Ten Things to Do in Vernon Parish
Take a trip into territory that was once Louisiana's Wild West. Its rich history, gorgeous nature, delicious food and fun festivals will fill feed your soul.
Welcome to Vernon Parish! The area's rich history began as a part of the "No Man's Land" area which was a strip of disputed territory along what use to be a border with Mexico. Outlaws and bandits as well as heroes and soldiers made their mark on this fertile soil. Louisiana's Legend Country celebrates their stories that shaped the culture of today.
Start planning your trip with these top things to do.
1. Myths & Legends Byway
Vernon Parish is known as Louisiana’s Wild West, and for good reason — this is the land where the Coushatta and Atakapa Indians, outlaws and gun-slinging characters with colorful names like Leather Britches Smith called home. The Myths & Legends Byway is part of a network of scenic backroads called the Louisiana Trails & Byways, it follows some of those intrepid travelers’ journeys. Best driven in one full day, Myths & Legends Byway begins at Burr Ferry, famed for its Civil War-era breastworks that are among the best-preserved manmade earthworks of the period. The Burr's Ferry Bridge allowed for settlers to carry goods across the Sabine River. Continue on the Myths & Legends byway as it navigates throughout Vernon and neighboring parishes giving drivers an idea of what life was like on the frontier.
2. Leesville Main Street Cultural District
The nationally accredited Leesville Main Street is a historic relic where visitors can take their time walking among well-preserved buildings that date back decades. Homes like the Wingate House and the Ferguson House display the history of this area. On Saturdays, you can visit the 3rd Street Market for local goods and produce. There are plenty of businesses and events in the neighborhood, so be sure to check their Facebook page for updates.
3. Museum of West Louisiana
Located in Kansas City Southern Railway Depot, the Museum of West Louisiana houses artifacts that recall the region’s cultural history, from railroad memorabilia to logging tools, as well as Native American artifacts crafted from stone and clay. The Museum of West Louisiana also features an exhibit unlike any that you’ll find in just about any other museum — a series of paintings made by World War II-era German POWs during their time at Fort Polk military base.
4. South Toledo Bend State Park
South Toledo Bend State Park borders the massive Toledo Bend Reservoir and is a prime spot for adventurers and lovers of the outdoors. The reservoir itself is a boating and fishing haven, and the park grounds feature an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trail, the Lakeview Nature Trail and Hippie Point Trail for hiking, and Tentrr glamping tents for a good night's rest.
Mayfest is the event to attend in the Vernon Parish seat, Leesville. Held the first full weekend of May every year, MayFest brings in artisans, food vendors, face painters and craftsmen of all kind from all over Louisiana and Texas. Candles, pots, hand-blown glass and many other souvenirs are on display, and the concerts showcase awesome local musicians and well-known Louisiana players who in the past have included top Cajun acts like Tab Benoit and Wayne Toups, and the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma Thomas. Not to be missed.
6. Kisatchie National Forest
The Kisatchie National Forest encompasses much of central and west Louisiana, including a portion in Vernon Parish. This expansive ecological gem includes endangered species of birds and some natural areas that will show you some highlights of Louisiana’s backcountry. Among the best is Little Cypress Recreation Area, a haven for horseback riders, off-road cyclists and boaters alike. Perhaps unexpected, but in Vernon Parish, there’s at least one place where climbers and explorers alike can get some exercise. Wolf Rock Cave is located in a very remote part of Kisatchie National Forest and is best accessed by high-clearance vehicles, but your efforts for getting there will be rewarded. Incredible views, rippling waters and a cave that has been used by ancient Native Americans and outdoorsmen await visitors. The Enduro Trail is great for ATV, Motorcycle, Mountain Biking, Hiking, and Horse use.
7. West Louisiana Forestry Festival
The West Louisiana Forestry Festival takes place every October in Leesville, celebrating the area's heritage with carnival rides, games, local food vendors, exhibit halls for livestock, produce arts & crafts, and even a rodeo.
8. Toro Bayou and the Sabine River
Toro Bayou is a special place that is as remote as it is beautiful. This tributary of the Sabine River (located near South Toledo Bend State Park) is a pristine river that is great for kayaking and canoeing, and amenities that include both RV and tent camping. Explore the waterways with Tack-a-Paw Expeditions, which offers a variety of canoe trips ranging from 2 hours to several days for paddlers of all experience levels.
9. Vernon Parish Restaurants
Leesville is where you’ll find down-home, Southern-style cooking. This is an easygoing, no-frills part of Louisiana where Southern food reigns at restaurants including BJ’s Diner, BubbaQue’s BBQ and Wagon Master Steakhouse. Anacoco Mercantile is a must-visit, featured on the area's Gas Station Eats trail.
10. Allen Acres Bed & Breakfast
Nature enthusiasts will love everything about Allen Acres Bed and Breakfast, which rests on a vast 26-acre plot where the Allens have spent years developing gardens specifically designed to attract butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The serene location lends to soothing sounds of crickets and frogs at night, and prime birding during the day. Stroll the grounds, relax on the porch, peruse the library for nature literature and even feed a flock of chickens that lay fresh eggs for breakfast in the morning.
Want more attractions and things to do in the Vernon Parish area? Visit Vernon Parish for more information on restaurants, places to stay and outdoor activities awaiting you.