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Nature-Lover’s Refuge

There are about 32,400 hectares of national wildlife refuge set aside on the Northshore, including Big Branch Marsh and the Northlake Nature Center on Bayou Castine. Kayakers find easy access points along many of the bayous and rivers and on Lake Pontchartrain, with Bayou Cane being a popular launching point. In Slidell, go on a guided swamp tour for an up-close look at the beautiful Honey Island Swamp and its wildlife, or take the kids to Insta-Gator Ranch to see alligators hatch. Visit Global Wildlife Center to get up close and personal with giraffes, camels, llamas and more at the Global Wildlife Center.

The 50-kilometer Tammany Trace is a jewel of a bike trail threading through many Northshore communities. It’s a Rails to Trails Conservancy project that turned old railroad tracks into a wide, paved bike path. Visitors walk or rent and ride bikes through the stately pines. Explore expansive Fontainebleau State Park on an equestrian trail, by canoe or on a hike. There are also a number of great golf courses here, and anglers can cast a line off a pier on the lake or spend an afternoon on one of the Slidell area’s charter fishing boats for some monster trout or redfish.

 

Tempting Tastes & Historic Downtowns

Exciting flavors inspire menus in elegant dining spaces and mom-and-pop seafood emporiums here. You’ll find sophisticated fare at restaurants like Palmettos or at celebrity chef John Besh’s La Provence in Lacombe. The setting’s more down-home at the Abita Brew Pub or local joints like Liz’s Where Y’at Diner or LA Pines in Slidell (loved by “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” of Food Network fame). Find happiness in perfectly fried shrimp or a mountain of spicy boiled crawfish at scores of local po' boy shops and seafood markets. Head to Historic Downtown Covington, which is charm personified and offers bed and breakfasts, whimsical art galleries, cute shops and fresh local fare.

Can’t get enough of the area’s character? Stop in to Olde Towne Slidell, a 10-square-block downtown district of historic buildings, antiques and specialty shops and museums. Experience eclectic folk art at the eye-opening Abita Mystery House at the UCM Museum, a roadside attraction for all ages. Live music can be found at the historic Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Jazz Hall or at the community concerts held at the Tammany Trace trailheads. And don’t forget to whet your palate: Enjoy wine-tasting at Pontchartrain Vineyards or beer-tasting at the Abita Brewery and Covington Brewhouse.

Fun Fact

The woodsy beach at Fontainebleau State Park
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Fontainebleau State Park, the most visited state park in Louisiana, was originally a sugar plantation and so named for the beautiful forest near Paris, a favorite recreation area of the French kings.

Sunset and the causeway stretching over Lake Pontchartrain
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The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, connecting Mandeville and Metairie, is considered the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.

The taps at Abita Brewery
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Abita Springs was a popular retreat for 19th-century New Orleanians, who came for fresh air produced by the numerous pine trees and to drink and swim in the spring waters, said to have medicinal qualities.

Sun setting through the trees at Fontainebleau State Park
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Downtown Monroe, which sits on the opposite side of the Ouachita River from West Monroe
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Destination

Monroe