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Fun For All

Kids can see baby gators at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery.
Kids can see baby gators at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery.
Ever hold a baby alligator? Ever been near a gator? How about 2,000? Don't worry. They're more interested in the marshmallows visitors throw than they are in a nibble of you. See for yourself at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery, the only alligator ranch in the state giving guided tours.

Insta-Gator is fun for all ages and educational, too. Learn about the gator industry from, as Insta-Gator founder John Price says, "hatchling to handbag." Hear about how and why alligator eggs are harvested and the gators raised in captivity. Discover their unique characteristics. The one-hour tour includes a video, lecture and a visit to the gator tanks for an up-close look at a couple thousand of the reptiles. Hold a baby gator in the touch pool afterward. Don't worry, they can't bite.

The gift shop is a must-stop, packed with all things gator, including tooth necklaces (great for Grandma!), gator meat jerky, t-shirts, belts and a lot more.

Insta-Gator Ranch is only one attraction that makes the Northshore such a family-friendly destination. Here are a few suggestions to help build a visit around:

Global Wildlife Center
Get eye to eye with a family of giraffes or
The Mandeville Trailhead fountains are a cool place to play.
The Mandeville Trailhead fountains are a cool place to play.
pet a llama at this amazing wildlife park, the largest of its kind in the country. Tram through lovely, savannah-like grounds, home to more than 4,000 exotic animals.

Swamp tours
Several companies lead boat tours of the Honey Island Swamp. See gators sunning; wild hogs foraging; watch white egrets stalking frogs for dinner.

Abita Mystery House at the UCM Museum
There aren't any live critters running around the Abita Mystery House, but kids'll get a kick out of some of the make-believe ones.

Heritage Park in Slidell features picnic areas and a large playground. The Kids Konnection boundless playground in Mandeville offers accessible play for all children.

Pelican's Nest Skate Park
Part of the Pelican Park sports complex in Mandeville, the brand-new skate park provides skateboarders a place to show their stuff safely.

Slidell Rocks
This rock wall gym is challenging fun for kids of all ages. Just rent a harness, climbing shoes and a chalk bag, suit up and go vertical on one of the gym's numerous walls.

Meme's Beads & Things
Baby girl's not the skateboarding or wall-climbing type? Take her to Meme's for the ultimate girly fun.

Mandeville Trailhead fountain
It's free, it's fun and, best of all, it's cooling when the summer sun's beating down. The trailhead is also home to a community market every Saturday.

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