Summer vacation is here and while it may be much different than in years past, you can still make it memorable. We recently had several outdoor, socially distant, affordable adventures. All of these excursions were off the beaten path and away from large crowds. We found it to be the perfect way to enjoy a change of scenery while adhering to safety recommendations.
If you haven’t been to Waddill Wildlife Refuge on North Flannery Road, you may want to check it out. We packed up our poles and headed there recently, thinking the boys would only be interested for about 20 minutes. Two hours later, we were ready to leave and they wanted to keep casting. Waddill has two stocked ponds that you can fish. The boys only caught the tiniest specimens, but it was very exciting reeling them in. While we didn’t end up with a fish fry, we left with high spirits and several requests to return. Learn more about all that Waddill has to offer here. wlf.louisiana.gov
Row Your Boat
When was the last time you took a ferry ride across the Mississippi River? Maybe you do it often, but we had not taken this mode of transport before. As the boat took off with us safely inside our truck, Little Bud yelled, “We’re in the ocean!” Needless to say, there was much excitement. It only cost a dollar to take the trip from the Baton Rouge side to the west side. We waited in line for a few minutes before loading and the actual ride across was fast. It may not sound very exciting, but that change in perspective on crossing the river truly wowed the boys.
Go On a Nature Walk
We love to hike. During the earlier days of the stay-at-home order, we walked in our neighborhood everyday looking for bugs, birds and creatures. Recently, we expanded our territory and went hiking in a state park. The trails were well maintained and it was great to be in nature. We really enjoy our state parks and we feel lucky to have several good options to explore nearby.
South Toldeo Bend State Park
Speaking of state parks–we found South Toledo Bend State Park to be a good option for a short road trip. We spent two nights at this park located on the Toledo Bend Reservoir. I’m originally from the western part of the state and have been to the lake several times. However, my husband and the boys never had, so it was an opportunity for them to explore new ground. The cabin we rented was very clean and well maintained. (We brought plenty of cleaning supplies to spray and disinfect everything one more time for our own peace of mind.) We don’t own a boat, but we found a wooden bridge over a section of water that was perfect for casting our lines. The park also has a boat launch, a playground, trails and a small section of sandy beach. The Toldeo Bend dam and an observation deck are nearby and provide great views. We encountered a few creatures that made the trip even more memorable. Bats were perched under the roof of the wooden bridge and a very large raccoon stopped by the cabin’s outdoor trash can for a snack. The extended weekend was perfect for relaxing and slowing things down. crt.state.la.us
Pick Your Own Produce
We recently picked our own blueberries at a little farm outside of Abita Springs. Picking blueberries proved to be much easier than picking wild dewberries back home. Berries were within everyone’s reach from the tallest dads to the shortest toddlers. The best part was that the bushes do NOT have thorns.
The farm provided gallon-sized buckets to hold your harvest and you leave with everything you pick for only $10 a gallon! As an added bonus, we saw several whitetail deer. In addition to growing berries, the farm’s owners also raise deer. There are numerous great options to pick your own berries in the Baton Rouge region. Here’s the one we tried: sunhillowbucksandberries.com
Making summer memories may require a little more creativity this year, but it’s worth the effort. Please share your ideas for adventure and fun. You may inspire others to explore.