25 Amazing Things to See and Do In Central Louisiana
In this region, it is nearly impossible to run out of fun activities to do or places to visit. To mention just a few, classical music performances, history lessons, thousands of national forest acres and roaming zombies can all be found in this exciting area.
Downtown Alexandria Arts and Cultural District – Celebrate different cultures and view all types of art by visiting a variety of venues including the Alexandria Museum of Art, River Oaks Arts Center, T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum and Arna Bontemps African American Museum. Don’t miss Pops in the Park with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra and other events in the outdoor Alexandria Amphitheater or enjoy a show at the Coughlin Saunders Performing Arts Center.
Alexandria Zoological Park – Climb aboard the Bayou Le Zoo Choo Choo at the Alexandria Zoo to get a unique vantage point of the grounds and animal habitats, including the new jaguar exhibit. Fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the attraction delights young and old alike.
Epps House-Solomon Northup’s Gateway to Freedom - Epps House is a Creole cottage that was moved from its original location to the campus of Louisiana State University of Alexandria and converted into a museum of historic significance in association with the famous slave narrative, “Twelve Years a Slave,” that was developed into an Oscar nominated motion picture and featured in The Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum series.
Historic Sites – Visit places where the history of Central Louisiana comes alive, including Fort Randolph and Buhlow State Museums, Old Town Hall Museum and Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Pineville. www.heartoflouisiana.com
Mardi Gras – Let the good times roll with a weekend of Alexandria Mardi Gras events. Festivities kick off on Friday before Mardi Gras with the College Cheerleaders and Classic Cars Parade and then continue with A Taste of Mardi Gras food and music extravaganza, followed by the Children’s Parade on Saturday and the Krewe’s Parade on Sunday.
Central LA Outdoor Adventure Festival – Get ready to use your outdoor voice at a month-long festival featuring over 30 adventures. The Outdoor Festival includes sports events such as hiking, biking, running, golfing and more, plus arts and cultural events and a Civil War Re-Enactment. The festival takes place on each of the five weekends in March.
Louisiana Dragon Boat Races – This Louisiana Dragon Boat Races is an exciting event, full of good, spirited fun on the Red River. The races are staged in downtown Alexandria in May to benefit the Alexandria Museum of Art.
AlexRiverFête - Set on the banks of the iconic Red River, AlexRiverFête is a three-day celebration hosted by the City of Alexandria, combines several local events all in one weekend, including Dinner on the Bricks, ArtWalk and the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races. Visitors will enjoy dozens of lively arts programs, colorful street performers, crafts, children’s activities and live music.
More Unique Festivals – Thousands visit each year to participate in the area’s festivities, including The Cochon de Lait Festival, Bunkie Corn Festival, Lecompte Pie Festival, Pecan Festival and Louisiana Mudfest, along with many more.
Kent Plantation House & Le Tour de Bayou – As the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana, Kent Plantation House predates the Louisiana Purchase. Experience life as it was at this working plantation. Pedal, run or walk to the annual Le Tour de Bayou, an annual race benefiting Kent House.
Kisatchie National Forest – Covering more than 600,000 acres of land, the Kisatchie National Forest is the only national forest in the state of Louisiana. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, birding, camping and much more.
Golf Courses – There’s no better place than Central Louisiana to grab the clubs and head to the greens. Go for par or better at OakWing Golf Club, Links on the Bayou Golf Course, Bringhurst Golf Course or Alexandria Golf and Country Club.
Multiple Youth Sports Complexes – There are many places for the young to play soccer, baseball, softball or basketball. Kids of all ages can be found tossing balls around at Johnny Downs Sports Complex, Slocum Soccer Fields or Bringhurst Field.
Luck and Luxury – High rollers can find two options for a thrilling stay in the area. Guests will find luxurious accommodations, multiple restaurants, a golf course, a world-class spa, and a busy schedule of concerts featuring top musical artists at Paragon Casino Resort & Spa. Also, Jena Choctaw Pines Casino has more than 700 game tables, a buffet and a sports bar that hosts live entertainment.
Fine Dining – The ambiance is as much a part of a great meal as the food at Bistro on the Bayou, Diamond Grill, Tunks Cypress Inn or Spirit’s—just a few of the fantastic restaurants in the area.
Fishing/Boating/Lakes – Looking for a place to hook a big one, paddle through some great scenery or just to take a dip? Head to Kincaid Lake, Cotile Lake, Indian Creek or Saline-Larto Lake.
Hunting – This activity is a favorite pastime in Central Louisiana. All sportsmen need to start shooting is an in-state hunting license. The area offers guided hunts from places such as River Rouge Plantation.
Military Installations – The Central Louisiana community is very involved with its large military presence. Installations in the area include Fort Polk in Leesville and Camp Beauregard in Pineville.
Antique Shops – Dust off an old treasure at an antique store in Alexandria, Pineville, Ball, Cheneyville, Bunkie and Marksville. There are many hidden prizes to be found!
Hotel Bentley – This historic site was recently bought with plans for restoration. Many notable figures, like former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gen. George Patton, have been guests at the Hotel Bentley throughout the years.
Heritage Park at England Airpark – Displaying fighter planes stationed at the former England Air Force Base, this spot is a must-see for any air force history enthusiast.
Plantation Tours/Bed & Breakfasts – Dive into history by visiting Frogmore Plantation. Not only is this site a working cotton field, it also offers tours of its facilities and structures from the early 1800s. For those who want to stick around for a while, book an overnight stay at the historic bed and breakfast, Loyd Hall Plantation, Susan’s Cottages or Tyrone Plantation.
Cenla Zombie Walk – A truly chilling evening, the annual Zombie Walk takes place in Alexandria close to Halloween. Proceeds benefit a different local charity each year.
Gone Wild Safari – Roam among hundreds of exotic animals at Gone Wild Safari. Visit the petting zoo or take a safari tour.
Parks – Head to Compton Park or City Park in Alexandria or Kees Park in Pineville for some playtime.
Visit the Alexandria Pineville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for more travel information.