By Cheré Coen | Louisiana Life Magazine
Mandeville, Madisonville and Covington offer slow and easy respite, outdoor adventure, fine dining and more on the Northshore
Photo courtesy Tchefuncte’s Restaurant
Tchefuncte’s Restaurant in Madisonville offers upscale atmosphere and a Gulf-inspired menu.
Commuting rush hour aside, blood pressure appears to drop once north of Lake Pontchartrain. Life slows down in the historic towns of Mandeville, Madisonville and Covington with their dreamy lake breezes and the sharp, refreshing fragrance of pine tree forests.
Now there’s lots more to lure visitors to the Northshore.
In the vein of taking it slow and easy, downtown Covington now offers mule-drawn carriage rides by Royal Carriages of New Orleans, the folks that offer historical tours of New Orleans’ French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods. Guided rides depart from Marsolan’s Feed and Seed next to the Covington Trailhead Museum and visit historic sites on the 30-minute tour offered Fridays through Sundays. Highlights include Covington Cemetery No. 1, The Star Theater, Southern Hotel and Bogue Falaya Park.
For folks who would rather visit St. Tammany history on their own, Old Mandeville has instituted a self-guided QR (Quick Response) code tour of 41 historical sites along the lakefront. Simply scan the code with your smartphone and enjoy the history behind downtown buildings, the Dew Drop Social & Benevolent Hall, historic homes dating back centuries and more.
There are so many ways to get on the water on the Northshore — and now there’s even more. Eco-friendly Canoe and Trail Adventures puts visitors on kayaks, canoes and paddleboards for use on the Bogue Falaya River in Covington. Paddlers launch from the floating dock of The Chimes restaurant, enjoying water adventures ranging from two to six hours. Guided tours are also available, runs by Louisiana Master Naturalists and twilight and moonlight tours are offered on occasion.
If cruising the lower Tchefuncte is more your style, Tchefuncte River Charters sets sail on the 26-foot “Fat Bottom Girl” pontoon party barge with enough room for 12 people. Participants can sip boat drinks (bring your own) while listening to music — and there’s a restroom to boot! Enjoy river wildlife and the man-made kind at stops along the way depending on the cruise.
For a really slow ride, Louisiana River Adventures rents tubes for two- to four-hour floats down the Bogue Chitto. Float times vary for those who want to pause on the sandbars along the way. The company also rents kayaks and canoes.
One of the finest ways to both enjoy the outdoors and completely rest among the beauty of nature is a cabin stay at Fontainebleau State Park. Cabins are located right on the lake, accessed by a boardwalk, so visitors can sit on the porch and watch the sun set while lake waves lap beneath. The state park’s new glamping options are also available so a sunset viewing might include a roaring campfire.
The 2,800-acre Fontainebleau includes a sandy beach, hiking trails and opportunities to bike, hike or skate along the Tammany Trace, a Rails to Trails program that runs from Covington through the park and ending in Slidell. Bird lovers will appreciate the hundreds of species that live or migrate through Fontainebleau.
Former Ruth’s Chris executive chef Pat Gallagher understands the Northshore lifestyle. His new Mandeville restaurant, Pat’s Rest Awhile, opened in January in the old Frapart Hotel that was also used as an orphanage and retreat. The restaurant complex serves up seafood dishes, classic American fare, poboys and burgers overlooking Lake Pontchartrain on Mandeville’s Lakeshore Drive.
In Madisonville Chef Michael Gottlieb, former executive chef of the Ralph Brennan Group, opened the casual restaurant The Anchor on the ground floor of a waterfront property while serving more upscale dishes at the Tchefuncte’s Restaurant on the second floor. Diners may sit on the expansive patio and enjoy Gulf-inspired dishes and cool drinks while children enjoy the playground, or head upstairs for a more elegant meal.