The word “hometown” means different things to different people. To some it’s the hustle and bustle of the big city, like in New York or Las Vegas. To others, it’s a nice quiet town where everyone knows everyone. To me, it’s a little bit of both. You see, I was born, raised, and still live in Shreveport, Louisiana. Some call us Port City and others refer to this area as Sportsman’s Paradise. Either way, we’re the third largest city in The Boot, but anyone who’s from here will tell you that we’re pretty much a big small town. There are a lot of awesome things and big opportunities that have come and are coming through Shreveport, but at the end of the day just about everyone knows just about everyone else. Allow me to take you on a brief tour of my hometown. I hope you like what you see.
Kids playing in the water features in downtown Shreveport’s RiverView Park, on the banks of the Red River. Photo credit: Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side on Flickr.
8:00 a.m. Breakfast at Southfield Grill
You can go to a local Mickey D’s or hit up one of our IHOP’s, but neither would be original, so to speak. If you want a home-cooked meal for breakfast or lunch, stop in at Southfield Grill where you’ll swear they’ve kidnapped your mom or grandma and put her to work in the kitchen. Whether you visit the original location at 315 Southfield Road or go to the newer and bigger location at 8235 Jewella Avenue, you won’t be disappointed. The food is amazing and the price won’t leave you feeling guilty if you’re too full to finish. With breakfast served any time of day, who’s to say that I can’t have a delicious Meat Lover’s Omelet with a side of Broccoli and Cheese Casserole?
10:00 a.m. Eighth Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Now that your belly is full, take that short drive across the Red River to Bossier City to visit the Eighth Air Force Museum at the Barksdale Air Force Base. Shreveport and Bossier City are sister cities, so the area is commonly referred to as the Shreveport/Bossier area. Bossier City is home to Barksdale Air Force Base, which houses a museum that keeps rare airplanes like the B-24, B-52, and the British Vulcan. The museum sees about 50,000 visitors per year. Since it runs on a non-profit supportgroup, it must roll with the financial punches so that visitors can continue to visit the amazing aircrafts and displays. For just a few bucks, you can show your family the history of the United States Air Force.
Noon: Shopping and Lunch at the Louisiana Boardwalk
Now that you’ve seen how Airmen defend our freedom, stay in Bossier City and travel to the banks of the Red River for a bit of shopping and lunch at the Louisiana Boardwalk. The Louisiana Boardwalk is the only outdoor outlet mall of its kind in the state of Louisiana. It has something for everyone on your shopping list, and once you’re done racking up the air miles at the plethora of stores, you can grab a bite to eat at one of at least 10 restaurants. There’s even a trolley so that you can take a break and do a bit of sightseeing. Since May 2005, the Louisiana Boardwalk has been one of Shreveport/Bossier’s biggest attractions for tourists and locals. Whether children are creating new friends at Build-a-Bear Workshop, wives are smacking husbands at Hooters, or the sportsman in you gets lost in the gigantic Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, the Louisiana Boardwalk is a great time.
3:00 p.m. Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art Center
After all the fun and excitement at the Louisiana Boardwalk, wouldn’t it be nice to take a quiet stroll through a breath-taking garden and then feast your eyes upon galleries filled with amazing artwork? Of course it would! That’s why the Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art Center is the perfect place to begin your journey to nirvana. Barnwell’s domed conservatory has been a pillar in Shreveport history for nearly forty years. I remember taking school field trips to admire the horticulture that they had to offer. Getting to see big, beautiful plants and trees from all around the world was an amazing experience for me. It allowed me to get a little taste of life outside of Shreveport and outside of the United States. It made me want to see these plants in their natural habitats, or at least the countries from which they came.
Not only does the conservatory feature exotic foliage, but Barnwell also hosts a Fragrance Garden for those who are visually impaired. The garden is full of plants that activate the senses of smell and touch.
The Barnwell Center has three galleries showcasing all types of artwork from local, regional, and national artists. During the holidays, the Barnwell Center made sure that “Holidays at the Barnwell” was fun for the whole family. There were various exhibits, Santa visits, arts and crafts, and a cool laser light show that ran every thirty minutes after the sunset.
About 9:00 p.m. Shreveport/Bossier Nightlife
The Blind Tiger. Photo credit: sookiebontemps on Flickr
Once you’ve gone back to your hotel room at one of the gazillion wonderful hotels that Shreveport/Bossier has to offer, it’s time to check out the nightlife. Hmmm…that great meal that you had at on the Boardwalk has worn off and hunger pains are beginning to hit, but everyone’s ready to party. Why not kill two birds with one stone and dine somewhere that doubles as a great source of grown-up entertainment? Shreveport/Bossier has not one, but six casinos. Rather go to a great bar instead of a casino? Try the Blind Tiger in the heart of Downtown Shreveport. The Blind Tiger has been making memories for tourists and locals in one of Shreveport’s oldest buildings since 1992. Located at the foot of the Texas Street bridge, the Blind Tiger offers a wide variety of steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and anything creole or cajun. The Blind Tiger is a fixture in Shreveport/Bossier nightlife that’s here to stay. It’s one of the hottest hot spots and serves epic meals. With karaoke twice a week and happy hour on weekdays, the Blind Tiger is a great place to have a good time with friends.
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Even though Shreveport isn’t the same Shreveport that I grew up in, it’s still a great place to live and raise a family. We have growing businesses, good schools, and nice homes in quiet neighborhoods. Things aren’t perfect here just like anywhere else, but I’m still passionate about my city and the people in it. This is where I learnedlife and found myself. No matter where life takes me, I will always remember where I came from and will do what I can to help my neighbors there. It’s like Adele said in Hometown Glory — the people that I’ve met along the way are most definitely the wonders of my world.
Post by Ursula Brantley. What would a day in your hometown look like?