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Though the Northshore has much in common with its big neighbor across the lake, St. Tammany Parish is not a suburb, nor a stepchild of New Orleans. Rich in history, culinary heritage, green spaces and scenic beauty, St. Tammany for more than a century has been where New Orleanians come to get away from the city. Now our charms are being explored by visitors from around the country, even the world.
Here's a quick look at some of the communities that make us special.
The parish (county) seat of St. Tammany, Covington is a charming town with terrific restaurants and shopping. Stroll the streets of its historic downtown district - Covington was founded in 1813 - for urban pleasures in a visitor-friendly setting. Find galleries, boutiques and antiques shops, fine and fun dining, nightlife, even free parking. Catch free concerts riverside, and mark your calendar for the Three Rivers Arts Festival, held every fall, in addition to regular art walks, Mardi Gras parades, the Chef Soiree, Woofstock and more.
The giant oaks along Mandeville's lakefront are iconic for this old and lovely town on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Progressive yet protective of its heritage and natural beauty, Mandeville offers visitors excellent shopping, fine dining and a lively good time, as well as a spot to perch on the seawall and watch pelicans glide by. Don't miss the Mandeville Community Market, held each Saturday, or the Seafood Festival, held in July. Check out Ruby's Roadhouse for great music (Rolling Stone called it one of the best roadhouses in the country) and a good time.
On the eastern edge of St. Tammany Parish, Slidell boasts a vibrant arts scene, family-friendly attractions, natural beauty and proximity to New Orleans (just 30 minutes away). Olde Towne Slidell is a 10-square-block downtown district of historic buildings, antiques and specialty shops, and museums. Attend free concerts in Heritage Park, take a tour of beautiful Honey Island Swamp, savor Louisiana flavors at great spots such as Palmetto's on Bayou Bonfouca. Antiques-lovers, take note: Olde Towne hosts Slidell's Antique District Street Fair each fall and spring.
A popular retreat for 19th-century New Orleanians, this historic little town is still a great place to breathe deep and relax. Quirky, artsy and full of positive energy, Abita is home to the eclectic Abita Mystery House at the UCM Museum, the Abita Opry roots music concert series, and Abita Brewing Company, makers of TurboDog and other popular beers. It's also a great access point for hopping on the Tammany Trace bike trail, which cuts right through the heart of town. Visitors come for the Louisiana Bicycle Festival, the Whole-town Garage Sale and the fun and funky Krewe of Push Mow Mardi Gras parade.
Hugging the banks of the lovely Tchefuncte River, Madisonville is rich in local color and maritime history. Explore that history at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and learn about efforts to preserve Madisonville's lighthouse, built in 1837. Fish or crab off the public pier on the lakefront -- or just enjoy some of the best seafood anywhere at restaurants such as Morton's, Coffee's Boilin' Pot or Friends, featuring a deck overlooking the river. Visitors love the Maritime Museum's Wooden Boat Festival, held in the fall, and the Krewe of Tchefuncte Mardi Gras boat parade.
An unincorporated village on Lake Pontchartrain and along Highway 190, once a stagecoach route, Lacombe saw its first Europeans in the early 18th century. The laidback community is known for the Creole observance of All Saints Day, for which descendants of early residents decorate and light graves in the oldest cemeteries. Enjoy fishing and crabbing on Lacombe's Lake Road, visiting the quaint Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine and Lacombe's Heritage Center. Don't skip Lacombe's Crab Cookoff, held in June.
Located on the northwest edge of the parish, Folsom is horse country and hosts the GALA (Gallop Around Louisiana) horse shows. Also here are Global Wildlife Center and several B&Bs. Though rural in character, Bush, just northeast of Covington, has Pontchartrain Vineyards, home to an Old World tasting room and Jazz'n the Vines concert series, and Lil's Country Critters Petting Farm.
Go on a virtual tour of the Northshore's cities and towns with our Communities Google Earth Tour.