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Spotlight: Allen Parish/Kinder

Soak in authentic Louisiana charm in the heart of the bayou

Tucked into the heart of the southwest corner of Louisiana, Allen Parish is a picture-perfect destination that’s ideal for anyone seeking an escape from the big city, big attractions and big tourist crowds. Located more than 200 miles west of New Orleans and more than 75 miles northwest of Lafayette, Allen Parish’s tidy collection of small towns feels refreshingly remote and thoroughly ensconced in heaping amounts of authentic Southern charm.

Oberlin is the Parish seat here, and the towns of Oakdale, Elizabeth and Reeves each offer visitors a taste of classic small-town Americana. Most will find themselves setting up camp in the comparatively “big city” of Kinder, however, which tops out at a population of about 2,500 year-round residents. A blend of Cajun, Native American and Piney Woods cultures makes Kinder one of the most eclectic and diverse tiny towns one could ever hope to experience. From its handful of streets, the rest of the Parish’s 766 square miles are a breeze to explore.

Kinder’s Cajun Spirit

It wasn’t until 1912 that the Parish was officially named, stringing together a handful of settlements that had been formed in the decade prior. Kinder—formed in 1903 and taking its name from the general store once operated by James Kinder—was one such location. Settlement in the region and Kinder specifically was a melting pot. Acadians (precursors to the Cajuns), Spanish, French, British and east coast Americans were all present in the early years of the Allen Parish region. The result, more than a century later, is a completely unique southern Louisiana culture not seen anywhere else in the state.

Billy Hathorn

Billy Hathorn

Despite these echoes from the area’s earliest years as an inaccessible no-go zone, Kinder today stands as one of the most easily accessible junctions in southwestern Louisiana. U.S. Highways 190 and 165 traverse the town east-west and north-south. This rare balance between ease-of-access and wild remoteness make the area a popular destination for outdoors enthusiasts.

The Calcasieu River and Ouiska Chitto River are renowned freshwater fishing spots, and both are popular for backcountry canoeing expeditions. Anglers shouldn’t expect to haul in trophy-sized catch with any regularity, but spotted bass are plentiful. Hunters, hikers, birdwatchers and backcountry campers head straight for the West Bay Wildlife Management Area. At 60,000 acres, it offers an abundance of space to zero in on a range of game, including deer, goose, duck and turkey.

Let it Ride at Coushatta

For a decidedly less wild bout of fun in the great outdoors, the Koasati Pines Golf Club is located right next door to Kinder’s other main attraction, the Coushatta Casino Resort. The course features an 18-hole, par-72 championship layout dotted with pine stands, large oaks and glassy lakes. A special “gambling hole” ties the course in nicely with the casino next door, while a variety of holes feature multiple approaches, making for a fun but challenging day on the greens.

Whether you stop for a round at Koasati Pines or not, a trip to the Coushatta Casino is a must for all visitors to Kinder. Coushatta is one of the largest land-based casinos in the state and also includes an on-site RV resort, luxury hotel, six restaurants and a full schedule of live entertainment.

Even those traveling with children will find the casino to be a surprisingly family-friendly destination. In addition to its 100,000-square-foot gaming floor—featuring close to 3,000 slot machines—Coushatta is home to a massive pool and water park as well as Kids Quest play center. The pool features swim-up bars, a lazy river and a selection of water slides, while Kids Quest offers an exciting mix of arcade games, craft centers and an indoor playground.

For More Information

Allen Parish Tourist Commission
Louisiana Office of Tourism