A trip to Washington Parish, Louisiana, will lead you into one of the most scenic and rural parishes in the state. Wilderness abounds with rolling hills, piney woods, farms, small towns and complex waterways. Discover the area by fishing, hunting, canoeing, tubing, visiting the towns and driving the byways. Experience delicious Louisiana food, festivals, local heritage, and the nation’s largest free fair.
Here are just a few sugguestions of activities to seek out in Washington Parish:
Must-Experience Activities Near Franklinton and Bogalusa in Washington Parish
1. Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
The city that gave us legendary pianist Professor Longhair is where you’ll also find one of the region’s premier music festivals. Every September, the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival features some of the best in contemporary and classic blues. You’ll also find local cuisine that includes Cajun specialties and soul food staples. As a bonus to overnight visitors, the fest offers camping accommodations for tents and RVs, so you can enjoy the whole weekend sleeping next to the Bogue Lusa Creek.
2. Bogue Chitto State Park
One of the gems of the Louisiana State Park system, Bogue Chitto State Park is a haven for anglers, families, campers and disc golfers. Fourteen miles of designated horse trails crisscross the park, meaning that visitors on horseback are never far from good views of the park’s namesake river. The topography of rolling hills and cypress forests make Bogue Chitto State Park a truly special place to spend time while visiting Washington Parish.
3. Canoeing and Tubing
Load up the coolers, pack some sunscreen and get ready to chill out — literally. The cool waters of the Bogue Chitto offer Northshore visitors an awesome opportunity to beat the heat while floating through some of the wildest terrain in south Louisiana. The Bogue Chitto is well known for tubing, and numerous outfitters offer drop-off and pick-up, along with tubes, kayaks, canoes and life jackets. Two local businesses to check out are Louisiana River Adventures in Franklinton and Bogue Chitto Tubing Center in Bogalusa.
4. Washington Parish Free Fair
Dating back to 1911, the Washington Parish Free Fair is the second-oldest fair in the entire state. Carnival rides, games, a pageant, rodeo and tons of family-friendly attractions await visitors every October. Visitor's can also take a step back in time with the Authentic Historical Pioneer Village at the Mile Branch Settlement. Costumed hosts tour the various log buildings from the 1800s. Get a bird's eye view of the fair grounds.
5. Mile Branch Settlement
Peek into pioneer life as it was lived circa 1850 at the Mile Branch Settlement. This collection of original pioneer cabins (two are listed in the National Historic Register) is located at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton, and includes structures from throughout the local region. It’s open three times a year — during the Washington Parish Free Fair, the first weekend in December (for Pioneer Christmas) and during the Antique Tractor Show each May. Mile Branch Settlement is also open for group tours by appointment on Fridays, seasonally.
6. Mardi Gras
Washington Parish knows how to throw proper Mardi Gras celebrations, which you’ll see on display every year when the Krewe of MCCA (Magic City Carnival Association) rolls through the streets of Bogalusa. The Krewe claims to have one of the largest parades of its kind anywhere, with more than 50,000 spectators in attendance.
7. Christmas in Washington Parish
The Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton get into the Christmas spirit the first weekend of every December, with events such as Pioneer Christmas. The historic cabins comprising Mile Branch Settlement are decorated for the season, and to get visitors into the spirit, there are local artisans exhibiting and selling crafts such as holiday ornaments and jewelry on-site. The pioneer spirit makes this a unique Christmas as carolers stage the area and carol on cabin porches, while folks dressed in period costume will be offering demonstrations of local cuisine.
8. Local History Museums
Get to know about the heritage of this small-town region via its museums. The D.A. Varnado Store Museum, located in Franklinton, is a century-old general store. And head to Bogalusa to the Museums of Cassidy Park, the Pioneer Museum and the Museum of Indian Culture to view local artifacts and exhibits that showcase the heart of Bogalusa and the Washington Parish of yesteryear.
9. Antiques and Flea Markets
Treasure hunters will be delighted to find a wealth of antique stores and flea markets to explore while in the Washington Parish area. From vintage furniture to antique china, there are so many diamonds in the rough. Learn more about the area's antique stores.
10. Blueberry Farm Tours
The rich soils of Washington Parish make it well suited for farming, and travelers with a sweet tooth and a love of the outdoors can see how it’s done up-close at a pick-your-own blueberry farm. 3D Blueberry Farm just west of Franklinton is open seasonally and is open to the public. L&E Blueberry Farm in Franklinton is another local “u-pick” farm that welcomes visitors and is a great experience for the family. Learn more about the Washington Parish's pick-your-own farms.
Learn more about things to do and places to stay in the Washington Parish and get ready for your getaway!