Spend the morning basking in the sun at Fontainbleau State Park’s sandy beach on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. You can relax here for hours watching the sailboats float past, or pick up one of the park’s trails and get some morning exercise. The Tammany Trace, an old railroad track turned walking and biking path, travels through the park, as well as an interpretive nature trail and a longer hiking path. Kids will enjoy the water playground and ruins of an 1829 sugar mill.
Leaving Fontainebleau, go west and find a spot to eat lunch in Mandeville. Try one of the 150 beers offered at The Barley Oak, where you can enjoy views of the lake while eating a sandwich or cheese platter and sausage. Another great choice is The Broken Egg Cafe, with its wide variety of breakfast and lunch options.
While visiting Mandeville, walk the seawall under majestic live oaks and then visit some of the unique shops in the area. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., live music, vendors and local artists can be found at the Mandeville Trailhead Community Market. If you have children in your group, be sure to stop by the impressive Kids Konnection Playground at the Tammany Trace Trailhead.
Just a short distance up the road, Covington serves as parish seat for St. Tammany. Founded in 1813, its downtown offers several notable art galleries and boutique shops. View contemporary art at the Brunner Gallery and the Henry Hood Gallery, while regional art and antiques are housed at the Three Rivers Gallery. H.J. Smith's Son General Store and Museum features hundreds of items from the 1870s to early 1900s.
For a unique dining experience on a Friday or Saturday night, try some Louisiana cuisine out of a 1940s train caboose at Lola. Oysters Rockefeller and shrimp and grits are two of the many favorites to choose from at this restaurant known for offering “simple, fresh and seasonal” dishes.
If you’re lucky enough to visit on a night when the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall is holding a concert, then mark this on your list as a must-do activity. A wooden structure built in Mandeville in 1895, the Dew Drop is considered “the world’s oldest virtually unaltered rural jazz dance hall.” Also check the Jazz’n in the Vines concert schedule at Pontchartrain Vineyards, where you can enjoy a picnic dinner and a glass of wine while listening to music among the grape vines.