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Family Play Itinerary

Rent bikes or kayaks and travel The Trace, explore a playground or a park, and get close, real close, to giraffes in this day’s adventure on the Northshore…
Children can have a blast at Kids Konnection.
Children can have a blast at Kids Konnection.
Cheryl Gerber

Pancakes, anyone?
Fill up on omelets, pancakes and other soulful breakfast food at Mandeville's Liz's Where Y'at Diner before heading over to Bayou Adventure in Lacombe , where you can rent bikes and kayaks for a day-trip on the Tammany Trace. Or on Sundays, start with a great brunch at Chef John Besh’s first restaurant, La Provence.

Pick your ride
Bayou Adventure offers kayaking fun for the whole family.
Bayou Adventure offers kayaking fun for the whole family.
Shiver Shack in Mandeville rents quality bicycles and is conveniently located on the Tammany Trace, a wonderful paved hike and bike trail. The Trace is perfect for family riding, providing a safe path through beautiful green spaces and connecting a number of the Northshore’s communities. Ride only as far as you want. Order a sandwich at the Shiver Shack then ride to Fontainebleau State Park for picnic under the oaks. Or, call ahead to Bayou Adventure and reserve a boxed lunch from the Passionate Platter in Slidell, rent a kayak and watch osprey and bald eagles, maybe even a gator around Bayou Lacombe or Bayou Cane. Guided kayak tours (fishing or recreation) are available.

Place to play
If little legs can handle a leisurely 4 - mile ride (remember, it'll be 9 miles altogether including the return trip), take the Trace northward toward its main trailhead, situated in an old caboose. The caboose is adjacent to a great new place space, the Kids Konnection Playground, built to suit children of all abilities. Spend a little time there enjoying the sunshine before pedaling back to Mandeville.

Take a break
Grab a poboy and a Barq's root beer at Bear's Restaurant in Mandeville La before choosing your next adventure.
A girl feeds Slim the giraffe at Global Wildlife Center.
A girl feeds Slim the giraffe at Global Wildlife Center.

Animals everywhere
Hit the road for Folsom and Global Wildlife Center. Large trams carry visitors across Global Wildlife Center's lovely 900 savanna-like acres, offering the chance to see some 4,000 creatures, including camels, giraffes, llamas, deer and more, as well as feed and touch them. Parents enjoy the ride and the animals as least as much as their offspring; it's a wonderful and memorable family experience.

The touch pool at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery.
The touch pool at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery.
Or, for an up-close experience holding, or even hatching, a baby alligator, visit Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery in Covington. A working alligator ranch, Insta-Gator gives educational tours about the ranching industry and has hundreds of grown-up gators living in clear water. Kids love holding and petting baby gators at the touch pool. Insta-Gator will even let you help hatch a baby gator from its egg (in season.)

Near Insta-Gator Ranch is the Abita Mystery House, a wacky and eccentric collection of art, found objects, and strange animals like the Darrell the Dogigator and Buford the Bassigator. Abita Mystery House continues the tradition of roadside attractions, evoking both nostalgia and a laugh.

Another option is heading on over to Slidell for a Honey Island Swamp tour with one of the four tour companies in St. Tammany offering leisurely explorations of the swamp from the comfort of a tour boat. You'll see wild hogs, alligators, and lots of other native flora and fauna.
The Old Town Slidell Soda Shop offers sweet treats.
The Old Town Slidell Soda Shop offers sweet treats.
Afterward, head into historic Slidell and feel as if you've stepped back in time at the Old Town Slidell Soda Shop. Celebs Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were spotted here having their own sweet treat

Head to Covington for delicious pizza from Pizza Man of Covington or to Madisonville to eat at Friends on the Tchefuncte River . Both offer good eating and a family-friendly setting.

If you go:

Liz's Where Y'at Diner, 985-626-8477 La Provence, 985-626-7662,
Shiver Shack, 985-629-4003
Bayou Adventure, 985-882-9208,
Tammany Trace & Kids Konnection Playground, 985-867-9490,
Passionate Platter, 985-781-HERB,
Fontainebleau State Park, 985-624-4443,
Bear’s Grill & Spirits, 985-674-9090
Global Wildlife Center, 985-796-3585,
Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery, 888-448-1560,
Abita Mystery House, 985-892-2624,
Honey Island Swamp Tours, 985-892-0520,
Old Town Slidell Soda Shop, 985-649-4806,
Pizza Man of Covington, 985-892-9874
Friends, 985-246-3370

Hungry for more vacation itineraries? To see them all, click here.

To watch videos featuring kayaking with Bayou Adventure, the Tammany Trace, Insta-Gator Ranch, Honey Island Swamp, the Abita Mystery House and Global Wildlife click here.

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