterfront views.

Fried oysters, chicken waffles, and cheese-stuffed boudin balls were all on the menu.

We started with warm pumpkin bread served with browned cane syrup butter. I ordered a fried Louisiana Catfish Sandwich served with Cajun-seasoned french fries, which was absolutely delicious.

Our plates were left clean, and what we couldn’t finish, we packed in a doggy bag for later.

Outdoor Things To Do In Northshore Louisiana

Read on for the outdoor activities I enjoyed in Northshore, Louisiana.

1. Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters in Slidell

Have you ever seen an alligator in its natural environment? This is possible when you go on a swamp tour with Cajun Encounters.

Our tour guide, Captain Steve, who doubled as our boat captain, was knowledgeable and charismatic.

Not only did he share lots of information about the alligators, but he also called over raccoons and wild pigs so we could see them close up.

He pointed out many details about Honey Island Swamp’s habitat, detailing how people interacted with it in the past and present.

These swamps have a constant current, which prevents mosquitoes and smelly gases. Despite their brown tint, the water is shallow, clean, and always moving.

Overall, the swamp tour with Cajun Encounters was educational, full of laughs, and offered many sightseeing opportunities and thrills. It was so much fun: truly unforgettable.

Helpful Tip: Bring a coat or outer layer because it gets cold, especially when the small, flat-bottomed boat goes fast.

2. Bike Tammany Trace

The Tammany Trace is a 31-mile former railway turned trail conversion (Louisiana’s first) that connects several Northshore communities – downtown Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell. On the asphalt trail, bike, walk, run, rollerblade, or even ride horseback.

Each community has its trailhead, so there are many trail entrances and exits. Feel free to pop in town for a bite to eat, grab a beer at a brewery (there are three en route), or visit many other attractions along the way. Bike rentals come with a lock, so it’s easy to stash your rental safely while you explore.

Across the street from Mattina Bella, rent a bike (kayak or skateboard) at Brooke’s Bike Shop. While you can pedal downtown, the Covington Trailhead of Tammany Trace is nearby. Brooke’s Bike Shop has other locations in Mandeville and Slidell.

On the trail, you’ll be surrounded by nature and greenery, which is peaceful and relaxing. If you start in Covington, you’ll see the gradual change in the ecosystem from longleaf pines to marsh and swamplands. 

The trail is easy to follow but requires crossing several congested streets, so be cautious of oncoming traffic.

From Covington, I rode a little past Abita Springs before turning back.

Helpful Tip: I began biking around 2 pm, which is quite late in the day during the Fall season if you intend to cover many miles. Therefore, I suggest starting in the morning or early afternoon to avoid feeling rushed and having to double back in a hurry before the Trace closes at dusk.

Luckily, the bike rental was flexible with returns even after closing. Note: No pets allowed on the trail.

If you want a fun and unique way to enjoy scenic views and fresh air, consider riding bicycles on Tammany Trace. It’s a top destination for cyclists, so go out there and experience it for yourself.

3. Set Sail in Mandeville, Louisiana

Sailing offers a picturesque way to experience Lake Pontchartrain.

Hop aboard the 42-foot sailboat called ‘Windward Passage,’ with Captain Rick of Delaune Sailing Charters. 

The scenic views and hands-on sailing instructions made my first sailing experience (ever) so special.

I had a lot of time to practice steering the helm and tacking (changing the direction of the sailboat). But you can also lounge around and take in the scenery, too. Being out on the water is so peaceful. Since there are no engine motors, you clearly hear the crashing waves.

Overall, I enjoyed the freedom of being out on the open water and loved how easy it was to try something out of the ordinary.

Helpful Tip: I recommend dressing in layers. Bring a jacket, blanket, and gloves to stay warm because the lake gets windy and chilly.

Closing Remarks: Is visiting The Northshore worth it?

Is Northshore worth visiting? Yes, absolutely!

Nicknamed “Louisiana’s Easy Escape,” — I found The Northshore is easy to get around and explore multiple towns, whether driving or biking the Tammany Trace. 

Good food was easy to find across the parish, and it was pretty easy to get outdoors, whether kayaking, tubing, fishing, or biking. I’d recommend Northshore for couples, families, mother-daughter trips, girls’ getaways, and solo jaunts.

So, next time you plan on vacationing in Louisiana, please don’t forget to swing by Northshore.

No matter how you prefer to explore St. Tammany Parish, there’s so much to see and do, and the dining is top-notch, chef’s kiss.

Here are some of the things to do in Louisiana Northshore that are still on my wish list:

  • Covington farmer’s market
  • Fontainebleau State Park
  • English Tea Room in Covington
  • Abita Brew Pub
  • Old Town Slidell Soda Shop
  • Mardi Gras, of course!

In the comments below, share which experiences you’re adding to your Northshore travel itinerary.

Also, if you haven’t already, follow The Thought Card Podcast to get new episodes sent directly to your favorite podcast player every other week.

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