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When the Louisiana heat is blazing down, being in or near the water is the best way to cool off. From swamp boats to sandy beaches, the Northshore's endless waterways host an array of activities to create a cool, summer day agenda. So, grab the sunscreen, a towel, and bring the whole family for a water-filled adventure.
Fun for all ages, stand-up paddleboarding has been growing rapidly on the Northshore. Bayou Paddle Co. offers guided excursions on the Tchefuncte and Bogue Falaya rivers and out on Lake Pontchartrain. Adventure on your own by renting a paddle and board from Brooks Bike Shop in Covington, the Abita Board Barn, Canoe & Trail Adventures and other great local outfitters.
Looking to make a splash in nature? Nestled in a scenic bend of the Bogue Falaya River, just outside of Covington, is a swimming hole waiting to be explored. To find the "not-so-secret" spot, rent a kayak from Canoe and Trail Adventures and paddle upriver toward the Tammany Trace Bridge. Stop along the way at riverside sandbars to enjoy the water, a snack and take in the beauty of nature. Just past the Tammany Trace Bridge, scan the left bank for the entrance into the cove. Swim, fish and explore the bank for a day full of adventure. For less of an adventure, splash pads are abundant across St. Tammany Parish. Check out these splash pads that are located within the local communities - The Mandeville Lakefront and playground, the Mandeville Trailhead, and the Abita Springs Park.
With 80,000 acres of wildlife preserve on the Northshore, kayaking the parish’s many waterways offers a great opportunity to get out in nature. You can rent a kayak from one of several outfitters, including Canoe and Trail, which offer guided tours of nearby waterways, including Cane Bayou and Bogue Falaya respectively. Stay cool and book a Sunset paddle with either outfitter. Also renting kayaks are Northshore Hydro Sports out of the Bogue Falaya Park, Brooks’ Bike Shop in downtown Covington, and Seal Sports in Mandeville.
Get cool, get wet on the Bogue Chitto, popular for tubing your cares away. Several operators, including Louisiana River Adventures, Tubing in the Park and the Bogue Chitto Tubing Center offer tubing trips including tube rental, life vests, and shuttles. Some rent special tubes for ice chests, too. Great fun for families and groups of friends.
Families love the little sandy beach along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline in Mandeville’s Fontainebleau State Park. The calm, shallow water is perfect for small children. Also on the grounds of the 2,800-acre park are the ruins of an 1829 sugar mill, trails, camping areas, a lodge and many large and lovely oak trees. Park admission is $3 per person, free for seniors 62+ and children 3 and under. Head to the East side of Lakeshore drive, parallel to Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, and enjoy the sunset or catch some rays as the kids hangout on the playground and sandy beach. And in Slidell, check out the powdery sand of Northshore Beach, great for family picnics with its two pavilions and picnic tables.
Several operators offer tours of the Honey Island Swamp, a pristine natural area located between the east and west Pearl rivers. See alligators, large bird life, wild boar and other creatures of the swamp. Most of the tours take about two hours and give a great glimpse into the history, folklore, and ecology of this special and beautiful place. Most tours are in large covered tour boats; check out Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours, Pearl River Eco Tours and Cajun Encounters for their availability. Get even closer to wildlife on the water with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tour, Honey Island Kayak Tours, Canoe and Trail Adventures, and Bayou Adventure. Or, tour the scenic Tchefuncte River in Madisonville on a 3- or 5-hour pontoon boat trip with Louisiana Tours & Adventures or Tchefuncte River Charters.
St. Tammany Parish is home to a baker’s dozen of fishing charters, offering adventures out on lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain and in the fish-rich waters of the Rigolets. Catch redfish, speckled trout and triple-tail with knowledgeable pros who take you where the fish are biting. Most charters leave out of Slidell, on the east side of the parish.
Get out on Lake Pontchartrain with Capt. Rick Delaune and Delaune's Sailing Charters, which offers sailing charters (and lessons, too) aboard a 42-foot sailboat, the Windward Passage. Choose between the Midday Trip with beverages and snacks served or a Sunset Sail with Champagne and chocolates. Delaune's has a 5-star rating with TripAdvisor, having received the Certificate of Excellence in 2017, and is consistently ranked #1 in Things to Do in Mandeville. It is also a top-rated attraction with Expedia. Delaune's sails out from Prieto Marina on Bayou Castine.
Crabbing in summer has long been a favorite South Louisiana pastime. It doesn’t require any real skill, just patience and maybe a bait – chicken necks, yum. Some people bait large, round crab nets, throw them out into the water and check periodically for crabs that may have foolishly scuttled aboard. Other folks prefer baited hand lines that they throw out and hold till they feel a nibble. The key is to very s-l-o-w-l-y pull the line toward you while quietly wielding a net with which to scoop up the nibbling crab. Lake Road in Lacombe is popular with families who set up lawn chairs and ice chests and try their luck with the area’s delicious blue crabs.
Unfortunately, many of our local piers are closed, but there are still some great spots to cast a line and try your luck. You can fish from the docks near the Blue Crab Restaurant in Slidell. If that's not your jam, there are some other marinas on The Northshore that offer places to fish from the docks. The Madisonville Boat Launch and The Rigolets in the Slidell are just two local spots that are great for fishing.
Looking for the top ten things to do on the Northshore? It's hard to choose, but this will get you started.
Boat tours, kayak rentals, launch locations fishing pairs, we've got it all on Louisiana Northshore.
Digest these fun sample itineraries as you plan your next ultimate road trip to St. Tammany Parish.