Louisiana’s largest population center is not so much defined by a city as by a lake. Lake Pontchartrain is the hub around which much of the Northshore turns, and it sparkles with lakeside communities such as Mandeville and Slidell. Just inland are the riverside communities of Covington, known for its arts scene, and Madisonville, with its nationally recognized Wooden Boat Festival in September. The town of Abita Springs, meanwhile, is famed locally for its water and beer, but visitors are also invariably charmed by its shady, historic streets. The Northshore has excellent restaurants, including Del Porto and Etoile in Covington, La Provence in Lacombe and Nuvolari’s in Mandeville. Between fishing and sailing, the recreational possibilities run deep. On the Northshore, boaters have ready access to Lake Pontchartrain and the spectacular Rigolets pass, which ultimately connects to the Gulf of Mexico. In this sense, the Northshore stands on the gulf coast itself.

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