It is summertime in Central Louisiana and that means the kids are out of school, temperatures are on the rise and folks are looking for fun and exciting ways to beat the heat while having a good time. With all the great opportunities and activities to enjoy, you can do something new nearly every day without repeating, even though you’ll want to!
Come explore a natural world filled with hoots, howls, and roars right in the heart of Central Louisiana! There’s always something new to discover at Alexandria Zoo. Encounter the animals of North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia as you stroll along the Zoo’s shaded walkways. Cool off in air-conditioned buildings while you get up-close looks at turtles, fish, snakes and other little creatures.
Be on the lookout for some of the zoo’s newest additions! Tucker and Ashley, the siamangs, welcomed the arrival of their first offspring last December. Little Niko is sometimes hard to spot, but he’s never far from mom. Mack and Emmy, the North American river otters, had two little bundles of joy in February. Under the guidance of Emmy, the siblings, Ollie and Maisy, have quickly learned how to swim and dive.
A visit to the zoo isn’t complete without feeding the koi fish and taking a ride on Bayou Le Zoo Choo Choo, the Zoo’s miniature train. Have an appetite as big as a lion? The Palm Café offers a variety of menu items to choose from. Before you leave, stop by the Zootique Gift Shop. You’ll find the perfect “wild” souvenir to remember your trip.
So what are you waiting for? Bring your flock to Alexandria Zoo today! For more information visit www.thealexandriazoo.com.
What better way to continue exploring the Heart of Louisiana than with 10 free things to do in the Alexandria/Pineville area this summer?
- Make a splash at Alexandria’s City Park or Pineville’s Kees Park Splash Pads.
- Tee off for 9 holes at Bringhurst Golf Course, one of the oldest Par 3 courses in the nation.
- Hike or bike the Wild Azalea Trail, Louisiana’s longest hiking trail.
- Tour Alexandria’s and Pineville’s historic downtowns by following the Historic Walking Tour, available at the Alexandria/Pineville Visitor Center, located at 301 Jackson Street, Suite 102 in Alexandria.
- Explore the Northup Trail Byway, starting at the Red River Landing behind the Alexandria Museum of Art in Alexandria. Maps are available at the Alexandria/Pineville Visitor Center.
- Tour the historic Lecompte High School. Call (318) 776-9520 to schedule your tour.
- View military vehicles, authentic military uniforms, and historic pieces from the home front at the Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum, located at 623 G Street in Pineville.
- Visit the Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in Woodworth, home to a Visitors Center boasting over 10,000 gallons of aquaria!
- Take a stroll through the National Cemetery located in Pineville where you can look up inhabitants in the registry.
- Discover the Old Town Hall Museum on Main Street in Pineville, the only museum in Louisiana dedicated to municipal government.
For even more activities and things to do in the area, visit AlexandriaPinevilleLA.com, call (318) 442-9546 or stop by the Alexandria/Pineville Visitor Center in-person on Jackson Street in Alexandria.
Natchitoches is another great destination for families, friends and sweethearts from all across Cenla! Charming, full of culture, history, recreation, shopping and more, Natchitoches boasts a delightful historic district, plantations, historic sites, state museum, festivals and, of course, that tasty food! Discover the sunny side of Natchitoches this summer. You, your family and friends can:
- Take in dinner and a show at NSU Summer Dinner Theatre. Reservations are available by calling (318) 357-4218.
- Party at Destination Downtown events, featuring live music and more. Visit www.ddnatty.com to learn more.
- Try Kayaking and Paddle Boarding along Cane River Lake.
- Enjoy distinctive dining at any restaurant in the historic district.
- Be amazed at the largest alligator park in Louisiana! Details and directions can be found at www.alligatorPark.net.
- Learn about French Marines at Fort St. Jean Baptist State Historic Site.
- Immerse yourself in the Saints Football exhibit at the LA Sports Hall of Fame Museum.
- Discover the many layers of the Creole culture at the NW LA History Museum.
- Check out the prehistoric whale skull and 80 foot bluff overlooking the Red River at Grand Ecore Visitors Center.
- Shop for fresh veggies and homemade goods at the Natchitoches Farmers Market.
- Experience interactive escape rooms like “Free the Ghost of Isabella” or “Escape Vegas Vacation” at Escape Natchitoches. For information or to schedule your escape, visit www.escapenatchitoches.com.
- Take a walk through the past by exploring Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Melrose Plantation. Visit www.nps.gov/cari and www.melroseplantation.com for more information.
Call the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau today at (800) 259-1714 or visit www.natchitoches.com for more information!
To the west of Natchitoches lies one of the jewels of Sportsman’s Paradise. Toledo Bend Lake Country is a unique area filled with fun and exciting things to do and places to see. If you’re a sportsman looking for a trophy fish or wanting to catch rays on a sandy beach, you don’t have to drive far. Toledo Bend Lake is located right here in Cenla! Here’s some fun things to do during these hot summer days:
- Toledo Bend Lake is a world class bass fishing lake. In fact, it was named the #1 Bass Lake in the Nation by Bassmaster Magazine for two years in a row, 2015 & 2016. Crappie, bream and catfish are also in abundance.
- Hit the ATV & hiking trails at South Toledo Bend State Park.
- Go golfing at Cypress Bend Resort. While you’re there, get a massage at the Spa.
- Rent a boat and go fishing at North Toledo Bend State Park. Cool off by taking a dip in the Olympic sized swimming pool.
- Take a stroll through 700 acres of botanical beauty at Hodges Gardens State Park.
- Cypress Bend Park, Pleasure Point Park, South Toledo Bend State Park, San Miguel Park all have great sandy beaches.
- There’s plenty of room for water sports for an exciting day on the lake.
- Go camping or RVing at one of the awesome RV parks in Toledo Bend Lake Country.
- Learn about our area’s history and drive along the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail (LA Highway 6).
- Natural beauty and outdoor recreation are what entices visitors to drive Toledo Bend Forest Scenic Byway (LA Highway 191). Be sure to head south to the Toledo Bend Reservoir Dam and check out the neat observation towers.
Whether you’re looking to kick your heels up in a cabin on the water or have your hair pushed back on a jet ski, Toledo Bend Lake Country is the perfect place for a summer outdoor adventure.
Visit Leesville each Friday in July for the first Downtown at Sundown, Food Truck Park and Concert Series! This family-friendly, free event will take place for four consecutive Fridays in July. It will run 6:00pm until 9:00pm at the Polk Theatre park, located on Texas Hwy (Hwy 8) in the Leesville Main Street district. Each evening will feature a variety of food trucks, live music, and family-friendly games. Developed and sponsored by the City of Leesville and the Leesville Main Street District, everyone is invited to come join the fun each Friday in July.
Each week will feature a special guest artist:
- July 7th: Cody Forrest is a country singer from Sulphur, with a distinct voice and a Texas Country sound. With rodeo in his blood Cody keeps true to classic country. He is quickly gaining momentum in the Southwest region and has a CD out—Tennessee.
- July 14th: Henry Reggans is a regional favorite for the Western side of Louisiana. A keyboard man, Henry is known for his talent with many types of music, from country to rock, pop to jazz.
- July 21st: Ceth Talbot, out of Lake Charles, is rapidly making a name for himself in Red Dirt Country music.
- July 28th: Henry Reggans returns to the stage for an encore performance.
In between concerts, there is plenty to keep you busy in Vernon. The Leesville City Golf Course, located on Hwy 171 North in Leesville, has a 9-hole course, refreshment stand, paved and lighted tennis courts, and a separately fenced playground for children, with picnic and barbecue facilities. Call (337) 239-2526 to reserve your tee time.
Spend some time driving the back roads of Louisiana and visit the Myths & Legends Byway, featuring 181 miles of country roads, attractions, stories and tall tales, all tied together with 22 kiosks in the three parishes of Vernon, Beauregard, and Allen. This byway will intrigue and entice visitors with glimpses of the history, culture, and people who make Central Louisiana unique. Visit www.LouisianaMythsandLegends.com, or call the Vernon Parish Tourism at (337) 238-0783 for more information.
Vernon Parish has great outdoor activities any time of the year—hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, birding, horse-back riding—all are available throughout the parish. For more information, call the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission check us out on Facebook, or on the web at www.LouisianaLegendCountry.com.
Cenla campers looking for somewhere new and exciting to camp this summer need look no further than Bunkie! Gator Grounds in Bunkie caters to campers and golfers alike in a unique mixture of RV park, water park, and golf course all in one. These great amenities are open to campers year round, even swimming! Campers enjoy the use of an indoor water park, outdoor water park, zip line challenge course, outdoor movie theater, stocked fishing ponds, golf course, playground, convenience store, outdoor grill, and our newest addition, the lazy river!
The Gator Grounds golf course offers both nine and eighteen hole play as well as cart rental and driving range use. Each Thursdays in spring and summer features a weekly scramble event! Visit www.gatorgrounds.org for more information. Gator Grounds is happy to offer membership options for golf and water park. The park’s upcoming events include a Labor Day weekend celebration, a Kansas City Barbecue Society cook-off, and a gator great Halloween!
Contact the Gator Grounds reservations team at (318) 295-4030 or visit www.gatorgrounds.com to learn more, make reservations, and learn about upcoming events.
Continue your exploration in Avoyelles with cool waters, camping and air conditioned museums to beat the heat this summer. Great opportunities include:
- Paragon Casino Resort’s RV Park and its amenities will greet you with pool fun, a walking trail and a host of things to do with shuttle service to Paragon Casino and Tamahka Trails Golf Course. The nearby Tunica Biloxi Museum and Educational Resources Center is the perfect place to cool off from the heat as you see and learn about the Tunica Tribe of Louisiana.
- Visit the splash pad at the Moreauville Town Hall where the kids can go for water fun on your way to Adam Ponthieu Grocery Store and Big Bend Post Office Museum, across from Sarto Iron Bridge
- Ben Routh Recreation Park and Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area are the perfect playgrounds for water recreation. Great for bank or boat fishing, kayaking, and the Red River is an awesome place to use “water toys”!
- Want something a little less recreational? Seek out the many snow cone stands, yogurt shops, cool brews and other places for refreshing cool treats throughout Avoyelles, heck map them out and create yourself a tour!
- Stop by the LA 4-H Museum in Mansura and visit with Frankie the Fox and let him tell you the story of how Louisiana 4-H got its start in Avoyelles at the First Corn Club meeting in 1908.
Visit www.travelavoyelles.com, call (800) 833-4195, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or search us out on Facebook at TravelAvoyelles.
With so much to see and do so close to home this summer, you’ll need more hours in each day to squeeze it all in. Whether you choose just a few activities or try to conquer the full list, remember to enjoy not just the destination, but also the journey! Whatever you do, have fun, be safe, and experience as much Summer Fun in Cenla as you can!