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By Kristy Christiansen
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Hodges Gardens State Park
Wander the beautiful gardens and sit by the fountains in Hodges Garden State Park.

The swath of land cutting through central Louisiana is both an outdoor paradise and keeper of history. Take your little ones camping, fishing and hiking in some of the best wilderness in the state, and then drop in to see rowdy alligators or a real-life fish hatchery. Home to the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase, Crossroads brings history to life at plantations, cotton gins and a forestry center.    

Meet the Wildlife

Alexandria Zoological Park: Experience the wild animals of Africa, take a walkabout through Australia, journey to South America or simply get an up-close look at the creatures lurking in Louisiana’s backyard. Touted as the No. 1 family-oriented, educational tourist attraction in Central Louisiana, the Alexandria Zoo should make the top of your to-do list.

Bayou Pierre Alligator Park: Are you ready to pet, feed and hold an alligator? Venture into Louisiana’s largest alligator park and see for yourself the hundreds of American alligators that reside here. While you’re there, walk through tiny villages to meet the park’s various other reptiles and critters.

National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium: This is the only place in Louisiana to see a Federal fish hatchery, where for 80 years, multiple varieties of fish have spawned, hatched and been reared in the 53 ponds here. Walk the levees to find alligator gar, alligator snapping turtles, recreational fish and mussels.

Play Outdoors

North & South Toledo Bend State Parks: Nestled at opposite ends of one of the country’s largest man-made reservoirs, these two state parks offer camping, hiking, swimming and boating along with beautiful vistas. Be sure to bring your fishing pole, as Toledo Bend Reservoir is nationally known for its bass fishing. 

Kisatchie National Forest: Louisiana’s only national forest features more than 604,000 acres of land waiting to be explored. Hike the trails, canoe the rivers, cast a line for fish or take a scenic drive. Stay a night or two and discover all this forest has to offer.

Hodges Gardens State Park: Stroll the peaceful paths and bridges of this 700-acre garden designed around an abandoned quarry. Relax beside the man-made lake that now feeds into waterfalls, fountains and geysers. 

Make New Discoveries

Southern Forest Heritage Museum: Tour the South’s oldest complete sawmill complex and see what it took to log and mill forests in the early 1900s. Kids will love getting up close to the train cars as well as exploring the museum’s authentic collection of buildings and equipment.

T.R.E.E. House: This hands-on children’s museum provides hours of learning fun and entertainment for kids aged 1-12. Learn about science, math, social studies and the humanities through exciting exhibits and programs.

Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins: The cotton industry has certainly changed since the early 1800s. See it for yourself at Frogmore, a working, modern cotton plantation built around the buildings of a historic one. Tour the grounds, pick some cotton and learn about this important part of our history.

Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant : No visit to the Crossroads is complete without a stop by Lasyone’s. Home to the famous meat pies, this family-friendly restaurant features Louisiana cooking at its best.

More family-friendly adventures:

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