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, then drop in to see rowdy alligators or a fish hatchery. Home to the oldest town of the Louisiana Purchase, the Crossroads region brings history to life at plantations, cotton gins and a forestry center.
Wildlife Attractions in Central Louisiana
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.
Natchitoches Alligator Park: Are you ready to pet, feed, hold and have your picture taken with an alligator? Venture into Louisiana’s largest gator park for a closer look at the hundreds of American alligators that reside in its eight acres of Cajun countryside. Enjoy a taste of authentic Cajun food and music, then walk through a series of villages to meet the park’s other reptiles and critters.
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.
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. Read more about camping with the kids in Kisatchie or more about camping in Louisiana.
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.
Le Tour de Bayou: What better way to explore the scenic bayous of central Louisiana than on two wheels. These annual cycling tours meander through cypress-lined trails and an authentic Belgian farming community with fields of cotton, soy beans, corn and grain sorghum. There are routes for beginner to expert riding levels, and all tours start and end at Kent Plantation House.
Family Fun in Central Louisiana
T.R.E.E. House: 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.
Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins: Named a “must-see site” by Rand McNally and one of the region’s top three attractions by AAA Southern Traveler, Frogmore contrasts the early workings of an 1800s cotton plantation with a computerized 900-bales-a-day facility now. Along the way, children will learn about slave customs and songs, walk through authentically furnished slave quarters, see a rare steam gin and more. Tour the grounds, pick some cotton and learn about this important part of the South’s history.
Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant: No visit to the Crossroads region of central Louisiana is complete without a stop by Lasyone’s for a heaping helping of soulful Louisiana creole. Home to Lasyone’s famous meat pies, red beans and rice, fried green beans and the show-stopping River Cane cream pie, this family-friendly restaurant features Louisiana cooking at its mouthwatering best.
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