Disclosure: I visited Louisiana Northshore as part of a 12-day multi-state press trip. We were hosted throughout our trip. This leg was hosted by Louisiana Northshore but as always, all opinions are my own.
Every great vacation should be a mix of go, go, go and rest and relaxation. After 3 busy days in New Orleans, heading over the Lake Ponchatrain bridge to the Louisiana Northshore was a much-needed break. Who knew this natural haven is only 40 minutes from New Orleans.
Where is Louisiana Northshore?
Nine communities in St. Tammany Parish make up the Louisiana Northshore district. Situated on the Northern shore of Lake Ponchatrain, it is not very far from New Orleans but feels a world away. For years this area has been where New Orleanians go to escape the city and unwind.
Our time in the Northshore was spent exploring Covington and Mandeville. I can’t wait to return to this beautiful area so I can explore the other 7 towns. Spreading your trip across multiple areas allows you to see lots of things but not everything. Our two nights in St. Tammany Parish gave us lots of reasons to want to return!
Where to Stay – de la Bleau B&B
Each community in Louisiana Northshore has different options for lodging. Most of your lodging options will trend more to bed and breakfasts and smaller hotels. Whatever your budget and preference, you’ll find something for everyone in St. Tammany Parish.
We stayed at de la Bleau in Old Mandeville during our stay on the Northshore. de la Bleau is a purpose-built Bed and Breakfast perfectly situated to explore all the shops and restaurants Old Mandeville has to offer.
Even though de la Bleau is newly constructed, it is full of charm. Each of the rooms in the main house is named for the colour used to decorate it. There are two additional rooms behind the main house which offer a bit more room (one is a suite and the other is a loft, both with kitchenettes).
I chose the Vert room. It was decorated with retro styling in the colour green. Cindy, the owner of de la Bleau, has decorated each room perfectly. I wanted to take my room home with me! From the green lamps to the chenille bedspread to the custom headboard, and the crisp, clean bathroom with a green ceiling. You can tell how much effort and love went into every detail at this bed and breakfast. Gorgeous.
Each room in the main house has its own coffee maker and mini-fridge too. Though there is always fresh coffee in the mornings in the de la Bleau kitchen.
The size of the de la Bleau bed and breakfast is perfect for a girls’ trip because there are only 5 rooms in total. Each person can have their own room but you can still come together for breakfast in the common areas.
Oh…did I forget to mention that Cindy makes breakfast from scratch on the weekends (or during the week upon request)? She is known for her baked bacon. It is perfectly crispy with a sweet and hot taste that will make you reach for more. Thankfully, she makes lots so you there won’t be any ruined friendships over who gets the last piece of bacon.
What to Do in Louisiana Northshore
Two nights was NOT enough time on the Northshore! I will highlight some of the things we did while we were there as well as the activities I want to do next time I visit.
Sunset by the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse with Louisiana Tours and Adventures
One of the best things about the Lousiana Northshore is that you are in the midst of nature. A great way to experience the gorgeous natural vistas is on a private pontoon boat tour. You MUST do it at sunset, though, because the pictures you will capture can not be missed.
Even with the sounds of the boat’s motor, we saw alligators, an owl, deer, egrets and more. It’s a great way to see Louisiana bayous that is accessible for everyone. Captain Mike Jones is a wealth of knowledge about the area and has an amazing ability to spot wildlife. You can bring your own food and drinks on the tour so that you can have a sunset dinner onboard. The perfect way to explore one of the most beautiful areas in Louisiana.
Shop Old Mandeville
I decided to explore Old Mandeville instead of going kayaking (read about kayaking on the Louisiana Northshore in my friend Margarita’s post). The shopping district is within easy walking distance of de la Bleau or you can rent a bicycle from Brooks Bike Shop to use for the day. Most of the shops are on Girod Street or within a couple of blocks. I appreciated that there was a mix of different kinds of shops. All of the shop owners were welcoming and loved talking to a fellow shop owner. Many even gave me some tips on products I should try to bring into Merry’s Mercantile!
The Book and Bean – 235 Girod St. – Your first stop on any shopping trip has to be the coffee shop. Pop into the Book and Bean for a latte, pick up a book and check out their local gifts.
Das Schulerhaus – 611 Girod St. – One of the friendliest shops I visited, they have tons of gifts and collectibles as well as a year-around Christmas shop.
Gran’s Attic Thrift Shoppe – 408 Girod Street – As you know, I love a good thrift shop. Gran’s didn’t disappoint. I found an antique on my list as well as a shirt that I wore throughout the rest of the trip. It’s definitely worth a visit.
The Candy Bank – 201 Carroll St. – I was CRUSHED that this store was closed on the day we were in town. You know how much I love a good candy shop! I unabashedly peered through the windows and I can tell you, it is a must-stop if they are open.
Jean Baptiste Lang House Museum and Gift Shop – 605 Carroll St. – A great stop when you are out shopping. I missed being able to visit because of the day we were in town.
Walk along the Lake Ponchatrain Shore
The size of Lake Ponchatrain consistently amazed me. It is just so BIG. Walking along the shore is a great way to get a feel for this huge lake and get a bit of exercise.
Cycle the Tammany Trace starting at the Mandeville Trailhead
The Tammany Trace is a rail to trail path system that stretches from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe and ends in Slidell. You can easily access it from the Mandeville Trailhead. At times during the year, there are also concerts, markets and events at the Mandeville Trailhead that are a favourite of locals.
Explore Historic Downtown Covington
Want to explore further afield? Hop in your car and head into Covington which is the seat of government for St. Tammany parish. There are galleries, boutiques and restaurants all within an easy walking distance.
My favourite stop in Downtown Covington was H.J. Smith’s Sons General Store & Museum. It’s part general store, part hardware store and part museum. Follow the painted footprints to find your way into the museum.
This tiny, free museum is well worth a visit. It is a bit like going back in time with antiques in every direction. Kids would like it too because you could have an epic game of eye spy with them. You can also pick up a giant gumbo pot or a metal goat. It’s really a one-stop-shop and history lesson.
Keep your eyes open for street art as you explore. In this area, parking lots are called “Ox Lots” because they are where farmers historically left their teams of oxen. This street art is a nod to that local phrase.
Channel Your Crafty Side at Hammer and Stain
After shopping and eating our way through two cities, it felt great to take some time to use our creative side. We headed to Hammer and Stain in Covington to get our craft on. We didn’t know what we were making ahead of time and I was excited to see that it was a gorgeous “Let It Snow” wooden sign.
It looked very difficult but our teacher broke each step down into a doable task. Some of them even included power tools! It was a great way to hang out with friends, be creative and let off some steam.
In case I haven’t mentioned…our Girl’s Trip included Margarita from Downshifting Pro, Sharon from Daily Dream 360, me and Paula from Thrifty Mommas Tips. Such great ladies to travel with! Definitely check out their blogs for their take on our Gulf Coast Girls’ Trip.
Where to Eat
Liz’s Where Y’at Diner – Liz’s was my absolute favourite meal in the Louisiana Northshore. That is saying a lot because I am not really a breakfast person. When you walk in the door, you feel the homey, friendly vibe that Liz’s is famous for. The fact that the food is amazing is a bonus. You can mix and match the eggs bennies at Liz’s and I highly recommend it. The crab benny served on a fried green tomato was my favourite but you must try the debris (roast beef bits and gravy) benny too. No matter what you choose, you will leave full and happy.
The English Tea Room – Is The English Tea Room a “thing to do” or “where to eat”. You don’t want to know how much time I spent trying to determine where to list one of my favourite places in Louisiana Northshore. Regardless of how you categorize it, it is a must-do!
The English Tea Room is exactly that…a tea room. It’s like a tiny bit of England plunked itself down in Louisiana. Since we were a group of 5, we ate in a private room instead of at a traditional table. I’m so glad we did because it meant we got to have tea with a few more friends. Those friends were cutouts from Downton Abbey! We had tea under the watchful eyes of the Crawleys and Mr. Carson!
I found The English Tea Room to be a great value in comparison to other tea rooms I have visited. They have tea service menus for every appetite from just tea and scones to a full high tea. Plus they have a high tea menu for kids!
We chose to get high tea for each of us and it was the perfect amount with tea sandwiches, scones, savouries, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a dessert. Our server was impeccable and a wealth of knowledge about the different teas they offer and how to choose the one you want. Plus, you can change teas as many times as you want after you order the first pot. Such a fun way to spend the afternoon!
Nuvolari’s – Nuvolari’s has been a Mandeville favourite for 33 years. Combining classic Italian fare with local, fresh ingredients, it is a favourite of locals in the area. Quite a few people mentioned that it is their go-to for date nights and celebrations. Our entire group enjoyed our food and I would love to go back. I ordered the chargrilled fish with crab and pecan-citrus meuniere.
Can you believe we managed to do all that in just two nights in the Northshore? Me either! Between the delicious food, the lovely people and the gorgeous area, I can’t wait to return to explore the area further. On the shortlist is spending some time in Abita Springs, home of Abita beer!