Featured Photo by Discover Monroe-West Monroe

Outdoor Weekend Getaway In Monroe-West Monroe, LA Along The Ouachita River

Nestled in northern Louisiana, the cities of Monroe and West Monroe sit on the banks of the Ouachita River and Bayou DeSiard creating the perfect setting for a southern vacation filled with outdoor recreation and leisure. The two cities are packed with accessible and maintained city parks, rural parks, gardens, places for hands-on experiences, restaurants with outdoor seating, and many other attractions for enjoying Louisiana outdoors. Here are a few things to check out in the Ouachita River Valley on your next outdoor weekend getaway to Monroe-West Monroe.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River
If you’re looking to get outdoors while on vacation, there is no easier way than to visit a park. This is especially true in Monroe and West Monroe, as the two cities have both quality and well maintained parks that are accessible to everyone. Forsythe Park, a 53-acre neighborhood park, has picnic areas, a 9-hole golf course, putt-putt golf, tennis and beach volleyball courts, softball and soccer fields, a jogging path, and a children’s park. Another great option is Kiroli Park. Here you’ll find 160 acres of forested areas and large play areas like the all-inclusive Smiles Park for kids and the Raising Cane’s Dog Park. There are also jogging and nature trails, a fishing pond, beautiful gardens, picnic areas, and a theatre stage. Additionally, many of the parks and other public areas are home to one or more of the many Heron’s on the Bayou. With this fun city-wide public art project, your family and friends and you can try to find all of the beautiful sculpture herons spread out around the area.
5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River
Monroe and West Monroe are also full of more hands-on outdoor activities and experiences that can be great inexpensive vacation excursions. A great place to start for a more immersive experience is the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, especially if you are traveling with kids. With almost 2 miles of pathways to animal exhibits, park grounds, and gardens, everyone will have fun with attractions like the Zooasis Splash Pad, the Safari Boat Ride, and the petting zoo. If you are looking for a quieter place, the ELSong Gardens behind the Biedenharn Museum is over an acre of terraces, fountains, statues, walkways, and year-round blooming flowers. Another great option is renting kayaks or stand up paddleboards from H2GO, so you can head out on the Ouachita River, Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, or Bayou DeSiard for a great day on the water.
5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Photo by Miro’s

With more than 100 locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, and more, Monroe and West Monroe offer everything from Southern cooking to Italian, Asian, Cajun, and Indian cuisines, with a flavor to satisfy. Luckily, many establishments have great outdoor seating for dinner with a great view, mostly of the beautiful Bayou DeSiard and the Ouachita River. Miro’s and Trapp’s on the Ouachita River both serve up a variety of American and Southern Classics with a great view of the water and the railroad bridge. The Levee Grill and Waterfront Grill offer beautiful views of Bayou DeSiard on their outdoor patios while serving up Southern style cuisine.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River
Along with their city and neighborhood parks, Monroe and West Monroe are home to plenty of natural areas and parks where you can explore the true Louisiana outdoors. The largest natural area is Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a 4,500-acre landscape including the lake, swamp, hardwoods, and natural flora and fauna including alligators and herons. There is plenty for you to do here, such as wildlife watching from the pier or bird blind, walking a nature trail, paddling the lake in a canoe, fishing, or visiting the Visitor’s Center. Other parks include Restoration Park and Cheniere Lake Park, both of which provide beautiful nature scenes and lakes for exploring and taking in Louisiana’s outdoors.
5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Having a cold drink of any kind is often much more enjoyable when you’re sitting on an outdoor patio, especially during the warmer months. Monroe and West Monroe have two great options for outdoor patios for grabbing a drink and enjoying the Louisiana weather. One option is Two Warriors Meadery, the first and only meadery in the state of Louisiana run by two veterans. Mead is an alcoholic beverage made with fermented honey, and at Two Warriors you can pick from a variety of flavors to try, such as Bayou Blues Berry and Lemon Zinger. The second place you won’t want to miss for some great outdoor patio sipping is Flying Tiger Brewery. Here they serve up their Heroic Beers with popular brews such as Burma Blonde Lager, JUCEE La Pale Ale, Final Resting Place DIPA, and several others. You can enjoy whichever you choose on their large greenspace and patio where events are held often.

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine