You don't need to go to Shreveport only for Mardi Gras. It has lots of attractions to enthrall the family.
Lovers of Science – Don't Miss the SciPort DiscoveryCenter
The Sci-Port Discovery Center has two floors, 92,000 square feet, about 290 interactive exhibits and is the only planetarium in the world that is open access, interactive and laser featured! The only IMAX Dome Theatre in Louisiana is housed here, too.
On the first floor, the children will enjoy live demonstrations at the SWEPCO Demonstration Theatre on such subject matter as the workings of a Vandergraph (electrostatic) Machine, which can make your hair really stick out. Appearing until May 13, 2007, is The Magic School Bus Kicks Up A Storm, which features weather related exhibits, such as a virtual snowstorm in Buffalo, New York.
Visitors enjoy watching the Foucault Pendulum swing as this two-story high science show, in itself proves that the earth does rotate. One of my favorite exhibits, called the Forces of Flight, informs how airplanes fly. Nearby, you can make your own paper airplane and test it!
You can spend a day at the 60-plus exhibit Space Center (25,000 square feet in size) – sailing with the help of the stars, learning about the workings of a Mars Rover. Each planet (and dwarf planet, Pluto) has its own interactive exhibit, you can digitally track their orbits. You can weigh yourself as though you were on Jupiter, but you won’t feel good afterwards, the digital scale reading will register 2.36 times the weight of earth. If you happen to be 39 Earth years, that registers to 0.155 Pluto years.
R.W. Norton Art Gallery: Elegance in Art
No need to go to London or New York to view incredible works of art. The R. W. Norton Art Gallery is a gallery heavily focused on American and European paintings and sculptures, especially from the 1800’s. The only drawback – you can’t take pictures.
The works of such masters as A. D. Cooper (his 1890 painting called “An Inquest on the Plains” is stunning), Charles Russell and Frederic Remington are on display. Did you know that Remington created over 8,000 works of art, but didn’t live to see his 48th birthday? Only New York City has more of his works. One gallery is devoted to the great sculptor, Rudin, including his white marble bust creation called “Head of a Young Girl”.
The Norton also has some of the rarest books in the world, including a 1490 global atlas, the #49 edition (only 100 published in 1884) of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a page from the circa 1450 Gutenberg Bible (Psalm 18, better known as “The Columbus Psalm”). I was really impressed with Wedgwood collection, feasted my eyes on some blue Jasper Ware, as well as black Basalt portrait medallions.
As secure as the Norton Gallery is, there exists one area that is “all-hands”. It’s the Fairy Tale Gallery, full of sculpted animals like one called “Eat More Beef”, a pig that is supposed to bring good luck if you rub its snout.
From May 29 through July 22, there will be roughly 50 two-dimensional and 10 three-dimensional works for the “Birds in Art” exhibition. Even the gallery's backyard is something – a 40-acre park of walking paths and trees. During spring, 10,000 azaleas will be in bloom!
The Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium is a 1929 Art Deco building where many legendary country and rock stars got their start. Elvis, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash performed at the Louisiana Hayride Talent Showcase, making it the Grand Ole Opry of the Southwest from the late 1940’s through the 1960’s. Elvis made his debut on stage on October 16, 1954, would perform there for over a year before being “discovered” by Col. Tom Parker. He’s honored with a statue at the entrance to the building. The stage was built above the morgue for the city of Shreveport. The auditorium houses 3,200 people. In its heyday, crowds of over 5,000 were jamming the place before the Fire Marshall cracked down. The Auditorium is still being used for musical and civic events.
The Logan Mansion: 725 Austin Pl., Shreveport, LA 71101. 318-459-2285. Admission charge.
Some Down Home Southern Eatin’
Don’t skip Herby-K’s. Back in the early 1900’s, a Louisiana State University student by the name of Herbert Busi II was dubbed “Herby K” by his college buddies. The name stuck, he opend a dining establishment in 1936 bearing this nickname. Many of today’s restaurants sport a new, trendy look to bring in the partons, not Herby K’s. It’s not located in a eye-pleasing neighborhood, its exterior has faded out the advertising signage from long ago. Inside, you’ll find an antiquated old bathtub near the dining area that stores a cooler for soft drinks and beer. Still, that doesn’t keep it from being touted as one of the best places in the South for dining. Herby K’s is famous for its Butterfly Shrimp Buster meals that come with a secret rust-colored sauce, has a kick to it!
Besides shrimp, appetizers and entrees, there is a wide selection of fresh-tasting seafood (primarily from the Gulf of Mexico), hamburgers and Po Boy Sandwiches. I feasted on the former, including some fried frog legs, (skin tastes like chicken), but its white meat has a fishy taste. I highly recommend the crab claws that come with a spinach and olive oil sauce. This dish even has a side of terrific tasting garlic bread. Another unique aspect of Herby K’s is that you generally won’t expect to find any dessert offerings, people are full from the generous entrée and appetizer portions anyway!
For some tasty Southern Fried Chicken and world famous Strawberry Ice Box Pies, head on over to Strawn’s Eat Shop. Open for breakfast and lunch, you'll have your fill at fair prices! For breakfast, Strawn’s serves the traditional eggs, omelets, pancakes, biscuits & gravy, etc. For lunch, it offers a wide selection of meat and sandwiches, including meatloaf and chicken fried steak. For dessert, The Strawberry Ice Box pies are something people drive miles for. The pie cream is thick, has a nice sweet taste, which goes with the litany of strawberries that are put on the graham cracker-like crust.
Herby K’s: 1833 Pierre Ave., Shreveport, LA. 318-424-2724.
Strawn’s Eat Shop: 125 King’s Highway, Shreveport, LA. 318-868-0634.
Roy’s Travel Tips
The Louisiana Boardwalk is an open mall that contains over half a million square feet of shopping, dining and movies. It features a Wet Deck for kids, a Wildlife Carousel featuring 30 creatures indigenous to the state that can be ridden on. The Boardwalk is a 2,500 foot promenade with views of the Shreveport area and Red River. At night, you can see the water fountain spring up into unique “dancing” designs with the help of colored lighting. If you want to get some casino action, Jim Steward’s very friendly All American Shuttle Service will transport you from the Louisiana Boardwalk to the five area casinos – The Boomtown, Eldorado, Horseshoe, Diamond Jacks and Sam's Town. Special tours of the Shreveport-Bossier area can be arranged with All American. See Jim’s website for details.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn-Bossier City, conveniently located to all attractions. The beds are comfortable and you get free high speed internet in your room. The onsite fitness center is free, too.
Roy’s first Shreveport area article is at this link.
Roy A. Barnes writes from the windy plains of southeastern Wyoming when he’s not bouncing around the good ol’ USA or beyond.