Discover the Twin Cities of Louisiana: Monroe and West Monroe.
These two cities are scenically connected by the Ouachita River in the Northeast region of the Pelican State. With wonderful museums, vineyards, beautiful outdoors, antique stores and restaurants, Monroe and West Monroe are great places to shop, eat and discover!
Small-Town Shopping Charm
If you like antiques, you will love Antique Alley in the historic Cottonport district of West Monroe. Charming storefronts of silver, books, furniture and jewelry await you. There are also children’s stores here and a fabulous spice and tea shop. Most of these diverse shops are open Tuesday through Saturday and are located on Trenton Street, making for a perfectly walkable outing.
Museums for History
Did you know that for the first eight years, Coca-Cola was only available in a soda fountain bar? That is until 1894, when a German named Joseph Biedenharn invented the Coca-Cola bottle. The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens honors the great inventor and business man who left an impressive home and art collection, which houses an original Bible leaf, hand-printed by another famous German – Gutenberg.
If you love World War II history, you’ll enjoy the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. Located in the Selman Field Army Air Corps Navigation School, 15,000 navigators were trained here during World War II. The museum is named after Louisiana native General Claire Lee Chennault, who headed up the famous Flying Tigers squadron. The museum features an incredible collection of artifacts which detail his family’s story and the personal stories of other Army men – not just the historical facts of the battles.
Scenery at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens in Monroe, Louisiana
Museums for Art and Families
The Masur Museum of Art is truly a treasure in Northeast Louisiana. The largest visual arts museum in the area, it is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the exhibits are on a rotating basis, so there is always something new to see.
If you’re in the area with your children, the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum has to be on your list. Kids can pretend to be a pediatrician or a dentist (there is a huge mouth to crawl into!), or they can check out a model of an inner ear.
Wine and Cuisine
At Restaurant Cotton, Chef Cory Bahr, winner of the television show “Chopped” on Food Network, elevates Southern cooking. At the restaurant bar, you can have inventive artisanal drinks and Southern favorites with a twist. And the food? Absolutely delicious. Try the pimento cheese beignets; they are the definition of comfort food!
For wine, visit the beautiful Landry Vineyards, just 10 minutes outside of Monroe. There are gorgeous outdoor vineyards that you can appreciate up close during a tour or just admire from the tasting room. There are also outdoor concerts during the spring and summer on their large lawn area where families and friends gather to enjoy the weather and music. Make sure you try a delicious glass of their popular Blanc du Bois.
Elegant interior at Cotton Restaurant in Monroe, Louisiana
If you’re looking to round out your vacation with a little time in the bayou, Monroe and West Monroe offer that too. Kids will love the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge with its beautiful interpretive center, and adults will love taking a stroll on the tranquil boardwalk. You can also rent canoes and fish here. This beautiful natural area is just a stone’s throw from Monroe, but feels so wonderfully remote.
Views of nature at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, Louisiana
Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo
The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo is a small zoo, but it delivers big on unique animals. See monkeys, a hippo, snakes and so much more. Take the river cruise for a chance to see the animals from a different vantage point and speak with an informative tour guide.
If you can’t decide what you want to do for your next vacation – shop or dine, explore nature or museums – come to Monroe and West Monroe where you don’t have to choose and can do it all.