I’ve been hearing about Canton forever it seems so last spring we made combined two of my great loves for a fantastic day trip: antiquing at Canton and the great outdoors at Caddo Lake. From Dallas it’s an hour to Canton and another hour and a half to Lake Caddo.
Located near the Louisiana border, Caddo Lake is one of our state’s greatest treasures. As a matter of fact, it’s the only natural lake in Texas. Despite that coolness factor, and the sheer size of Lake Caddo (the largest lake in the South at 26,810-acres!!), the real draw its natural beauty. When I’m there I feel that I’m deep in some Southern bayou surround by nothing but water and trees dripping in Spanish Moss. Plus the worry in the back of my mind that an alligator will sidle up to my boat adds a fun element of fear. Note: I’ve never had an alligator come up to me while at Lake Caddo.
If you’re looking for a fabulous day trip of antiquing and flea market finds, paired with the natural beauty of Caddo Lake, read on for the full details.
Shopping at Canton
You can wonder all day around the Canton grounds and never get bored. The North side of the market is housed in actual structures and barns instead of the sections on the other side of the highway that more closely resemble Depression era shanties. The former is where you’ll find more of your antiques and packaged products whereas the latter is more what you’d expect to at a neighborhood garage sale. However, definitely do not miss Dog Town nearer the flea market area if you are at all a fan of pooches. The area consists of acres and acres of dog breeders with their puppies for sale. If you’re not in the market for a dog at the moment, it’s a great time just petting the cuties.
Canoeing on Lake Caddo
When visiting Lake Caddo getting on the water is a must and there’s no easier way then renting a canoe either from Johnson’s Ranch or the State Park. As an added bonus, the state park also borrows out fishing poles if you’d like to try your hand at some fishing while you’re there.
Hiking around the lake
Lake Caddo State Park offers a couple of great hiking trails through the piney woods. Both are just under a mile.
Both times that I’ve been to Lake Caddo we’ve done a night time Go-Devil Tour with Billy Carter from Johnson’s Ranch. This is a must-do! Billy’s spent his entire life on Lake Caddo and he knows it like the back of his hand. He’ll regal you with stories of the lake’s history as you speed through the dark. The nighttime tour combines the beauty of the lake at night against a starry backdrop. I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of floating through the forests on water and looking up at the cathedral of tree tops against the star studded night sky.
Ever the adventurous lot, we’ve always asked Billy to take us where the alligators hangout for sightings. Usually the alligators red eyes will drop down beneath the water if we get too close but its great fun searching for them.
While at Canton, we opted for BBQ at Bakers Ribs rather than eating on the grounds but there were plenty of delicious smelling options. If you dine at Bakers Ribs, be sure to grab some of their delicious hand pies while you’re there.
If you want a truly authentic, alligator for an appetizer experience on Lake Caddo, River Bend Café is top notch. It’s everything you’d expect from a true Southern dining establishment—fried alligator and catfish, hush puppies…you know, good stuff.
This past trip we tried Pietros which offers great pizza and other Italian food. Its art gallery like atmosphere in the heart of Downtown Marshall was a great place to fill up and relax after a busy day.
Lake Caddo and Canton are a delightful day trip from the hustle and bustle of DFW (or anywhere else you’re coming from). I’d love to hear your experiences there in the comments below.