Known as Louisiana’s Other Side, the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area is on the far corner from the state’s party destination of New Orleans. Just 15 minutes from Texas on the West and 30 minutes from Arkansas to the north, this area is about as lively as they come. They might not have Bourbon Street, but Shreveport-Bossier is not a sleepy hollow either.
Home to several universities, including Southern University and Louisiana State University Shreveport — there’s always something happening is this southern city.
If you’re on the hunt for a locale with all the Louisiana charm without the New Orleans prices, Shreveport and Bossier City might just be the right stop for you. There is no shortage of sights, sounds, or activities in this fun city.
Here are 19 things to do in Shreveport and Bossier City that we know your family will enjoy!
Recognized as a 2020 Travelers’ Choice by TripAdvisor, the Shreveport Aquarium is a hot spot for tourists in the area, and it’s a great place to spend a day. The aquarium is home to over 300 species and 1,000 animals! They offer hand-feeding with stingrays, a touch tank with moon jellyfish, and plenty of opportunities to learn about conservation.
Beyond the deep blue seas, the aquarium also features the Red River Treasure Mine, “Louisiana’s only indoor, climate-controlled gem, fossil, and gold mining experience!” Miners can experience the process miners of old experienced (without the sweltering heat) by interacting with the 35 foot-long indoor sluice. The water rinses sediment from the treasures for miners to spot who get to keep their fiend as well as take home a fact card to make it truly a learning experience!
In March, the aquarium hosts the Paddlefish Festival. A Party for the Planet is planned in April, along with the chance to have breakfast with a mermaid. Guests can view over 300 species and 1,000 animals while hand-feeding stingrays and touching jellyfish.
ASIAN GARDENS OF SHREVEPORT
A group of community members once asked the City of Shreveport to let them makeover a park in desperate need of some love. That’s how the space became known as the ASEANA Asian Gardens. The community garden came to represent many different heritages including India, the Philippines, Cambodia, Japan, and so many others.
Open to the public from sun up to sundown, The Asian Gardens are a place of communal tranquil beauty. The gardens represent 15 different Asian cultures, and the park is full of statuary, tilework, and even pagodas.
Downtown Shreveport also says that there are twice-yearly Asian festivals hosted at the park as well.
RW NORTON ART GALLERY AND BOTANIC GARDEN
Once dubbed “one of the South’s favorite spots” by Southern Living Magazine, the R.W. Norton Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens is a fusion of humankind’s art alongside that of nature.
The gallery is known as one of the foremost collections of art by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. It also operates as a teaching museum that encourages “community participation in thoughtful interpretations and discussions.” This free museum has a collection of more than 400 paintings and sculptures representative of over 100 artists.
Around the gallery are 40 acres of meticulous landscaping and their botanical gardens. The gardens are home to tens of thousands of plants, including several thousand azaleas which reappear every spring. Throughout the garden’s paths are benches for visitors to spend more time in the gorgeous space.
GATORS & FRIENDS PETTING ZOO AND ADVENTURE PARK
Gators & Friends was brought to life with one goal in mind: to educate the public on the care of animals, as well as a deeper understanding of them. With any animal — from their alligators to their lemurs — the goal of the staff of Gators and Friends is to provide an educational and interactive experience for their guests.
There are over 150 Louisiana Alligators at the park. If a furry, exotic animal petting zoo is more your speed they have one of those too.
In addition to the critters, the park has pony rides, a zipline, and even go-kart racing. So we’ll meet y’all at Gator Raceway!
SHREVEPORT MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM
A gorgeous remnant of the Art Deco period, the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium calls itself “one of Shreveport’s most treasured buildings” and “the finest example of Art Deco construction in the State of Louisiana.” This 1920’s artifact has seen many musical acts in its day and continues to do so even today. Visitors can see concerts throughout the year at this auditorium.
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is the former home of the Louisiana Hayride — a popular live radio and stage show that gave the Grand Ole Opry a run for its money. The stage here is where Elvis Presley really got his start! You know the phrase, “Elvis has left the building”? That was said here! (More on Elvis below.)
Musicians performing there now are standing where some of the country’s greatest musicians stood before them. Per the venue’s website, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Bobbie “Blue” Bland have all performed in their space. It is also now recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
ELVIS PRESLEY STATUE
In the heart of Downtown Shreveport is a statue of Elvis Presley. No, he wasn’t born there, but he did get what became known as his “big break” performing on stage at the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in October 1954.
The statue was placed to commemorate where Elvis showed everyone that he really was The King. You can find it right outside the auditorium.
WALTER B JACOBS MEMORIAL NATURE PARK
Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park is 160 acres of pine-oak-hickory forest with five miles of hiking trails. They also have a handicapped-accessible trail, as well as several naturalists on staff to help give visitors a better understanding of the park’s inhabitants.
In addition to the trails, they have an aviary and deer enclosure that guests can enjoy. Admission to the park is free and they have events throughout the year.
Right in the heart of Downtown Shreveport is Fatty Arbuckles, one of the city’s oldest operating lounges. With over 300 whiskeys behind the bar, they’re certainly involved in some–whiskey business. They’re known for their live music, as well as weekend karaoke, in addition to their St. Fatty’s Day (St. Patty’s Day) block party.
To keep things interesting, they have a rotating craft cocktail menu created by their bartenders.
It’s also been called one of the Best Bourbon Bars in the World by GoBourbon.com. Clearly, this Red River District bar has some big expectations to live up to!
LOUISIANA STATE EXHIBIT MUSEUM
An artifact in its own right, the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum was finished in 1939 as part of the Public Works projects borne out of the New Deal. The ornate, circular building is home to 23 scale dioramas depicting life in Louisiana in the 1940s. Also in the museum’s collection are a variety of Native American pieces, historical relics of national and regional importance, as well as work by local artists and natural history exhibits.
The museum’s website also mentions former resident Charlie-Bob the Alligator. Charlie-Bob lived in the courtyard fountain among some turtles and fish from the 1950s until 2000. Charlie-Bob was relocated by the state to live at the State Fairgrounds (with some other alligators)which is down the road from the museum.
At over 100 years old, Orlandeaux’s Cafe is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Shreveport, as well as the oldest continuously operating African-American owned restaurant in the United States. Although there have been name changes since the restaurant first opened its doors in 1921 (Freeman & Harris Café, Pete Harris Café, and Brother’s Seafood), this restaurant is steeped in history.
The cafe is known for its stuffed shrimp with house-made tartar sauce, as well as their traditional dishes like Gumbeaux and their Étoufée.
The restaurant’s name is derived from current owner Orlando “Chef” Chapman, who is carrying on the eatery to continue his family’s legacy. Chapman is also the 2011 Gentleman’s Cooking Classic Celebrity Chef.
SHREVEPORT WATER WORKS MUSEUM
The Shreveport Water Works Museum is a unique glimpse into days gone by. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, it is also a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
The McNeill Street Pumping Station first opened in 1887 as the city’s first water plant and was in use until 1980. Having the whole plant still intact after a century is a rarity in civil engineering of that time period.
The Smithsonian believes that the pumping station was the last operating steam-powered municipal water program in America.
BETTY VIRGINIA PARK
One of the top-visited parks in Shreveport, the Betty Virginia Park has a little bit to offer to everyone. It has a baseball diamond, picnic areas, playground equipment, and walking trails.
The park is open from dawn until dusk, and is free to visit.
SCI-PORT DISCOVERY CENTER
Lifelong learning can happen at any age and, at the Sci-Port Discovery Center that learning is a hands-on adventure. With engaging exhibits on topics of science, technology, engineering, and math, Sci-Port states that they “serve to spark curiosity about the world around us.”
In addition to their interactive exhibits, the center also has an IMAX for immersive movie experiences. They are the only IMAX dome theater in Louisiana! IMAX® Dome, the 4K laser projection system immerses guests into the movie experience with incredible sound and color, has now been added. This immersive cinematic experience features blockbusters, documentaries, and family favorites.
In Summer 2023, Game-Port returns to Sci-Port, featuring an interactive science playground of gaming.
SPLASH KINGDOM WATERPARK
Folks looking to soak up some family fun don’t have to look far to get there. The Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Shreveport has water slides, pools, water game areas, and a lazy river along with many other exciting activities for everyone to enjoy.
There are even options to rent out areas or the cabanas for private events.
Part playground and part petting zoo, Jubilee Zoo is a place for “the young and the young at heart.” They are home to a “party barn,” which features a giant slide and mini zip line, along with lots of farm and exotic animals to pet. Kiddos can ride ponies and even feed some of the critters!
Spaces at the zoo can be rented for parties, while some of their amenities are able to be rented to come to you. Who wants to go in on a party with some mini sheep, pygmy goats, with a mini cow and pony?!
GARDENS OF THE AMERICAN ROSE CENTER
As the country’s largest park dedicated to roses, the gardens at the park are rightfully home to the national headquarters of the American Rose Society. The Gardens of the American Rose Center started in 1974 when the headquarters relocated to Shreveport from Columbus, OH.
Rose Garden season is usually from the beginning of April through the end of October.
Admission to the gardens is not technically free, they have suggested donations for the center to continue their work.
MEADOWS MUSEUM OF ART
Shreveport and Bossier City are not short on art museums, so don’t think these little cities aren’t holding on to a lot of fascinating pieces. The Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College is proof. Their exhibitions of contemporary art are always rotating to keep visitors immersed in new work from artists across the region, country, and world. They also have a permanent collection as well.
The museum has been open since 1975 and features over 1,600 pieces that showcase a wide variety of artistic and cultural traditions. They are home to the Stein Collection of Inuit Art, the Miller Collection of Haitian Art, and the Carlton Collection of African Art. They also have pieces by renowned artists Mary Cassatt and Alfred Maurer, as well as work by George Grosz, Emilio Amero, and Rufino Tamayo among others.
THE AGORA BOREALIS
Along with the myriad art museums, Shreveport is home to the Agora Borealis, a one-of-a-kind art gallery/artisan boutique. Local makers stock the shop with projects like soap, lighting fixtures, and food.
It opened in July 2014 as the first artist marketplace in the area. It lives in an Art Deco-era building designed by Joseph A. Redding.
BARKSDALE GLOBAL POWER MUSEUM
Located on Barksdale Air Force Base, the Barksdale Global Power Museum will take you on a journey through the past so you can learn about the history of Strategic Bombardment at the home of the 2nd Bomb Wing.
The museum is not only a memorial to their success in battle, but also recognizes the years spent trying to avoid war, too. Six different exhibition galleries here tell those stories.
You’ll also see plenty of vintage aircraft here, like the B-17 and B-24 bombers of WWII, and Cold War heroes like the B-52D and B-52G Stratofortress. They also have the highest and fastest flying jet aircraft ever on display — the MACH 3+ SR-71 Blackbird.
Note: Because the museum is located on an active military base, guests will need to complete a BARKSDALE AFB MUSEUM ACCESS PASS 30 days prior to their visit to the museum in order to visit. You can download it on their website.
RED RIVER BREWING
Red River Brewpub is the first local brewery since prohibition and one of Shreveport-Bossier’s most sought after venues. Since opening in 2012 it’s been a staple of great food, fun times, and award-winning beer in the Northwest Louisiana region.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO LOUISIANA
- LOUISIANA VACATION
- ALL THINGS LOUISIANA: 25 THINGS TO DO IN LOUISIANA EVERYONE WILL LOVE
- NATCHITOCHES: 8 SENSATIONAL THINGS TO DO IN NATCHITOCHES LA FOR HISTORY BUFFS
- NEW ORLEANS CHRISTMAS: HOW TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS LIKE A LOCAL
- LAKE CHARLES: 12 OUTSTANDING THINGS TO DO IN LAKE CHARLES, LA
What is Shreveport, Louisiana known for?
Shreveport, Louisiana is best known for it’s Riverboat Casinos.
What are the top attractions in Shreveport, Louisiana?
Some of the top attractions in Shreveport, Louisiana include the Shreveport Aquarium, Sci-Port Discovery Center, R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, and Shreveport Water Works Museum.
Which movies were filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana?
Several movies were filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana including Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Factory Girl, The Great Debaters, and The Guardian.
WHERE TO STAY IN SHREVEPORT – BOSSIER
Bed and Breakfast – 2439 Fairfield is a B&B that’s just a short walk to the Fairfield Historic District and Columbia Park. Couples like this accommodation due to the beautiful garden grounds and quaint decor.
Best for Families. The Cross Lake Maison Is a 990 square/ft two bedroom lakeside accommodation that’s affordable and a great option for families. It’s about 8 miles from the Louisiana State Museum. An à la carte breakfast is also available.
Roll the Dice. Bally’s Shreveport Casino & Hotel Yes – there is a casino option here for those so inclined. It is highly rated and just 3 miles from Bossier. Great for couples!
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