I don’t know about you, but I’ve been over this sweltering heat of the NOLA summer for a while now. Since we had a slight cool front come through, and we’ve been teased with a very small taste of fall, I’ve been itching to get outdoors. Which is funny because I’ve never really been an outdoorsy type of person. If you asked me my favorite season, I’d always just say summer because that’s when my birthday falls. But that’s not so true anymore. Maybe it’s the seven month quarantine we were under when Addison came home from the hospital, or maybe some of Michael’s love for the outdoors is rubbing off on me. Either way, I CRAVE fall! I love the cool brisk air, the scent of pumpkin spice candles, and the outdoor fall festivals that come with the change of season.
When I first moved to the Northshore, I had the “there’s nothing to do over here” mentality. But, if you just ask around & do a little digging, there are quite a few outdoor activities that are fun for the entire family. One of my favorite sites to check out when looking for something to do is Louisiana Northshore. You can find all sorts of fun ideas from farmer’s markets to comedy night at local bars to free concert series. I’ve listed some ideas below to get you started.
One of our favorite places to go is the Mandeville Lakefront. Before we had Addison, we would take our two labs out almost every weekend to play fetch in the water and go for walks. There are a couple of playgrounds, including one with a sprinkler splash pad on warmer days, for your kiddos to enjoy. On a beautiful fall day, you could take the whole family out there to fly kites, play on the swings, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Beginning in September, the City of Mandeville holds their Mandeville Live! concert series at the Mandeville Trailhead. There’s no cost to attend and a different restaurant is featured each week for you to purchase food. It is a great time to just set up your chairs or blanket and listen to local musicians while your little ones dance away! The Covington Trailhead will also begin their Rockin the Rails concert series on Thursdays in October from 5pm – 7:30pm.
If you haven’t been out to Pontchartrain Vineyards just north of Covington on Highway 1082, you’ve got to take some time to take a ride out to the vineyards. What better time than during their concert series? The gates open at 5pm every other Saturday, with the concert running from 6:30 – 9:30pm. The cost is $10 per person; however, children under 17 are free. Sometimes you can even find deals on sites like Groupon and Living Social where you can get two tickets and a bottle of wine for $20. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chair, flashlight, and umbrella. You can bring a picnic dinner, but they do not allow you to bring in your own alcohol. They have Pontchartrain Vineyards wine and local food available for sale. If you aren’t able to make it to one of their concerts, they also have a tasting room (which would make for a great day date!) and visitor center where you can taste a variety of the wines they make on their grounds.
I can’t wait for Addison to be a little older to take her to the Kids Konnection Playground at Koop Drive. The playground offers so many features for special needs children and is south Louisiana’s first totally handicap accessible playground! It’s also a great place to have your little one’s birthday party! We’ve had a few friends rent out a small area with picnic tables for their child’s birthday party, and I think it’s pretty safe to say all of the kids had a blast at the playground.
Another idea that I hope to be able to do when Addison is older is to go bike riding on the Tammany Trace as a family one Sunday afternoon, weather permitting. The Tammany Trace is thirty-one miles of asphalted trail that connects the communities of Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell. If you don’t have a bike, the Shiver Shack, located on the Mandeville Trailhead, has rentals available. Of course, I’m in no shape to go biking for thirty-one miles, nor do I think many little ones would be up for that type of distance, but you don’t have to travel the entire trail. It could be a great way to add some physical activity in with an enjoyable family outing.
In addition to the ideas above, there is always Global Wildlife Center in Folsom. The tours are $17 for adults, $11 for children ages 2-11, and free for children under 2. This is another one where you can probably find a half price deal somewhere or a package for admission for four at a discounted rate. And, don’t forget about Kliebert’s Alligator Farm in Hammond! They are open March 1st through November 1st from noon until dark, with admission for adults at $12, children ages 4 – 12 at $7, and children under 3 are free.
There are also many fall festivals in October and November, such as the Madisonville Wooden Boat Fest, The Our Lady of the Lake Festival of the Lake, Covington Three Rivers Art Festival, and the Louisiana Renaissance Festival in Hammond. Any of these would make for a fun family adventure on a brisk, cool afternoon.