sportsman’s paradise

north louisiana
Ruston peaches

Lakes brimming with fish, refreshing rivers, rolling hills, scenic bayous –– Sportsman’s Paradise truly is a haven for those who love the great outdoors. Whether you prefer pedaling a bike or paddling a canoe, this region of North Louisiana has a place to satisfy your desires. When it’s time to put away the fishing pole and enjoy a little city life, North Louisiana can also fill the bill. Try your luck at one of the casinos, and sample the cuisine (a delicious mixture of Texas and Louisiana tastes) at a restaurant or café.

Read on to see the delights that await you in Sportsman’s Paradise.

Get Outdoors –– Take advantage of the region’s natural beauty by fishing, camping, swimming or picnicking at some of its many state parks. Lake D’Arbonne State Park, near Farmville, has five fishing piers, lighted tennis courts and beautiful tree stands that attract a variety of birds. At Lake Bistineau State Park, southwest of Minden, you can hike, bike or take a dip in one of the two swimming pools. Poverty Point Reservoir State Park’s 2,700-acre man-made lake is ideal for snagging largemouth bass. Take a canoe trip at Caddo Lake on the Louisiana-Texas border, or visit Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, with its 1,700-acre lake, nature trails and boardwalks –– you might spot an American bald eagle. If golf is your game, don’t miss the Black Bear Golf Course, part of the Audubon Golf Trail.

City Sights –– Shreveport, the largest city in Sportsman’s Paradise, lies along the Red River. You’ll find lots to see and do. Stroll through the American Rose Center, with its thousands of fragrant blooms, and the Barnwell Gardens and Art Center. Kids of all ages will love visiting Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, filled with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. The Louisiana Hayride radio show got its start in Shreveport; today, you can enjoy Broadway musicals at the lovingly restored Strand Theatre. On the other side of the Red River, Bossier City is home to several casinos and the Louisiana Boardwalk, a popular shopping and dining center.

Savoring Small Town Life –– North Louisiana is blessed with many small communities where you can stroll historic downtowns, many of which have been revitalized by Louisiana’s Main Street program. Enjoy home cookin’ at small cafés, many of which offer tasty barbecue. Ruston, known as “Louisiana’s Peach Capital,” holds an annual festival to celebrate the juicy fruit. In Monroe, don’t miss the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. Joe Biedenharn made his fortune developing a method to bottle Coca-Cola, and his home and gardens are breathtaking.

Other attractive small communities include Winnsboro, Columbia, Homer and Bastrop.

Keeping Sharp –– Sportsman’s Paradise is home to many two- and four-year learning institutions, including Centenary College in Shreveport (which also has campuses of Louisiana State and Southern universities), Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech in Ruston and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Living History –– Sightseeing in Sportsman’s Paradise gives a glimpse into the region’s past. At Poverty Point State Historic Site, learn how prehistoric Indians lived here 3,000 years ago and view the earthen mounds they left.

The Herbert S. Ford Memorial Museum Inc. in Homer, built as a hotel in 1890, details the history and culture of North Louisiana Hill Country. The military has always played a large role in Louisiana life; learn more at the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base or the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe.

Right at Home – You’ll find a wide variety of home styles available in Sportsman’s Paradise, and prices are reasonable. Union Parish provides lots of opportunities for waterfront living, and those seeking independent or assisted living will find it many communities.