Things to Do With Kids: Central Louisiana
A mingling of cultures, a wealth of history and a beautiful landscape make central Louisiana a hit with parents and children alike. Here are some of our top family-friendly picks in the region.
The swath of land cutting through central Louisiana is both an outdoor paradise and a keeper of history. Take your little ones camping, fishing and hiking in some of the best wilderness in the state. Home to the oldest town of the Louisiana Purchase, central Louisiana brings history to life.
Kid-Friendly Wildlife Attractions
Alexandria Zoo: Experience the wild animals of Asia and Africa, take a stroll through the Australian Walkabout, see native South American wildlife or simply get an up-close look at the creatures lurking in Louisiana’s backyard. Hop on the zoo’s train, let the kids burn off some energy on the playground, grab a bite in the Palm Café and hit the gift shop on your way out. A top family-oriented attraction in central Louisiana, the Alexandria Zoo should make the top of your to-do list.
Gator Country Louisiana Alligator Park: Come explore the mysterious, exciting world of the American Alligator, at the Alligator Park, just outside Natchitoches. This seven-acre park is the largest of its kind in Louisiana, complete with Cajun Music, lots of hungry alligators and tortoises.
From covered, protected walkways and platforms you'll see hundreds of alligators in their natural environment. The whole family will enjoy watching and feeding these big gators. But there's much more to the Alligator Park than just gators. Children also love the Petting Zoo, Bird Sanctuary, Reptile House, Jungle, Tortoise Exhibit, Rocky Raccoon Resort and much more. You can have your picture taken with many reptiles and shop for the unusual in our Gift Shop. Come enjoy an unforgettable adventure! Parking is Free!
Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium: The only federal fish hatchery in Louisiana offers a rare opportunity to see largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish raised to stock National Wildlife Refuges and federal waters, plus alligator gar, alligator snapping turtles, freshwater mussels and other recreational species across 53 ponds. An onsite aquarium features more than a dozen tanks filled with local fish, alligators and turtles, plus a wood duck display, replica Caddo Indian village and mock archaeological dig site.
Gone Wild Safari: In Pineville, get up close with a variety of exotic animals at Gone Wild’s petting zoo; search for gemstones, minerals and fossils at the Mining Company; see colorful birds at the Toucan Pavilion, let some energy out at the playground, and grab a treat at the concession stand.
Outdoor Activities for Kids
Kisatchie National Forest: Louisiana’s only national forest features more than 604,000 acres of land waiting to be explored. Hike or bike its trails, canoe or kayak its rivers, cast a line for fish, take a horseback ride or enjoy a scenic drive to spot grand vistas, rippling waterfalls and hidden caves. And the best part? You can set up camp to enjoy even more adventures the next day.
Hayes E Daze Ranch: Hop on a horse and meander through the Kisatchie on guided horseback trail rides. With over 70 miles of trails to choose from, there’s a route for any rider's skill level. Beginners will enjoy a relaxed stroll, and experienced riders can take on a more adventurous trail.
North & South Toledo Bend State Parks: Nestled on opposite ends of one of the country’s largest man-made reservoirs, these two state parks offer camping, hiking, biking, birding, pools, lake swimming and boating along with beautiful waterfront views. Be sure to bring your fishing gear, too. Toledo Bend Reservoir is nationally known for top-notch bass fishing!
River Paddle Rentals: Operating near the old Oxbow Marina, this couple-owned and family-friendly standup paddle-boarding (SUP) outfit provides everything you need to explore the area’s waterways. All rentals include a paddle, leash and life jacket. Delivery service is available, or choose inflatable boards that easily fit in your car.
Family-Friendly Things to Do
T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum: This hands-on children’s museum in Alexandria provides hours of educational fun and entertainment for kids and young teens, through exhibits and programs that explore science, math, social studies and the humanities. A children’s TV studio, bank exhibit, dress-up center, mini-mart, replica doctor’s office, toddler corner and more keep wee ones busy all day.
Cane River Paddle & Pedal Sports: Located on the Cane River in Natchitoches, Cane River Paddle & Pedal Sports offers kayaks, hydrobikes and stand-up paddle boards for rent. For a more leisurely activity, take a ride on the the Cane River Queen.
CM Farms: This farm in Dry Creek has spring and fall activities for the whole family. Celebrate springtime on the farm and go berry picking for Strawberry Harvest Days, enjoy Easter egg hunts, a May Day picnic or release butterflies for Mother’s Day. During the fall, get lost in a maze, pick pumpkins, and crunch kettle corn. And of course, there are always farm animals to be seen.