Things to Do in Central Louisiana

Activities in the Alexandria area, commonly known as CENLA or Central Louisiana, include festivals and street fairs, tourist attractions and sightseeing, museums and galleries, outdoor activities and other things to do.

Festivals and Street Fairs in CENLA include Uncle Sam Jam, Cotile Trade Days, Family Playhouse, Dogwood Festival, Louisiana Pecan Festival, Louisiana Corn Festival, Catahoula Lake Festival, Mardi Gras Parade, Louisiana Nursery Festival and the City Park Players. These festivals and fairs are located in Alexandria as well as neighboring towns such as Boyce, Pollock, Colfax, Bunkie, Forest Hill and Catahoula Lake.

Things to do in Central Louisiana include the Uncle Sam Jam, located downtown Alexandria, which celebrates Independence Day with live entertainment, children’s activities, a street dance, food, fun and of course, a fireworks display on the Red River. For more information, call 318-442-1410.

Cotile Trade Days, located southwest of Boyce, LA off Highway 1200 at Cotile Lake, is a two-day swap and trade event featuring antiques, arts, crafts, jewelry, farm machinery and even animals. Rides and food are also available. This event, sponsored by the Boyce Lions Club, is held twice a year, the last full weekend in March and the last full weekend in September. Admission is charged as well as a parking fee for inside the park. For more information, call 318-442-9546.

Family Playhouse, located at 1403 Third Street in Alexandria, is a children’s theatre that includes children in well-known children’s classics and historical literature as well as Broadway classics, such as Sleeping Beauty. This theatre involves the entire family with children on stage and parents behind the scenes. Workshops are also held here for children actors. For more information, call 318-442-6500 or visit www.familyplayhousewow.org.

The Dogwood Festival, held in Pollock, LA, is a festival that celebrates the beautiful dogwood tree. This celebration lasts 7 days, with fun for the entire family from arts and crafts to games and food. For more information, call 318-442-9546.

The Louisiana Pecan Festival, held in Colfax, LA, the first full weekend each November. This festival celebrates pecans with a Grand Parade, contests, fireworks, arts and crafts, and a Queen’s Ball. For more information, call 318-627-3711 or visit www.louisianapecanfestival.com.

The Louisiana Corn Festival, held in June at Haas Auditorium in Bunkie, LA, has all the fun and entertaining activities that are to be expected at a festival. This festival celebrates the corn production of this area during a two day event along with arts, crafts, a parade, games, food and fun. For more information, call 318-346-2572 or visit www.lacornfest.com.

The Alexandria Mardi Gras Parade, held in conjunction with Alexandria’s two day Mardi Gras celebration generally includes at least 24 floats with 14 krewes represented in an afternoon parade as well as a Children’s parade held in the morning. For more information, call 318-473-1127 or visit www.alexmardigras.com.

Louisiana Nursery Festival, held in Forest Hill, LA, is a two-day festival with a focus on plant nurseries, with nursery tours, plants for sale, arts, crafts and entertainment. For more information, call 318-442-9546.

The City Park Players, located at 2 Sylvester Street, Alexandria, offers patrons live theatre with 5-6 productions yearly. These productions include high quality plays and musicals including current ones as well as favorites and classics. This community theater has remained at the same address with the same phone number since 1956. For more information, call 318-442-1800 or visit www.cityparkplayers.org.

Tourist Attractions and sightseeing opportunities in CENLA include the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Alexandria Zoological Park, Alexandria Levee Park or the Kent Plantation House.

St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, located at 626 Fourth Street, Alexandria, was established in 1834. This Cathedral offers visitors a brief history of Rapides Parish along with the Catholic Church and its beliefs while enjoying a feeling of welcome, community, spiritual renewal, celebration and evangelization. For more information, call 318-445-1451 or visit www.saintfrancisxavier.com.

Alexandria Zoological Park, located at 3016 Masonic Drive in Bringhurst Park, Alexandria, offers educational and recreational opportunities for visitors of all ages. This zoo is home to over 500 animals, including 20 endangered species. All these animals can be viewed in exhibits resembling the natural habitat they would be found in their native lands, such as Africa, Asia, Australia, South America or North America. For more information, call 318-473-1143 ext. 10 or visit www.thealexandriazoo.com.

The Alexandria Levee Park, located at 3521 Bayou Rapides Road, in downtown Alexandria, overlooks the Red River. This park is a perfect place for a day on the river with it’s three-lane boat launch, a 150-foot floating wharf, outdoor amphitheater, three picnic shelters, 22 picnic tables, barbeque grills, hiking trails and a children’s playground. For more information, call 318-352-7446.

Kent Plantation House, located at 3601 Bayou Rapides Road, downtown Alexandria, offers its visitors a step back in time. This French Creole Antebellum plantation house is one of the oldest standing structures in CENLA. Visitors here will have the opportunity to visit authentic buildings and numerous exhibits depicting Louisiana history along with plantation life from 1795 to 1855. For more information, call 318-487-5998 or visit www.kenthouse.org.

Museums and Galleries in CENLA include the Alexandria Historical and Genealogical Museum, the Alexandria Museum of Art, Arna Bontemps African-American Museum, Southern Forest Heritage Museum, River Oaks Square Arts Center, Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum and T.R.E.E House.

The Alexandria Historical and Genealogical Museum, originally built in 1907 as a library, is listed on the National Historic Register. This museum houses extensive genealogical resources, including colonial archives as well as the Louisiana territory French and Spanish records. This site includes a historical and educational museum and a Louisiana history museum. For more information, call 318-487-8556.

The Alexandria Museum of Art, located at 933 Main Street, Alexandria, in the Historic Rapides Bank Building, features a children’s gallery, a Louisiana gallery and three touring exhibit galleries. The state’s largest collection of North Louisiana folk art is also housed in this museum. For more information, call 318-443-3458 or visit www.themuseum.org.

The Arna Bontemps African-American Museum, located at 1327 Third Street in Historic Downtown Alexandria, is the boyhood home of Arna Wendell Bontemps, who is noted for his appraisal of his race and the black man’s place in American History. This museum contains exhibits of African-American memorabilia and artifacts as well as hosting events through out the year. For more information, call 318-473-4692 or visit www.arnabontempsmuseum.com.

The Southern Forest Heritage Museum, located at 3821 Highway 497, Long Leaf, Louisiana, is a historic 57 acre sawmill and company town that were closed in 1969. This complex includes audiovisual presentations, exhibits, souvenirs, picnic areas, a nature trail and railroad motorcar rides on the Red River and Gulf Railroads. For more information, call 318-748-3404 or visit www.forestheritagemuseum.org.

River Oaks Square Arts Center, located at 1330 Main Street, Alexandria, is a contemporary visual arts center, which features a gallery, displaying works of local and regional artists along with other art events and exhibits. This art center includes over 30 individual studios. The James Wade Bolton house is also located here. This house is in the National Register of Historic Places and is a Queen Anne Revival architecture beauty. For more information, call 318-473-2670 or visit http://www.riveroaksartscenter.com.

The Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum, located at 409 F Street, Alexandria, is housed in a replica World War II barracks. This museum houses exhibits displaying uniforms, equipment and arms of the soldiers and civilians during the Louisiana Maneuvers from Colonial Louisiana to Desert Storm. For more information, call 318-641-5733 or visit www.la.ngb.army.mil/dmh/immm.htm.

T.R.E.E. (The Rapides Exploratory Education) House, located at 1403 Third Street, in downtown Alexandria, is a museum offering children from 4-12 a wonderful learning experiences in a child friendly environment. Hands-on exhibits include math, science and the world in which they live in. For more information, call 318-619-9394 or visit www.kidstreehouse.org.
Other things to do in this area include Christmas at the Crossroads, the Rapides Parish Fair, BMX Racing at Kees Park and the Dogwood Auto Tour.
Christmas at the Crossroads, located in downtown Alexandria, welcomes the Christmas season by celebrating for almost a month. This celebration includes many seasonal activities such as carolers, pageants, tours, parades, special events and historic home tours. For more information, call 318-473-7049.

The Rapides Parish Fair, located at Highway 28 West at the Rapides Parish Coliseum, begins on Tuesday, of the second full week of October. This fair offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy fair exhibits, food, carnival rides as well as allowing 4-Her’s and adults to enter their crafts and livestock to be judged. For more information, call 318-473-6605 or visit www.agctr.lsu.edu/parish/rapides/fair.htm.

Kees Park, the home of BMX Racing in CENLA is located at 1282 Highway 28 East. This 900-foot track is considered on of the best in the state and hosts the regional and state series NBL qualifiers every year. BMX races are held on Saturday and practices are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call 318-449-7075.

Louisiana Lawnmower Racing Association, located at the Louisiana Lawnmower Racing Speedway, Alexandria, has lawnmower and go-kart racing most Saturdays, March through November. For more information, call 318-628-1906 or visit www.mowbay.com.

Buhlow Fun Park, located at 1715 Monroe Highway, Pineville, offers guests go-kart rides, batting cages, miniature golf and arcade games. For more information, call 318-442-5110.

CENLA has its share of parks and recreation establishments for visitors in the area to enjoy.
Establishments include Buhlow Lake, Cotile Recreation Area, Dogwood Auto Tour, Fort Randolph, Indian Creek Recreation Area, Kincaid Recreation Area, Kisatchie National Forest, and Red River Waterway.
Buhlow Lake, located north of Alexandria on Highway 165 offers boating and fishing.
Cotile Recreation Area, located 14 miles north of Alexandria in the Boyce area. Here visitors can enjoy fishing, water skiing, boating and swimming along with camping. For more information, call 318-793-8995.
Indian Creek Recreation Area, located 10 miles south of Alexandria off Highway 165 offers its visitors 90-acres of trailer sites, water, electricity, bathhouses and picnic areas. For more information, call 318-487-5058.
Kincaid Recreation Area, located off Highway 28, west of Alexandria, offers visitors campsites, boat ramps, dock, toilet and shower facilities. Activities here include swimming, boating, skiing and fishing. For more information, call 318-793-9427.

Red River Waterway, located in downtown Alexandria, offers boat ramps, floating wharfs, grills, picnic units, picnic tables, playground, and more. For more information, call 1-800-874-9431 or visit www.redriverwaterway.com.

Golf players will also find golf courses in the Alexandria area. These are the OakWing Golf Club and Links on the Bayou.

OakWing Golf Club, located at 2346 Vandenburg Drive, Alexandria, is open to the public and is on the Audubon Golf Trail. This golf course is made up of the natural beauty only found in Louisiana bayous, lakes and trees while having the challenge of rolling hills and undulating greens, while being a course for all skill levels. For more information, call 318-561-0260 or visit http://www.oakwinggolf.com.

Links on the Bayou, located at 271 Vandenburg Drive, Alexandria, is an 18-hole golf course, owned by the City of Alexandria. This daily fee public golf course offers golfers a practice range, chipping and putting greens and a 3-hole par 3 golf course. There is also a full service pro shop located on the premises. For more information, call 318-473-1331 or visit www.linksonthebayou.com.

With all these activities in Alexandria and the surrounding area, visitors are sure to find something to keep them busy, no matter what their interest or age.

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