Staycation – Ouachita & Morehouse Parishes
The drive from Baton Rouge to Monroe in our Mini Bus or Luxury Sprinter usually takes about 3 ½ hours. Taking Hwy 61 North we cross the Mississippi River at Natchez. If the group wants to make a stop at Frogmore we can detour toward Jonesville … or keep rollin’ north. Along the way we’ll pass through Sicily Island in Catahoula Parish. This area has a very interesting early Louisiana history.
As we get close to Monroe we’ll visit the Louisiana Purchase (Monroe) Zoo. This is an old, relaxed and worn zoo with character and charm. The staff is very friendly. One especially noteworthy exhibit is the hippo. You can get up close to the moat and safely see the beast face to face. There is also a boat ride with zoo personnel giving an interpretive tour that is a must do.
Hamilton’s Bed & Breakfast
From the zoo we are about 30 minutes from Hamilton’s Bed and Breakfast in the West Monroe Historic District. Highly rated by past clients the B&B is located in West Monroe’s Historic District near the river. Reviewers rave about the accommodations and care they received during their stay.
Ouachita River Cruise of good hunting grounds…and sparkling silver water”…
Once checked in and refreshed we will get on board a pontoon boat for a 90 minute Sunset Cruise on the Ouachita River. The river’s name comes from the Indian word “washita” meaning “River of good hunting grounds and sparkling silver water.” Wildlife abounds in the area and the birdwatching is excellent.“River of good hunting grounds…and sparkling silver water”…
On our return we’ll crossover the river to the restaurant “Cotton.” The award winning and winner of “Chopped” chef Cory Bahr and his staff offer a dining experience seldom experienced. Cotton’s beautiful interior, creative food and excellent staff provide a culinary treat that alone makes the trip to North Louisiana worthwhile.
After a busy first day in Ouachita Parish we’ll head north to Morehouse Parish. We will visit a few of the sites in and around Bastrop. First we’ll swing over to Black Bayou for a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center. This refugee is a great place for birdwatching. You can click here to check the list of recent bird sightings in the refuge.
In Bastrop we’ll stop at Granny’s in Bastrop for a quick lunch before Line Dancing lessons at the Visitor’s Center. Lessons are only scheduled certain afternoons and it’s a great way to mix with local citizens and get the feel of the community. Participants come from a wide area to join in.
From Bastrop we’ll drive to Collinston, home of the Kalorama Nature Preserve. Kalorama is Greek for beautiful view. It was the summer home of Mr. & Mrs. William B. Reilly of New Orleans. It is known for birds, butterflies and beautiful flowers.
Starr Home Place
Another unique and interesting site is the Starr Home Place near Oak Grove, living history center with a mission to build a creative economy. Volunteers and qualified visitors are allow to use the tools on display. The Home Place features one of a kind exhibits such as the Chink Files Outhouse. I told you it would be different.
If you still have the energy we’ll head back to the B&B, get cleaned up and head to the Mohawk Tavern Seafood Restaurant for supper. Known for being “were the locals eat” this tavern is known for great seafood in a casual atmosphere. Locals say the Mohawk has the best tartar sauce around.
On the third day, after a good nights sleep on Hamilton’s Memory Foam beds we’ll see attractions in West Monroe. First an early morning walk at Restoration Park. The park was formerly a gravel pit that became a trash dump. The site has been re-mediated and turned into a picturesque nature area with trails and board walk. Close to the interstate the park’s a relaxing place to start the day.
From the park we’ll head to Duck Commander Headquarters to get our “red neck” on. The A&E hit “Duck Dynasty” features local duck hunting legend Phil Robinson and his family. Before the show he was probably more familiar to hunters in other states. Now the Duck Commander Headquarters is a must see in north Louisiana.
As we head to the Biedenharm Museum we’ll stop for an early lunch at the Creamery. Known for great burgers and shakes it has that old time look.
Joseph Biedenharm owner of the Biedenharm Candy Company was the first to bottle Coca Cola. The home hosts a museum of Coke memorabilia, a Bible Museum, the Home tour and self paced tour of the Garden.
Relax on the way home. If you’re like me you didn’t realize how much the Monroe area had to offer – and we only scratched the surface. Sit back, relax, reminisce and prepare for your next staycation while your professional chauffeur does the driving. “We drive … you have fun!”