CenLA Attractions and Things to Do
Central Louisiana, aka "CenLA," has a variety of attractions and things to do. From museums and zoos, to outdoor recreation and historical sites, there is something to do for area residents, and visitors alike!
Buhlow Lake and Other CenLA Lakes
Buhlow Lake is a popular destination near Pineville in Central Louisiana for various boating, racing, fishing and recreational activities. Built in 1956, it covers an area of 282 acres. Buhlow Lake is located on the north side of Pineville, bounded on the south by U.S. Highways 165-71, and the Red River to the north.
Buhlow Lake has been the site of power boat racing since the 1960s, and is known for its flat, fast race course due to the shallow lake being sheltered from winds by surrounding hills. The City of Pineville has several sanctioned motor boat racing events annually on the lake.
The City of Pineville also holds other public events around the lake. These include a 4th of July celebration, fishing tournaments, car shows, etc.
For more information about Buhlow Lake and its facilities, visit Buhlow Lake at the City of Pineville's website or phone 318.449.5687
In addition to Buhlow Lake, other bodies of water close to Pineville include the giant Catahoula Lake, Cocodrie Lake, Saline Lake, Cotile Lake, Williams Lake, Little River, Walker Lake, Iatt Lake, Hog Lake, Kincaid Lake, and others. The Red River thru CenLA has become a popular spot for boating and fishing, as well as hiking and walking along its shores.
Fireworks, Music and Fun at Buhlow Lake!
Kisatchie National Forest
The Kisatchie National Forest offers many opportunities for visitors to enjoy and explore the beautiful natural scenery of Central Louisiana. The forest includes more than 604,000 acres, is spread across seven parishes in Louisiana. Operations are divided into managed units called Ranger Districts, including:
Visitors can utilize many recreation areas, view endangered species or geologic sites, ride the trails, camp, and hike.
Popular Mutli-Use trails are available at the former Camp Livingston and Camp Claiborne sites and are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Kisatchie National Forest.
The national forest also includes Kincaid Recreation Area, Valentine Lake Recreation Area, and the Wild Azalea Trail. Admision fees may be charged. The main office is located at 2500 Shreveport Highway in Pineville. Phone 318.473.7160 for more information.
Camp Livingston Multiple-Use Trails
The Camp Livingston area offers biking, hiking, OHV trails and other recreational opportunities including:
- Hickman Trailhead (Trail) - Operated by USDA Forest Service. This is a moderately difficult trail that traverses through varying trail types but is predominately upland pine hills. Although the Hickman Trail is a loop trail, it can be used with the Little Creek Trail Loop to extend a visitor's experience.
- Little Creek Trailhead (Trail) - Operated by USDA Forest Service. The Little Creek Loop Trail is an easy-to-moderate OHV trail that traverses across a wide variety of terrain.
For current maps, usage restrictions, facilities, alerts and warnings, visit the website of the Kisatchie National Forest Catahoula Ranger District
Camp Claiborne Multiple-Use Trail
The Claiborne Multiple Use Trail includes a 70-mile system for hiking, walking, OHV riding and biking.
Claiborne trails are available for ATV, motorcycle, and horse use. Hiking and biking are also allowed on Claiborne and Enduro Trails; however, they are primarily used for motorized and equestrian riders.
For current maps, usage restrictions, facilities, alerts and warnings, visit the website of the Kisatchie National Forest Calcasieu Ranger District
Other Kisatchie District Area Camps & Trails
- Corral Camp - Operated by USDA Forest Service. Primitive camp inside the National Red Dirt Wildlife Management Preserve. This camp is available for OHV and general camping.
- Lotus Camp - Operated by USDA Forest Service. Visitors to the Kisatchie Ranger District for the purpose of OHV riding can utilize the Lotus Camp for day-use and camping.
- Sandstone Multi-Use Trail - Operated by USDA Forest Service. 36 miles in length. This trail offers a wide range of scenic views and riding experiences. The trail is designated for OHVs, motorcycles, horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking.
Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery
Booker Fowler is Louisiana's largest fish hatchery. It is home to the Louisiana Lunker Bass Program and produces primarily Florida largemouth bass in addition to catfish, striped bass and paddlefish.
The visitor center features handpainted murals, riverine exhibit, estuarine exhibit, bass exhibit and turtle exhibit. It is open from 6 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday, and admission is free.
The hatchery is located at 10 Joan Stokes Road in Forest Hill, Louisiana. Phone 318.748.6914 for more information, directions, or to confirm opening hours.
Gone Wild Safari
Located on Hooper Road in Pineville is Gone Wild Safari. Facilities include a petting zoo, playground, gift shop, party room, parakeet enclosure, mining company and concession stand.
A large variety of animals roam the safari, such as giraffes, bisons, zebras, llamas, big horn sheep, kankaroos and more.
Gone Wild Safari is USDA licensed and inspected to ensure the health and safety of our animals and our guests. The Safari is located at 805 Hooper Road, Pineville, La. 7136. Call 318.787.6902 for more information and opening hours.
Southern Forest Heritage Museum
This museum is located at 77 Long Leaf Road in Long Leaf, Louisiana. It includes an historic 57-acre sawmill and company town, complete with picnic areas and a nature trail. Railroad motorcar rides are available. An admission fee is charged.
The Museum offers audiovisual presentations, exhibits, souvenirs, and snacks in the commissary.
The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday 9:00am - 4:00pm, and on Sunday from 1:00pm - 4:00pm. Open Monday by appointment only. For additional information, phone 318.748.8404 or visit the Southern Forest Heritage Museum website.
Tioga Heritage Park and Museum
Located just north of Alexandria is the Tioga Heritage Park and Museum, the centerpiece of which is the old Tioga Commissary.
This building served as department store, grocery, post office and general gathering place for decades and was the defining landmark in this little mill town built to house lumber workers and their families.
The Museum is located at 1301 Tioga Road, Pineville, LA 71360. Phone 318.640.8323 for hours of operation or visit the Tioga Heritage Park & Museum website.
Other CenLA OHV/ATV Trails
- South Toledo Bend State Park - West of Alexandria near Hodges Gardens. This 12-mile off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail offers 9 loops for riders to enjoy, with varying levels of skill; and is located across La. Hwy. 191 from the main state park. Map
- Louisiana Mudfest - 12220 Highway 8, Colfax, Louisiana
- Bon Temps ATV Park - 287 Ahrens Land, Basile, Louisiana
- Catahoula Recreation - 905 Bend Road, Sicily Island, La. 71368
- Muddy Bottoms ATV & Recreation Park - 100 Muddy Bottoms Drive, Sarepta, LA 71071
- Tower Trax ATV Recreation Park - 10247 Highway 10, Fluker, Louisiana
Fort Buhlow Recreation Area
The Fort Buhlow Recreation Area is nestled between Buhlow Lake and the Red River. Access to this area is via the Lake Buhlow Road past the Pineville Airport.
The recreation area is operated by the Red River Waterway Commission.
Features and Facilities at the Fort Buhlow Recreation Area:
- three lane boat launch
- boat dock
- picnic shelters, tables and grills
- hiking trails
- cross country course
- comfort stations
- lighted ballfield, bleachers, scoreboard, concession stand, press box
- disc golf courses
It is a popular venue for many sports, from bass fishing in the Red River to cross-country track events to disc golf tournaments. For example, the Louisiana D.A.R.E Officers Association’s (LDOA) 5K in support of the Buddy Camp, and the Running Man Dash, have been held at the recreation area.
For additional information on the recreation area, we recommend a visit to the website of the Red River Waterway Commission.
Paragon Casino and Resort
Just south of Alexandria on Highway 1 is Marksville, the home of the highly successful Paragon Casino Resort operated by the Tunica-Biloxi tribe. The Tunica and Biloxi Indians have lived on their reservation near Marksville for over two centuries, during which the tribes, though speaking completely different languages, intermarried.
Paragon Casino Resort includes a world-class casino with the most popular slots and table games, a large poker room and an off-track betting parlor. Lavish hotel accommodations with more than 500 rooms and suites are available onsite.
Also found at the resort are an indoor tropical pool with swim-up bar, full-service spa, three-screen cinema, fabulous dining choices, retail shops, and a championship golf course. The resort also features live entertainment with top-class Las Vegas acts, Hollywood stars, concerts, and country music legends. More information at Paragon Casino website
Other Marksville Area Tourist Attractions
A long-term attraction in Marksville is the Indian Mounds at the Marksville State Historic Site, located on 42-acres on a bluff overlooking the Old River, adjacent to the town of Marksville. Professional archaeologists consider this prehistoric Native American ceremonial center to be of unique national significance.
The main portion of the Marksville site is surrounded by a semi-circular earthwork which is 3,300 feet long and ranges from 3 to 7 feet in height. The Marksville State Historic Site was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1964.
The site includes prehistoric Indian mounds and Indian Village sites dating from 1400 A.D. and a museum featuring artifacts and exhibits of the Indian culture.
The Tunica-Biloxi Cultural and Educational Resources Center (CERC) is a $13 million project in the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe's comprehensive, long-range plans to aid in broadening the cultural, artistic, and educational offerings to not only its members, but to the surrounding communities as well. The 40,000 square foot facility will house a museum, gift shop, library, conservation and restoration laboratory, auditorium, classrooms, distance learning center, and meeting rooms.
Many other area tourist attractions are nearby, such as the Hypolite Bordelon House, a Creole cottage which houses a museum and tourist center. It was built between 1800 and 1820, and the museum interprets the lives of early settlers of Avoyelles Parish.
Other attractions include the Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge, and the Sarto Old Iron Bridge.
The Edwin Epps House is a single-story, wood-frame Creole cottage presently located on the campus of Louisiana State University at Alexandria.
Though the Epps House has been moved from its original location and has lost a significant portion of its original building materials, the physical presence of the structure retains its historic significance in association with the famous slave narrative Twelve Years a Slave. Admission is free. LSUA is located at 8100 Highway 71 South.
England Air Force Base Heritage Park
Other CenLA Attractions
- Oak Wing Golf Club - At the England Air Park just north of Alexandria
- England Air Force Base Heritage Park - England Air Park
- Chicot State Park - Near Ville Platte
- Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame - Natchitoches
- National Landmark Historic District - Natchitoches
- Jena Choctaw Pines Casino Resort - Near Dry Prong, LA
- Indian Creek Recreational Area - Near Woodworth, LA
- Louisiana Gator Country Alligator Park - Natchitoches
- Museum of West Louisiana - Leesville, LA
Alexandria-Pineville & CenLA Attractions and Things to Do