Alexandria is a town with incredible potential when it comes to tourism, and those who took the time to discover its beauty were charmed. It is one of the most authentic and charming cities Louisiana has to offer and the ninth in size. You will find Alexandria right in the heart of the state, south of the Red River.
As one of the state’s largest urban centers, Alexandria has much to offer both residents and visitors, from its historic sites that narrate its past to its contemporary attractions that celebrate its present.
The history of Alexandria dates back to the early 18th century when French explorer Louis Juchereau de St. Denis established a trading post near the Red River. Over time, this modest outpost grew into a vital crossroads for trade and commerce.
The city’s name itself pays homage to Alexander Fulton, who played a pivotal role in the area’s development. During the Civil War, Alexandria played a strategic role as a military center and supply depot. Its rich history is etched into its architecture, streets, and cultural traditions, creating a captivating narrative for history enthusiasts to explore.
So, what can you find here if you choose to explore this city for your next vacation or if you happen to travel here for work? We gathered the best things you can do in Alexandria, Louisiana, so there will be no dull moments during your trip!
Things to Do in Alexandria, Louisiana
1. Check out the Alexandria Zoological Park
The Zoological Park was founded in 1926, and it is one of the most impressive zoos you will come across. Here you will find over 500 different species of exotic animals that you can admire, and it is a great place to go with your children too.
You will be able to see African lions, Chilean flamingos, black howler monkeys, Australian tree frogs, cotton-top tamarins, tarantulas, foxes, swans, jaguars, and many others. This is a trip that could take you an entire afternoon, and there are many occasions you will have to snap cute pictures for your social media or your collection.
There are also a lot of underwater species that you can witness while you are here such as otters, interesting species of fish, and alligators.
Besides the fascinating animals, you can find here, there is also a mini-train ride to check out the beautiful trees and flora in the area. The Zoological Park is also hosting several events a year, so you will have plenty of reasons to check out this attraction.
2. Spend an afternoon by the Buhlow Lake
If you like nature, you can’t miss Buhlow Lake in Alexandria. People come here to enjoy a peaceful afternoon in nature, admire the sunset, or even try their luck on a fishing trip.
The lake spreads over 280 acres and offers a very picturesque spot for you to clear your mind and relax. The lake offers the opportunity to enjoy other activities too, such as boating or hiking. Here you can come across turtles, catfish, and brass or bream, and the lake might soon become your favorite spot in town.
3. Learn about the local history at the Louisiana History Museum
Every place you visit becomes that much more interesting if you are aware of its history and particular traditions that, after all, give it its charm. If you want to check out the local history of Alexandria, Louisiana, the History Museum is the best place to start.
The History Museum in Alexandria was founded in 1971, and it has gathered new pieces ever since. Today, this museum is representative not only of the history of the city but also of the history of the Louisiana State.
Here you can find plenty of images and vintage photographs of the region as well as interesting artifacts, medals, and historical documents. The building museum itself has a fascinating history as it was built in 1907 and it also hosts the Alexandria Genealogical Library. Entrance is free for everyone who wants to check out the museum.
4. Visit the Kent Plantation House
The Kent Plantation House operates nowadays as a museum as well. The plantation house dates from the 18th century and it suffered a lot of transformations along the centuries while it didn’t lose its historical charm.
The house belonged to Pierre Baillio II until 1842 when it was sold to a Maryland planter. You will love the impressive French colonial architecture of the building from the first time you see it. The house is representative of how the nobles of Louisiana used to live in the 18th and 19th centuries.
You will be able to admire vintage furniture, musical instruments, and utensils, used during the daily life of the families who lived in this house.
5. Museum of Art
For those who love art, Alexandria has a lot to offer as well. The Art Museum is stuffed with original pieces by local artists but also international ones. Since it was founded in 1977, this museum organizes events such as concerts, fundraisers, and educational programs as well as movie screenings and yoga sessions.
The museum is affiliated with the University of Alexandria so you will see the work of the best students here as well. Despite the several new exhibitions that you can enjoy, there are also permanent ones that are part of the museum’s collection.
Give this museum a chance to not only admire some beautiful art pieces but also to learn a little about the most popular local artists in Louisiana.
6. Spend some time at the Tree House Children’s Museum
If you are traveling with children, the Tree House Children’s Museum is a must-see! There are plenty of exhibits here and activities that will teach children new and interesting things by interacting with each other and trained personnel.
All the activities at the Tree House museum are very realistic and fun so your little one will be charmed by each one of them. Here they can join an i9nteractive exhibit themed as a grocery store, bank, or library, or they can have some fun at the kids’ TV studio, playground, or animal exhibit.
This is a full-day activity, and most likely your child will be thrilled to join as many of these exhibits as possible. So, relax and enjoy some quality time with them while you snap fun pictures of their discoveries!
7. Check out the Louisiana Mardi Gras Parade
The Mardi Gras Parade takes place every year, and there are more than 120,000 people that attend this event. The parade comes with impressive car shows, motorcycle shows, and attractive parties that you will be very tempted to join.
The food and drinks are some of the best here as well and they go great with the live music and original costumes. This parade is scheduled each year between January and April and it has taken place since 1994. There are events for everyone, including children, so you will not have a dull moment during this festival.
The parade takes place in downtown Alexandria, and it is advertised widely all over town, so you will be able to choose which event you want to join.
8. Enjoy a show at the Rapides Parish Coliseum
The Rapides Parish Coliseum was built in 1965 and has a capacity of 10,000 seats. This arena hosts almost all kinds of shows from concerts to trade shows, sporting events, rodeos, circuses, and many others.
This Coliseum also holds a piece of American history as it hosted both Martin Luther King and President Ronald Reagan. If you want to host a private event here, there are rooms and arenas destined for private use upon renting.
However, if you want to join a show here, you will have to get your tickets fast because they sell out rather quickly.
9. Visit the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
The St. Francis Xavier Cathedral dates back to 1817, and it brings a piece of Roman Catholic history to the beautiful city of Alexandria. However, the original building was destroyed by a fire in 1895, and a new one was built in 1899. this church was also the first one in the city of Alexandria, which makes it that much more impressive.
You will appreciate the Gothic architecture, imposing glass windows, and handmade woodwork. After the Civil War, the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral was the only building that remained standing.
10. Enjoy a play at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center
Another place where you can spend some quality time in Alexandria is the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. You can find this center in downtown Alexandria, and it hosts several events from concerts to musicals and classic plays or orchestras.
The building has 600 seats and it is managed by the Arts Council of Central Louisiana. Plus, they also organize private events such as weddings or parties and different other celebrations.
11. Discover your artistic side at QuirkyArtz
QuirkyArtz is a place where adults and children can have fun equally. This art center organizes many workshops and classes that children, as well as adults, can join to learn new artistic techniques and explore their creative side.
All the teachers here are very friendly and they take the time to help every child get in touch with their artistic side in a fun and interactive manner. You will learn painting techniques and even end up creating your first masterpiece while you enjoy some quality time here!
12. Grand Theatre 16
Theatre 16 is not only a great place to go watch a movie but also to grab a bite of the excellent local food. Here you can find exquisite wines and beers that you can enjoy as you watch an interesting movie with your group of friends or your significant other!
The recliners are made of fine leather, and the technology that offers you the movie is of high levels, such as Dolby Atmos Surround Sound, 3D, or Christie Laser Projection.
Besides all the comfort you will experience at Grand Theatre 16, you will also find a great selection of movies to choose from to have the perfect evening.
13. Have a Wild Safari experience
If you don’t mind venturing around the city, at only 11 miles away from Alexandria, you will be able to have a unique experience at Gone Wild Safari. This wildlife reservation accommodates a wide variety of exotic animals such as camels, giraffes, kangaroos, zebras, Indian peafowls, tortoises, and many others.
You can pet and feed the animals, and there are signs all over that inform you about their habitat and preferences. If you are looking for even more activities, here you will find a playground that is ideal for children of all ages, a snack bar, interesting fossils, and a Toucan Pavilion.
14. Rivers Oaks Square Arts Centre
The Rivers Oaks Square Arts Centre has featured visual art since 1984. You will find the best contemporary art in Louisiana, but also from other parts of the world.
The museum is rich in different galleries, each one with its own theme and you can expect to spend some good hours here. Every year, the Rivers Arts Centre is home to not less than 25 different exhibitions and there are several art classes that you can join as well.
Besides paintings, you can admire sculptures, unique photographs, and ceramic pieces as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alexandria LA worth visiting?
Alexandria, LA offers a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor activities, making it worth visiting for those interested in exploring a lesser-known part of Louisiana.
What is Alexandria Louisiana known for?
Alexandria, Louisiana is known for its historical sites like Kent Plantation House, the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum, and its proximity to the scenic Kisatchie National Forest.
What is a fun fact about Alexandria Louisiana?
A fun fact about Alexandria, LA is that it’s home to the Alexandria Zoo, which features a diverse collection of animals and offers educational programs for visitors of all ages.
What is the weather like in Alexandria LA at Christmas?
In Alexandria, LA, the weather at Christmas is typically mild with average high temperatures in the 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit (10-15°C) and cooler evenings, making it a pleasant destination for a festive holiday season.