Things to Do in Minden: A Local’s Guide to Outdoor Fun

Last updated on January 26th, 2024 at 10:13 am

Cindy Scott

Looking for outdoorsy things to do in Minden, Louisiana?

Hi there! I’m the Locals Know Best podcast host, Cindy.

I am a massive fan of outdoor adventure and have spent years exploring all over, including time as a full-time RVer and Appalachian Trail thru-hiker.

Years of adventuring have taught me one fundamental lesson: locals ALWAYS know best.

Locals Know Best Podcast Ep. 012: Minden, Louisiana, The Friendliest City in the South

Episode 12 of Locals Know Best Podcast Banner for Minden, Louisiana episode

This article summarizes the twelfth episode of the Locals Know Best podcast!

Every podcast episode dives into one local’s perfect day of outdoor adventure in their town.

This episode embraces being outdoorsy in Minden, Louisiana. Join local insider Sara McDaniel of Simply Southern Cottage and me as we spend a day paddling, hiking, biking, and enjoying the local cuisine surrounding “The Friendliest City in the South”!

A local's guide to outdoorsy things to do in Minden, Louisiana pin

Listen to the Episode

Click here to listen to this episode of Locals Know Best!

About Sara McDaniel

Headshot of Sara McDaniel

Learn more about Simply Southern Cottage

Sara is an adventurer and entrepreneur who loves living in Louisiana.

At 41, she retired from a successful sales career to explore entrepreneurial interests, including real estate investing, educational consulting, and social media influencing.

While pursuing those interests, she has reclaimed and restored her home, a broken-down cottage from 1926, and her life.

Sara started social accounts to document the renovation process. Before she knew it, she had major national magazines sharing her pictures and story.

Now, renovation has become a part of her everyday life. She says it’s her mission to inspire others to do the same.

Sara’s now quite famous home has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Cottages and Bungalows, Southern Lady, Apartment Therapy, HGTV, Southern Hospitality, and Martha Stewart, to name a few!

Before & After Photos of Sara’s Home

About Minden

Why Minden?

Sara describes Minden as the cutest, quaintest little Southern community.

It boasts lovely, friendly people, unique historic homes and architecture, cute little shops and boutiques, and many fantastic outdoor activities. A few years back, Minden was even named the friendliest city in the South.

What would draw an outdoorsy person to Minden?

Kayaking! Sara explains that kayaking in the local lakes and bayous is Minden’s current claim to fame.

Sara kayaking Bayou Dorcheat
All photos provided by Sara McDaniel

She loves kayaking because she says there are parts of Louisiana scenery you simply can not see unless you get out on the water with the alligators.

The Minden area also offers fantastic hiking and biking through incredible scenery, including towering pine and moss-covered Cypress trees.

The area is also an excellent destination for fishing. Minden has world-class fishing. A couple of years ago, a national kayaking fishing tournament came to North Louisiana and used many of Minden’s waterways as part of its tournament.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Minden, Louisiana?

Sara loves to be outside when it’s warm. So, she considers any time between March and December, spring, summer, and fall to be excellent times to visit Minden.

For her tips below on having a perfect outdoorsy day in the area, we will be adventuring on a spring day in April. But she mentions the area has things to do year-round.

Things to Do Outdoors in (and around) Minden, Louisiana

1. Bayou Dorcheat

Kayaking Bayou Dorcheat is one of Sara’s favorite outdoor activities in the Minden area.

She recommends putting your kayaks in at Dixie Inn and then paddling about six miles down to Sibley, which is only a 10 – 15 minute drive away.

You’ll see gorgeous scenery on this paddle, including trees dripping with moss.

You also might even see an alligator!

(If you see an alligator, Sara notes to keep paddling and act normal. She says that they generally see you and go about their business. Just don’t provoke them. If you notice one, enjoy the fact that you saw an alligator, and then just paddle away or keep going about your business, and they should leave you alone.)

Near the end of the paddle, if you’re brave enough, there’s a rope swing you can climb up and jump off into the bayou.

The paddle takes about three hours in total, depending on how quickly the water moves and it is absolutely stunning!

Fun fact: Sara adds that sometimes, when the water is low enough, an old steamboat shipwreck from the 1800s can be seen.

2. Caney Lakes Recreation Area

A dock at Caney Lake, one of the things to do in Minden, Louisiana

Next, Sara recommends taking a short drive to explore the neighboring Caney Lakes Recreation Area in the Kisatchie National Forest.

This is more than just a destination with a beautiful lake. It’s also an excellent place for hiking or going on a 10 to 15-mile bike ride, all throughout the trails within the forest.

The recreation area and national forest also offer camping, picnicking, paddling, fishing, swimming, and waterskiing.

So, if you want to go for a picnic, there is a little beach area where you can enjoy a meal and then take a dip if the lake’s water is warm enough.

Sara’s Favorite Trail in this area is Sugar Cane Trail. It’s about six miles long and can be hiked or biked.

On this trail, you’ll pass through towering pine trees as it wraps around the lake’s perimeter.

Visit Caney Lake, one of the things to do in Minden, Louisiana

While in the woods portion, you might see a bear, a fox, or even a snake if it’s summer.

The perimeter of the lake is gorgeous. You’ll cross bridges, there’s a spillway you’ll walk over, and it is just a stunning, stunning hike.

3. Lake Bistineau State Park

Another recommended destination is Lake Bistineau State Park, on the opposite end of Webster Parish.

Visit Lake Bistineau, one of the things to do in Minden, Louisiana

Unlike Caney Lake’s openness, Lake Bistineau has gorgeous Cypress trees dripping with moss throughout the lake.

This destination is more of a fishing lake and also welcomes camping, hiking, biking, paddling, and swimming.

4. Germantown Colony Museum

Another must-visit is the Germantown Colony Museum.

This part of the United States was settled by Germans in the 1830s, who came with hopes of starting a utopian society. Some of those structures are still in existence at this museum, just a little bit north of town.

You’ll see artifacts and how pioneers lived, worked, farmed, and settled in the 19th century, including the bedrooms they slept in, the tools they used, and the well they drew water from.

A visit takes you back to that time and gives you a greater appreciation for how we live today.

5. Minden’s Historic Residential District

You can’t come to Minden without strolling through Minden’s Historic Residential District.

This historic district consists of 71 properties downtown, mainly along Broadway and East & West Street. It includes residences and churches dating back to the 1850s.

Numerous structures within this district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the properties’ architectural styles range from Greek Revival to early Georgian.

6. Academy Park

Academy Park, photo spot in Minden, Louisiana pin

For those looking for a great photo spot, Sara notes that she sees people taking pictures in Academy Park daily.

There’s a great little gazebo you can get a picture in, surrounded by historic houses.

Fun fact: Its name comes from the 1800s, when it was home to one of the first all-boys schools in Louisiana, the Minden Male Academy. There used to be a huge, two- or three-story structure that housed boys in the area that is now the park.

Where to Stay in Minden, Louisiana

Minden Stays

(New since the podcast recording!)

Sara now owns several boutique short-term rental properties in Minden, LA.

You can check out her beautiful rentals at Minden Stays.

And you can book a stay via one of the links below:

🏡 The Villas at Spanish Court
🏡 Cottage on Fort
🏡 Papaw Wheeler’s Wooded Retreat

🏡 Fuller House Upper Room

Event Space in Minden, Louisiana

The Courtyard

In the podcast episode, Sara mentions staying at Pearl Street Studios.

These days, Pearl Street Studios is known as The Courtyard and functions as an event space.

Sara’s friend Kerry renovated this gorgeous building (which was formerly the Webster Paris health units). It has been transformed into beautiful suites and event spaces with an adjoining New Orleans-style courtyard.

Places to Eat in Minden, LA

1. The Broken Bean

If you are staying downtown, The Broken Bean is a walkable coffee shop one block from Minden’s downtown.

This is one of Sara’s favorite places because it is run by Louisiana Teen Challenge. All of the girls working at the Broken Bean are being rehabilitated, whether it’s from drug abuse, trafficking, or other life situations. They are there to get workforce readiness skills so that they can reintegrate back into society.

On top of that, they also have fantastic coffee and New Orleans-style beignets!

While they have other pastries, teas, and lunch options, Sara recommends getting a coffee and beignet from this spot while in Louisiana.

2. Geaux Fresh

For lunch, you must check out a little bistro in Minden’s historic downtown called Geaux Fresh.

The name says it all! They use all fresh and healthy ingredients in their recipes, featuring items such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups.

And, if you’re in town on a Taco Tuesday, they will feature meal items such as Taco Soup, Taco Burgers, and even a Taco Ninja, which is a taco inside an avocado!

3. Habacu’s

Another recommended meal destination is Habacu’s, a restaurant that used to be in Minden’s historic downtown but is now located about 30 minutes outside town.

This locally-owned Mexican restaurant is known for its amazing margaritas, food, and fun atmosphere.

Tours Near Minden

Northwest Louisiana Film Trail

For film buffs, Minden has many filming locations featured along the Northwest Louisiana Film Trail.

You can grab a copy of the Northwest Louisiana Film Trail Map here. Then, take a self-guided walking tour throughout Minden to see filming locations.

Placards in front of each building have QR codes to scan to learn more about the movie filmed there.

Visiting Minden: FAQs

Where is Minden, Louisiana, Located?

Minden, Louisiana, is located in Northwestern Louisiana.

What Parish is Minden, LA in?

Minden is located in Webster Parish. It is also the parish seat.

A unique fact that makes Louisiana different is that 48 states in the United States are made up of “counties,” but because Louisiana is steeped in French Acadian history, they have “parishes.” So, you can think of parishes and counties as synonymous in Louisiana.

Sara’s Minden, Louisiana Travel Itinerary Map

Conclusion: Best Things to Do in Minden, LA

Sara and I hope this episode inspires new people to check out Minden and take part in these outdoor adventures, as well as the area’s relaxing southern charm!

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Other ‘Locals Know Best’ Guides By Locals:
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👉 Locals Know Best Podcast Ep. 029: Kenai, Alaska, You’ve Entered the Real Alaska
👉 Locals Know Best Podcast Ep. 022: Woodstock, Georgia, It Should Be On Everybody’s List

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