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October 2020

October 2020

7 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in Monroe-West Monroe

Start with joyful parades and a fireworks show, add one million radiant lights and a visit to Santa’s Christmas Village, and you’ve got the makings of an unforgettable holiday season. This is just a taste of what awaits during Monroe-West Monroe’s Christmas on the River, a month-long celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. Family-friendly events and attractions, more than 30 antique shops and trendy boutiques and plenty of chances to visit with Santa Claus mean these sister cities have something to offer just about anyone. If you’re looking for a magical holiday getaway that your whole family will love, visit Monroe-West Monroe.

To help you get the most out of your stay here, we’ve put together seven of the top ways to enjoy the season. Of course, there’s far more going on than what we have here, so check out our calendar of events so you don’t miss out.

Christmas on the River Festival Weekend

Watch as festive holiday parades march by, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display from the banks of the Ouachita River and take in all the other yuletide cheer of Christmas on the River's Festival Weekend (Dec. 4-6). Full of one event after another over three days, Monroe-West Monroe is the best place to be to kick off your holiday season. The party starts with Festival Weekend! Start your day off with the annaul Christmas on the River 5K. Then head to Bawcomville for the annual Redneck Parade (Dec. 5), a procession of redneck-themed floats that throw beads, toys and other surprises. If that isn’t enough for you, The Kiwanis Club of Greater Ouachita Christmas Parade (Dec. 5) brings festive cheer to downtown Monroe and West Monroe.

These parades will keep you busy, yet they are just a small part of all the holiday revelry you'll find here. The Downtown West Monroe Fireworks Extravaganza (Dec. 5) brightens the night sky with an epic light show, while Twin City Ballet (Dec. 5) takes over the Monroe Civic Center with live performances, decorations, and more!

With a full stocking's worth of things to see and do during Christmas on the River's Festival Weekend, it's the ideal time to visit Monroe-West Monroe this holiday season.

Santa’s Christmas Village

While it's always great to meet Santa Claus, how often do you get the chance to visit his Christmas Village? Step into this winter wonderland and you'll be making ornaments, decorating cookies and riding down Mount Sneaux in no time. Take your time as you admire the outdoor light show and the Coca-Cola Christmas Village train exhibit, and let your kids share what they want for Christmas with Santa. Held from Nov. 21 to Dec. 23 at the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, Santa's Christmas Village is a must visit during your holiday retreat in Monroe-West Monroe.

Candy Cane Lane

It's not the holiday season without Christmas lights, and Candy Cane Lane is where you'll want to be. Cruise the one-mile-long route and you'll see more than one million shining lights arranged in a variety of jaw-dropping displays, including a lighted tunnel you can drive through. Sip a hot cocoa and enjoy the show in one of the most unique Christmas attractions around. Want to see it all for yourself? Head to Calhoun from Nov. 13 – Jan 2 from 6 – 10 p.m. for a fun night out.

Open Air Wagon Rides Through the Lights

As majestic as Candy Cane Lane is, it’s not the only place where you can marvel at Christmas Lights. Climb aboard Landry Vineyards’ open-air wagon and embark on a 30-minute tour of Monroe and West Monroe’s shining lights. These jaunts through downtown West Monroe start at 5 p.m. on every Friday and Saturday night from Nov. 28 to Dec. 20. Although the lights will bring you to the downtown area, you’ll want to stick around to experience the rest the area has to offer. Take in the sights, do some Christmas shopping, and get your fill at one of the many nearby restaurants.  

Holiday Outdoor Movies

What could be better than watching one of your favorite Christmas movies in Antique Alley under the magical Christmas lights? The Holiday Outdoor Movies are free for everyone! Dates for this years movies are November 28 and December 12! 

Holiday Shopping

Find the perfect gifts for your friends and family while shopping in Monroe-West Monroe. Visit Antique Alley, a shopping district located in Downtown West Monroe with antique shops and trendy boutiques. Stop by the Christmas Market for a unique shopping experience with local vendors while enjoying fun events throughout the season. And of course, check out the great holiday sales at Pecanland Mall

Christmas at Kiroli 

Celebrate Christmas at Kiroli Park this holiday season. Enjoy a walk-through Christmas light displays, hot cocoa, smores, and holiday activities! The entire family is sure to love this event. Christmas at Kiroli dates are December 18-19 and 21-22. 

Whether you’re traveling with your family or you simply want to experience the magic of the holiday season, visit Monroe-West Monroe for Christmas on the River. Plan your stay here.

Where to See Christmas Lights in Shreveport-Bossier in 2020

Where to See Christmas Lights in Shreveport-Bossier in 2020

Where to See Christmas Lights in Shreveport-Bossier

The holidays are still lit in the cities along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights. Here are some places in Shreveport-Bossier that are sure to put a twinkle in your eye:

  1. Christmas in Roseland

See the American Rose Center transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights, dozens of lighted displays, giant Christmas Cards to the Community, nightly entertainment, photos with Santa, rides on the Roseland Express train and tons of fun for the whole family!

 

  1. Downtown Shreveport

See Downtown Shreveport decked out with wreathes adorning the historic lamp posts lining the streets. Be sure to stop by RiverView Park to see one of the tallest Christmas trees in the region and enchanting Christmas light displays, as well as a beautiful view of the lights across the Red River at Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets.

 

  1. Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets

The sister cities’ iconic shopping destination is always a sight to see for the holidays. While you’re shopping at the many outlet stores and dining at one of the restaurants, you can enjoy Christmas lights lining the avenues, hear Christmas music, and see two giant Christmas trees.

 

  1. East Bank District and Plaza

Bossier City’s newest entertainment district is filled with dining and many fun things to do.

For more information about Shreveport-Bossier, visit www.Shreveport-Bossier.org.   

Enjoy Holiday Shopping in Shreveport-Bossier

No trip to Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana is complete without shopping to your heart’s content. The sister cities have plenty of local shops, boutiques, art galleries, and outlet stores to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. While you’re hunting, be sure to check out these stops:

 

  1. Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets

What you’ll find: Nestled on the banks of the Red River, Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets is a must-do on any visit to the sister cities. The outlet mall has many shops, restaurants and sweetshops, trolley rides, on-site hotels, and more. Don’t leave without exploring the popular Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World or indulging in a chocolate apple from a local chocolatier, The Chocolate Crocodile.

 

  1. The Enchanted Garden

What you’ll find: The Enchanted Garden has nine rooms of treasures including ladies' jewelry and accessories, collectibles, toys, Louisiana specialties, and hundreds of unique items including custom-made Mardi Gras masks.

 

  1. The Agora Borealis

What you’ll find: The Agora Borealis is an artisan marketplace that offers locally made products like art, clothes, food, housewares, jewelry, soaps, and upcycled items from artists in the Ark-La-Tex region.

 

  1. Timeline Antiques and Collectibles Mall

What you’ll find: Got a vintage lover on your list? This place is full of stuff from floor to ceiling to make their heart sing. From vinyl records and vintage clothing to home décor and timeless art, you’ll find the perfect unique gift.

For more information about shopping in Shreveport-Bossier, click here.

Explore Bossier City’s Newest Entertainment Playground – East Bank District

Welcome sign that says East Bank District and Plaza in a light blue circle on a storefront window

Bossier City’s newest entertainment playground – East Bank District - has quickly become the heart of the city. Here you’ll find restaurants, Flying Heart Brewing and Pub, Bayou Axe Throwing Co., Bossier Arts Council, and plenty of fun! In the middle of the district is the East Bank Plaza, where community events, live music and parties are held. Grab a to-go drink from any of the restaurants or brewery and explore all that the East Bank District has to offer.

The East Bank District is also conveniently located within walking distance of Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel and Casino, Boomtown Casino and Hotel, Margaritaville Resort Casino, Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, as well as several hotels.

For a complete list of things to see, do and taste in Shreveport-Bossier, visit www.Shreveport-Bossier.org.

Explore Downtown Shreveport for the Holidays

Sci-Port Discovery Center's exterior welcome sign has bold red letters with the museum's name

They say to find the pulse of any community, you have to explore the beat of its downtown. Museums, restaurants, casinos, bars, and entertainment venues make up the core of downtown Shreveport. There are so many things to explore. But here is a list to consider when making holiday plans to visit.

Museums – Downtown Shreveport offers fun, family-oriented museums and art galleries. Some must-see attractions include: Sci-Port Discovery Center who just received a top TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice designation, Shreveport Aquarium, Artspace, Marlene Yu Museum, and Multicultural Center of the South.

Dining – There is no shortage of good food in downtown Shreveport. You can enjoy everything from a classic craft cocktail at Fatty Arbuckles Pub to locally brewed coffee at Rhino Coffee - Downtown. Shababy’s Cajun Cooking is the newest restaurant. Some of the favorites include Abby’s Singer’s Bistro, Blind Tiger, Bon Asian Café, Noble Savage Tavern, and Retro Down Town Cafe.

Shopping – Shopping and holidays are synonymous right? Here are a few places to find unique gifts – Agora Borealis, Giftspace at Artspace, and C&C Merchantile and Lighting.

For a complete list of things to see, do and taste in Shreveport-Bossier, visit www.Shreveport-Bossier.org.

5 Shreveport-Bossier Gumbos You Can’t Miss

White bowl filled with spicy, Louisiana gumbo that includes chicken, sausage and shrimp.

Just when the air starts to get a tinge of crispness to it, in Shreveport-Bossier that means its gumbo time. People start debating which is the best - chicken and sausage or seafood gumbo. I like seafood gumbo myself, but there are five great places to get either Louisiana fall and winter staple.

Abby Singer’s Bistro, located inside the Robinson Film Center, offers chicken and sausage, as well seafood gumbo. Ask your server to mix them if you like seafood. You won’t want to have it any other way after this tantalizing experience. If the weather is nice, enjoy your gumbo outside on the balcony.

BeauxJax Crafthouse is a restaurant and bar located in the East Bank District. They are known for their Cajun and Creole classics like chicken and sausage gumbo and beignets. Outside seating is available.

Crawdaddy’s Kitchen, located in West Shreveport, promotes themselves as a place to slow down and connect over the best Cajun cuisine and seafood around. Crawdaddy’s has a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. It’s flavorful. But you might feel torn between gumbo and some of the seafood classics like boudin balls, shrimp and grits or fried crawfish pie. Believe me, that’s a good dilemma to have.

Orlandeaux’s Café, located near the Shreveport Regional Airport, is a Creole and Southern restaurant. They are known and loved for their Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp, but please don’t sleep on the gumbo. It’s perfectly seasoned roux combined with fresh seafood, chicken and sausage will hit all the right taste bud notes.

Gumbo to Geaux is a Bossier City restaurant serving up traditional Louisiana favorites like fried catfish, jambalaya and po’boys. But their gumbo, well the restaurant’s namesake has gumbo in it so that tells you just how serious they take it. Their seafood gumbo comes with shrimp, crab and crawfish so you get the holy trinity of Louisiana seafood.

To learn more about the food scene in Shreveport-Bossier, check out digital version of Eat Here: A Foodie’s Guide to Shreveport-Bossier. For a complete list of things to see, do and taste in Shreveport-Bossier, visit www.Shreveport-Bossier.org.

A Road Trip through Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights: Stop 5

Guest Blogger Alice Phillips toured each of the eight cities on Louisiana's Holiday Trail of Lights. This is her experience in Stop 5 - Natchitoches.

Stop 5: Natchitoches​

Natchitoches, and no it’s not pronounced like you would think, was my eighth and final town to stop in. After my short drive from Pineville and making sure I was saying Nack-a-tish right, I pulled into the quaint downtown area. Front Street is the main street with a long stretch of unique shops, restaurants and businesses overlooking the river walk.

Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile is Louisiana’s oldest general store and features everything from modern cookware to classic toys like Radio Flyer to Christmas decorations and gifts. I probably could have spent a few hours just looking at everything they sell. I bought a few gifts that brought me childhood nostalgia and was rung up on the working cash register used since 1910. The store also has the original freight elevator to take you to the second floor with more gifts.

I strolled down the brick-lined streets and popped in a few more stores before stopping for lunch at Merci Beaucoup. Locals filled up this charming lunch spot with a classic Cajun and American menu. Their signature dish is a Cajun potato, a stuffed potato with crawfish etouffee, a jumbo fried shrimp and of course a side of hot French bread. You can also find the famous Natchitoches Meat Pies at Merci Beaucoup along other restaurants. The space is lively and offers a back room larger groups can rent for an event or gathering.

The Saints were playing so we headed to Cane River Brewing Company to catch a little bit of the game and a beer before the rest of the day’s tours. This brewery is housed in a near century old cotton gin building full of beautiful natural light. The refurbished space is welcoming to large groups with plenty of seats and tables to sit at. I sat at the bar and had one of their seasonal porters while watching the game. Kids can stay busy by playing giant Jenga or cornhole.

Down Highway 119, sits Melrose Plantation a plantation built by free people of color in the 19th century. The story of how the plantation was built, the people who lived there and its historical importance is captivating. The National Historic Landmark was later home to Clementine Hunter, a world famous African American folk artist. Clementine’s work can be seen across the world, but a special mural still sits in the very place it was painted, the African House in an attic on the site. We walked through the different buildings with period decorated seasonal décor. After the guided tour, the group was allowed to walk around the grounds under the giant oak trees and check out the gift shop.

The drive from Melrose Plantation back into town is picturesque as we passed farms, horses and cows. I check into where I was staying for the night, the Samuel Guy House in Historic Downtown Natchitoches. It was now dark out, and the sky was illuminated with twinkling lights on every turn. The Samuel Guy House was adorned with wreaths, lights and two nutcrackers stood at the doors. Inside, each room had Christmas trees and seasonal décor. The Greek Revival style Bed and Breakfast was moved and restored to Natchitoches in 2004 from Mansfield, Louisiana where it was formerly part of a plantation in the 1800s. The house was vacant for several years before the move. Eventually, the house was separated into several pieces to make the move to where it sits today.

After settling in, I went back to Front Street downtown for a Carriage Ride with Cane River Carriage Company. The horse-drawn carriage was covered in lights and driven by a local dressed in a Santa hat who knew all there was to know about just about every building and street. You can’t visit Natchitoches without some Steel Magnolia’s references. The movie with stars like Julia Roberts, Sally Field and Dolly Parton was filmed right in Natchitoches and we rode past places it was shot. The ride lasted just under an hour and was a festive way to see the lights.

Cane River Lake is next to Front Street and different light displays illuminate the water. We had dinner at Maglieaux’s, a casual restaurant with a menu combining Italian and Creole cuisine. Chicken Parmesan, meat pies, Crawfish Monica, pork chops and more make up the diverse menu. Guests can enjoy their meal while overlooking the lights along the lake. 

Natchitoches is a holiday light wonderland of festive cheer. Each year the city hosts a Christmas Festival. This year was the 93rd year for the daylong event of music, food vendors, a parade and a firework show. Christmas events start around Thanksgiving and last throughout the month. It was a great last stop on my Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights tour. My next stop? Home in New Orleans full of festive cheer and ready to decorate my house with my own holiday lights! 

Read more about Alice's tour in her other four stops along the Trail of Lights.

A Road Trip through Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights: Stop 4

 

Guest Blogger Alice Phillips toured each of the eight cities on Louisiana's Holiday Trail of Lights. This is her experience in Stop 4 - Alexandria & Pineville.

Stop 4: Alexandria & Pineville

After my drive from Shreveport, I was ready to start my day in Alexandria but made sure to stop for lunch. I headed to The Cottage, a local lunch spot. The room was full of groups big and small celebrating holiday parties or just a mid-day meal. At The Cottage, no meal is complete without starting with the Cream of Shrimp Soup. The soup was a delicious start to the meal. I also ordered the tomato and basil pie, a comforting pastry topped with cheese and next to a spinach salad. The Cottage is a great place for families with its variety of menu items and space. You will find all kinds of comfort food classics from roast beef sandwiches, hamburgers and salads to peanut butter pie and chocolate cake.

I drove to downtown Alexandria where the River Oaks Square Arts Center was having its annual Porch Sale. Unique works of art ranging from paintings to photographs, pottery and fiber arts were up for sale lining the halls of the center’s historic building. Outside, wreaths adorned the opened doorways greeting guests in. In 1979, the building was donated by the Bolton Family to the city with an agreement that it would be used for the arts. Today, the center is a cultural hub for all kinds of artists to share their work and encourage interests in the art to locals and visitors. The Porch Sale is a great place to get one-of-a-kind gifts while helping the local artist community.

Just down the street is the beautiful Emmanuel Baptist Church where a Pilgrimage to Bethlehem is reenacted each year. I was guided into the church where almost half the pews were full. We listened to Christmas music performed by members of the church dressed in Biblical period dress. It was a festive way to spend my time while waiting for the guided tour through Bethlehem. Every few songs, a few rows of pews were led to the tour. When we left the sanctuary, we were transported back in time to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The reenactment was more than impressive with sounds, smells and sights that made me believe I was really in Bethlehem. We traveled through the marketplace where vendors were selling goods and donkeys and goats walked by. The event is a great experience for all ages and better yet, free admission.

When I finished my journey through Bethlehem, I was brought back to 2019 with an LSU football game. Huckleberry Brewing Company was the place to be. Families sat around a firepit outside while visiting and cheering for the tigers. I sat at the bar inside and grabbed one of the seasonal brews to sip on while taking in the surroundings. The bartender was knowledgeable on all the beers offered and let me taste a few of the ones I was curious about. Huckleberry Brewing opened in Alexandria in 2018 thanks to Alexandria born Jacob Wilson. Jacob spent time in Portland, Oregon where he learned everything he knows about brewing. He returned to Alexandria after 10 years where he named his brewery after his dog and Mark Twain character, Huckleberry.

After enjoying a local brew, it started to get dark outside and I was ready to see some lights. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in December, the Alexandria Zoo is lit up. Thousands of lights lit up the different environments. A holiday train ride through the zoo and pictures with Santa made for the perfect photo opp for families.

I strolled through the Holiday Light Safari for about an hour before heading back downtown for dinner at Embers. A good-sized list of pizzas and calzones make up the majority of the menu with an additional kids menu to please even the pickiest of eaters. There was live music performed on a stage playing holiday classics to add merriment to the already lively room.

Right down the street, is Finnegan’s Wake a cozy Irish pub favored by locals. Like whiskey? Curious to try some different types? Well head to Finnegan’s and you will be taken great care of. Head bartender Melissa Scarborough is Louisiana’s only whiskey sommelier and one of fewer than 100 whiskey sommeliers in the world. I enjoyed a drink among locals and under a ceiling where personalized mugs hang for the frequent visitors.

My next stop was home for the night – Hotel Bentley. The hotel’s elegant lobby was met with modern amenities. The tall columns decorated with Christmas banners and garlands adorning doorways added a festive touch. I had breakfast in the Bentley Room the next morning and chose an omelette from a list including pancakes, grits, eggs and more.

Pineville is just over the Red River from downtown Alexandria and is home for Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Sites. Visitors can tour the Civil War forts by starting at the indoor museum. They were just getting done with a day of Christmas themed cooking demonstrations and I tasted some delicious orange cider while learning of the site’s history. Visitors can hop in a golf-car and ride to the fort’s actual sites with a guided tour of the grounds. During Christmas, they also provide games for kids and candlelight tours down the boardwalk on the site.

My visit to Alexandria and Pineville was short but full of festive holiday fun and lights. Where to next?

Read more about Alice's tour in her other four stops along the Trail of Lights.

A Road Trip through Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights: Stop 3

Guest Blogger Alice Phillips toured each of the eight cities on Louisiana's Holiday Trail of Lights. This is her experience in Stop 3 - Shreveport-Bossier City.

Stop 3: Shreveport & Bossier City

Shreveport and Bossier City are just over a 30-minute drive from Minden and I drove straight to the Fairfield Place Bed & Breakfast Inn. I drove by beautifully decorated homes in the Highland area of Shreveport before pulling up to the bed and breakfast. Inside, I felt as if I was in someone’s holiday decorated home. I was greeted by the owner, John, who ensured I got everything up to my room and knew I could make myself at home. Bowls of trinkets and candy filled the tables in the foyer and outside my room. I couldn’t help myself but grab a few packs of M&Ms before my first stop.

The Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets has a collection of more than 50 outlets stores, restaurants and entertainment where people were enjoying some Christmas shopping. I stopped into Bass Pro Shop and saw Santa who was greeting children and asking them what was on their Christmas list. The entire boardwalk is decorated with lights including the fountains that people were posing for pictures next to. A carousel complete with moving crawfish spun next to a giant tree decorated by the different outlets. I made sure to stop in The Chocolate Crocodile, a local chocolatier, before dinner because sometimes it is ok for desserts to come first. Visitors could spend an entire day on the boardwalk taking in the views of the Red River, shopping and eating.

For dinner, I went to the Flying Heart Brewing and Pub in Bossier City. As the city’s first craft brewery, it was full of locals enjoying an after-work beer and pizza. The pizza was delicious with the added choice of cauliflower crust to attempt to make up for all the candy I had been eating. The space has plenty of room for groups and suits a wide variety of ages. They offered seasonal brews and I got a flight of four to taste a little of each.

I was full of great food and beer and ready for my next destination, the North Pole! I hopped on the Red River Express Cruise with Mrs. Clause, a festive conductor and an elf as we sang Christmas carols while enjoying hot chocolate and cookies. Children came dressed in pajamas and eagerly awaited our stop at the North Pole to see Santa. The ferry itself was decorated with string lights, garlands and bows to really put me in the spirit. Once we reached the North Pole, Santa got on the boat and talked with each child. Everyone was asked what they wanted to Christmas, even me! The boat ride lasted almost an hour overflowing with holiday cheer.

After the cruise, my next stop was to see some lights at Christmas in Roseland. The American Rose Center in Shreveport is transformed to a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights and local art displays. We walked through the grounds and saw cowboys, reindeer, elves and giant Christmas cards from local schools. Groups of families walked around stopping for photo ops in front of their favorite displays or with marshmallows they roasted on a firepit. Inside, you could get a photo with Santa or shop for holiday trinkets to take home.

The next morning, I went to Sno-Port Discovery Center’s Sno-Port – a interactive, snow-themed exhibit where I learned the science and wonder of snowflakes. Several hands-on activities made for a fun time for all ages. Both kids and adults alike where cutting snowflakes, ice fishing and taking a virtual tour through Shreveport and Bossier City on the Red River Rocket Ride inside the museum’s planetarium. The rest of the museum was open with the usual exhibits showing science experiments, interactive play stations and other activities.

I was fully in the Christmas spirit after all the holiday fun and sightseeing in Shreveport and Bossier City. Ready to see more, I headed south toward my next stop on the Holiday Trail of Lights Tour.

Read more about Alice's tour in her other four stops along the Trail of Lights.

A Road Trip through Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights: Stop 2

Guest Blogger Alice Phillips toured each of the eight cities on Louisiana's Holiday Trail of Lights. This is her experience in Stop 2 - Minden.

Stop 2: Minden

I drove just under an hour from Monroe and West Monroe to get to my next destination on the Holiday Trail of Lights – Minden, Louisiana. Known as the “Friendliest City in the South” by locals and visitors, I looked forward to a day in the historic downtown.

The Broken Bean in downtown Minden was the first place I went. It was early in the morning so I got a coffee and some beignets. The baristas shared the story of the organization that ran the Broken Bean. The staff is made up of students from Louisiana Adult and Teen Challenge of Minden, a program for women to live and work while recovering from addictions while also providing a place for their children to live. The women were passionate with sharing how far they have come and how the organization has helped themselves and their family. I sat at a table inside the quaint coffee house that felt like I was having coffee in someone’s home. The beignets rivaled ones you would find at Café du Monde in New Orleans and I was ready to learn more about Minden.

Downtown Minden is full of historic homes and the residents decorate their porches and doorways festively with lights and other ornaments. I walked through the few blocks of the downtown looking in windows at the many unique stores. The City Art Works had a window display with a decorated tree where people could stop for pictures. Inside, local artwork was displayed, and visitors could walk through while getting a glimpse of the artistic side of the town.

Nutcrackers sat at just about every streetlight, guarding the town and providing holiday cheer. Minden is also home to the filming location of over 20 movies. You can walk through the downtown while following the film trail seeing spots where Willie Nelson, Jessica Simpson, Ice Cube and more were filmed.

Just outside of downtown Minden, sits Ivy Vale Plantation, one of the last remaining plantation homes in Northwest Louisiana. The building was restored by Minden local Denton Culpepper in 2017 after abandonment for many years. Today, visitors can walk through the house filled with eight Christmas trees and seasonal décor. Denton walked me through the house while sharing the history of the plantation. Each element in the house reflects the historical significance right down to the antique ornaments on the Christmas trees.

Eager to learn more about the history of Minden, I headed to the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum. The museum shows a timeline of Minden’s history starting with the first Native American inhabitants to famous achievers from the city. The Dorcheat has hundreds of artifacts that visitors can look through to learn a little about what life was like in Minden’s past.

During my visit, I learned that Minden has deep German heritage going back to the early 19th century. Outside of the time, sits the Germantown Colony Museum, one the site of a utopian society created by German colonists in the 1800s. Here I saw original Bibles used by the colonists, clothes they wore and cabins they would have lived in. It was neat to see how far the town of Minden, named after a town in Germany, had come since its early days. There are even several families living in the town today that are ancestors of some of the original colonists.

After learning just some of the town’s historical significance, I was hungry for a taste of local cuisine. Grace Estate, a local bed and breakfast is the spot to be for lunch in Minden. Ladies meeting for lunch, workers on break and visitors all gathered in the historical house for a buffet. Southern comfort foods like hamburger steak, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans and red beans were on the plates of locals and visitors alike. Upstairs are three rooms that can be booked for a stay near downtown Minden.

If you are looking to antique shop or buy holiday presents, Minden has a variety of antique and resale shops. I stopped in Heavenly Treasures and Possibilities Antiques & Collectibles to check some of them out. Both stores were compromised of multiple vendors selling items ranging from antique furniture to custom t-shirts and toys. There is a little bit of everything to find in these shops and the perfect place to get your Christmas shopping done. 

After learning about the town’s history, stepping into shops and seeing how locals do a regular day in the “Friendliest City in the South, it was time for me to head to my next stop just over 30 minutes away.

Read more about Alice's tour in her other four stops along the Trail of Lights.

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