By Amanda Wells | Photos courtesy of LouisianaNorthshore.com and Southern Hotel
CHARM AND ALLURE are two things the town of Covington, Louisiana has in abundance. Just across Lake Pontchartrain from the Big Easy, it’s here that two decidedly different Louisiana cultures collide. One is deeply entrenched in French-Catholic culture and the other is farm country. Located along the Bogue Falaya River, Covington has much to offer in the way of amusement.
The town’s historic downtown district is home to art galleries, an array of boutique shopping, antiques galore and restaurants that range from white tablecloth to downhome cooking. Dive into Covington’s rich culture as you walk around. Stop by Covington Brewhouse for a taste of beer that helped launch the reemergence of South Louisiana’s brewing tradition. The Brewhouse is a proud contributor to the renaissance of local brewing. Tour times are from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Tasting Room hours are Wednesday through Friday from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 6:00 p.m. H.J. Smith and Son General Store and Museum, which is a jewel box of historical charm, allows visitors to take a glance back in time. Often, you’ll find free, family-friendly outdoor concerts, street fairs and annual festivals such as the Three Rivers Arts Festival, held each November.
At Brooks’ Bike Shop or the Covington Trailhead Museum and Visitor’s Center, you can hop atop a bicycle for a ride down the Tammany Trace bike path, which is a 31-mile paved path through towns and green spaces. The Trace winds through the Parish and connects Covington to Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell. Get a taste of Louisiana adventure at Insta-Gator ranch, home to over 2,000 alligators that you can touch, hold and feed.
When it comes to cuisine, Covington holds its own. Stop into The Chimes for a large beer selection on tap. Here, you can embrace Louisiana culture with oysters, gumbo, crawfish etouffee, bread pudding and even an appetizer of alligator. At Del Porto Ristorante, where you can sip on creative cocktails and fine Italian food in a beautiful setting. Or for a more casual classic, pop into Bear’s Restaurant for an authentic South Louisiana poboy.
When it comes to a place to lay your head, look no further than the Southern Hotel, a newly reinvented and completely renovated place that offers comfortable, cozy, yet stylishly sophisticated accommodations. In recent years, the Mission Revival-style hotel was restored to its original 1907 splendor with towering archways, a charming courtyard, and bright and airy inviting guest rooms.
Originally operating from 1907 until the 1960s, the Southern Hotel served as a physical and spiritual retreat where guests enjoyed the cool breezes, thick woods and mineral springs of the area.
The hotel’s role as an integral part of the Covington community came to a halt when it closed and became other businesses and vacant over the years. It’s legacy remained that of a storied hotel. In 2011, the new owners set out to reinvent and restore the Southern Hotel and it reopened in 2014, 107 years to the date from its original opening. The lobby of the hotel is now lovingly referred to as “Covington’s living room,” and it once again serves as a place for the community and its visitors to gather round.
Duck into the Cypress Bar, where Covington history shines through murals by Grahame Menage. Sip on inventive cocktails or perfected versions of old standards. Enjoy a delightful dinner at the on-site restaurant, OxLot 9, named for the historic town’s oxlots. Chef Jeffrey Hansell uses seasonal ingredients from the region to create simple yet sophisticated offerings, all in a beautiful setting.
If you’re looking for relaxation combined with entertainment, look no further than the delightful Northshore town of Covington.