About 40 miles north of New Orleans, Ponchatoula is a city of about 5,000 souls in Tangipahoa Parish. Established in the early 1800s as a logging camp, the town today is a regional commerce center for the Parish, and home to Louisiana’s second largest festival (after Mardi Gras), the Ponchatoula Strawberry Fest, which takes place in early April.
The town also describes itself as “the antique capital of America” and it does seem to have its fair share of shops of that ilk, and prices are very reasonable.
The local produce market sells a wide variety of products grown in the area, including the strawberries, along with preserves and various canned fruits and vegetables.
It’s worth a drive if you’re visiting the Crescent City, and enroute or on the way back, take in a meal at Middendorf’s, 10 miles south of Ponchatoula on I-55. Famous for crispy thin sliced strips of catfish, your lunch of dinner options include a wide variety of local seafood, steaks, and chicken. Start out with a cup of gumbo, turtle soup, or a dozen fresh oysters.
Louisiana seafood is fresher than nearly anything you’ve ever eaten, and enjoying it on the waterside dock overlooking a back bay of Lake Ponchatrain, at Middendorf’s makes it twice as tasty.