A few weeks back I accepted an invite from Visit Shreveport – Bossier to visit their area for Mardi Gras weekend. I am always down to visit a new city so I excitedly accepted the offer. While I was familiar with elements of Mardi Gras, I was not too familiar with Shreveport-Bossier, but entered this trip with a blank slate open to see what the area had to offer. Through the weekend, I got a taste of so many elements of the city and had a great time. Here is a recap of Visiting Shreveport-Bossier for Mardi Gras!
Mardi Gras Festivities
The itinerary was filled with so many great Mardi Gras activities from the moment I touched down. From my understanding much of the activities for the Shreveport Mardi Gras are curated by the various Krewes in the city. The Krewes host balls and parades during the Mardi Gras season leading up to Fat Tuesday. During our weekend we enjoyed the Krewe of the Highland Mardi Gras Bal and parade plus the Krewe of the Gemini parade. Within these events we also got to meet some of the folks affiliated with the Black Krewes, Krewe of Harambee and Krewe of Sobek.
Mardi Gras Bal
Let’s start with the Bal. We were instructed to dress up and prepare for just about anything at this event. I donned a glittery dress from Rent the Runway for the occasion. When we arrived, our table was decked out by the talented staff of the visitors bureau. They gave each us of poppers explaining that we’d use them when the Krewe introduced their court. Not one to miss the action, I secured a spot up front to see everything. The main attraction for the bal were the introductions for members of the court (queen, duke, duchess etc). Our hosts explained that the Krewe of the Highland likes to take it up a notch with each couple trying to outdo the next. This was no exaggeration!
Y’all, once I heard the opening lyrics to Ginuwine’s Pony with a dance beat in the background I knew I was in for a show. That particular duo played to that song’s connections to strip clubs and did a risky strip tease as they entered. Others wore face paint, tons of feathers and other pieces to really stand out. Then, THEN they each had items to throw to the crowd. I got pelted with so much stuff. Gots to keep your head on a swivel during that event. But the best item thrown? McDonalds hamburgers! If the items thrown from the court weren’t enough, the crowd loved those dang confetti poppers. I found confetti in my dress days later. With all the craziness though, it was such a fun unique experience! I mean where else can you experience all of the above in one event?
Mardi Gras Parades
Our first parade (Krewe of the Gemini) happened to be on the coldest wettest day of the whole weekend. Thankfully we got to hang out in a private tent with a great band before the festivities started. For the parade, it fits with much of what we know about Mardi Gras parades with tons of beads thrown. But, there is always someone who wants to be different! So in addition to getting beads, some floats threw out items like soap and men’s hair dye. Hilarious.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the Krewe of the Highland parade before it started, but if it was anything like their bal, I know it was a uniquely good time! Before heading to the airport though I did collect a few coveted medallion beads which make for great souvenirs.
We also stopped by this adorable store to pick up masks for the Mardi Gras Bal. The owners were so warm and welcoming throughout our weekend in Shreveport plus their store has a little bit of everything. Be sure to stop by!
While I did not know much I assumed that the food would be good and that assumption was on the mark. Here are a few of the places we visited.
Up For Brunch
Probably my favorite food stop during my visit! A newer Black owned brunch spot with owners who are not only committed to making great food, but also supporting the community economically (check out the owner breaking it down on this IG post). A great place to stop for waffles and beignets.
Ki Mexico Soul Food
We made a quick stop here for tacos and margaritas. Ki Mexico Soul Food seems like a good restaurant for more authentic Mexican food that is avoiding the typical Tex-Mex cuisine.
So many good desserts at this locally owned bakery! Here, each of us grabbed a cookie (or two) which was difficult because they had a lot of good options, but I can assure you the brown butter snickerdoodle is a winner that I just may need to recreate at home.
Great Raft Brewery
Not generally much of a beer drinker, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked the key lime beer from Great Raft. After touring their facility we enjoyed a pretty impressive brunch. If you don’t make it out to Great Raft during your visit, you will find it on tap all around town.
Louisiana Daiquiri Cafe
We visited on a quiet night, but this Black owned bar seems to be a great place to visit for good daiquiris and vibes.
A Black owned restaurant with a 100 year history is a must visit. Their latest location is out on the water so you get beautiful views while dining on good food. I loved their beignets and their swamp water cocktail.
Before the second parade, we grabbed a few bites from Marilynn’s Place like meat pies, beignets and boudin. They hosted a party where you could purchase tickets for food and drinks before the parade got going.
Things to Do
Because it’s Louisiana, I knew the city would have casinos. We were hosted at the Sam’s Boat Hotel and wandered through the casino on one of our late nights. The casinos seemed to be one of the popular attractions for locals and visitors, so our hosts sought to highlight the other elements of the city. Here were some of the things I thought were interesting.
East Bank Bossier City
On our last night, we made our way to the East Bank in Bossier City for crawfish. During our visit, we got a little history of the East Bank. An area redeveloped with the support of Bossier City, the owners of BeauxJax (a restaurant) took over the whole block offering guests a little bit of everything from daiquiris at Pirogue, ax throwing (Bayou Axe Co) , an event space (Chef’s Table) and outdoor dining. And since it is all under the same ownership, guests can seamlessly walk along the block with cocktails from one concept to the next.
This stop made me want to be a kid again. With so many interactive stations where you can touch things like starfish and jellyfish it makes for a really enjoyable visit for folks of all ages.
Robinson Film Center
The Robinson Film Center had so much to offer the city of Shreveport. Besides the obvious, showing films, they also are actively supporting the arts community in Shreveport and the state of Louisiana through film festivals which incentivize producing films in the area. They also have a rooftop bistro that everyone raved about.
R W Norton Art Gallery
A museum that is literally in the middle of a neighborhood. It’s free to the public and offers a botanical garden plus great exhibits that are updated frequently.
The Little Shop of Music
The best way to explain this space? A music lover who moved his collection of all things music into a dedicated space and will part with some items on occasion. While it was pitched to us as a store, the Little Shop of Music was truly a museum of music instructments, music players etc. Music lovers will enjoy spending the afternoon browsing this space.
It is always fun to visit American cities to learn more of their history, explore their big events and of course support the Black owned businesses.