Things to do Near Fairview-Riverside State Park

Louisiana is a state rich in scenic waterways. Those of the Northshore (the region north of Lake Pontchartrain) rank among the prettiest. Case in point: The Tchefuncte River. This waterway courses through Fairview-Riverside State Park, which, at only 98 acres, is the second-smallest of all Louisiana State Parks. It’s located just two miles from downtown Madisonville, a city whose charming Creole cottages and numerous restaurants are worth checking out before or after your Fairview-Riverside State Park visit.

Fairview-Riverside offers plenty to do. Take a walk down the nature trail to the Tchefuncte, have a picnic on the waterfront or in the group pavilion, or let the kids burn off some energy at the park’s playground.

The park’s primary feature is the Tchefuncte River itself. Fishing and crabbing are popular pastimes, and those looking to land a fresh catch might get a bass, white perch or bluegill on the line. Waterfront fishing is allowed, and you can bring your own boat as well: A boat launch is located in Madisonville nearby.

For visitors hoping to get on the water without bringing their own boat are in luck. Louisiana Tours & Adventures offers guided tours through Fairview-Riverside State Park, on the Tchefuncte and other waterways (the Abita and Bogue Falaya rivers).

Another one of the main reasons to visit Fairview-Riverside State Park is Otis House, a grand historical home built on the Tchefuncte riverbank. It’s an icon of Madisonville architecture, built in the 1800s by sawmill owner William Theodore Jay. Frank Otis bought the home in 1930 and lived there until the 1960s, leaving it to the state when he died.

Nearby Attractions

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum is home to a fascinating collection of nautical artifacts from the Northshore’s long and storied history. Check out the Jahnke Shipyard Exhibit, where the past comes to life via displays showcasing a 1900 Madisonville shipyard that once employed thousands of workers, who built massive wooden ships for the U.S. Navy. See life-size replicas of a Civil War-era submarine, and a vintage steamboat that is similar to those that traveled these waters generations ago.

Every year, Madisonville celebrates a different kind of wooden watercraft, with the Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival. Boatbuilders from throughout the Gulf Coast bring their vessels — cruisers, luggers, sailboats, skiffs and trawlers — to the Tchefuncte River shoreline in a celebration of the city’s maritime history. The highlight of the festival is the Quick ‘n’ Dirty Boat Building competition, in which builders have 14 hours to construct a boat with only the materials provided to them. After building the boats, competitors must complete a 100-yard course to prove their seaworthiness.

The number and diversity of restaurants in Madisonville might surprise you for a town of fewer than 1,000 residents. Keith Young’s Steak House, Morton’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Waterstreet Bistro and Orlando’s Seafood Restaurant are all within a 10-minute drive from Fairview-Riverside State Park.

A little farther away are the cities of Covington and Mandeville, neighboring cities with distinct and charming personalities. Covington’s lovely downtown historic district is worth exploring, with more than a dozen restaurants within walking distance (highlights: OxLot 9, Meribo, Columbia Street Tap Room and Grill, Lola and Mattina Bella) and numerous shops and cafés.

The Tammany Trace’s western end is here, and for visitors looking to explore the Northshore’s natural side without venturing far from the cities, it’s the perfect place to start. The 27-mile trail is a converted railroad corridor that now links Covington with the cities of Mandeville, Abita Springs and Slidell.

Take the trail (or drive yourself) to the other nearest city to Fairview-Riverside State Park, Mandeville. The city exudes Southern charm, with block after block of historic homes, great restaurants and a beautiful waterfront park at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.