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There's lots to do on a Northshore family vacation - great outdoor activities, animals to see, cool places to visit. We aim to please all ages.
Have a leisurely breakfast at the Big Easy Diner or grab something quick at the Creole Bagelry, both in Slidell, before heading out to the Honey Island Swamp.
There are several operators offering tours of this large and lovely swamp. It's best to make reservations ahead of time, though walk-ins are accepted as space allows. Allow about two hours for the tours, which are good for all ages, offering an upclose look at gators, large birds and other wildlife, and colorful, informative narration.
Climb on up
Energy to burn? Head for Slidell Rocks, a climbing gym. Get gear and let the kids clamber up the rock walls, or suit up and climb as a family. Young kids might enjoy Heritage Park and its large playground.
Stop for lunch at Times Grill, located in an old railroad depot in Olde Towne Slidell. It's a great spot for casual eating, good salads, seafood and excellent burgers.
If you didn't see enough of the big reptiles out in the swamp, Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery in Covington is a must-stop. Learn about the prehistoric creatures, then see hundreds of them at the only alligator ranch in the state open to the public. You can touch them, hold them, even hatch them.
If cuddly's more your style, Splendor Farms Bed and Breakfast in nearby Bush offers a great petting zoo experience. Go wild with baby animals, sheep, llamas and more.
Venture to Abita Springs and the Abita Mystery House at the UCM Museum. Kids and grown-ups, too, love this rambling assembly of buildings crammed with oddball collections, fun art, vintage pinball and hands-on exhibits. You won't see any real animals here, but you will see fanciful creatures like the bassigator and the doggigator. Remember to pop into the gift shop on your way out.
Ma, I'm hungry!
Enjoy excellent pizza at Mama D's, two blocks from the Mystery House, or do supper at nearby Camellia Cafe or Abita Bar-B-Q, both kid-friendly places with satisfying food.
If you go-
Big Easy Diner, 985-639-8006
Creole Bagelry, 985-649-6151
Cajun Encounters Honey Island Swamp Tours, 985-641-5879, www.cajunencounters.com
Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours, 504-242-5877, www.honeyislandswamp.com
Pearl River Eco-Tours, 985-649-4200, www.pearlriverecotours.com
Slidell Rocks, 985-646-1411
Times Grill, 985-639-3335
Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery, 985-892-3669, www.insta-gatorranch.com
Splendor Farms B&B, , 866-54-FARMS, www.splendorfarms.com
Mama D's Pizza, 985-809-0308
Camellia Cafe, 985-809-6313
Abita Bar-B-Q, 985-892-0205
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