Discover a slice of small-town charm in Covington, Louisiana
New Orleanians have been escaping the jangle and jive of the city for the sedate Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain since the early 19th century. Back then, affluent locals flocked to “l’autre côté du lac” (the other side of the lake) to escape the vice- and plague-ridden city and lean into wholesome pastimes. The game-changing 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opened in 1956, cutting the commute from New Orleans to 45 minutes and transforming the sleepy towns of St. Tammany Parish—Abita Springs, Covington, Folsom, Lacombe, Madisonville, Mandeville, and Slidell—into bedroom communities for the Big Easy.
While each of these towns has its particular attractions—most notably you can feed giraffes at Global Wildlife Center in Folsom—Covington is undeniably top of the list when it comes to small-town charm. From its walkable downtown to its accessible outdoor fun and truly impressive dining scene, Covington offers the ideal staycation setting.
Eat Your Way Through Covington
There are more than 30 restaurants to savor in Covington, many within
walking distance of downtown. The Gloriette in the elegant Southern Hotel is one newcomer. The restaurant’s verdant garden decor is a balm, only outdone by the flavors of chef Steven Marsella’s French bistro classics. Don’t miss another newcomer, Tavi from BRG Hospitality, with Lebanese born chef Fariz Choumali crafting savory tributes to specialties from Israel and beyond. Previously the executive chef of Shaya, Choumali is already thinking about moving to the quieter side of the lake instead of commuting. His fried chicken with date salsa verde and arayes and lamb-stuffed pita with tzatziki are just two don’t-miss dishes.
The Greyhound, a casual gastropub with a globetrotting menu and beer list, is the second spot from Del Porto Ristorante chefs David and Torre Solazzo. They opened the pub in 2021 to cook the kind of food they love to eat—including the likes of North African lamb meatballs and wood-fired pizza topped with harissa-roasted shrimp.
For breakfast, coffee, savory nibbles, and wine, head to Cured. On Columbia, the first proudly queer-owned eatery in downtown Covington. Owners Anna Watkins and Amanda Birdsong opened the kind of place they’d want to hang in—chill, relaxed, come as you are. The from-scratch menu changes daily with dishes like lox toast with shaved egg, a smoked chicken and bacon club on sourdough with garlic aïoli, and plant based choices like roasted beets with honey goat cheese and beet hummus on a board. Vegan, gluten-free baked goods are fresh daily—think fruit doughnuts and cinnamon rolls.
Feeling carnivorous? Longtime local chef Pat Gallagher sears his famous prime steak in sizzling butter at Gallagher’s Grill. Gallagher has deep roots in St. Tammany Parish—his grandfather Dr. Geautreaux was a founder of St. Tammany Hospital and delivered thousands of babies in his day.
Get to the Great Outdoors
In between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ve got options. Bring or rent a bike, and head to the rails-to-trails Tammany Trace. Ride all or part of the 31-mile asphalted trail that connects Covington with other Northshore towns.
Family-owned Canoe & Trail Adventures offer everything from guided tours to kayak and canoe rentals for exploring nearby waterways. Paddle by moonlight, explore the bayou, or take a themed history tour that traces the history of St. Tammany long before Europeans set foot in the region.
Rest Your Head in Covington
After you’ve worn yourself out exploring the town, retreat to one of the lovely bed-and-breakfasts that are within walking distance of the action. Camelia House offers comfy suites outfitted with antiques, an outdoor pool and hot tub, and breakfast options including quiche, fresh fruit, and pastries delivered right to your room.
At the lushly landscaped Blue Willow Bed and Breakfast, king and queen suites, some equipped with fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs, await, along with all the comforts of home, including a fridge stocked with snacks, fruits, and pastry.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Amber Chase