Mandeville, Louisiana - The heat is on, but there's still time to create some cool summer memories on a last-minute local escape. Our Travel Girl, Stephanie Oswald, has found an ideal option across Lake Pontchartrain. If you're looking for a fabulous and family-friendly place to cool off, head for Fontainebleau State Park, where you can camp, splash, hike or spend the night in a cabin over the water.
No matter what the thermometer reads, there's plenty of coolness to be found, starting at the air conditioned visitors center, where nature is on display, along with North Shore artifacts, including hundreds of hand-carved arrowheads, a gift from a private donor.
"It's pretty broad range; the gentleman lived in Lacombe, the town just east of the park. Most of them were found in the bayous in that area or right along the lake," explained the ranger manning the center.
Taxidermy helps show off some wildlife indoors, but if you want to check out the real deal, head for the traisl and boardwalks. There are more than six miles of trails throughout the park.
The day our cameras were there, we saw frogs, rabbits, birds, dragonflies and spiders.
Even if the beach is closed, there is a solution for cooling off: especially popular with kids, the splash park area wins as the coolest place in Fontainebleau State Park.
So plan a day trip, or stay longer, even overnight! Waterfront cabins sleep up to eight people each and they rent for just $150 during the week and $175 on weekends. You'll enjoy air conditioning, kitchens, comfortable beds and porches with a view.
Camping out will save you money if you're on a tighter budget. Either way, it's a cool place to play.
Travel Girl Fun Facts: The park was was the site of Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville's personal plantation. That's where the Marigny district gets its name, and of course the City of Mandeville as well. The park was named after the Fontainebleau forests near Paris, that Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville had visited as a teenager.