Welcome to Tangipahoa Parish, located in the Northshore area between Baton Rouge and Covington and home of Hammond, Ponchatoula, Amite City and more. This Parish was established in 1869, and has been a largely agricultural area known for its famous Ponchatoula strawberries. The Native American name Tangipahoa means "ear of corn" or "those who pick corn" from the Acolapissa Indians who use to inhabit the area. The area also has strong ties to the French who began colonizing the New World territory and we see names like New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, Bienville and Iberville from this time period. Fast forward to modern times and you will find a beautiful area full of history. These towns have delicious food and antiques glore, along with must-experience (and taste!) festivals. Here's our recommendations for ten things to do in Tangipahoa Parish.
Held April 13-15, 2018, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is unquestionably the sweetest event you’ll find in Tangipahoa Parish. In fact, Ponchatoula is known as the Strawberry Capital of Louisiana. At this festival, you and the family can ride rides, witness the procession of the Louisiana Strawberry Queen and King, hear some awesome live music and — of course — taste some sweet berries. There’s a strawberry auction, strawberry eating contests, a strawberry-themed fun run and carnival-style features such as game booths and festival foods.
See what Louisiana’s wild side looks like on a tour of this unique Hammond farm operation that more than 47,000 turtles call home. There are more than 300 alligators here as well, plus a Nile crocodile named Gumbo and a 15-foot-long python named for New Orleans’ most famous Voodoo practitioner, Marie Laveau. Kliebert’s is dedicated to conservation, and on your tour, you’ll learn about what makes these fascinating reptiles worth protecting. At the end of your visit, pop into the gift shop to pick up some one-of-a-kind gator gear.
Step inside this museum and learn a lesser-known side of Louisiana culture. The Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum documents the contributions of African Americans through more than 20 original murals — one of the largest collections of its kind in the South — as well as art, artifacts and an exhibit specifically about African American war heroes.
If you’re looking for a true Louisiana backcountry experience, look no further than Joyce Wildlife Management Area near Hammond and Ponchatoula. The 28,000 acres that make up this preserve encompass cypress-tupelo swamps where visitors can see nature at its most primal. Fishing and boating are year-round activities, and this preserve is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. Look for exotic migrating birds in the spring, and year-round residents that include hooded mergansers and a variety of ducks. Walk the “swamp boardwalk” to find these and other critters on your adventure.
You want to know how locals likes to relax? Well, one way is with a cold, crisp, locally brewed beer. Gnarly Barley is one of Louisiana’s most beloved breweries, and it’s headquartered right in Hammond. Catahoula Common, named after Louisiana’s state dog, is a favorite on the menu. Other varieties include Korova Milk Porter and Jucifer IPA. Gnarly Barley’s tasting room is open to the public, and its team of master brewers open the place for behind-the-scenes tours of the facility every Saturday. Stop by the gift shop to take home a gift for the craft beer lover in your life.
Another brewery? As we say in Louisiana, “yeah, you right!” Louisiana Purchase Brewery is a newer addition to Louisiana’s ever-expanding craft beer scene, having opened in Ponchatoula in 2017. In addition to some adventurous — and more importantly, tasty — beers made there, Louisiana Purchase offers tours to visitors and a tasting room that’s open most days of the week.
The Southern Swamps Byway is a driving trail that’s part of the Louisiana Trails & Byways network, which take visitors through some of the state’s less-visited parts to discover another side of the Bayou State. This one takes drivers to stops through the Manchac Swamp (home to world-famous Middendorf’s Restaurant) and into the heart of Tangipahoa Parish, where stops include such attractions as the Manchac Wildlife Management Area and the Collinswood Museum in Ponchatoula.
You don’t have to leave the country to experience this safari! The Global Wildlife Center boasts 4000 exotic animals on 900 acres of terrain. Hop on a guided wagon tour for a chance to see (and feed!) reticulated giraffes, zebras, red kangaroos, bison, camels and even a llama.
Ponchatoula is an official stop on the Louisiana Antique Trail. It’s a must-stop for fans of cool vintage goods, which you’ll find at stores such as CJ’s Antiques & Collectibles, Ponchatoula Antiques & Statuary and Roussel’s & Co.
Ever wanted to know what farm life is really like? You can satisfy your curiosity at Liuzza Produce Farm, located near the Tangipahoa Parish seat, Amite. At this working farm, the whole family can pick produce to take home, see and pet animals and spend some time in the kid-friendly Ag-Venture Land.
Looking for more recommendations? Reach out to the Tangipahoa Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau for more information.