25 Best Things to Do in Alexandria, LA

Cotton Field in Alexandria Louisiana
Bonnie Taylor Barry / shutterstock.com

Alexandria is an underrated tourist destination located in Central Louisiana.

It is known for its abundant natural beauty and rich history and culture.

It's home to remarkable art centers, outstanding museums, zoos with a broad array of exotic animals, enchanting lakes, a mesmerizing river, historic sites, dense forests, and vibrant festivals.

Alexandria offers something for everyone through all four seasons.

The lakes, river, and sprawling greenery provide access to hiking, camping, biking, boating, wilderness exploration, wildlife viewing, fishing, and so much more.

This is an ideal place to plan your next vacation.

Here's a list of the best things to do in Alexandria, Louisiana:

Encounter Exotic Animals at the Alexandria Zoological Park

Alexandria Zoological Park
Billy Hathorn at en.Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1926, this zoo is one of Alexandria's prime tourist attractions.

It features over 500 exotic animals belonging to diverse species.

Encounter African lions, black howler monkeys, African tortoises, Australian tree frogs, Chilean flamingos, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, swans, cotton-top tamarins, foxes, giant anteaters, herons, Indian blue peafowl, jaguars, squirrel monkeys, tigers, among many others.

Name sign of Alexandria Zoological Park
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also see various kinds of fish, otters, alligators from the underwater window exhibit.

Enjoy the miniature train ride that offers spectacular views of towering trees and dense foliage.

The zoo also hosts many entertaining events at its premises throughout the year.

This place is a must-visit in this city.

Explore Regional History at the Louisiana History Museum

Louisiana History Museum
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1971, this museum emphasizes the local history of Alexandria and Louisiana.

It features various historical exhibits and local memorabilia, including thousands of photographs, vintage postcards, historical documents, medals, and other artifacts.

A steamboat model in Louisiana History Museum
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The quaint building dates back to 1907 and includes the Alexandria Genealogical Library.

Tour the museum and learn about the region's people, culture, Native American history, and more.

Admission is free for all.

Appreciate Nature's Beauty at Lake Buhlow

Lake Buhlow
Karen Gauthier 0809, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Encompassing over 280 acres, this picturesque lake is a popular spot for fishing.

You can also enjoy other recreational activities like motorboat racing, boating, and hiking.

It is home to catfish, bass, bream, turtles, and more.

Watch the heavenly views of the sunset and enjoy a refreshing evening stroll here.

They host a wide array of entertaining events here all year round.

Explore Kent Plantation House

Exterior of Kent Plantation House
Tjean314, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in the 18th century, this former plantation house is currently a museum that highlights the regional history of Louisiana.

It was the home of Pierre Baillio II and his family, who later sold it to a wealthy planter from Maryland in 1842.

The building boasts French colonial architecture and is one of the oldest standing structures of this region.

One of the bedrooms of Kent Plantation House
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The house was maintained to accurately represent the lifestyle of Louisiana's elite during the late 18th and mid-19th centuries.

Tour the historic house, slave quarters, milk house, blacksmith shop, and kitchen.

The original furniture, china, paintings, photographs, piano, and other items belonging to the families that resided here are kept on display.

Exterior of Kent Plantation House's kitchen
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out Thought-Provoking Art at the Alexandria Museum of Art

Alexandria Museum of Art
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1977, this award-winning museum is affiliated with the Louisiana State University at Alexandria.

It organizes numerous exhibitions throughout the year, featuring works from its permanent collection.

The museum also showcases creations by various internationally acclaimed artists.

In addition to displaying visual arts, they host free yoga sessions, musical concerts, movie screenings, educational programs, and fundraisers.

Tour the museum and look at thought-provoking and outstanding pieces of artistic works.

Travel Back in Time at Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site

Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site
Louisiana State Parks, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These two historic forts are located on the banks of the Red River and date back to the Civil War period.

Here, you'll get to learn more about Louisiana's history while enjoying the beauty of nature.

The site features towering trees, dense foliage, a spectacular river overlook, remains of an ancient dam, a visitor's center with historical artifacts and local memorabilia, and verdant walking trails.

Watch the re-enactment film at the visitor's center, check out the Civil War exhibits, feast your eyes on the views of the mesmerizing river, and hike to explore the historic site.

Home to numerous diverse birds, this site is also very popular for birdwatching.

Spend an Exciting Day at T.R.E.E. House Children's Museum

This is a fantastic place to visit if you are traveling with kids.

It is a museum that aims to help children learn new things in a fun way through interactive exhibits.

It features a playground, dress-up room, kids TV studio, animal exhibits, a clinic, a model railroad with trains, dioramas, a bank, grocery store, sheriff's car, a free library, and more.

Children love this place.

Enjoy a fun-filled day and spend quality time with your loved ones here.

Participate in the Louisiana Mardi Gras Parade

Over 120,000 people flock to Alexandria every year to attend this vibrant annual festival.

It features a multitude of colorful parades, vintage car shows, motorcycle shows, and parties.

Guests can also enjoy delicious food and drinks, animal encounters, live music, brilliantly colored costumes, and much more.

It is one of the most significant events of this city.

Be a part of the festivities and experience Alexandria's incredible local culture.

Shop for Fresh Goods at Alexandria Farmers Market

Alexandria's farmers market in Alexandria takes place once a week all year round.

It's one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the city's local culture.

Here, you can avail yourself of fresh vegetables, fruits, jellies, flowers, honey, plants, dairy products, poultry, jams, bakery goods, and more.

All the products are sourced from local farmers and producers of Central Louisiana.

Don't forget to try out the mouth-watering tamales at this market.

Watch a Show at the Rapides Parish Coliseum

Rapides Parish Coliseum
Robinaire, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in 1965, this arena can accommodate 10,000 patrons during events.

It is the most prominent place in Alexandria for holding sporting events, trade shows, concerts, monster truck shows, circuses, rodeos, WWE shows, and other live performances.

Interior of the Rapides Parish Coliseum
Robinaire, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rapides Parish Coliseum has also hosted President Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King.

The coliseum also has meeting spaces for rent, which guests can use for private events.

Watch an entertaining show here or get tickets to a game and have an unforgettable experience.

Appreciate the Beautiful Architecture of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral

Exterior of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic Roman catholic church dates back to 1817 and was the first church in the city.

The former building caught fire in 1895, and the current one replaced it in 1899.

It is known for its grand Gothic revival style architecture, beautiful glass windows, and hand-carved woodwork.

Interior of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This church was the only building left in the city after the Civil War.

Spend some peaceful moments here praying and appreciating the aesthetically pleasing interiors.

Check out the kaleidoscopic rose window at this church, the largest in the state.

Tower of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch a Play at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center

Name sign of Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center
Billy Hathorn at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You'll find this state-of-the-art theater in downtown Alexandria.

It's a popular venue for ballets, musical concerts, plays, orchestras, and musicals.

The Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center is operated by the Arts Council of Central Louisiana and can accommodate over 600 patrons.

Front exterior and entrance of Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to live performances, they organize weddings, art shows, and other events in their lobby and terrace.

This is an amazing place for a wonderful evening's entertainment.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Fort Buhlow Recreation Area

There's so much to do and enjoy in this recreation area.

Located between Buhlow Lake and the Red River, it features a playground, verdant hiking trails, disc golf courses, picnic areas, grills, and sports fields.

Nature lovers will appreciate that you can also enjoy access to the serene river, a lake, and sprawling greenery.

Hike on the scenic trails and explore the wilderness, indulge in a game of baseball or soccer, fish for bass in the lake, test your skills in the disc golf course, make some delicious burgers on the grills, enjoy boating, and appreciate nature's astounding beauty.

This is the perfect place to take a break from your routine and escape into nature.

Explore History at the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum

This museum exhibits historical artifacts from the World Wars.

It showcases military uniforms, tanks, historical letters, personal items belonging to soldiers, guns, artillery, cannonballs, and several others.

The exhibits highlight the story of the Louisiana Maneuvers during the Second World War.

The library here features over 3,000 volumes that visitors are welcome to explore.

Admission to the museum is free.

Explore Regional Art at Rivers Oaks Square Arts Centre

Housed in the historic Bolton family home, this contemporary visual arts museum was established in 1984.

It features multiple galleries and studios that display works by numerous regional artists.

Nearly 25 exhibitions are organized at this museum every year.

Additionally, they offer art classes for all age groups.

Over 40 artists reside here, including painters, ceramicists, sculptors, and photographers.

Visit this museum and appreciate outstanding pieces of regional and local art.

Visit the Old Town Hall Museum

This museum dates back to 1931 and highlights the history of the region's municipal government.

It is housed in a building that was formerly the city's fire station, jail, police department, and city court.

Its courtroom also used to function as a public library.

Tour the historic building and explore the exhibits.

Admission is free.

Sink Your Fork into Mouth-Watering Food

Pamela's Bayou in a Bowl offers exquisite American cuisine.

Try out their red beans and rice, juicy burgers, and mac and cheese.

The menu here is very pocket-friendly and delicious.

Grab lunch at Outlaw's Barbeque, which is extremely popular for its burgers and briskets.

Gorge on mouth-watering seafood at Steamboat Bill's.

The menu here is inexpensive, and the place is known for its Crawfish dishes and Cajun preparations.

Get Artistic at QuirkyArtz

If you put your kids at the heart of your trip to Alexandria, Louisiana, take them to Quirky Artz to get their creative juices flowing!

This art facility is loaded with art workshops and camp classes to help them make new friends in a fun and interactive setting.

The teachers at this camp are amiable and take the time to help you and your children, so you can relax knowing that you're in good hands.

They teach you the basic painting techniques to help you bring out your inner art enthusiast and create your very own masterpiece.

There's plenty of paint here for anyone who wants or needs more!

Enjoy a One-of-a-Kind Cinematic Experience at The Grand Theatre 16

Within the city's broad spectrum of movie theater options, Grand Theatre 16 provides a unique way to watch movies.

It features in-theater dining options so you can enjoy an expansive lineup of premium cocktails and beers or some fine wine.

It offers an experience unlike any other, with luxury leather recliners and new technology like Christie Laser Projection, Dolby Atmos Surround Sound, and Real D 3D.

It's incredible how much this movie theater has all of these to offer, especially with its diverse array of foods and convenient options for seating.

The movie selection here is phenomenal, with new cinema technology that makes watching movies more enjoyable, like ticketing options with your cellphone and excellent sound quality.

Whether you are watching a blockbuster movie or enjoying your favorite film for the hundredth time at Grand Theatre 16, you can expect a luxurious escape from the everyday realities of life.

Work Your Way Out at Key2Escape

Escape rooms are an underrated pastime; they let you build teamwork, spend quality time with family and friends, or get your mind off things for a little while.

If you're looking for something fun to do while you're in town, then look no further than Key2Escape.

At this brilliant escape room, you team up with other people and work together in a themed room to try and get out in the given time.

While there are rules set on what kinds of clues you may find in each game, it's really up to your problem-solving prowess as a team when it comes down to figuring them out.

You can try Key2Escape's Pop's Diner, where you and five other people are tasked to find and steal Pop's secret milkshake recipe before an hour runs out.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Hiking and See Wildlife at the Kisatchie National Forest

Kisatchie National Forest
Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located about 30 miles from Alexandria, this site features dense verdant forests, swamps, prairies, serene lakes, rolling hills, springs, and diverse wildlife.

Enjoy an invigorating hike on the miles of trails that meander through the scenic landscapes of the densely forested region and view the outrageously colored wildflowers that spread throughout the site.

You can spot numerous deer, turkeys, bears, woodpeckers, snakes, hummingbirds, armadillos, butterflies, beavers, and plenty more.

Camp here at night to explore the wilderness and gaze at the stars. The lakes and the Kisatchie Bayou provide access to fishing and boating. Encompassing over 600,000 acres, Kisatchie forest is a perfect place to enjoy a lovely picnic against stunning backdrops.

It is also popular for mountain biking and horseback riding. Visit this place and experience the astounding natural beauty of the region.

Experience the Gone Wild Safari

Just 11 miles from Alexandria, you'll find the Gone Wild Safari.

At this wildlife preserve, visitors can witness a multitude of exotic animals.

It is home to kangaroos, camels, ostriches, giraffes, zebras, deer, Indian peafowls, goats, tortoises, among several others.

You can feed the animals here as well as pet them.

The place also features a playground, snack bar, a mining company, fossils, and Toucan Pavilion.

It is fun for guests of all ages.

Enjoy the adventure and get close to the animals.

This is also a popular venue for various social gatherings and events.

Tour Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins

Encompassing over 1,800 acres, this historic cotton plantation dates back to the 19th century.

It features ancient slave quarters, Native American mounds from the 1700s, wagon trails, a mansion, and a cotton gin.

The farm continues to operate to date and produces 900 bales of cotton daily.

Tour the plantation, view and learn about the cotton farming methods, explore the historic buildings and gins, and visit the ancient mounds.

The site is a one-hour drive from Alexandria.

Final Thoughts

The city of Alexandria is considered a lesser-known tourist destination known for its abundant natural beauty, remarkable dining and nightlife, vibrant festivals, and rich history and culture.

It's never boring here, especially with this list of the best things to do in Alexandria, Louisiana!

Whether you're here on vacation or consider this wonderful city your home away from home, you'll never run out of fun activities.

Have a blast exploring!

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