Experience the charming culture of the Old South by hitting these hot spots during a trip to Shreveport, Louisiana. Often overshadowed by the more well-known southeastern city of New Orleans, Shreveport is one of the best-kept secrets in Cajun Country. As the third most populated metropolis in Louisiana, it boasts a never-ending list of urban delights, including various museums, theaters, and events.

Those interested in experiencing more of that Southern flair won’t be disappointed as Shreveport is also home to some of the best cooking in the Creole State, as is evident by its extensive list of restaurants and cafés.

If your travels take you to Shreveport, visiting some of these hot spots is a must on any vacation checklist.

01Shreveport's Cultural Influences

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The Strand Theater - It's not necessary to travel to New York City for theater performances worthy of Broadway. The Strand Theater has been open in Shreveport since July of 1925. A historic opera house built with the glorious architecture made popular during The Gilded Age, The Strand made its reputation on opera performances and then, later, as a movie theater. After closing its doors in the mid-70s, it reopened a decade later and currently hosts Broadway shows, ballets and concerts. This performance house is a must-see for those who love history and grandeur. The RiverView Theater – Located along the beautiful Red River, this theater opened its doors in 1965 and has built its status by featuring the finest performing arts in the region. It currently hosts the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet, and the Shreveport Opera. A modest venue, its history and beauty will delight all visitors.

02A Tribute to Shreveport's History

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Shreveport is home to several historical museums that are perfect for touring on your own or with your family while visiting the city.

Louisiana State Exhibit Museum – President Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the museum as part of the New Deal in 1939. Using impressive dioramas, the museum depicts monumental moments in Louisiana’s history. From Native American tribes to the Civil War, the museum serves to educate all of the events and residents who shaped the Creole State’s history.

The Spring Street Museum – Though smaller in scale, The Spring Street Museum holds a Southern charm within its Victorian walls. Built in 1866, the museum is housed in the oldest building of Shreveport. It’s history in banking and, later, as a local pub, give it extra color. Photos and artifacts from both Louisiana’s finest moments in history, and its most tawdry, are on display for visitors’ enjoyment.

03Mardi Gras Shreveport-Style

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Louisiana gives a nod to its French heritage with the annual festival, Mardi Gras. Shreveport embraces this festive event, holding multiple celebrations in its honor every February. If you are in town during the Carnival season, these events are not to be missed.

The Twelfth Night Celebration – The Mardi Gras season kicks off ceremoniously with this entertaining evening. The royal courts of the local krewes are announced and food, drink, and merriment are had by all.

Mardi Gras Parades – Decked out floats, masked performers, and colorful beads flying out in all directions. Parades featuring all krewes are held with their respective royal courts on full display.

The Krewe of Barkus and Meoux Mardi Paw Parade - Shreveport residents parade around their favorite pets adorned in costumes of purple and gold. This non-profit works for animal rights in the Shreveport area, with a focus on helping abused and neglected animals.

04Festivals For All Ages

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Festival Plaza is Shreveport’s premiere outdoor venue space at over 400,000 square feet, complete with concession stands, stages, and more. Events take place year-round, so be sure to check your calendar to see what is scheduled during your trip.

Get a taste of Louisiana at the Mudbug Madness Festival during Memorial Weekend in May. There is live Cajun music and menus filled with some of the Bayou State’s signature cuisine, including jambalaya and seafood gumbo.

The Red River Revel is a family-friendly arts festival that offers entertainment for people of all ages. From live music to fine arts, children’s activities to food, this nine-day event has everything.

For the 21-and-over crowd, Brew: A Premiere Beer Tasting is a festival offering over 100 craft beers. Set against a backdrop of college football games and live music, you can enjoy food provided by local restaurants while tasting a variety of microbrews.

05Nature Hikes

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Though downtown Shreveport is a thriving metropolis, the outskirts of the city offer plenty of hiking and wildlife opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park is a 160-acre forest conservation that offers animal exhibits including a deer enclosure and an aviary filled with Birds of Prey. Interwoven with 5-miles of hiking trails, plus children’s play areas and other hands-on nature displays, this park is a prime location for family fun.

The Red River Natural Wildlife Refuge also has 5-miles of nature trails from which various animals can be viewed in their natural habitat. Take a boat or canoe out onto Lake Caroline and spend the afternoon fishing or just enjoying the scenery.

06Red River of the South

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Shreveport resides beside the Red River, which flows from the Texas Panhandle through Shreveport and down into central Louisiana. The river began its history as a major food source for the Native American tribes that lived along its banks. It later became a focal point called the Red River Campaign for battles during the Civil War.

Today, the river offers many tourist opportunities. The Spirit of the Red River Cruise takes guests for a tour of the waters where wildlife can often be seen. The tour guide shares his vast knowledge of Shreveport history during the course of this 1-hour adventure.

Riverboat casinos are prevalent as these gaming halls take advantage of the scenic southern waterway by housing their venues in paddle-wheeled steamboats. Though the riverboats are stationary, the ambiance cannot be denied. Two of Shreveport’s most popular casinos are the Eldorado Resort Casino and Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino.

07The Best Cajun and Creole Cuisine

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Louisiana is known for its unique dishes and Shreveport is no exception. These restaurants offer a taste of the Southern flavors that make up the Louisiana food culture.

Crawdaddy’s Kitchen is the best place to go for the popular crustaceans that make their home in the fresh waters of the South. Served on a large platter with corn on the cob and red potatoes, these crayfish are ready to be peeled and enjoyed.

Boasting a sturdy reputation for fantastic Creole cuisine that dates back nearly 100 years, Orlandeaux’s Café offers a menu jam-packed with Louisiana favorites. Soul food, Gumbeaux, and Étouffée are just some of the delicious entrees that await customers.

Kim’s Seafood and Po-Boy is one of the lesser-known gems of Shreveport. With a menu created by a former shrimp boat captain, this establishment offers 125 different items that range from boiled crawfish to the infamous Louisiana po-boy sandwich.

08Craft Brews

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Shreveport is a hub for breweries that are sure to satisfy beer lovers of varying tastes. Whether it be the tastings that draw you in or an interest in the brew process itself, tours are available at all these local establishments. The Red River Brewing Co. was the first to open its doors in Shreveport. Known for its wheat rye ale, Hay Ryed, this brewhouse also offers a German-style pilsner and a pale ale on its list of signature beers. If tasting these unique craft brews isn’t enough, Red River has its own restaurant, The Smokehouse, which specializes in Cajun BBQ. Great Raft Brewing has four flagship beers offered both by can and on tap. From a golden ale, dry pilsner, pale ale, and a black lager, all bases are covered in the tasting arena. Seasonal brews are also available, in addition to an extensive list of porters and nitros.

09Animal Adventures for the Family

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There are plenty of exciting activities to keep the kids happy on a family vacation to Shreveport. Louisiana’s unique habitat provides several different animal attractions that children and adults are sure to enjoy.

The Gators and Friends Adventure Park brings the wilds of the bayou to your fingertips. There’s a petting zoo filled with exotic animals from around the world and plenty of alligators throughout the park for viewing. Add to that, a zipline adventure that gives you an aerial view of the animals, plus an exciting go-kart track, and that makes this Adventure Park the perfect spot for family fun.

The Shreveport Aquarium gives an underwater view of the ocean’s most interesting creatures. Take the opportunity to touch a jellyfish or sting ray, or feed the sharks. Interactive Tide Pools allow guests to get an up-close look at different salt water creatures and learn more about their individual habitats.

10Shreveport Shopaholics

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No vacation would be complete without a little retail therapy and Shreveport has a couple of must-stop shopping locations perfect for tourists.

The Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets is an outdoor shopping center located on the banks of the beautiful Red River. It has over 60 retail shops in addition to several restaurants, a movie theater, and even a live alligator show at Uncle Buck’s Gator Bayou.

The Agora Borealis is Shreveport’s local artisan marketplace with local vendors selling their homemade wares to the public. Soaps, clothes, food, and jewelry are some of the many items that can be found at this indoor gallery of goods.