25 Amazing Things to See and Do
This list is the perfect guide to fun and adventure in the area. Art admirers, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyone in between can find a venue or event that has something they’ll enjoy and bring them back for more.
Booker Fowler is Louisiana’s largest fish hatchery. It is home to the Louisiana Lunker Bass Program and produces primarily Florida largemouth bass in addition to catfish, striped bass and paddlefish. The visitor center features hand-painted murals, riverine exhibit, estuarine exhibit, bass exhibit and turtle exhibit. It is open from 9 am-3:00 pm Monday-Friday, and admission is free. www.wlf.louisiana.gov/booker-fowler-fish-hatchery
Spectacular for both participants and spectators alike, this annual fundraiser for the Alexandria Museum of Art was established in 2011. With its beginnings in Southern China, dragon boating is the fastest growing aquatic sport in the world with race festivals held around the world. The LA Dragon Boat Races take place on the Red River or Lake Buhlow. www.louisianadragonboatraces.com
The City of Pineville hosts a fireworks extravaganza on July 3 at Buhlow Lake to celebrate Independence Day. There is no cost for admission to this family-friendly event. Festivities featuring live music and food and beverage trucks begin at 3:00 p.m. www.pineville.net The City of Alexandria hosts a fireworks display on the banks of the Red River on July 4 at 8:00 p.m. There is no cost to attend and seating eating is available at the Riverfront Amphitheater. The evening includes music, plus an abundance of food and beverage trucks. www.cityofalexandriala.com
Gardeners will enjoy a weekend of flowers, friends, food and fun at the Louisiana Nursery Festival in Forest Hill, held the third weekend in March. There’s no admission fee to enjoy the Saturday parade through the quaint town, carnival rides and equipment displays. Over 100 vendors offer a plethora of flowers, plants and trees for sale, along with colorful arts and crafts. https://www.facebook.com/Louisiana-Nursery-Festival
Step inside at Huckleberry in Alexandria to sample Louisiana craft beer as local as they come. Huckleberry is owned and operated by an 8th generation Alexandrian whose goal is to put an adventure into every glass. huckleberrybrewingcompany.com
Dotting the downtown Alexandria streetscape are several venues where culture and the arts come alive. The Alexandria Museum of Art, the Arna Bontemps African American Museum, the River Oaks Square Arts Center, the T.R.E.E. House and Children’s Museum, and the Coughlin Saunders Performing Arts Center are all must-sees. Pops in the Park with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, the Kress Theatre and various other events taking place at the Alexandria Amphitheater are a great way to absorb some culture and the beauty of the area. www.louisiana-arts.org
Learn about the rich history of Alexandria and Pineville by taking a self-guided walking tour of the downtown areas. 50 sites, many of which are on the National Register, take you from the civil war era, through the Art Deco period, to modern. alexandriapinevillela.com/historic-walking-tour
Observing wildlife up close is what the Alexandria Zoological Park is all about. Guests can explore habitats such as the Land of the Jaguar and Australian Walkabout, learn about swamp and bayou creatures in the award-winning Louisiana Habitat Exhibit, or kick back and relax as you take in the sights of the zoo from aboard the Bayou Le Zoo Choo Choo! Special events like Les Fest in September, Zoo Boo in October and Holiday Light Safari in December should not be missed. www.thealexandriazoo.com
Follow the path of Solomon Northup during his twelve years as a slave in central Louisiana. Northup was an African-American farmer and musician from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1941. His story is told in the film, “12 Years a Slave.” Visit the Epps Plantation House, now on the campus of LSUA, that Northup helped build. Or go geocaching and locate the buried treasure at 15 sites in Rapides, Avoyelles and St. Mary Parishes. www.alexandriapinevillela.com/northuptrail
Attention all history buffs! The area is packed with a rich and intriguing history. Some of the most notable locations to visit to uncover that incredible heritage include Fort Randolph & Fort Buhlow State Historic Site, Old Town Hall Museum, Rapides and Mt. Olivet cemeteries, Central Dairy Barn, as well as the Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville. In Alexandria, historic St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Shiloh Baptist Church, the Hotel Bentley and the Alexandria Genealogical Library are excellent stops. The Alexandria Garden District features a Holiday Tour of Homes sure to make all merry and bright. www.alexandriapinevillela.com
The Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum, located at Camp Beauregard, tells the story of the massive army maneuvers that prepared the United States for World War II and was centered on several army camps in the Pineville area. Other not-to-miss sites include the Louisiana History Museum in downtown Alexandria; the Tioga Heritage Park & Museum; and the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Long Leaf, which showcases the oldest complete sawmill facility in the South. Dating from the early 20th century, the complex contains the most complete collection of steam-powered logging and milling equipment thought to be in existence. www.geauxguardmuseums.com/about-the-museums; louisianahistorymuseum.org; www.forestheritagemuseum.org
This Louisiana tradition is a celebration of local culture will return in 2022. Festivities take place over two weekends, commencing with the Light the Night Mardi Gras Parade in Pineville, followed by parades in Ball, Tioga and Woodworth. The weekend prior to Fat Tuesday features four popular events in Alexandria. It begins on Friday with the Hixon Classic Cars & College Cheerleaders Parade, followed by A Taste of Mardi Gras food extravaganza. The Children’s Parade and Krewes’ Parade round out the revelry. www.alexmardigras.com
Throughout the year, thousands attend the many festivals hosted across the region. The Cochon de Lait Festival, Dogwood Festival, Bunkie Corn Festival, LeCompte Pie Festival, Pecan Festival and Louisiana Mudfest are just a few of the many options the entire family can enjoy. www.alexandriapinevillela.com
Step back into yesteryear at the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana. The Kent Plantation House predates the Louisiana Purchase and gives a glimpse into how life was more than two centuries ago. The Le Tour de Bayou—a yearly race to benefit the Kent House—is ideal for cyclists, runners and walkers alike. www.kenthouse.org
Step back into yesteryear at the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana. The Kent Plantation House predates the Louisiana Purchase and gives a glimpse into how life was more than two centuries ago. Visitors will also appreciate the beauty of Frogmore Plantation about 40 minutes from Alexandria. The home has a working cotton field and tours of the grounds are available. Numerous historical houses that are still family homes dot the central Louisiana landscape including Tyrone Plantation, Bennett Plantation House, Rosalie Plantation with its sugar mill, Pegram, Eden, Juliette and Cook House. Individuals can make reservations for an overnight stay at Loyd Hall Plantation Bed & Breakfast, Susan’s Cottages Bed & Breakfast or Chickamaw Hospitality. www.kenthouse.org. www.frogmoreplantation.com, www.loydhall.com
Spanning more than 600,000 acres of lush pine forests, this is the only national forest in the state. Spend the day—or weekend—birdwatching, camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing and much more. www.fs.usda.gov/kisatchie
Alexandria/Pineville Farmers Markets – Alexandria Farmers’ Market takes place on Tuesdays, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church-Alexandria parking lot at 2727 Jackson Street. Located in the commuter parking space at the front entrance to Louisiana College, the Pineville Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tee off at the many spectacular golf courses throughout central Louisiana. OakWing Golf Club, Links on the Bayou Golf Course, Bringhurst Golf Course or Tamahka Trails Golf Club, all offer exceptional settings for a challenging round of play.
Kids have the opportunity to develop athletic skills and good sportsmanship at local sports complexes designed specifically with them in mind. Whether it’s soccer, baseball, softball or basketball, kids can be found after school or during the weekends at Johnny Downs Sports Complex, O’Hearn Mathews Soccer Fields, Youth Baseball Complex, Tennis Complex or Pineville Ward 9 Sports Complex.
Know when to hold them and know when to fold them at local, lavish casinos. Paragon Casino Resort & Spa has top accommodations, a bevy of restaurants, a golf course, a relaxing spa, concerts and more. Jena Choctaw Pines Casino Resort & Spa boasts more than 700 game tables, a delicious buffet, a sports bar and live entertainment. www.paragoncasinoresort.com; www.jenachoctawpinescasino.com
Foodies can eat their way through one of the tastiest locales for cuisine in the South. Enjoy the atmosphere and mouthwatering dishes at Diamond Grill, The Bentley Room, Spirits, Tunks Cypress Inn, The Levee, Bellino’s, Tequila and many other tantalizing restaurants.
A pleasant year-round climate makes this area perfect for the outdoorsman. Reel in the catch of the century or just float away on the Red River, Kincaid Lake, Cotile Lake, Indian Creek, Iatt Lake or Saline-Larto Lake. For those who have an in-state hunting license, you can head to the woods. Guided hunts are regularly scheduled at Honey Brake Lodge. www.honeybrake.com/bookahunt.
Boasting a large military presence, it is no wonder many veterans call the area home. The central Louisiana community involvement and devotion to local troops can be witnessed on a daily basis. Local installations include Fort Polk in Leesville, Camp Beauregard in Pineville and Camp Cook in Ball. Guests can also enjoy Heritage Park, which contains fighter planes that were stationed at the former England Air Force Base.
Looking for a unique piece to complete a room at home? Go antiquing at the many shops in Alexandria, Pineville, Ball, Bunkie, Glenmora, Marksville and Pollock. There’s no telling what hidden gem may be uncovered.
Enjoy a day outside for some fun or much needed rest and relaxation at one of the many parks in Alexandria like Compton Park, City Park or Hynson Bark Park, the city’s newest addition for our four-legged friends. Enjoy the splash pad at City Park or the walking trail. Fort Buhlow Recreation Area and Kees Park in Pineville offer a number of things from frisbee golf and walking trail, to a splash pad. Pack up the kids and a picnic and head to Indian Creek Recreation Area to check out Fort Martin, the interactive playground donated and built by RoyOMartin Co. in partnership with the LA Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Unlock your sense for adventure at Key2Escape, Cenla’s only escape room, or enjoy a relaxing afternoon indoors using your creativity at a party painting studio, like QuirkyArtz.
Explore the many and varied unique specialty shops and boutiques scattered throughout the area. With names like Aspen Bleu, Terra Home, Southern Chic, Blest Nest, Shabby Chic, Dressed to the Bixby, H&H Furniture and Appliances, John Ward Interiors, Boutique at The Lakes…you’re sure to find a special treasure.