Rollin’ on the Red River
Giant steel roses grace this picturesque area along the Red River in northern Louisiana*
Discovering Shreveport-Bossier City
By Lorry Heverly
Family fun abounds in Northern Louisiana in the vibrant towns of Shreveport and Bossier City, located on opposite banks of the Red River. A new hands-on science center has opened. A Mardi Gras museum allows visitors to enjoy the celebration year-round. And travelers might peruse World War II aircraft, talk to a group of chimpanzees, or take a river cruise.
The annual Mardi Gras celebration begins in mid-February, the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Highlights include family-friendly parades with festive floats, revelers throwing beads and marching bands.
Even dogs and cats dress in kooky costumes strut their stuff at Riverview Park (800-551-8682) , 601 Clyde Fant Pkwy., Shreveport.
But when Mardi Gras is over for the year, visitors can still celebrate it every day at the Ark-La-Tex Mardi Gras Museum (318-741-3019 or www.mardigrasmuseum.com), 2101 East Texas St. in Bossier City. On display are colorful floats, extravagant costumes and Mardi Gras memorabilia. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for kids 6 to 18.
Explore the moon, stars and galaxies of the nebulas at the new Sci-Port Discovery Center (877-SCI-PORT or www.sciport.org), 820 Clyde Fant Pkwy. Opened in 2006, it’s the world's first interactive planetarium. Kids and adults have dozens of interactive displays to explore.
Experience the force of a real tornado. Check out a giant ant farm. If you want to feel in the center of the action, head for the center’s IMAX Dome Theater, where movies feature such experiences as swimming with sharks or walking on the moon.
Sci-Port’s general admission is $12 for adults, $9 for children 3-12, excluding IMAX shows. IMAX admission is $8.50 and $7.50 respectively. A combo ticket that includes general admission and the IMAX runs $17 and $12 respectively.
For something truly different, travelers might say hello to seven new arrivals at Chimp Haven (318-925-9575 or www.chimphaven.org), 13600 Chimpanzee Place, Keithville. The chimpanzees are settling into their new home, a five-acre forested habitat.
Here they join 82 other animals who were previously used in medical research, abused, abandoned or simply no longer able to be cared for by previous owners. It’s fun to watch the chimps climbing trees, foraging for food and building nests, just like in the wild.
This sanctuary offers chimps the chance to retire in a loving and natural environment. Groomed trails overlooking the habitat are open to the public on the second Saturday of each month, March through November. Admission is free.
Not to Miss
Step back to the days of World War II at the Eighth Air Force Museum (318-456-5553 or www.8afmuseum.net - note: this Web did not load in our AOL, but did in Explorer), 88 Shreveport Rd. on Barksdale AFB. Inside, the museum features war and peace time memorabilia. Outside, wander through the airfield where bombers, fighters and transport vehicles headline an exciting and historic collection of military aircraft. Admission is free.
The Eighth Air Force Museum, not surprisingly, has a collection of aircraft on display.*
Plan on spending the day at the Louisiana Boardwalk (318-752-1455 or www.louisianaboardwalk.com), 390 Plaza Loop, Bossier City, a riverfront promenade with more than 50 outlet shops, dining venues and entertainment for the whole family. Stroll the pedestrian streets filled with music and street entertainers. Take a spin on the wildlife carousel, ride a restored 1912 trolley or watch children play in the dancing fountains.
Stop by Uncle Buck's Bayou, in front of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World (318-549-8800 or www.basspro.com), and meet Big Elvis and his live alligator friends at the gator pond. More than a hunting and fishing store, this flagship outlet at Louisiana Boardwalk has a shooting arcade, indoor archery range and a waterfall flowing into a huge aquarium.
The Red River is the heart and soul of the two cities. Relax on a cruise along the river and search for gators and wildlife in Cross Bayou. You’ll find the Spirit of the Red River (318-424-3576), docked at 821 Clyde Fant Pkwy.
By night, giant steel roses and bridges along the Red River glow in a rainbow of neon colors. Five distinctive riverboat casinos, with Vegas-style gambling, line the waterfront. The Red River District, Shreveport's nightlife quarter (under the Texas Street Bridge), comes alive with music, dancing and dining.
For more information:
Contact the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau (800-551-8682 or www.sbctb.org or www.shreveport-bossier.org). Note: both these sites are extremely slow to load. We didn't have success loading either.
Lorry Heverly, an adventure travel writer and photographer who resides in Baton Rouge, LA, writes a column on scuba diving for the Miami Herald and travel articles for magazines and newspapers.
Photos were taken by Lorry Heverly. All rights reserved by SouthernTravelNews.comTM. Please do not link to these photos or copy them. Thank you.