In the 19th century, Shreveport’s location along the Red River and near the Texan border made it a key point for economic development. The Red River, however, had been blocked by a 150-mile logjam known as the Great Raft. In the 1830s, steamboat captain Henry Miller Shreve worked to clear that raft and helped lay the groundwork for the Shreveport we know today.
Shreveport and its sister city, Bossier City, have six historic districts, including the Highland Historic District, which boasts an eclectic collection of architectural styles (from Queen Anne to bungalow) dating back to 1875.
More recently, the city’s historic Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, where you can still catch a show today, was home to the Louisiana Hayride. This radio (and later television) show featured country and western artists from the late 1940s to 1960. Most notably, the Municipal Auditorium broadcast Elvis Presley’s first television appearance in 1955. The classic line “Elvis has left the building” was coined there after Elvis’s final 1956 appearance.
Shreveport’s unique combination of Southern charm and Louisiana spice make it an ideal place for exploring. From its rich history to its diverse food scene, visitors to Shreveport and Bossier City will come away with a great feel for how Louisiana’s cultures have combined in different and exciting ways.
Shreveport’s location at the intersection of Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas gives the local cuisine a flavor all its own in the Bayou State. Since 1945, Herby K’s has been serving its famous Shrimp Buster. This answer to the po’ boy takes a fried butterflied shrimp and slathers it with a house-made secret sauce. The menu is filled out with fried seafood, boiled shrimp, diner favorites, and satisfying gumbos.
For another classic Port City shrimp dish, don’t miss Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp. These large shrimp are stuffed with a Creole dressing, deep-fried, and served with a spicy tartar sauce. They were created by Freeman & Harris Café, but the tradition has been carried on by a handful of local joints like Orlandeaux’s Café and Eddie’s Seafood.
Barbecue and meat-and-three-style restaurants abound in Shreveport, and Real BBQ and More is a terrific example. Harvey “Papa” Clay’s tender brisket and ribs are not to be missed, and the brisket sausage is a hidden gem.
For a newer haunt, visit Chef Niema Longstratt at RNL’s Cookery Corner. Her fiery takes on West African food, including braised oxtails, fried Louisiana catfish, dry-rubbed goat and jollof rice are soul-satisfying.
Nearby Bossier City is home to BeauxJax Crafthouse. It started as a food truck in 2015 and later graduated to its current venue, where it boasts an expansive Cajun-influenced menu and an outdoor music stage. Its sister restaurant, Frozen Pirogue, features a raw bar, coastal dishes and refreshing daiquiris. For a brunch with some New Orleans flare, visit Marilynn’s Place. From red beans and rice to beignets and coffee, Chef Robert “Bozz” Baucom serves up big, comforting flavors.
Before Americans began settling what would become Shreveport, the area was inhabited by the Caddo peoples. After the founding of Shreveport, it experienced a period of economic growth from 1850 to 1930 (known there as the pioneer period). The growth was originally driven by traffic on the Red River but then more so by the discovery of oil in the early 20th century.
The Pioneer Heritage Center at Louisiana State University Shreveport maintains a collection of restored period buildings that are available for free tours by appointment. The buildings include those that would have been found on period properties in the Upland South, including a commissary, a dogtrot-style house from 1850, a doctor’s office to illustrate methods of pioneer medicine, a Baptist mission, and a functioning 1880 cypress blacksmith shop that center director Marty Young fires up for demonstrations.
Local Shops and Sights
Of the many shops and galleries that showcase the best of Shreveport, the Agora Borealis, located in the historic Silver Lake District, gives visitors a delightful view of the area’s art scene. Since 2014, the shop and gallery space has displayed visual and functional art from more than 300 area artisans, along with offering workshops on topics including jewelry-making and glassblowing.
Across town in the Highlands neighborhood, the R.W. Norton Art Gallery boasts an impressive collection. Since its opening in 1966, the museum and connected botanical gardens have gained notoriety for its body of works from Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Guided tours at the free museum are available for adults and children alike.
Visitors will find The American Rose Center a short drive from Shreveport, and springtime and early summer are a perfect time to make the trip. Take in a wide variety of roses in the gardens on the 118-acre tract, and enjoy picnic areas, walking and jogging trails and a special Children’s Garden and Playground.
Must-Dos in Shreveport
- Try your luck at one of the area’s gorgeous casinos
- Enjoy some shopping at the Riverwalk
- Hike and bike at Lake Bistineau State Park
- Learn to cook Shreveport soul food with Us Up North
- Stroll the Asian Gardens of Shreveport