St. Tammany has been a vacation destination since the late 1800s, when native New Orleanians flocked to “l’autre cote du lac” (“the other side of the lake”) for fresh air, spring water, and a resort lifestyle. The parish boomed, especially during the summers, as a place to escape the heat of the city and get back to nature. Daily steamboat excursions across Lake Pontchartrain brought visitors who sometimes stayed months at a time. And people are still escaping to the Northshore today.
According to Dawn Pekarik, co-owner of the recently opened Bayou Haven Bed and Breakfast in Slidell, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Now only a short drive from New Orleans across the causeway, and an hour’s drive from Baton Rouge, St. Tammany looks like “movie Louisiana”—lush and fertile, with swamps, waterways, and forests offering plentiful avenues into sportsman’s paradise. Situated directly on Bayou Liberty with a stunning view, Bayou Haven offers various ways to access it, including kayaking, paddleboating and fishing as well as a day spa, Sunday jazz brunch, and cruises on the lake and bayou. At the end of the day, seven elegantly appointed guest suites and opulent surroundings pamper guests. The amenity that might seal the deal for this Northshore B&B, however, is its free shuttle service to and from airports in both New Orleans and Gulfport.
Bayou Haven isn’t the only new B&B welcoming guests to St. Tammany; three recent jewels have opened up in Mandeville. Blue Heron, offering two king suites in the heart of Old Mandeville, is situated within convenient walking distance of shops, restaurants, the lakefront, and the Mandeville Trailhead of the thirty-one-mile Tammany Trace hike and bike trail. The owners have an exceptional hospitality pedigree: he’s a third-generation restaurateur, and she grew up in her parents’ B&B in Covington, Camellia House.
Also in Mandeville is About Trace, a B&B whose guest suite features an en suite kitchenette for self-catering and an outdoor seating area perfect for passing a relaxing afternoon. Only a block from the Mandeville Trailhead, About Trace is a great place to stay if you’re hoping to catch one of the concerts or community events at the trailhead, or if you need a cozy bed to flop into after a long day’s hike.
De la Bleau, a Mandeville B&B just off Lake Pontchartrain offers three charming color-themed rooms with views of the lake and a full, rich Southern breakfast, guaranteed to fuel a day’s adventures. Expansive porches facing the lake offer a place to relax and unwind. It’s also located directly behind the Barley Oak Old World Draught Haus, a bar and restaurant offering more than forty craft beers including selections from local breweries, and an excellent spot from which to enjoy sunset.