New Orleans may be one of the top cities to visit in the country, but northwest Louisiana is home to another historic area worth seeing—Shreveport and Bossier (BO-zher) City, commonly referred to as Shreveport-Bossier.
Pioneers first came to the region in the 1830s, recognizing the great potential of the area. Today there are eleven distinct neighborhoods and districts full of historic sights, endlessly delicious dining options, and vivacious nightlife events. Get lost wandering the streets of downtown Shreveport or exploring the East Bank District of Bossier City, and don’t be afraid to laissez les bon temps rouler—let the good times roll!
Louisiana is home to a breadth of diverse cultures, fascinating history, beautiful creatures, and unique cuisine. And a trip to Shreveport-Bossier wouldn’t be complete without taking part in some of what makes it such a special place. The region hosts a variety of different festivals throughout the year, giving you the ability to plan your trip around the events that interest you most. Nothing quite compares to Shreveport-Bossier’s Mardi Gras celebrations, which see a host of parades and parties in January and February. Catch beads as they’re thrown from the floats along the parade routes, and enjoy a delicious king’s cake from Lilah’s King Cakes or Lowder Baking Company. Later in the year, you can take a ride in a hot-air balloon during summer’s Red River Balloon Rally or have fun at the State Fair of Louisiana in October and November.
Cajun and creole cuisines are staples of Louisiana, and there’s no shortage of places to try favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, po’boy sandwiches, and boiled crawfish. However, Shreveport is home to one special delicacy—Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp. Originating in the historic Black-owned restaurant Freeman & Harris Café, this dish consists of large shrimp that are stuffed with a creole dressing, then deep-fried and served with spicy tartar sauce. Though the café is now closed, you can find these filled crustaceans at numerous restaurants in the area.
Louisiana is also home to one of the largest alligator populations in the world, with more than a million of the creatures living in the state. While you may spot a few in the wild, you can also get up close and personal with them at the Gators and Friends adventure park in Greenwood, which has over 150 alligators located throughout its property. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can ride a 750-foot zip line over the main gator pond for a thrilling, spectacular view. For something a little tamer, head downtown to the Shreveport Aquarium and see its baby alligators from a safe distance. While you’re there, observe some of the other 300-plus species and 1,000 animals, and stop in to feed a stingray or pet a few moon jellies.
As you explore Shreveport-Bossier, you’ll notice it features dozens of statues, murals, and museums. Art has historically played a significant part in the area’s story, and its numerous public art installations offer visitors a chance to see and experience that history. Check out the bronze Elvis Presley statue, located in front of the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, that commemorates the singer’s first local performance at the Louisiana Hayride program in 1954. You’ll also find ART the Dalmatian—which was created by two local Academy Award–winning animators, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg—standing guard in front of a former fire station. While the 19½-foot creation is beautiful to behold at any point during the day, it comes to life at night due to its color-changing LED spots.
The Texas Street Bridge, which connects Shreveport to Bossier, is a significant part of the region’s skyline, and in 2022, it received an upgrade—it’s now home to the Bakowski Bridge of Lights, which features 13,000 LED interactive lights that illuminate the landmark. Intended to highlight the revitalization of the area, the bridge features an ever-changing schedule of light shows, so each night may be full of surprises. Found in the Highland area, the R.W. Norton Art Gallery is filled with art spanning four millennia. Its teaching museum offers visitors the chance to explore more than four hundred paintings from over one hundred different artists and houses hundreds of wood, bronze, silver, and marble sculptures. Take your time roaming the different exhibits before making your way to the gallery’s botanical gardens. Marketed as “fusing art and nature,” the gardens boast nearly forty acres of landscape filled with thousands of plants, though they’re perhaps most known for their azaleas, which spring to life in March and April each year.
With countless opportunities for outdoor recreation, Shreveport-Bossier is a wonderful destination for your next adventure. Whether you want to bird-watch or explore marshes teeming with wildlife, you’ll get an unforgettable experience at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in South Bossier. The refuge works to conserve, protect, and enhance the lives of native Louisiana wildlife and offers a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, and fishing. With eighteen hiking trails ranging from one-fifth of a mile to nearly five and a half miles, you have many opportunities to explore the refuge, encounter wildlife, and take in the beautiful greenery the state is known for.
A local favorite, the 136-mile Boom or Bust Byway moves through four parishes—Caddo, Bossier, Webster, and Claiborne. Highlighting the resilience of the Louisiana people through various periods of economic highs and industrial lows, this scenic, historic route is full of surprises and hidden treasures around each bend. You may come across unique museums, endless forests, classic Southern dining, or even fields of old oil equipment from decades past located next to a quaint town filled with local shops and treats.
If you’re looking to get outdoors but aren’t interested in a hike or drive, consider visiting the East Bank District and Plaza in Bossier. Open since 2017, it has become a vibrant and popular part of the city. On any given night, you can hop between dozens of local businesses, restaurants, and taverns, or you could catch a live musical performance in the plaza or at Hurricane Alley, an outdoor music venue. If you’re looking for even more options, the district is within walking distance of the riverfront Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, your one-stop shop for all your entertainment, shopping, and dining needs.
A trip to Shreveport-Bossier is guaranteed to be full of surprises. It perfectly encompasses all that makes Louisiana such a unique place while adding its own special something that you won’t find anywhere else. With delicious food, friendly locals, and exciting activities for all ages, it’s a great destination for your next getaway.
For more info, visit shreveport-bossier.org