Diversions - and dining, too - are eclectic on the western side of St. Tammany Parish. History, natural beauty, good eating and good times are all waiting for you. Here's a suggestion for the way to spend one day.
Stroll along the seawall and lakefront park in old Mandeville where Lakeshore Drive provides a lovely view of the sun rising over Lake Pontchartrain. The air is crisp, the light glorious - and the experience energizing.
Feast on fluffy omelets, specialty waffles and great Louisiana coffee at the charming LaLou, housed in a charming old cottage, just blocks from the lakefront.
Spend the morning cruising through the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, dedicated to the Northshore's maritime heritage, and learn about shipbuilding, sailing and efforts to save the 1837 lighthouse.
You can explore another facet of the area's history at the Otis House Museum on the grounds of nearby Fairview-Riverside State Park. Take a guided tour of the late 19th-century Queen Anne-style home of a lumber baron.
Lunchtime yet? Get a great view of the Tchefuncte riverfront from the deck of Morton's Seafood Restaurant & Bar for whatever is boiled, spicy and seasonal and other Louisiana specialties.
Time to head to Folsom and the amazing Global Wildlife Center, a 900-acre free-roaming wildlife park. Take a ride on one of the large trams or opt to tour in a Pinzgauer military vehicle for really up close encounters with friendly critters like Aladdin the camel, giraffes, llamas, Watusi cattle, many species of deer and more.
After feeding all those Global animals - some of which drool happily on you - you might want to freshen up, so head back to your hotel before dinner.
Experience happiness on the half-shell at Acme Oyster House or Buster's, both in Covington and both offering great Louisiana oysters, gumbo, poboys and other regional specialties in a fun, casual setting.
If you're in the mood for a little live music and a drink, catch both at the Columbia Street Tap Room, a lively spot in downtown Covington.
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