Sure, it’s the first day of August, but don’t pack up the sunscreen just yet. Dog days in the Delta stretch clear into the last weeks of September. So it’s safe to say the heat’s not giving up any time soon.
Instead of sulking in your bedroom’s best imitation of the arctic climes, you might as well find ways to enjoy your time here. From Mandeville to Mittie, here are four of the state’s most refreshing day-trips.
Fontainebleau State Park
7, 62883 Hwy. 1089, Mandeville
The 2,800 acres that comprise Fontainebleau State Park lie on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain, just an hour's drive from New Orleans. At $1 per person, admission is a steal; your four-legged friends are permitted for free so long as they’re leashed. Aside from sunbathing, the best part of my day at Fontainebleau is dog-paddling by the fishing pier with my pup.
Don’t feel like plungin’ into Ponchartrain? No biggie. Stray from the shores for activities like hiking, cycling, birding and camping.
Blue Bayou Water Park
18142 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge
With the squeals of waterlogged preteens indistinguisable from caterwauling egrets, it’s no wonder they call this Louisianan water park Blue Bayou. Sister-park to Dixie Landin’, it's an outdoor water park located on the outskirts of Baton Rouge.
Every 10 minutes, 3- to 4-foot swells begin building in Hurricane Bay, the park’s wave pool. Water slides snake through the property and find resolution in cool azure water. For children, there’s a pirate cove equipped with interactive water cannons and rope obstacles. For parents, there’s a lazy river.
It’s an enjoyable summertime family activity, or something you could do with your friends just ‘cause it’s awesome.
For those able-bodied travelers who spent the first few weeks of summer seeking shelter from the greenhouse effect, Mother Nature has blessed you with the murky, yet surprisingly cool, waters of the Bogue Chitto.
In addition to having access to what is supposedly the nicest stretch of the entire river, the Bogue Chitto Canoeing and Tubing Center (10237 Choctaw Road, Bogalusa; (985) 735-1173) provides patrons with state-of-the-art vinyl vessels. Equipped with head rests and cup holders, these tubes are literally transporting.
(The year is 2012. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer have developed a very serious love for day drinking and country radio…)
But don’t space out too long. Your butt might get caught on a log.
Yes, I’ve written about tubing here once before, but considering I’ve been on this particular stretch of river six times this summer, I figure it deserved another brief mention.
Kisatchie National Forest
Kisatchie is Louisiana’s one and only national forest. Located 16 miles west of Highway 6 (about 45 minutes outside of Natchitoches city limits) most of the 604,000 acre forest is tucked away in a boundary region separating the Gulf Coast from the Texas plains. Unforgivably hot and humid, especially in the depths of summer, this makes for a forest climate that very closely resembles the tropics of Central America.
Thankfully, in the heart of the Kisatchie District of the national forest, rests Kisatchie Bayou – a quaint swimming hole in close proximity to bald cypress groves and stands of old-growth pine trees.
In other park districts find swimming on the shaded shores of Caney Lake, Kincaid Lake and Stuart Lake.