1. Have your photo made with Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus in Santa’s Wonderland
Bass Pro Shop located on the Louisiana Boardwalk
in Shreveport. “Santa Bob” Collins (a card-carrying member of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, and the only real bearded Santa in the state of Louisiana) and his wife Beth, aka “Beth Claus” has been bringing holiday joy to the Bass Pro Shop for around nine years. Collins says it’s more than a job, it’s a calling. “Seeing people smile is so rewarding.”
Afterwards, finish your shopping at the Louisiana Boardwalk. A visit isn’t complete without viewing the 40-foot Christmas tree. Don’t miss the 18-foot LED Holiday Trail of Lights sign, either.
2. In its 29th year, Christmas in Roseland
at the Gardens of the American Rose Center
in Shreveport is one of the area’s longest running holiday events. Enter a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, light displays, giant Christmas community cards and much more. Take a ride on the Roseland Express train, and visit with Santa. Don’t miss the Friday night entertainment. Christmas in Roseland run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, from 5:30 - 10 p.m. Admission is $20 per carload, $5 per person. Santa photos $10. Roseland Express Train is $10.
3. Savor a spin on a holiday classic when you sample frozen eggnog daiquiris at Tony’s Discount Beverage in Shreveport. Available in vanilla and chocolate, one sip and you know you have something good here. During the height of the holiday season, Tony’s can sell upwards of 1,400 eggnog daiquiris a day.
4. “It’s homey,” says Pattie Odom, Downtown Development director for Minden
, about the town. “It’s small-town USA.” It’s this charm that has attracted the attention of Hollywood. Around 15 films have been shot on location. Settled by Germans, the town pays tribute to its heritage with its Fasching Festival
in November that extends to the beginning of Lent. Get into the holiday spirit as you explore Main Street, with its decorations and Nutcrackers. Be sure to drop in the different shops to find that one-of-a-kind gift for someone special (or for yourself.)
“We have characters downtown,” comments Odom. “To experience Minden, visit some of our shops. We have a family jewelry store that’s over 50 years old, ran be the third generation jeweler. We are also home to the oldest family-owned former Western Auto (now a hardware shop with the same family)in the nation.”
Be sure to drop by City Art Works
, where you can enjoy art by local artists, see working studios and more.
Of course being on the Holiday Trail of Lights, Minden doesn’t disappoint. End your day here with a driving tour of the lighted neighborhoods.
5. Become inspired as you view the rooms at Biedenharn Home
in Monroe decked in holiday splendor. Each year, the Monroe Garden Study League decorates every room according to a theme. Make it a true experience, and explore the Coca-Cola Museum
, too. Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. -5 p.m., $6 per adult, $4 per child, under the age of 12.
6. “Spend the entire day shopping,” recommend Mike McMahan, president of theAntique Alley Association
and owner of Trenton Street Antiques
. What began 25 years ago with around six to seven antique stores has grown in 40 shops. You can find everything from boutique-style storefronts to antique stores to even a spice and tea
shop. Enjoy the holiday- themed decorated windows and the canopy lights that provide the “extra-special” holiday feeling.
If you are looking for something or some things to do leading up to the holidays, be sure to check out Monroe-West Monroe’s Christmas on the River
. Upcoming events include Louisiana Cattlemen’s Chili Cook-Off, Downtown Gallery Crawl
events and much, much more.
7. The city of Alexandria
is ready to celebrate the holidays with you. From the “12 Nights of Christmas” to the Holiday Concert Series, there is something for everyone to enjoy. For an event that’s a little different, be sure to check out “Taking It 2 The Streets
”on December 8. This features a walking tour of the Downtown Cultural Arts District, featuring storytellers, musicians, dance troupes and more. Also, don’t miss Alexandria Museum of Art’s Second Saturday Market
. Perfect place to find that special gift.
8. Perhaps it may be one of the best known festivals in Louisiana, and it's celebrating its 86th year. Natchitoches’ Festival of Lights
run through January 6, with over thousands of Christmas lights illuminating the downtown district and the Cane River Lake daily at dusk. On Saturday nights, you can enjoy fireworks and live entertainment. In addition, there’s “Snow Fest
” (December 14-16 and 21-23, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. $5 per person), where everyone can tube down 110-feet of “winter-ness,” among other activities. Of course, it’s not the holiday season without a little shopping along the Historic District. If you’ve completed your shopping, why not take a carriage ride tour through the National Landmark Historic District.