Slidell & Big Branch Marsh
Jumpstart your Northshore adventure with a visit to Honey Island Swamp outside of Slidell. Nearly 70,000 acres here are protected by the Nature Conservancy, preserving the wilderness home of alligators, turtles, nutria, deer and countless fish and birds. Delve deeper into the wetlands by taking one of the guided swamp tours led by the people who call this area home.
Back on dry land, head to the historic streets of Olde Towne Slidell for a bite to eat. Choose from more than 20 varieties of burgers in Times Grill, a former train depot still located beside the railroad tracks. You might even catch the train flying past while you’re enjoying your meal. If you’ve got a craving for seafood, try Palmettos on the Bayou, where you can dine on the deck overlooking scenic Bayou Bonfouca.
Walk off those calories by meandering through the shops and museums in the 10-square-block of Olde Towne. Look for that perfect gift in one of the many antique stores or stop by the Passionate Platter to pick up some fresh herbs and garden supplies from this kitchen garden marketplace. The exhibits at the Slidell Museum, housed in the old jail, detail Slidell’s history as well as accounts of Louisiana’s involvement during the War Between the States.
Next, head west to Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore the marshes and grass beds along the ¼-mile boardwalk trail or the 4.5-mile (roundtrip) Boy Scout Road. Time permitting, stop by the Refuge Visitor Center, featuring exhibits of all eight Southeast Louisiana Wildlife Refuges as well as an interactive cabin that will captivate kids. Housed in a former Redemptorist seminary, the Visitor Center also has azalea gardens and trails along a tranquil bayou.
Top off the day’s explorations with an enchanted evening at La Provence, one of celebrity Chef John Besh’s area restaurants. With dishes such as quail gumbo and ravioli of slow cooked rabbit, you’re sure to find that perfect meal that will have you savoring every bite.
Where to stay:
Fontainebleau State Park: Watch the sun set over the waters of Lake Pontchartrain while relaxing in one of 10 deluxe cabins at 2,800-acre Fontainebleau State Park. Each cabin comes equipped with linens and basic cookware for those who prefer to dine-in.
Splendor Farms Bed & Breakfast: Experience life on a farm while staying at this 75-acre bed and breakfast. You’re welcome to gather eggs, pick vegetables, pet the animals and play badminton and croquet on the lawn.
Country Inn and Suites by Carlson: Wind down your evening in a heated pool before settling in for a good night’s rest in this Covington hotel. Other amenities include an onsite fitness center, mini kitchens in each room and a deluxe morning breakfast.
Great Photo Op: Make an evening visit to the Mandeville seawall to capture a colorful sky and the sun setting over picturesque Lake Pontchartrain.
Suggestion for a Souvenir: Pick up a t-shirt at the Abita Brew Pub or Brewery and remember the delicious local beer you enjoyed while visiting the Northshore.