We’ve officially reached summer travel season, and I’m so excited to share this new series with you! Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, our travel dreams can get a little out of control and sometimes seeing ALL of the things is just not possible or affordable. So with this new Weekend Travel Guide series, I’ll share realistic destinations within close driving distance of Baton Rouge that won’t cost a fortune to visit! I’ll help you build your weekend itinerary to make the most out of your time and share the best things to see, eat, drink and do while on your trip.
I teamed up with St. Tammany Tourism at the Louisiana Northshore to help plan my trip to Covington, Louisiana.
The Northshore is made up of several towns, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, and Slidell — all which have their unique charm and things to do. For this weekend, we stayed in Covington and ventured out to Abita Springs and Mandeville. Covington is only about an hour drive from Baton Rouge and 45 minutes from New Orleans — making it an easy weekend trip!
Where To Stay
We spent two nights at The Southern Hotel, which is located right in the center of downtown Covington and within walking distance from so many restaurants, bars, shops and more. The historic hotel was originally built in 1907 and renovated in 2014. Today, it’s much more modernized, but still holds its original charm. You immediately notice the wood beams on the ceiling, the exposed brick and giant fireplace in the center of the lobby. There’s definitely a mix of modern and historic decor and design.
The Cypress Bar located right off the edge of the hotel lobby was just the perfect spot for a few pre-dinner cocktails. They had a pretty extensive cocktail menu with a reasonable price range of $10-$12. Conrad kept trying to sneak back to this bar the whole weekend!
On our first night, The Northshore treated us to dinner at Oxlot 9, which is also connected to the hotel. For a Friday night in downtown Covington, this seemed like the place to be! It’s an upscale restaurant with a really cool vibe. There’s a mix of modern + rustic with an open kitchen, a bar and candle light on all the tables.
We started off with the Crawfish Pie and the Yellowfin Tuna Crudo as appetizers. We really wanted to try everything on the menu, but decided to split the Blackened Redfish & Crawfish tails because it was SO much food! Honestly though, I could have eaten four plates to myself though — it was delicious.
BUT you guys, the BEST part was dessert. The Campfire made the whole trip! It’s a meringue/marshmallow stuffed with ice cream, chocolate and graham crackers — all torched to give it that smoky s’more taste. Amazing.
After dinner we took a stroll outside to explore. There were several bar options nearby, but we opted to head back to the hotel bar and called it an early night since we had a FULL day planned for Saturday.
**Oh, and heads up… if you’re planning to go out, bring cash! Many of the bars had a cover, which was something we weren’t use to!)
What To Do:
We knew we were going to eat and drink our way through Covington, so the first thing on our list Saturday was to take a morning run on the Tammany Trace. This is a 31-mile hike and bike trail that connects downtown Covington to Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell.
The Covington Trailhead was a short walk from our hotel. We ran about 4 miles — so not even a fraction of trail! It was a unique way to explore some of the city and get outdoors. There’s also a bike rental place nearby — and it would be a ton of fun to bike all the way to Abita Springs!
The trail was full of other runners or bikers — everyone saying good morning to everyone as they passed. So Southern of us! :)
After we got cleaned up, we headed to the Covington Farmer’s Market, which happens every Saturday from 8AM – 12PM. It was also just a short walk from our hotel and on the way to brunch. It was nice to walk around like a local checking out all the vegetables, fruits, baked foods, jams and plants… Although I’m pretty sure people knew we definitely weren’t locals!
Where To Eat Breakfast + Brunch
We picked to eat a late breakfast at The Abita Roasting Co., which was also within walking distance.
Every time we go on trips, Conrad has to pick out the best places for coffee. So this place was perfect… not only is it local but they’re an actual coffee company with their own roasts. Win Win!
When you walk in, you can order coffee and/or pastries directly from their coffee bar, purchase packaged coffee to go or opt to dine in or sit outside.
I started off with an iced coffee since it was already a HOT morning and went with the non-healthy option of a sausage biscuit and hash brown! (Calories don’t count on vacation, right?)
Where To Drink
Next up on our list were a few brewery stops and cool places to grab a beer that some friends had suggested.
We headed to Abita Springs (which is less than 5 miles away) to the Abita Brewery. They offer guided tours of the brewery every half hour for $5. We had a very knowledgable guide (wearing a tie dye shirt!) who told us all about the brewing process, the history of Abita beer and some really cool facts that I hope I can use in a trivia game one day. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and included four tokens for beer tastings.
You’re able to try their normal beers, seasonal beers, and even sodas (so kids can come too!). We just hung out sippin’ beers, watching college baseball and playing board games. They also have a taproom, but it was currently under construction. I’m definitely planning a trip back once it’s finished!
After we had a few beers in us, it was time for cheese fries at The Chimes. It’s the same as Baton Rouge Chimes, but set off away from the road surrounded by lots of trees (almost like you’re in the middle of the woods — in a non creepy way) and even with a huge outdoor deck space and trail. We sat at the bar to better see the craft beer selections and stuffed our faces with the most amazing mound of cheese fries. (Good thing we worked out earlier in the morning, right?!)
Next, we headed to Mandeville (about 15-20 minutes away) to check out The Barley Oak, which was a bar some friends had suggested. It’s located right on Lake Pontchartrain with a balcony that overlooks the water.
While on the balcony we spotted a swing near the edge of the lake, so we headed there to watch some of the sunset and just enjoy the day. I was really surprised with how much of a beach-vibe Mandeville had. It’s just as if the palm trees had been replaced with huge oak trees with Spanish moss. Also, the big houses themselves in this area are worth the drive out!
You can walk through the brewery on the way to the tasting room. We ordered a flight so we could try a variety of flavors. Before this trip, I had only ever had Strawberry, so I was happy to try some new ones.
Next up, we had one last late-night eating destination. ButterKrisp Diner is a 24-hour 50s diner that is known for its delicious donuts. And man, did we try A LOT of them.
First off, my chicken sandwich had a DONUT for a bun! I was in serious donut heaven… and that was before we tried the regular donuts. We had to leave with a box full to make sure we had more for breakfast. Definitely worth the stop!!
And actually, we decided we needed more coffee (I think we have a problem) and checked out St. John’s Coffeehouse right down the road. One of the things I enjoyed most about staying in downtown Covington was the convenience of walking every where — and on top of that free parking!
I feel like we saw and did a lot of Covington and Abita Springs, but there are definitely top three things on my list for a future trip back!
- Go on a swamp tour
- Go kayaking or paddle boarding
- Visit Fontainbleau State Park
Have you visited The Northsore? I’d love to hear your recommendations on things to do!
Special thanks to St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission (Louisiana Northshore) for helping us plan our trip and for providing us with hotel accommodations and complimentary meals. All views expressed are my own.