Alexandria and Pineville Louisiana
Ambling through Kisatchie National Forest
Downtown at the Art Walk
Walking through Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site
Kayaking at dusk
Delicious pies in the case at Lea’s Lunch Room
Taking a tour at Kent House Plantation
Stepping back in time at Epps House, Solomon Northup’s Gateway to Freedom
Browsing galleries at River Oaks Square Arts Center
The Gillis William Long Bridge, connecting the two cities
Civil War reenactment at Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site
Classic Southern USA style with a modern twist
Gracious Homes and Grounds
No experience in the Alexandria and Pineville area would be complete without a tour of the 18th century Kent Plantation House, a six-room homestead built before the Louisiana Purchase that showcases Creole life. Walk the grounds and outbuildings to get a real sense of what a working plantation was like. If you want to really immerse yourself in Old South culture, stay at Loyd Hall Plantation, a circa-1820 home located on a working farm (and on the National Historic Register). For a taste of what modern-day organic growers in the heart of Louisiana can offer, head to Inglewood Farm, which has been producing everything from milk to pecans since 1836. In Alexandria, marvel at the turn-of-the-century architecture of River Oaks Arts Center, and then explore its many studios and galleries featuring work from more than 200 artists.
It’s impossible to miss Alexandria’s grand Hotel Bentley, a 1907-built accommodation with a backstory nearly as long as its list of luxury amenities. Visit the Bentley’s World War II exhibit and its Mirror Room Lounge for upscale cocktails. For something a little more rustic, go see the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, a historic sawmill where you’ll encounter antique logging and milling equipment as well as other exhibits that tell the story of the area’s relationship to the land. Pineville’s Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site is a Confederate stronghold on the Red River, complete with a dam, Civil War exhibits, a boardwalk through the fort area and frequent Civil War reenactments.
Fun with Flora and Fauna
Take a horseback ride through Kisatchie National Forest, a 240,000-hectare wilderness (and Louisiana’s only National Forest) where you’ll experience bayous, cypress groves and an array of native plants and animals. To encounter even more critters, head to Alexandria Zoological Park. Here you can observe 500 animals and explore a dedicated Louisiana Habitat exhibit as well as Australian, African and Asia sections. For a journey like no other, follow the Northup Trail Byway, the same path Solomon Northup –the primary author of “12 Years a Slave” – traveled through Central Louisiana. Along the way, you’ll find Red River Landing, historic homes and depots, Indian mounds, museums, farms and charming towns.
The Hotel Bentley, while built by a lumber magnate, is made of metal and marble, not wood.
Famous harmonica player Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs was raised in Alexandria.
Photo: Little Walter Foundation
During the Louisiana Maneuvers, over a half million men were trained in the area for mechanized warfare prior to World War II.