Western St. Tammany Parish was first settled by Choctaw, Tchefuncte, Acolapissa and Houma Indian tribes, which were drawn to the northern shores of Lake Pontchartrain for the area’s dense oxygen-rich pine forests, abundant natural beauty, and “curative” spring waters.
Those same natural gifts call us Southshore city dwellers in a time when we seek restoration through nature, adventure, exploration and the opportunity to reconnect in a manner that feels safe and refreshing.
The Tammany Trace, a hike and bike trail, spans from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe, and ends in Slidell. A separate equestrian path parallels the paved 31-mile Trace in several places. remodeled the railroad trestles into pedestrian bridges, and presented it as a gift to the region. The trace, dotted with pedestrian bridges, is blissfully canopied in old-growth foliage and cypress trees that lend a bright, fresh fragrance while dropping the temperature by ten degrees.
The trailhead at Old Mandeville is located roughly equidistant between the one at Covington to the west and Slidell to the east, making the area a good choice as a home base for a weekend spent exploring.
Several small bed and breakfasts, each with its own distinct personality and amenities, support the area. All of them have adopted strict adherences to following CDC sanitation guidelines to ensure the health, safety and well being of their guests and employees. All use disinfectant products that have been approved and certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against emerging viruses, bacteria, and other airborne and blood-borne pathogens. Disinfectants are applied during cleaning of guest suites, public spaces, and other “high-touch” areas. Several properties offer 100 percent contact free stays to guests, with all business conducted electronically. Communal areas are stocked with both hand sanitizers and/or sanitary wipes.
For specific information regarding each property’s sanitation procedures visit their website.
In 2019 The Blue Heron (510 Girod St., Mandeville, 985-373-8902, blueheronmandevillela.com),the bed and breakfast Sarah Chambless Federer owns and operates with her husband, Steven, in a gracious home they share with their two young children, was named Louisiana’s 2019 B&B of the Year by the Louisiana Travel Association.
Lush flowering gardens with plush seating areas surround an outdoor fireplace and each of the two king suites has a private entrance via its own private porch. Each porch has a daybed as well as a dining space overlooking the gardens. The rooms themselves are outfitted with luxury linens and breakfast includes cereals, coffee, organic juices, and quiche from the English Tea Room in nearby Covington. Sarah stocks each guest room with an Aria diffuser and therapeutic grade essential oils from Young Living for respiratory and immune support, relaxation, and improved sleep.
Numerous restaurants are within walking distance including The Rusty Pelican (500 Girod St, Mandeville, 985-778-0364, sippinstation.com), a casual eatery with outdoor seating on the porch, hefty burgers, fried seafood baskets and a generous beer selection. Romantic and breezy, The Lake House (2025 Lakeshore Dr, Mandeville, 985-626-3006, lakehousecuisine.com) sets a glamorous tone with panoramic views the lake with dining on two levels of outdoor space.
De la Bleau Bed & Breakfast (124 Lafitte St. Mandeville, 985-629-4646, delableu.com), is a dramatically raised series of colorful buildings connected by raised walkways.
Proprietors Cindy and Clyde Touchstone designed and built the stunning retreat. Tan, fit and radiating energy, Cindy is also a gracious hostess and skilled cook. On weekends she cooks 15 different breakfast dishes, which she personally serves to each guest from the kitchen, which has 12’ high deep, rich walnut cabinets and LED lights over our Akoya Pearl granite counters.
“My roasted bacon is mentioned in every review,” she admits. “I am kind of well known for it.”
De la Bleu can accommodate up to 17 guests, includes ample parking, numerous indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and an elevator. Each of the five guest suites has a different color palate, a view of the lake and includes wireless internet, HDTV, refrigerators, microwaves, coffeepots, blow dryers, safes, irons and ironing boards and each includes a private baths and a dinette set.
The Barley Oak (2101 Lakeshore Dr, Mandeville, 985-727-7420, thebarleyoak.com) next door has an Old World feel with hearty food and an extensive beer selection. A bit further up the road Liz’s Where Y’at Diner (2500 Florida St., Mandeville, 985-626-8477, lizswhereyatdiner.com), is a cheerful spot for breakfast and lunch with a menu that ranges from local standards like crawfish etouffee to more ambitious options like a Napoleon of fried green tomatoes with layers of pepper jack cheese and a shrimp and crawfish cream sauce topping. It’s easy to love this place for the possibility of a delicious breakfast for under $5 bucks, decadent double-stuffed chocolate-covered sandwich cookies, and Liz “Yeah, Baby” herself, who’s always there chatting guests up over the Formica tables.
Consider packing your mask and your PPE talismans and taking a little adventure in aid of our neighboring communities and they fight their way back to life just as we are. For the latest information on openings as well as businesses and attractions still closed in St. Tammany visit sttammanytourism.com.
Have a great week, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love, even if you are doing it from afar, digitally, or over the telephone. We need each other more than ever so take the time and make the effort to reach out. While you are at it make an effort to forgive past misdeeds and share some love. Please reach out to me if you have something to share or I can help in some way because You’ve Got A Friend in Me.