Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Travel with Terri to Shreveport — Bossier City, Louisiana

Load up the car and head to Shreveport-Bossier for some quality family time, a girl’s trip, or a romantic getaway. The best thing of all, it’s a straight shot east on I-20 from Dallas – Ft. Worth.

Shreveport-Bossier is known as “Louisiana’s Other Side.” It is a mixture of the spicy Cajun attitude and wide-open Texas spirit. This is where Creole meets Cowboy. Visitors love the gaming, nightlife, local dining, shopping, museums, and festivals.

In the early 1800s, settlers moved into the region now known as Shreveport-Bossier, it was then occupied by Caddo Native Americans. Shreveport began to prosper when Captain Henry Miller Shreve and his brigade made the river passable for ships by breaking up the Great Raft of logs that was clogging the Red River. From then on, Shreveport-Bossier was full of typical Wild West shenanigans, Victorian-era dramas, Rock ‘N’ Roll history, and pivotal civil rights strides.

Shreveport is where it all began for Elvis Presley and many other stars at the famous Louisiana Hayride show and radio program. This took place at the Historic Municipal Auditorium which is well-known for its superior acoustics. Its 1920s construction is one of the finest examples of Art Deco in Louisiana. Today it plays host to a variety of concert performances including, blues, rock, pop, and country.

In downtown Shreveport, you’ll find the Southern University Museum of Art (SUMAS). It is a compact gallery that features a selection of art representing centuries of history and artistic evolution. They have an extensive collection of African and African-American art and artifacts, all for free! Or across the street is the Robinson Film Center. This is a large movie house featuring independent, international, and classic films. Upstairs you will find a nice bistro and roof-top bar.

For even more culture, ride through some very beautiful, historic neighborhoods to see the fabulous R.W. Norton Art Gallery. It has an exceptional collection of art spanning more than four centuries. Since its opening in 1966, the museum has become particularly well-known around the country for its impressive collections of works by the artist icons of Western art – Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The gallery sits on 40 landscaped acres featuring azalea gardens and nature trails. Springtime is a treat here as the gardens burst into beautiful blooms.

Kids of all ages will enjoy playing at Shreveport-Bossier’s many family-friendly attractions. The Shreveport Aquarium is a great visual and hands-on learning experience where you can discover creatures of the deep and even feed sting rays. Here at the Shreveport Aquarium, they have a new venue space overlooking the Red River with fantastic views of the scenic 13,000 LED lights that cover the Bakowski Bridge of Lights on Texas Street.

For the adventurous, at Gators and Friends Adventure Park, you can feed baby alligators and zip-line over a swamp, and interact with many exotic animals. Families can also have an out-of-this-world experience as they explore space, do science experiments, and catch a movie at the only IMAX Dome Theater in Louisiana. All this high-tech fun can be found at the very modern Sci-Port Discovery Center.

The Sheveport-Bossier restaurant scene here is impressive, so wear your stretchy pants. It’s rich in culture and history with tasty recipes that have been handed down for generations.

At Orlandeaux’s Café, their specialty is the spicy Shreveport-Style Stuffed Shrimp…this might just be my new addiction! This quaint café on the banks of Cross Lake has celebrated its Centennial. Since the early 1920s, Orlandeaux’s has earned the reputation of having the absolute best Creole Cuisine on this side of the Bayou! They are also well known for their famous Gumbeaux, Étoufée, Po-Boys, Seafood, Soul Food, Cobblers, and Beignets. Each delicious entrée on their menu is made from scratch with recipes passed down through five generations for over 100 years. Orlandeaux’s Café has been recognized as the “Oldest Continuously Operating African-American Family Owned restaurant in the United States!”

For a fine dining experience, Ernest’s Orleans is not to be missed. Ernest’s blends classic Italian cuisine with Louisiana-style classic cooking. Step back in time as you experience one of the last “old school” European-style dining places. Since 1962, this restaurant has pleased the palates of locals and visitors from their flaming bowl of seafood gumbo to their world-famous marinated crab claws and red snapper. Tableside flaming entrees, desserts, and drinks seem to be a theme here, and it’s quite entertaining. Head bartender, Gladfer Maldonado, also known as “G”, is happy to treat guests to one of these epic fiery cocktails. This is all part of Ernest’s Orleans legendary dining experience. This place is truly a memory-maker! Lifetime residents and loyal longtime customers, Brian and Becky Wilks say, “We love the old-school dining experience that Ernest’s always provides. They always make us feel special and the food never disappoints.”

The hip new East Bank District in Bossier City is a wonderful example of how an old downtown comes back to life. It’s just across the river from Shreveport and is the area’s new, energetic, entertainment district where many food and brewery options can be found. This revitalized area is a lot of fun and is where you can taste a variety of Louisiana foods and even witness a Crawfish Boil at Beaux Jax Crafthouse. Here they serve hearty appetizers like Cajun deviled eggs plus a full menu of tasty traditional Louisiana favorites like po’boy sandwiches and shrimp and grits. And if you don’t know how to peel and eat a crawfish, the large man known as ‘Chef Peanut’ will be happy to include a lesson on how to eat this Louisiana favorite.

The East Bank district is one of Shreveport-Bossier’s most up-and-coming areas. And, it’s more than just food; the district has a fantastic outdoor space, live music, a large stage, and game day meetups with an enormous outdoor TV. Or be amused and entertained by trying your hand at axe-throwing at Bayou Axe Throwing Company. It’s crazy and exhilarating! The East Bank District definitely has the hip cool factor!

There’s always something to celebrate in Shreveport-Bossier, they do it up right with food, music, and great entertainment. In fact, celebrating is one of the things they do best. Experience Mardi Gras, the Mudbug Madness Festival, Red River Revel, or Rockets Over the Red. There are lots of family-friendly fun festivals with dancing, art, food, and more. Their multi-generational Mardi Gras festivities in February are quite impressive. Attending the wonderful ‘Crewe of Gemini Parade’ is an experience forever etched in my mind. The very elaborately decorated floats and ornate Crewe costumes were over-the-top fantastic! What a fun and safe way to enjoy a big Mardi Gras celebration – Louisiana style…where everyone is welcome to enjoy.

As the capital of the Ark-La-Tex, the tri-state region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, visitors will see Louisiana’s spicy culture up close and personal and delve into a world of influences from the neighboring states. Whether you’re spending a day or a week in Shreveport-Bossier, there are always endless possibilities of things to do for a fun-filled itinerary and experience!

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Terri Guthrie is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Follow travelwithterri on social media (Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram)

Terri Guthrie
Terri Guthrie
Terri Guthrie is a member of Society of American Travel Writers, Texas Travel Alliance and International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Follow Terri on social media at Travel with Terri.

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