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Got a taste for the Deep South? Do thoughts of fried shrimp sandwiches, barbecued pork, sweet tea, or fresh strawberry pie tantalize your taste buds? How about some river gambling, fishing for catfish, and attending a crawfish festival or Mardi Gras parade? If you answered yes to any or all of these, then you can satisfy all your desires in the twin cities of Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana.
These two cities share a common heritage that included oil, trading, and commerce along the Red River that bisects both. Shreveport was named after Henry Miller Shreve in 1839, who was responsible for clearing the Red River of a perpetual logjam that impeded river traffic for many years. At the turn of the century, oil was the dominant industry with Shreveport’s Caddo Parish having one of the largest gas and oil fields in the world. Bossier City got its start as a small trading post that was previously referred to as Alexander’s Precinct and Caneville.
Today, times have changed and these communities are coming into their own by attracting sportsmen, families and vacationers, who have discovered that these towns offer a wealth of cultural, outdoor and gastronomic delights.
Known as Sportsman’s Paradise, Clark’s Red River Marina is a public boat launch site where you can cast your line for some of the best catfish, crappie, and bass fishing in the South. There are also many public parks where families can picnic among the pine trees or play in the sand along the banks of the river.
While on the riverfront, be sure to make your way to the Louisiana Boardwalk with scores of restaurants, clubs, a multi-screen theater, and numerous upscale retail shops. The large Bass Pro Shop on one end of the outdoor mall is a huge attraction for outdoor enthusiasts and others who just like to wander through the mammoth structure admiring the many unusual displays.
These are two towns that love to show off their fun sides and in May the Mudbug Madness Festival celebrates the crawfish with music, contests, and, of course, a crawfish boil, all designed to celebrate Louisiana’s Cajun heritage. In February, Mardi Gras kicks off with big parades and colorful floats (and the accompanying plastic beads launched from those riding on the floats) as well as traditional King Cakes.
Top 15 Things to Do in Shreveport
From a day at the aquarium to fantastic Louisiana food, you'll find something for everyone in Shreveport.
Sunset over downtown Shreveport, Louisiana.
Stop by Herby K's restaurant in Shreveport for their famous food.
Everyone in the family will love the Shreveport Aquarium.
The Shreveport area, tucked up in the northwestern corner of the state, is a grand mix of some of Louisiana's best southern food, casinos, culture and music. Start planning your trip to Shreveport with these sugguestions of things to do.
Top Restaurants and Dining Experiences in Shreveport-Bossier City
The Louisiana Food Prize
An extension of the Louisiana Film, Music and Startup Prizes, the Louisiana Food Prize includes a Chopped-style live cooking competition featuring some of the best chefs in north Louisiana as well as special celebrity chefs and guests from throughout the U.S. Also taking place during the Louisiana Food Prize is Come and Get It, a food, wine and spirits event. Throughout these events, food lovers can watch cooking demos, rub elbows with chefs and sample food, wine and cocktails. Insider’s tip: Work up an appetite during the Louisiana Food Prize by attending screenings at the Louisiana Film Prize, which takes place on the same dates. 2021 dates are TBD.
Farm Stand and Tours at Mahaffey Farms
Farm-to-table dining enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Mahaffey Farms in Princeton (just east of Bossier City), where pasture-raised and hormone and chemical-free beef, pork, chicken and seasonal vegetables can be purchased directly from the McCommon family. The farm stand is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, as well as most Saturdays in the spring and fall. Visitors who stop by on Saturday morning can take part in free, educational walking tours of this picturesque working farm. Insider’s tip: Call to make sure they’re open and visit on a Saturday morning the farm tour is outstanding.
Chef Anthony Felan’s 2nd Act Supper Club
Chef Anthony Felan, a well-known Shreveport chef who placed second in the 2017 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, pairs creative, multicourse tasting menus with fascinating historic buildings during his 2nd Act Supper Club dinners. 2nd Act Supper Club menus and locations are not announced until the day of the event, adding an element of surprise and drama to the evening. Learn more about tickets, locations, and details by joining the Facebook group (search “2nd Act Supper Club”). Insider’s tip: 2nd Act Supper Club events typically include a craft cocktail experience, but diners are also invited to BYOB their beverage of choice.
318 Restaurant Week
Held each spring in various locations, 318 Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of Shreveport-Bossier’s dining scene that is organized by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and its partners. Reduced price lunch specials, multicourse tasting menu dinners and unique, one-night-only foodie events highlight the energy and creativity of the local restaurant scene. Insider’s tip: Like 318 Restaurant Week on Facebook to participate in multiple giveaways during the event and in the weeks leading up to it.
Shreveport Farmers’ Market
One of the largest farmers’ markets in North Louisiana, the Shreveport Farmers’ Market takes place on most Saturday mornings in the summer and fall. With more than 100 vendors selling fresh, local produce including locally raised meats, fruits and vegetables as well as ready-to-eat meals ranging from traditional Southern comfort food to international cuisine, the Shreveport Farmers’ Market offers the atmosphere and experience of a small, local food festival. Live music, cooking demonstrations and more are also offered. Insider’s tip: Explore the Shreveport Farmers’ Market website to see a complete list of participating vendors and ready-to-eat food options.
Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators
The annual Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators in downtown Shreveport brings together gumbo teams from throughout Louisiana and the surrounding states to cook and serve gumbo for a day-long fundraiser benefiting Volunteers for Youth Justice. Participating teams compete for cash prizes and bragging rights while thousands of gumbo fans spend the day sampling as many gumbos as possible and vote for their favorites. Annual more than 60 pots of gumbo are prepared and more than 6,000 festivalgoers cast votes. Insider’s tip: Arrive early to have the best shot at tasting all of the competing gumbos – popular booths and returning champions can run out by 3 p.m.!
Wine and Swine
Held on a Sunday afternoon each April, Wine Country Bistro’s Wine and Swine celebrates – you guessed it – all things related to barbecue and wine. Spend an afternoon sampling a thoughtfully curated list of more than 75 wines while dining on “whole hog”-style barbecue prepared by up-and-coming chefs from throughout Louisiana. Live music and cooking demonstrations round out this popular annual party. Insider’s tip: Tickets to Wine and Swine typically sell out in advance follow Wine Country Bistro on Facebook in order not to miss the ticket sales announcement.
Chef’s Table at The Mabry House
The Mabry House, an off-the-beaten-path fine dining restaurant housed in a Victorian-era mansion in Shreveport’s Highland neighborhood, offers what may be the only “chef’s table” experience in northern Louisiana. Six to eight diners are seated at the only table in the kitchen, where they can watch as Chef Steve Mylar prepares an elaborate tasting menu complete with wine pairings. Must be booked in advance. Insider’s tip: If you’re not dining with six or more companions, The Mabry House also provides a very unique and romantic atmosphere for couples dining.
Omakase Dinner at Kabuki Sushi and Roll
Bossier City’s Kabuki Sushi and Roll is an unassuming, mom-and-pop restaurant that offers traditional sushi and sashimi favorites as well as an adventurous Korean menu. They also offer Shreveport-Bossier’s only “omakase”-style tasting menu experience. This nine-course dinner features no set menu diners simply trust the chef to be innovative and surprising (in the Japanese language, “omakase” means “I’ll leave it up to you”). Reservations are not required but are preferred for the omakase dinner and a minimum of two diners must order omakase. Insider’s tip: If you’re not up for nine courses, explore the Korean menu – traditional Korean favorites such as Bibimbap are house favorites.
Brunch at Marilynn’s Place
Shreveport’s wildest brunch is served at Marilynn’s Place, a festive Cajun and Creole eatery located in the Broadmoor neighborhood. Each Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Chef Boz Baucum welcomes hundreds of diners with creative brunch specials, “bottomless” drink specials and great people-watching. As the crowd spills out onto the patio and countless mimosas are imbibed, brunch at Marilynn’s Place becomes the wildest Sunday morning party in town. Insider’s tip: Marilynn’s Place is located in a renovated service station with roll-up service bay doors when the weather is nice during the spring and fall, all of the bay doors are raised for an indoor/outdoor patio vibe.
Breakfast in Shreveport
Breakfast happens at Strawn’s Eat Shop, a classic diner that offers all of your breakfast favorites, including homemade biscuits. The pancakes are light and fluffy, eggs cooked to perfection, and you will never run out of butter. Strawn’s huge mounds of butter even have their own Instagram page.
No matter how full you are, try a slice of pie or heck, just take a whole pie back to the hotel because you will want the entire thing. Strawberry is my preference and the sugary topping is enough to make your eyes roll back in your head.
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Morning Activities & Attractions:
American Rose Center
Explore the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses at American Rose Center. The 118-acre park features 20,000 rosebushes and a variety of companion plants, sculptures and fountains. The American Rose Center is a great place for walking, photography outings, yoga, or simply relaxing outside in a tranquil setting.
Sci-Port Discovery Center
Sci-Port Discovery Center provides a fun, educational environment for people of all ages to explore and actively engage in the world of mathematics, science and technology. At the Planetarium, visit planets in and outside our solar system, fly through the stars, review constellations and learn about secrets of the universe. Experience multiple exhibits, explore the Children’s Museum and see great IMAX films.
Red River National Wildlife Refuge
Explore the great outdoors at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge. The center features over five miles of trails, fishing, wildlife viewing, and environmental education. Discover more about the wildlife that calls the refuge home by enjoying the exhibits at the Visitor Center. Hunting is permitted in designated areas on some units of the refuge, and fishing is permitted during certain times of the year at the refuge. Bring the kiddos to the Nature Discovery Play Area, a small nature-themed playground that includes a tree house, faux fishing boat, balance beams and hollow logs, among other things.
Louisiana State Exhibit Museum
Completed in 1939 as one of the New Deal’s Public Works projects, the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum is an architectural jewel built in the ultra-modern style of the time. This circular building is home to 23 beautifully rendered scale dioramas that portray a snapshot of Louisiana life in the 1940s. LSEM’s collection includes Louisiana Native American artifacts, regional and national history artifacts, original works by local artists, and natural history exhibits.
Great food and culture meet non-stop gaming and live entertainment in the northwest corner of the state.
Better known as Louisiana’s Other Side, Shreveport-Bossier is home to historic restaurants and popular diners whose down-home Southern-style dishes are profiled everywhere from Southern Living to the Food Network.
Shreveport-Bossier serves up gaming like no other city in the state, with world-class riverboat casinos all situated along the Red River, including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino Resort Hotel, as well as live horse racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
The city is packed with a rich musical heritage that spans from the legendary bluesman Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter to Grammy-nominated guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Shreveport-Bossier also serves as the center of a flourishing film industry where stars come to work, live and play, like Academy Award-winning filmmaker William Joyce. Festival fun is always just around the corner, from the annual Mudbug Madness Festival and Let The Good Times Roll festivals during the spring and summer to the fall’s Red River Revel Arts Festival, the region’s largest art festival.
Add in plentiful shopping and recreational options, and once you come to Shreveport-Bossier, you’ll never want to leave.
For amazing Chinese food and an extensive global wine list:
Lucky Palace owner Kuan Lim, originally from Malaysia, said that in 1997 he was on his way to visit San Antonio to decide if he wanted to move there when he stopped in Bossier City. He liked the people and the town so much, he decided to stay, and twenty years later the locals are glad he did. His menu is expansive and consists of elevated Chinese food, Thai curries, noodles, and other dishes from throughout Asia. I’m still daydreaming about the duck on scallion pancake appetizer, in particular: tender, shredded duck with white scallions and a strip of crispy red duck skin, accented with hoisin and balanced delicately atop a thin scallion pancake. Conveniently, the large tables are equipped with lazy Susans to optimize stealing off of your friend’s plate.
He liked the people and the town so much, he decided to stay, and twenty years later the locals are glad he did.
As extensive and diverse as the food menu is, the wine list is even more impressive, boasting more than 3,000 wines from around the world. Lim has even invested in an expensive re-corking system to allow guests to try a glass of a fine wine, without opening an entire bottle. Wine and Chinese food might sound an ideal night in, but the laid-back but gourmet atmosphere of Lucky Palace makes for a memorable and fun evening you won’t regret venturing out for.
The Horseshoe (Bossier City, Louisiana)
After our visit to West Texas, my friend and I decided we’d keep giving y’all fun road trips that were safe to take during all this … and we decided that Shreveport/Bossier City had to happen. You know, for the people.
If you need a little break from the city, The Horseshoe in Bossier City is open and ready for visitors. It’s an EASY 2-1/2 hour drive from Dallas, and they’re currently offering some great rates.
With times being as crazy as they are, The Horseshoe in has made safety a priority for their guests and their staff with the following measures:
– masks are mandatory in public areas
– hand sanitizer everywhere
– rooms are ultra sanitized with an electrostatic sprayer and then sealed with a sticker and staff won’t enter unless requested
– social distancing is encouraged everywhere, especially in the casino where every other slot machine is blocked off, only three are allowed at table games, and they’re SANITIZING THE PLAYING CHIPS
– the valet is temporarily closed
Learn more about Caesars and the Horseshoe’s COVID-19 health and safety measure and protocols at caesars.com.
Because we felt safe, we took advantage of the chance to enjoy some much-needed down time to enjoy the hotel, part of which included (a really delicious) breakfast in bed*, time by the pool in a private cabana, and meals at their restaurants.
*They’re currently only offering room service during breakfast hours, but it’s a meal that’s not to be missed. They’re famous for their ham steak (for good reason), and the yogurt parfait is DELICIOUS. Don’t sleep on their biscuits and bacon, either.
Some of their eateries are closed, but Jack Binion’s Steakhouse, Jasmine’s Noodle Bar, and 8 oz. Burger Bar are open. (Make sure to get the french onion soup at Jack Binion’s … it’s a sneak winner beside the filets and potatoes au gratin!)
Their hotel pool, DARE, is usually a “day club”, but it’s currently only open to hotel guests. The pool offers a full bar, private cabanas, one of which has a PRIVATE POOL so you can have your own socially distant pool day. Make it a party with their lineup of frozen drinks.
Make sure to sign up for Caesars Rewards to get special offers, and be SURE to swipe it anytime you can.
Horseshoe BC gets my stamp of approval … just make sure to be a good human if/when you go … as we should all be doing, be respectful of others when you’re in public, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance … and don’t be an asshole.
HORSEHOE BOSSIER CITY (a Caesars Property)
711 Horseshoe Boulevard, Bossier City, Louisiana
Breakfast picture by Sarah Mize
Cover picture courtesy of Caesars Entertainment
Thanks to the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau and the Horseshoe for having me out to experience the hotel and the city.
#SBFunSide #OnlyLouisiana #eat318 #PressPlaySB #mediavisit #casino #horseshoeBC #bossiercity #shreveport #texasroadtrips #texasroadtrip #comegetataste #easttexas #binionshorseshoe
Fun historical facts
The Shreveport Mudbugs ice hockey team
Did you know that this beautiful city sports an ice hockey team? You might not immediately associate the south with ice hockey, but the Shreveport Mudbugs are part of the North American Hockey League and recently have been a leader for attendance in the League. Don’t confuse the Shreveport Mudbugs for the Shreveport-Bossier Mudbugs, though, which were a professional hockey team that played during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Are you a music fan?
Music fans will definitely enjoy spending time in our city, which has a grand heritage of blues and country music. Elvis Presley performed on the famous Louisiana Hayride radio / TV show during the 1950s. If you want to experience a piece of the history, you can tour the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium (where the Louisiana Hayride broadcast from) or even watch a musical performance in this beautiful Art Deco building. Other notable music ties to Shreveport LA include Van Cliburn, Hank Williams Jr and Kix Brooks who were all born here.