For those that don’t know, I am a true native of the good state of Louisiana. Both of my parents are bayou born and my family history pretty much begins in one of the original creole colonies in Louisiana, Shreveport. Many times when I tell people I’m from Louisiana, they immediately think I’m from New Orleans. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love New Orleans and have spent plenty of time there (I still have family that lives there) BUT New Orleans is not the only city in Louisiana that has something to offer. With the Miss USA Finals being held in Shreveport this year, I thought that it would be fitting for me to write a blog about everything I love about my hometown…
Previously on the blog: Top 3 Cities You MUST Visit Before The Age of 30
Going back to my hometown always brings me a sense of peace. Getting to go to my grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner after church, having sleepovers at my cousins house (and I have a whole bunch of those! lol) , and spending time with my elders are moments that I do not take for granted. In addition to visiting my family, Shreveport-Bossier has some pretty dope tourist attractions that I believe those visiting the city may find exciting. Here are a few recommendations:
1833 Pierre Avenue
Herby-K’s, open since 1936, is one of Shreveport’s most historic and popular eateries. They are famous for their unique take on the fried shrimp po’ boy, an open-faced sandwich made with flattened shrimp that’s called the Shrimp Buster. I love to go here not only for the food – fresh Gulf seafood makes up the majority of the menu – but also for the atmosphere. The place exudes the kind of charm that you’d expect to find in many of New Orleans’ oldest eateries – you feel like you’ve stepped back in time here.
R.W. Norton Art Gallery
4747 Creswell Avenue
Though its name says “art gallery,” R.W. Norton is actually the largest art museum in northern Louisiana. It houses the personal art collection of the Norton family, oil and gas pioneers who helped develop communities throughout northwestern Louisiana. You can see works by Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Rodin, Clementine Hunter and more at this terrific free museum. While you’re there, save some time to stroll around in the 44-acre garden that surrounds the museum – it may be the most tranquil and beautiful place in Shreveport-Bossier.
Great Raft Brewing
1251 Dalzell Street
One of three local craft breweries with a tasting room on premises, Great Raft Brewing is one of the most acclaimed new breweries in the southern United States. They specialize in clean, hoppy lagers and small-batch sours brewed using centuries-old techniques. You can usually find a great food truck hanging out in the parking lot, live music on the brewery floor, and great local people playing games and hanging out in the taproom.
Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets
540 Boardwalk Boulevard
Bossier City, LA 71111
Arguably the most popular shopping destination in Shreveport-Bossier, the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets is home to more than 60 retail shops as well as restaurants, an IMAX movie theater, a carousel for kids, and more. Popular outlet shops include Nike, GAP, Banana Republic, Wilson’s Leather, and more. The Boardwalk is situated on a beautiful stretch of riverfront located between Margaritaville Resort Casino Bossier City and Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, so there’s a lot of fun to be had within easy walking distance.
Gator Raceway at Gators & Friends Adventure Park
About: Drive high-speed go-karts that travel up to 40 miles per hour around the twists and turns of the all-new Gator Raceway in Greenwood, just outside of Shreveport. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can also through an alligator-infested swamp (it’s as crazy as it sounds) or hold a baby alligator. This place is a lot of fun.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…”Keena, this touristy stuff is cool but WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD!?!?”
I saved the best for last! Louisiana is known for our cuisine (and our official drink, the Daiquiri) so here are a few of my go-to spots when I’m back in the bayou.
First of all, let me tell ya’ll right now…there is an abundance of liquor stores in Shreveport. Like literally one on every corner lol. With that said, not all of them are great places to grab a daiquiri. My FAVORITE and my go-to is Cajun Liquor.
Cajun Liquor is a hood spot that I have literally been going to since I was a teen. This location is close to my grandmother’s house so we would always make stops here. The daiquiri’s here NEVER disappoint! They are made with quality alcohol and the service (this has a drive-thru like many of our liquor stores) is always great. Unlike in New Orleans, daiquiri’s are cheaper in Shreveport (especially at the hood spots lol) and are always BOGO. At Cajun Liquor you can get two large daiquiri’s for $8. Yep, you read that right…8 BUCKS. Try the Vodka Freeze! It’s one of my favorite flavors 🙂
Chile…LISTEN! These little donuts right here are a little piece of heaven on earth! Every time I drive down Hearne Ave. and see that HOT sign on its almost impossible not to stop and get you a Southern Maid donut. Here’s a little of their history: Southern Maid Donuts began in 1937 by Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Hargrove. A young couple coming out of the throws of the Great Depression, they created Southern Maid because they saw the need in the market for quality donuts. They created their own recipes, which have stood the test of time. Quality ingredients and uncompromised procedures are reason for the continued success of the Hargrove family to this very day.
The Southern Maid name came about because of being from the South. Mr. and Mrs. Hargrove wanted a name that encompassed a feeling as well as humble southern traditions and memories. Part of this Southern Maid tradition was a large sponsorship for several years of the Louisiana Hayride Show in Shreveport, Louisiana. Many a young entertainer sang the praises of Southern Maid Donuts. An interesting note: Elvis did the only commercial of his life for any product on November 6th, 1954 for Southern Maid Donuts. He sang the jingle. “You can get them piping hot after 4 P.M., you can get them piping hot, Southern Maid Donuts hits the spot, you can get them piping hot after 4 P.M.” Elvis frequented the Shreveport store for donuts on his visits to the Louisiana Hayride. Other entertainers that sang the praises of Southern Maid include Minnie Pearl, Johnny Horton, and Johnny Cash. The Johnny Cash version was recently released on the Best of the Louisiana Hayride Volume 4.
While in Louisiana, I never eat at a chain like Popeye’s or KFC…Southern Classic is really the only place I like to go for REAL Louisiana fried chicken. Southern Classic has multiple locations throughout the city so I guess you can say that this is a chain except this one is homegrown right in the Caddo. Like everything else in Shreveport, the prices here are super reasonable and the chicken is FYYYYYYYYYYY-UUUURRRR (That’s “Fire” in case you missed that lol). I don’t ever suggest eating fried chicken without a jalapeno pepper so be sure you order some when you order your chicken, okay?
If you’re into seafood, Monkhouse has probably some of the best in the city! They have some really good stuffed shrimp (another staple of Shreveport) and what makes this place great is their location, they are super close to the airport so its an ideal place to grab a bite when you get in town!
Brothers seafood is special to me because the Chapman family have been long-time friends of my family. Brother’s is an iconic staple in Shreveport and they just recently announced they were opening under a new name in honor of Chef Orlando, owner of the franchise who passed away in 2013. Brother’s is best known for their tartar sauce, which is seriously the best thing that you will ever taste in your life. It’s so popular that they sell it by the jars and you can even bring your empty, clean jar to the restaurant and get a refill!
I’m very proud to be born in a city like Shreveport. It truly represents the unique culture that the state of Louisiana is known for without all the “extraness” that can come with a tourist city like New Orleans. I want to give a special thank you to Chris Jay & Shreveport’s Tourist Bureau for providing some images and recommendations for this post. If you’re ever in Louisiana, consider giving my hometown a visit! If you need more convincing, take a look at this “Welcome to Shreveport-Bossier” video produced by the tourist bureau.