When you imagine a romantic getaway in Louisiana, do you think of New Orleans? I did until I visited St. Tammany Parish. Located on the north end of Lake Ponchartrain, The Northshore is roughly 30-45 minutes from New Orleans. The Northshore offers a more intimate, cozy feel, perfect for a kid-free getaway.
Each historic neighborhood in St. Tammany Parish has its vibe. It's a vacation destination that fits your needs, doing as much or as little as you want. Foodies will love the Cajun soul. Outdoor enthusiasts can find their peace on hiking trails and waterways. Art and music lovers can indulge their senses. Whether you go in with a plan or see where the wind takes you, The Northshore is Louisiana's “easy escape.”
Romantic Places To Stay on The Northshore
The Guesthouse on Girod was our sweet little B&B. The room was light and dreamy, with a private entrance and close parking. We enjoyed strolling to nearby restaurants and shopping. Other options in Mandeville are de la Bleau B&B and the Blue Heron B&B. Check out historic The Southern Hotel or Blue Willow B&B in Covington.
Stroll Historic Northshore Neighborhoods
I fell in love with this supremely walkable neighborhood. It's a historic district that mixes commercial and residential. History buffs can scan a QR code for a historic walking tour in the community. On the shores of Lake Ponchartrain, this sweet little town is hard to beat for romance.
Covington is the seat of St. Tammany Parish and, therefore, has a lot going on. Founded in 1813, the town offers historic buildings, shopping, and restaurants. It's the home of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, held each fall. Art and entertainment opportunities abound in Covington.
Slidell is a town battered by hurricanes. However, the residents built back and better than before. Their downtown comprises ten square blocks of historic buildings, antique stores, and museums. Antique lovers will want to attend the spring and fall Antique District Street Fair.
Catch a Show at Historic Dewdrop Jazz and Social Hall
You don't have to go to New Orleans to hear good jazz music! Built in 1895, the Dewdrop Jazz and Social Hall in Mandeville is the world's oldest virtually unaltered rural jazz dance hall. The Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Association was founded in 1885 by African Americans to assist their community. Now, the Dewdrop hosts roughly 12 shows a year. If the inside is full, sit on the grounds and listen through the windows. Don't miss the plated dinner from the First Free Mission Baptist Church next door.
Explore Louisiana's Natural Beauty
Nature Trails and Parks
Nature lovers, this one's for you. We strolled the Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville. Still, the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve, Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe, and the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge in Pearl River are excellent spots. Hang out at Fontainebleau State Park, the most visited park in Louisiana. With 2800 acres on Lake Ponchartrain, it's an ideal romantic picnic spot. To get cozy, rent a “glamping” site through Tentrr.
Sunset Kayak on a Louisiana Bayou
You can't go wrong with Canoe & Trail Adventures. We met our guide, Matt, at Cane Bayou. He was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic! That excursion was a highlight for both of us. Honest advice: wear pants, long sleeves, and serious insect repellant. You'll thank me after sundown.
Tour Honey Island Swamp
Cajun Encounters was our guide for touring Honey Island Swamp in Slidell. Tours are two hours long, and guides are informative and fun! Cajun Encounters throws “Gator chow” off the boat, so you are guaranteed to see gators. We learned a lot about that diverse ecosystem.
Glide on the Tammany Trace
The Tammany Trace is Louisiana's only Rails to Trails conversion. It's 31 miles long and traverses Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Slidell, and Lacombe. The trail is asphalt, so you're all good for walking, running, or rolling. Bike rentals are available at several points along the route. An equestrian path runs parallel if you prefer that mode of transportation.
Set Sail on Lake Ponchartrain
DeLaune Sailing Charters offers mid-day or sunset sails on Lake Ponchartrain if you want something sturdier than a kayak. Cruises are two-and-a-half hours long and can accommodate up to six passengers. Depart from Bayou Castine in Mandeville. If you prefer a more hands-on sail, book a sailing lesson. Either way, you'll catch some fantastic views.
Embrace the Flavors of Louisiana
Abita Springs Brewery offers unique craft beer and sodas. Our server hooked me on their Strawberry Lager at the Abita Brew Pub. After tasting their crawfish mac ‘n' cheese, I decided my life could not improve any further. We bought some limited-edition brews at their brewery a few miles away. They offer brewery tours and a craft soda tour for a non-alcoholic vibe.
Can't Miss Restaurants on the Louisiana Northshore
Please stop and eat at Liz's Where Y'at Diner in Mandeville. It's bright and cheerful, portions are enormous and delicious, and Liz is a delight. Travel and Leisure readers voted Liz's one of the “Top 10 Diners in the United States” in 2018. Southern Living rated it an “unforgettable” brunch spot in 2023.
Other standouts in Mandeville are the neighborhood Rusty Pelican for fried foods and Pat's Rest Awhile for fantastic seafood entrees. Pat's is a restored historic hotel that looks upscale, but the atmosphere is 100% casual. In Covington, hit up LOLA for absolutely delicious sandwiches and the experience of dining in a restored railroad car! If you're strolling Slidell, visit Roots Plants and Coffee for a light bite and unique coffee flavors. The space is bright and funky with a minimalist-meets-Grandma's House vibe.
Be a Part of the Arts
Live music is EVERYWHERE in The Northshore. Local bars and restaurants have weekly events featuring locals. The temperate fall and spring weather lends itself to music festivals and concerts outside at local parks. Bring your dancing shoes to the town hall in Abita Springs for the monthly live Cajun music. Beginners can take lessons at 7:00 p.m., and the band starts at 7:30 p.m.
Visual arts also flourish on The Northshore. Work your way through the towns' offerings of galleries and art walks. Theater fans will find impressive community theater productions in Mandeville, Slidell, and Covington. If you're flexible, plan your trip around a big festival. Pick from the Three Rivers Art Festival in November, the Abita Busker Festival in April, or the Slidell Heritage Festival in July.
Famous for Farmer's Markets
If strolling markets for fresh produce and homemade goodies is your thing, St. Tammany Parish is your vibe. Folsom, Slidell, Mandeville, and Abita Springs host weekly markets, while Covington hosts twice a week! The Abita Springs Market includes art as well. Monthly markets include the Lacombe Farmer's Market and the Olde Towne Slidell Art Market.
Louisiana's Easy Escape
Exploring St. Tammany Parish was good for my soul. The towns that make up The Northshore are welcoming and wonderful. The relaxed atmosphere also encouraged us to relax when I might have been tempted to check off a bucket list itinerary. Louisiana's Northshore is an easy option if you are looking for a refreshing vacation with your loved one.