Hiking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, birdwatching . . . there are myriad ways to explore the Louisiana Northshore and its many green spaces, parks, waterways, and nature preserves.
The Tammany Trace is a 31-mile rail to trails conversion hike and bike path that ribbons through the parish from Covington to Slidell. Inducted to the Rail-Trail hall of fame in 2017, it's the only one in the state of Louisiana. You can go the distance or choose destinations along the way, just make sure you take time to stop at the trailheads, restaurants, shops, and brews along the way.
You'll ride through Abita where you can explore the town's new Trailhead Museum and tourist park, and on into Covington, all the way through its new Trailhead, before heading back toward Mandeville. Need something to ride? Rent bikes and skateboards online from Brooks' Bike Shop. Patrick Brooks' first location is just one block from the Covington Trailhead and has assisted fittings and a mechanic on duty. A second location in Mandeville is also a co-op and museum, and is perfect for lakefront rides--it's just one block from the lake, near The Barley Oak (see #6).
The Trace takes you through old Mandeville where you can veer off the path a few blocks to cruise the Mandeville Lakefront. Continue on to Fontainebleau State Park, a lovely green space on Lake Pontchartrain. Continue on to Lacombe and Big Branch Wildlife Preserve, going all the way to Slidell if you're up for the ride.
If you've worked up an appetite riding the Tammany Trace, you'll find eateries along the way to stop, park and eat near each town's trailhead. In Covington, just across the street from Brooks' Bike Shop, there's Mattina Bella for breakfast all day and tasty burgers and salads. In Abita, you can't miss the Abita Brew Pub, original home of one of the largest microbreweries in the south, Abita Beer. Enjoy scrumptious burgers paired with brews on draft that you won't find anywhere else but the brewery itself. At Mandeville's trailhead, just across the street is Old Rail Brewing Company for more delicious pub fare and their own unique brews, or there's Liz's Where Y'at Diner's cool, hippie vibe.
Explore the Northlake Nature Center and its boardwalk over Castine Bayou; or visit Fontainebleau State Park and Big Branch if you missed them during your morning ride. Feel like getting onto the water? There are numerous accessible put-in spots for kayaks and canoes, including at the lake, Bayou Cane and Bayou Lacombe. Bayou Adventure in Lacombe rents kayaks and bikes, Canoe & Trail Adventures rents canoes and kayaks on the Bogue Falaya or you can try your hand (and feet) at stand up paddling on the Tchefuncte with Bayou Paddle Company.
Catch a glorious sunset from the Mandeville lakefront before dinner at Rips on the Lake or The Lakehouse, local favorites offering Louisiana flavor, al fresco dining and a great lake view. Or, for a drink and a sausage-and-cheese platter, head to the Barley Oak's “Biergarten” for over 150 brews from around the world. For something quick and light, you might prefer a smoothie, raw juice or gluten-free pastry & coffee from Blent Juice Bar. At the corner of Lakeshore and Girod Street you can park your bike below and head upstairs to the breezy balcony at McClain's Pizzeria. A little further up the street is Beach House Bar & Grill, where the lively outdoor, dog-friendly patio, complete with a sandbox for the kiddos.
Hungry for more vacation itineraries? To see them all, click here.