Right in the center of Louisiana, along the banks of the Red River, you’ll find the city of Alexandria. Because of its central location, it’s often referred to as the “heart of Louisiana” but that’s not the only reason Alexandria has such a vibrant heartbeat. The town has so much to see and do, from breath-taking nature to rich history, from shopping and great dining to top-notch attractions.
This March 5-8, Alexandria will present the Red River Campaign Commemoration, a tribute to an important Civil War battle that took place here on these grounds. The Red River Campaign was a series of bloody conflicts fought along the Red River from March 10 to May 22, 1864. It included the largest combined army-navy operation of the war and was the Confederacy’s last decisive victory. The Red River Campaign Commemoration allows visitors to learn all about this fascinating chapter in Civil War history through demonstrations, talks and exhibits, and to experience what life was like on the battlefield, culminating in a thrilling battle reenactment. If you’re interested in history, you’ll really enjoy this event and if you consider yourself a Civil War buff, you definitely don’t want to miss it!
Whether you come to Alexandria for a big event or just for a fun getaway, you’ll find plenty of things to do. For example, you can spend a lovely day at the Alexandria Zoological Park. You might not expect a relatively small city like Alexandria to have a zoo of such high caliber, but it does! Featuring exotic animals from the African Plains and Australian Outback, the zoo also showcases animals from closer to home in their Louisiana Habitat. There’s also a fun train tour (perfect for the kids) and a very nice gift shop.
Enjoy visiting historic homes? Take a tour of the Kent Plantation, an authentic Creole plantation house built in the late 1700’s prior to the Louisiana Purchase. The house has been preserved down to the finest detail. Its sugar mill remains intact and functional (occasionally still put to work to grind down sugar cane into molasses and brown sugar). Visitors can explore authentic slave quarters, a milk house, the working kitchen and blacksmith shop. I’ve visited many southern plantations, but this one really stood out. It wasn’t as crowded or as expensive as a lot of the other ones, and the charming lady who showed us around was very knowledgeable.
Part of every good trip is good food and here in the heart of Louisiana, you’ll find we put our culture and our hearts into our cooking. Yes, Alexandria offers all kinds of cuisine, but when you’re here, why not seek out the regional specialties that feature the tastes of Central Louisiana? Here’s a great list of restaurants in and around Alexandria serving up local fare. And take a look at this review written by Tour Louisiana’s Travelin’ Man who describes the fantastic gumbo at nearby Tunks Cypress Inn.
There are also art museums, the “Gone Wild Safari” in neighboring Pineville (with more than 150 wild animals roaming free around your vehicle), shops and so much more. And if you are into the great outdoors, there’s the spectacular Kisatchie National Forest, where you can do just about every outdoor activity, including spending some time on the beautiful Wild Azalea Trail, Louisiana’s longest hiking trail.
There’s so much to do, it’s hard to squeeze it into one trip — but that’s the perfect excuse to come back again.