The name "Gateway to the Pines" was coined in 1916. When the Jefferson Highway, now Hwy. 71, made of dirt, was completed, linking New Orleans to Winnipeg, a large group of dignitaries, including Louisiana's governor, traveled the road and visited Menahga. The governor announced in a speech that he had traveled "from the palms to the pines," and that Menahga be known as "The Gateway to the Pines."

Menahga encompasses beautiful Spirit Lake, which is known for its white sugar-sand beach. It is open to the public everyday durding the summer months, with lifeguards on duty. A large T-shaped fishing pier is for the public to use. The pier is sponsored by the Menahga Conservation Club, is owned by the DNR, and is maintained by the City.  A public access for boats is located nearby.