LOUISIANA

Get Your Louisiana On: Five Great Reasons to Visit Five Fun Cities in northern Louisiana

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Broaden your travel horizons and head to north -central Louisiana. This part of the state is filled with nearly everything for everyone. Whether you are a history buff, an art aficionado or just love food (this is Louisiana, after all), you’ll have a great time exploring Alexandria-Pineville, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches and Shreveport-Bossier City.

Museums and Galleries
Home to the third largest collection of  Remington and the largest collection in the U.S. of Steuben Glass, R.W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport  houses around 1,500 pieces in 24 galleries (and this doesn’t include their archives.) Their library features a collection of 13,000 rare and antiquarian books, including John James Audubon’s  five-volume “The Birds of America,” one of the nearly 100 that still exist today. Visit the gardens at American Rose Society also in Shreveport. This is the largest park dedicated to roses with 65 individual rose gardens and 20,000 rosebushes. You don’t have to be young to enjoy SciPort Science Center in Shreveport. The well over 290 exhibits in nine galleries will keep you entertained and occupied. If you aren’t into exhibits, consider catching a movie in the IMAX Dome. The small town of Minden is big on arts. City Art Works, ran by the city, is home to nine artists in residence as well as being an art gallery (showing local artists.) Biedenharn Museum and Gardens in Monroe include a historic home, formal garden, Bible museum and Coke Museum. While it’s an interesting combination of sites, they are bounded together by one commonality  - Biedenharn family. Spend a few hours to take in the decor of the home, view the rare bibles in the Bible Museum that includes a 1611 King James Bible and a page from the 1454-55 Gutenberg Bible and see various Coke memorabilia. Afterwards, meander through the former garden featuring numerous flowers and plants intertwined with water features, sculptures and music. Not only does the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum educate visitors about General Claire Lee Chennault (known as the father of tactical pursuit) and the Flying Tigers from War World II, but also highlights aviation and military history in general, as well as those who have served. Some points of interest among the different exhibits include an unissued World War II .45 caliber pistol and the complete set of crosses Hitler gave the German moms who had anywhere from four to eight children. Alexandria is known for having a huge arts scene. Stop in and check out the exhibits at both River Oaks Art Center and Alexandria Museum of Art...you won’t be disappoint that you did.

History
About 16 miles south of Alexandria in Cheneyville is Loyd Hall Plantation. Situated on 640 acres, the home (like many from the antebellum South) has its share of stories and ghosts (four known deaths took place in the house.) At two and a half stories, it’s complete with eight burning fireplaces, heart pine floor, brick walls and the staircase built into the wall. Be sure to look closely at the details, such as the former front door now inside with tips of arrowheads and mini pistol balls. For the daring, you can spend the night inside the house or in one of the cottages.

Older than the state of Louisiana itself, the Kent House in Alexandria is a Creole Plantation house that took five years to build and features handmade bricks. It was named Kent House by its second owners, who moved to the area from Kent County, Md. The new owners also renovated the property to include two additional wings among other features. There are numerous stories to why the house was spared during the Civil War. Tour the home and the grounds, providing lessons through living history as you can learn more about different skills during the time period.

The Cane River Heritage Area, south of Natchitoches, located along the banks of Cane River is the state’s only national heritage. Within in it includes a handful of plantations like Melrose Plantation. With its storied history, different buildings and different owners, it is a fascinating journey into the times of the Cane River area. Explore the main house, and learn about how one owner, (Miss) Cammie Garrett Henry turned the plantation into a center of arts by hosting numerous writers, including Lyle Saxon, author of Children of Strangers. Also under this time, Clementine Hunter developed her artistic skills and eventually became one of the South’s leading folk artist. Known as the bed and breakfast capital of Louisiana, Natchitoches is the state’s oldest town as well as the site for Steel Magnolias and other films. Explore the 33-block historic district by foot, horse drawn carriage or streetcar.

Food
Regardless where you are in Louisiana, you know that the food is going to be good and plentiful. In Shreveport, dig into the CrawTail Tower at Twine Shreveport, or if you need to warm up, grab a bowl of Gumbo at Ernest’s Orleans. In Monroe, options include everything from fried chicken at Big Momma’s Fine Food to Muscovy Duck Wraps at Restaurant Cotton. Visiting Alexandria, you definitely want to enjoy a meal, like Shrimp Remoulade at Diamond Grill. Savor some Chicken and Sausage gumbo at Cottage Restaurant, also in Alexandria. It’s not a trip to Natchitoches without trying some of their famous meat pies. Head over to Lasyone’s to sample either the Crawfish or Meat (or both) Pie.

Casinos
Try your luck at any one of the five riverboat casinos in Shreveport. Choose to double down at such places like Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino or Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

Shopping
Find that perfect gift (and something extra for yourself) when you shop along Louisiana Boardwalk in Shreveport. Antique Alley in Monroe is filled with antique shops and boutique speciality stores guarantee to please even the most astute shopper.

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