Travel Updates:

Louisiana is currently in modified Phase III of the White House reopening strategy. Many St. Tammany businesses and events have modified their services to welcome patrons safely. Call before you go!

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The seawall on Lake Pontchartrain
Sunset strolling along
Lake Pontchartrain

10 Free Things to Do in St. Tammany Parish

There are plenty of priceless activities to do in St. Tammany Parish, and many of them don't cost a thing. So put your wallet in your pocket and get ready to enjoy the simple pleasures and
free experiences that await you on Louisiana's Northshore.

Biking the Tammany Trace, Covington

1.Bike or hike the Tammany Trace.

The 31-mile rails-to-trails conservancy project is the first in Louisiana and connects five of the Northshore’s lovely communities: Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell. Trailheads along the way provide restrooms and are host to community events. In 2017, the Tammany Trace was inducted into the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame.

Eric Lindberg - Mandeville Lakefront walking

2. Take a seawall stroll in Mandeville.

Walk along lovely Lake Pontchartrain seawall in Mandeville under centuries-old ancient oak trees dripping with moss. Sunsets are particularly beautiful here, and you can spot the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (the longest continuous bridge over water in the world) from the seawall. Children’s playgrounds are found on the East and West end of the Lakeshore Drive seawall.

Big Branch Camellia

3. Explore Bayou Lacombe Center at Big Branch Marsh NWR.

Meander two miles of trails and walkways, including a historic botanical garden with hundreds of flowering camellias and azaleas at the Bayou Lacombe Center, located on the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. When open, the visitors center offers hands-on learning activities & interpretive exhibits for kids. Call before you go to confirm open hours, and ask for a Junior Ranger kit!

HJ Smith & Sons - Bobby Talley

4. Peruse HJ Smith & Sons General Store & Museum.

Family-owned and operated since 1876, this gem is located in downtown Covington. The fascinating General Store offers anything and everything you could want, and houses a free museum with hundreds of items from the past, including a 20-foot-long cypress dugout boat, cast iron casket, old farming tools, and much more.

 

Sunset at the Landing Concert by Bobby Gilboy

5. Listen to the sweet sounds of music.

Free concert series featuring talented Louisiana musicians are held in Autumn and Spring all around St. Tammany. Catch live music happening every weekend at many local restaurants, bars and farmers markets too. For a complete listing of concerts and live music, check out our event listings.

Stevn Rodrigues - Living this Life Jada - Brandy Kayaking

6. Float, paddle, or sail.

St. Tammany is known for water recreation and maritime culture. So bring your own canoe, kayak even SUP, and enjoy Bayous Cane, Castine, or Lacombe. Or, go boating on the Tchefuncte and Bogue Falaya rivers and of course, lovely Lake Pontchartrain. You can find launch sites here.

 

Chelsy Wiley - Northlake Nature Center

7. Go Birdwatching at the Northlake Nature Center.

Birdwatching is a popular sport on the Northshore, and the boardwalks at Northlake Nature Center and trails along Bayou Castine are an easily accessible spot to spy great blue herons, egrets, owls, pileated woodpeckers and – if you’re lucky – the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The center also offers educational programming throughout the month, most free with advance registration required. Check their event listing in our calendar for morning walks with your pup, guided bike trips along the back trails, moonlight hikes with marshmallow roasts, canoe trips and more.

 

Kids Konnection - Cheryl Gerber

8. Play on the Playgrounds.

Camp Salmen Nature Park in Slidell, Kids Konnection in Mandeville (both accessible playgrounds), and the Abita Springs Tourist Park Playground all have plenty of playground activities to wear out little legs and elicit big smiles. The playgrounds on Lakeshore Drive have the benefit of a spectacular lakefront view, and on the East end, beach frontage. Click here for a full list of parks, some with playgrounds, in St. Tammany.

Farmers Market Sampling by Michelle Newman

9. Sample the Farmers Markets.

There's no cost to walk around the many Farmers and Makers Markets in St. Tammany, and the free samples offered are a great way to nosh through Northshore culture and local flavor. Saturday is the big market day, with four of St. Tammany's eight markets taking place beginning at 8 AM, in Covington, with the Covington Farmers Market, where vendors offer food and produce while live music plays from the gazebo stage. Also at 8 AM, in Slidell, the Camellia City Farmers Market offers a lively mixture of produce and prepared foods alongside local artisan crafts, and occasionally, live music and other events. Both markets end at noon. Find more locally prepared goods, and artisan crafts in Mandeville with the Mandeville Trailhead Community Market, 9 AM to 1 PM. Round out your market day with a trip to Folsom for the Folsom Market at Giddy Up, 2 PM to 5 PM. While there, stop in Giddy Up Folsom for a cup of coffee and a panini.

Sundays are the other big day, with three more markets on the western side of the parish. From 10 AM to 2 PM, shop the Claiborne Place Maker's Market in Covington or the Madisonville Makers Market for a mix of produce, prepared foods and vendors with fun gifts and handmade crafts. For more produce and prepared foods, and live music, head to Abita Springs for the Abita Springs Farmers Market, held 12 to 4 PM. 

Covington hosts a lunchtime market at the Covington Trailhead on Wednesdays,10 AM to 2 PM, for fresh meals, goods and crafts, and live music from the stage. While there, stop in the Covington Trailhead Museum and Visitors Center for displays about Covington history, visitor guides and information.

 

 

 

Antiques & Uniques Fest - Covington - Bobby Gilboy

10. Revel in a Free Festival.

Life's a party on the Northshore, and the perfect way to experience our joie d'vivre is at one of the many free festivals held year-round in St. Tammany. Art aficionados love Covington's Three Rivers Art Festival and the Spring and Fall for Art Walks sponsored by the St. Tammany Art Association. Dance your heart out at the quirky Busker Festival in Abita Springs, which celebrates New Orleans street musicians, also known as buskers. Antiques collectors appreciate the Slidell Fall and Spring Antique Street Fairs, as well as the Covington Antiques and Uniques Festival. Families appreciate the Northshore for its G-rated Mardi Gras celebrations and parades, which are not only free, krewe members throw free trinkets and beads! For a complete listing of events, see our event calendar.

 

Explore the many amazing things to do and see in St. Tammany Parish.

Plan a day to get away while in New Orleans, and experience Louisiana's hidden gem.

Digest these fun sample itineraries as you plan your next ultimate road trip to St. Tammany Parish.