Slidell, Louisiana is known as the Camelia City. Located on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, in the southeastern part of Louisiana, you can be sure that water sports are going to be part of “what there is to do” in Slidell. You can go boating or fishing, but be sure that if you go swimming, it is in a designated spot. Slidell is located in St. Tammany Parish where there are swamps with alligators and other water creatures.
But don’t worry. If water is what you love, there is plenty of it with lots of activities. Northshore is only 40 minutes from New Orleans, so you can be sure that a lot of that Cajun flavor is going to soak right on over to Slidell. Finding something to do in Slidell isn’t the hard part; the hard part is narrowing down what to see first, and then what to see next.
Here are the top 10 things you can do in Slidell, Louisiana:
Have Fun at the St. Tammany Parish Festivals
Festivals are a big thing in Slidell, Louisiana. Scarcely a month goes by without a celebration of some sort for something. Big festival months are April, June, September, and October. In April there is the Great Louisiana Birdfest, the All You Can Eat Crawfish Cook-Off, the Abita Springs Busker Festival, and Taste of Covington – a full week of delicious food tasting events. June is the Slidell Heritage Festival with some of just about everything, including fireworks. September is the St. Tammany Crab Festival with dancing, games, boat rides on the bayou, and scrumptious food – including crab, of course. October (and March) is the Antique Street Fairs, Three Rivers Art Festival, Taste of Olde Towne, and the Wooden Boat Festival. The remaining months of the year have plenty of things to do, as well.
Bike or Hike at the Tammany Trace
The Tammany Trace was once the bed laid down for the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1992, St. Tammany Parish purchased the abandoned land. Using grants and federal funding, they asphalted the Trace, reinforced the trestle bridges and turned them into pedestrian walking trails. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic is allowed on the main trail, but there is also a parallel trail for horses. The Trace is 31 miles long, going through Slidell and several other communities. If you want to ride the whole thing, but need to break up the journey, there are hotels, eateries and famous breweries along the trail. You can do it alone, or you can sign up for one of several social events that involve biking or running on the well-maintained former railroad track.
Try Boating – Sail, Kayak, Canoe, Tubing or John Boat
If your feet get tired hiking or you get saddle sores when biking or riding a horse, you can always take to the water. There is no shortage of different kinds of boating with both Lake Ponchartrain, tours of the bayou, and both the Pearl River and the Mississippi close at hand, as well as the ocean just around the corner, there is no shortage of boating opportunities.
Go to a Concert like the Bayou Jam
The concert season in Slidell kicks off with the Bayou Jam in April. It is an opportunity to put together a picnic of good Cajun cooking, take your folding chairs and go to the park to listen and enjoy the balmy spring weather. Be sure to take your sunscreen and insect repellant. The mosquitos will already be warming up for the season.
Take the Honey Island Swamp Tour
Speaking of mosquitos,you can get a good look at where they originate by taking the Honey Island Swamp tour. This amazing ecosystem is home to a lot more than just those annoying insects that like to sing in your ear. Black bears, alligators, nutria, raccoon, opossums, and more can be found in its depths, as well as thousands of migratory and year-round birds. It is twenty miles long and seven miles wide, and many strange tales are told about it. Some people believe they have sighted the Ivory-billed woodpecker, thought to be extinct. And then there are those stories about the Honey Island Swamp Monster. You can view the majestic trees draped with Spanish moss, and much, much more by signing up for a comfortable tour in a flat-bottomed boat.
See Alligators at the Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery
Just a few miles from Slidellis an experience you won’t forget. At the Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery, you can see where alligators are hatched from eggs and grown into big ‘gators that can be turned into alligator steaks, handbags, and belts. The guided tour will take you through the alligator barn that contains gators from newly hatched to eight-foot adults. The Insta-Gator Ranch can be booked for school or club events or hatching.
Visit the Fontainebleau State Park
This beautiful park lies along the full length of the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Here, you can visit the beach, enjoy swimming or sunning yourself, eat your choice of food – from plain, old burgers to traditional Cajun and more. There are several docks where you can take out a boat and enjoy spending time on the water or fishing.
Summer is crabbing season along the shores of Lake Ponchartrain. According to the Slidell Independent newspaper, it isn’t hard to find a good place to go crabbing. Just look for a bayou or river inlet along the lakeshore. Farther back, where the water is fresher, there aren’t as many crabs. To go crabbing, you need a line, a net and some bait. Once the crab gets hold of your bait, gently pull it in until your partner can get a net under it.
Fish in Lake Pontchartrain
The lake has plenty of fish, including catfish, sunfish, white and striped bass, small and largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, black and white crappie. You can fish from the piers or you can rent a boat and head out onto the lake itself.
Enjoy the Slidell Jazz and Blues Festival
November is time for the Jazz and Blues Festival – performance line up to be announced. Proceeds from the Festival performance are used to support local music education and to provide music scholarships to talented students.