We love major cities, but the true heartbeat of Louisiana lies in our small towns. From Homer to Hopedale, Louisiana has some truly
charming small towns that give you a glimpse into what living in Louisiana is like, and one of our favorite small towns is Covington. With a population that hovers just north of 10,000 people, Covington is the best of both worlds: you still have all of the amenities that larger cities are known for while still feeling like you’re in a small town, especially the downtown area. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Covington.
Is Covington Worth Visiting?
Tucked away on the Northshore, just a short 45-minute drive north of New Orleans is the perfect destination for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life for a few days. Nestled between three rivers (the Bogue Falaya, Abita River, and the Tchefuncte River), it’s both a nature lover's paradise and a shopper's paradise. The downtown area is filled with local boutiques, antique stores, and charming restaurants, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Covington was founded in 1813 by John Wharton Collins, who originally named the town Wharton after his grandfather. In 1816, the town was renamed Covington to honor General Leonard Covington, who died in battle in the War of 1812 (Collins was not happy, as you could imagine!). There’s some debate about this, and many believe the name was changed to honor Covington, Kentucky, where the beloved Blue Grass whiskey was made, a favorite beverage enjoyed by town officials. Whether you believe it was named for battle or bourbon, one thing is true: it’s a must-visit destination.
One of the most interesting parts about Covington is the downtown area’s layout. Collins had French refugee Joseph Pilie map out the town and defined the area that was then called the Division of St. John.
As you can see, it’s a very linear, clean design. Each square block is centered by a plot that’s 120x120 feet and was intended for general public use. Eventually, these spaces became known as "ox lots," because farmers would park their wagons, carts, and yes, oxen in these lots while they unloaded their goods. Today, this area of Covington, now known as downtown Covington, is on the National Register of Historic Places in America for this unique design. You can still visit these ox lots, as many have been turned into parking lots.
How To Get To Covington
Covington is easy to find, no matter what corner of the state you’re arriving from. If you’re coming from the south, the drive across the Causeway offers beautiful views of Lake Pontchartrain for 26 miles, and if you’re coming from any other direction, both I-12 and Highway 190 will drop you off right on the edge of town. While you may not need a car while you’re in Covington, you’ll need a car to get to Covington. If you’re arriving from the airport, you can rent one from there and then drive over. It’s about a 60-90 minute drive from Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY) to Covington, depending on traffic.
Getting Around Covington
The best part about downtown Covington is how walkable it is. You can park your car in your favorite ox lot and then set off on foot to see the sights, or rent a bike from a local shop. That being said, there is one destination that’s planned for day two that you’ll want a car, since it’s just on the outskirts of what we consider to be a walkable distance. More on that in a bit!
Best Time To Visit Covington
Covington is beautiful year-round, so there’s no bad time to visit! Covington is known for the many art galleries peppered around the town, and twice a year the town hosts both a Spring for Art and a Fall for Art Festival, where artists of all backgrounds come together on the streets to celebrate their creativity. During the summer months, Sunset at the Landing concerts are a popular pasttime on Friday nights, and in the fall, several block parties keep your weekends packed with options. So no matter what time of year you visit, you can be sure there'll be something lighting up the town.
Where To Stay In Covington
Southern Hotel, 428 E Boston St, Covington, LA 70433, USA
Several major hotel chains pepper the outskirts of town on Highway 190 and Highway 21 but to fully capture the essence of Covington, we’d recommend staying as close to downtown as you can. The Southern Hotel is an ideal option, as you’ll be right on the main drag and centrally located to just about everything.
Morning One: Coffee, Shopping, and Exploring
St John's Coffeehouse, 535 E Boston St, Covington, LA 70433, USA
First thing’s first, let’s get caffeinated. St. John’s Coffee House is just 500 feet away from the Southern Hotel and it’s the best place to start your day. Take a seat by the window and do some people-watching while you fuel up. In addition to coffee and tea, St. John’s also pastries, muffins, and a few breakfast sandwiches, too. Eat up, you’re going to need your energy for the day!
Columbia Street, Boston Street, Lee Lane
The downtown area is just overflowing with local shopping opportunities, and these three streets are the best for starting your walking tour but don't be shy about checking out side streets; you never know what you'll find! For antiques, you won’t find a better place than Lee Lane. Spend some time perusing each shop, most likely the owners will be there and you’ll walk away with great conversations and maybe even some goodies to take home!
HJ Smith & Sons
H.J.Smith & Sons General Store, 308 N Columbia St, Covington, LA 70433, USA
A step into HJ Smith & Sons is like taking a step back in time. Family-owned and operated since 1876, this general store/museum hybrid is the oldest general store on the Northshore, and it's just overflowing with fascinating finds.
The store is broken up into two parts: when you walk in, you’ll see the general store side where you can pick up anything from salt shakers to screws. You'll feel the shift as you make your way towards the back of the store.
The museum part of the store holds hundreds (and yes, we mean hundreds) of items that range from 1870 to the early 1900s. Between the newspaper clippings and photographs of historic moments in Covington you’ll come across items like a 20-foot long cypress dugout boat, a cast-iron casket, tons of old farming equipment, and so much more. Don’t forget about the petrified rat - that’s always a fun find.
coffee rani, 234-a Lee Ln, Covington, LA 70433, USA
At this point in the day, you’re bound to be hungry. Right on the corner of Lee Lane and E. Boston sits one of the most beloved restaurants in Covington, Coffee Rani. Locally owned and operated, this quirky cafe boasts a wide range of items including paninis, pasta, and massive salads. Order at the counter and then find your seat while you wait. They have several flavored iced teas that you’ll love, and if you’re feeling citrusy, go with the Keywest Cooler! It’s a fruity, citrusy tea that’s oh, so refreshing after a day of walking around the town.
After lunch, head to the Covington Trailhead
Tammany Trace Bike Trail, Covington, LA, USA
The Tammany Trace is a converted rail trail that weaves for more than 30 miles through five towns in St. Tammany Parish: Lacombe, Mandeville, Slidell, Abita Springs, and Covington. Each town has its own trailhead and you'll often find events popping up like farmers markets, concerts, and other community events.
You don't have to tackle the entire trail on this trip, but spend some time walking the Covington part of the trail for a relaxing stroll with beautiful views along the way.
That's a common question. Reagan wasn't born in Covington and had no particular ties to the town. The massive 16-foot statue was the brainchild of Louisianian resident and oil tycoon Patrick F. Taylor, who wanted to build a memorial to his favorite president. Sadly, Taylor passed away before his dream came to fruition, but local artist Patrick Miller continued to sculpt this massive structure, which was finally completed in 2008. Now, Mr. Reagan welcomes everyone who passes through the Covington Trailhead with a grand salute.
Next up: Tea time!
The English Tea Room & Eatery, 734 E Rutland St, Covington, LA 70433, USA
Grab a spot of tea at the English Tea Room, a little slice of London right in downtown Covington.
Dress your best and treat yourself to some quality tea, sandwiches, and snacks. There are more than 200 varieties of tea to choose from, and you can even buy in bulk to take some home with you.
Day Two: Exploring The Wild Side Of Covington
Covington has much to offer, especially for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Day two is all about the more natural side of Covington, so be sure to slather on some sunscreen before tackling the day!
Bogue Falaya Park
Bogue Falaya Road, Bogue Falaya Rd, Louisiana 70433, USA
Bring your breakfast and enjoy your morning coffee at Bogue Falaya Park, a lovely park nestled along the Bogue Falaya River.
The epic playground will keep the younger ones entertained while you wait for that coffee to kick in.
The views of the river are just mesmerizing. Take your shoes off and dip your feet in the refreshing water! The soft silt feels amazing on your skin. Don't worry, we'll be getting a closer look at this river later on.
Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery, 74645 Allen Rd, Covington, LA 70435, USA
Whether you've grown up around alligators or have never seen one in your life, Insta-Gator will de-mystify them for you. You'll need a car to get here since it's on the city's outskirts, but even then, it's less than 10 miles from downtown, so it won't take long to get here.
Insta-Gator takes a hands-on (literally) approach to educating people about the importance of these reptiles, both in the wild and as a source of food and other productions like clothing, accessories, and more.
During your visit, you'll have the opportunity to see gators of all shapes and sizes, and yes, you can even hold one! Don't worry, their mouths are taped shut so you won't get bitten. If you're visiting in the fall, you can experience the hatching season! From August to September, you can sit with the eggs and you might just get lucky and have one of these cuties hatch right in your own hand! Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Back to the River
Remember when we said we'd come back to the river? This time, we'll be getting a closer look at this beauty.
Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard from Canoe and Trail Adventures and set off on an aquatic adventure that'll show you an entirely new perspective of Covington. They offer several different types of rentals, including sunset and guided paddles to Lake Pontchartrain, but you can also rent a vessel by the hour and take to the water on your own. The Bogue Falaya River doesn't have a strong current; in fact, it's closer to a bayou with how slow the water moves, so you'll have no problems paddling in either direction.
The Chimes-Covington, 19130 W Front St, Covington, LA 70433, USA
The launch site is behind
which is perfect because you're bound to work up an appetite after a few hours of paddling down the water. Grab yourself a burger or indulge in one of their yummy pasta dishes.
There’s so much to love about Covington, don’t you think? Pack your bags and start planning your getaway now! For even more attractions, check out
Fontainebleau State Park and Fairview-Riverside State Park, both beautiful state parks near Covington with endless nature trails, waterfront views, and unique histories.
To discover even more about Covington, Louisiana in a fun, easily-digestible manner, tune in to OnlyInYourState’s brand new podcast, Not Your Average Bucket List, where we talk all about this charming town. Listen now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
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