Monroe, Louisiana is a fun city to visit, with many great old mansions that have been converted into museums. One of them, the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens, belonged to Mr. Biedenharn, the first person to bottle Coca-Cola, and has a small exhibition about the popular drink. Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo has almost 500 wild animals and a small petting zoo. Restored aircraft from WWII to today are on display at Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, while the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge protects endangered plants and animals and is great spot for hiking and nature watching. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Northeast Louisiana African Heritage Museum
© Northeast Louisiana African Heritage Museum
Located just inside Monroe’s Chenault Park, the Northeast Louisiana Delta African Heritage Museum is a small museum founded in 1994 for the promotion and preservation of African-American culture through education and cultural and social events. The museum contains a range of research materials on the civil rights movement in the ‘60s in Northeast Louisiana. The museum organizes a series of relevant seminars and events that are open to the public. In addition, the museum supports and promotes art of the local artists Don Cincone, Agnes Hicks, and Bernard Menyweather by organizing regular shows of their art. The large museum space provides great venue for a range of social gatherings and celebrations.
1051 Chennault Park Dr. Monroe, LA 71203, Phone: 318-342-8889
2.Biedenharn Museum and Gardens
© Biedenharn Museum and Gardens
The Biedenharn Museum and Gardens is a house museum surrounded by the lush ElSong Gardens and built in 1913 by Joseph A. Biedenharn on the banks of the Ouachita River in Monroe, Louisiana. Biedenharn was known as the first person to bottle Coca-Cola. The house is furnished with the original furniture and decor from the time when his daughter Emma Louise lived in it. The historic house is open to the public and has two interesting museums: The Coca-Cola Museum, with Coca-Cola memorabilia, and the Bible Museum, which contains a collection of bibles and various biblical literature. The garden is divided into several thematic areas such as the Oriental Garden, a musical grotto, and the Four Seasons Garden.
2006 Riverside Dr, Monroe, LA 71201-4268, Phone: 318-387-5281
3.Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
© Courtesy of DIIMSA Researcher - Fotolia.com
Black Bayou Lake is a protected wilderness area with a 1,700-acre lake, a visitors center, a restored planter's house, the Black Bayou Lake Environmental Education Center, an arboretum with more than 100 species of native Louisiana woody plants, a prairie area with native wildflowers and grasses, a mile-long raised nature trail, a 400-foot-long wildlife pier, a boat launch, an amphitheater, a pavilion, a raised observation deck, and several informational boots. The refuge support group Members of Friends of Black Bayou, Inc and its volunteers spend thousands of hours taking care of the refuge. The refuge is used by students and professors from the University of Louisiana at Monroe for research and by nature lovers for hiking nature observation, birdwatching, canoeing, kayaking, and picnicking.
480 Richland Place Dr, Monroe, LA 71203-8868, Phone: 318-387-1114
4.Chennault Aviation and Military Museum
© Chennault Aviation and Military Museum
The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum celebrates the impact that northeast Louisiana had on the military and aviation history of the country. The museum is located in the WWII Selman Field Army Air Corps Navigation School, one of the last buildings from this era still standing. The museum’s exhibits contain uniforms, weaponry, photographs, various documents, and all sorts of other artifacts. There is also constantly growing number of military aircraft located in the museum’s outside space. All branches of the military are represented, covering the period from WWI to the present day. There are also fascinating exhibits that feature Selman Field and Delta Airlines, which started in Monroe as a regional crop dusting company.
701 Kansas Ln, Monroe, LA 71203-4775, Phone: 318-362-5540
© Cooley House
The Cooley House is an unusual house located in Monroe’s historic district, designed in 1908 by renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin for Gilbert Cooley, a local entrepreneur. The house was built from concrete, with a wooden trim and green tile roof, and was completed in 1926. Unique for its time, the house has a central vacuum system and steam heating, a steam shower, an incinerator, a sunken tub, the original cork floor, and a detached carport. The carport was added later when Cooley bought the first automobile in Monroe. The house is one of the last examples of the Prairie School residential architecture. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1011 S Grand St, Monroe, LA 71201, Phone: 318-329-2237
6.Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo
© Courtesy of mije shots - Fotolia.com- Fotolia.com
Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo is an 80-acre zoo in Monroe, Louisiana, with about 400 animals from 200 species. The garden is beautifully landscaped with many interesting plants and has a walkthrough greenhouse. The zoo is home to animals from all over the world – lions, tigers, bears, zebras, baboons, bison, gibbons, kangaroos, peacocks, leopard, parrots, and many others. There is also a reptile house, and the new Australia House has birds and animals living only on that continent. The Children’s Zoo features domestic animals that kids can feed and pet. The Hall of Small is a hands-on insect exhibit. There is also a boat tour that enables visitors to observe animals not visible from the regular paths through the zoo, such as primates and hoofed animals.
1405 Bernstein Park Road, Monroe, LA 71202, Phone: 318-329-2400
7.Masur Museum of Art
© Masur Museum of Art
The Masur Museum of Art is an art museum in Monroe, Louisiana, occupying the beautiful Tudor-style former home of the Mansur family. The house was donated by the family to the city of Monroe and is today the largest visual arts museum in northeast Louisiana. The museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its mission is to encourage and support visual arts in the community through a regular schedule of exhibitions, educational programs, and a permanent collection. The collection includes masterpieces of world-renowned artists such as Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and Mary Cassatt. The Lower Gallery is used for films, lectures, and artist talks, while the Carriage House is used for a range of art classes, workshops, summer art camps, and demonstrations. Admission to the museum is free.
1400 S Grand St, Monroe, LA 71202-2012, Phone: 318-329-2237
8.Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum
© Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum
The Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum is a hands-on interactive museum where kids can learn while playing with a range of exhibits. Children are encouraged to try restaurant jobs in Kids' Café, go to Health Hall and drive an ambulance, visit the interactive Discovery Hospital and see what the doctors and nurses do, and play with a huge heart they can crawl through. They can play in a pharmacy and look through a giant microscope with slides. In the Hearing Aid they can “whack a sound” and have fun with a huge ear puzzle and learn about teeth and dental health in The Big Mouth. Small kids really love to blow bubbles at Bubble Works and play at Baby Bayou, designed for children up to three years old. During the Christmas holidays the museum opens up a Santa’s Christmas Village for all the kids.
323 Walnut St, Monroe, LA 71201-6711, Phone: 318-361-9611
© RoeLA Roaster
RoeLa Coffee Roaster is a coffee roasting company in downtown Monroe that is very serious about buying and roasting the best coffee available in the world. They source their beans from high-quality responsible producers and purveyors, looking for the finest grades and the fairest practices used to produce the beans they buy. They use a high-quality Ambex bean roaster to bring out the perfect fragrance and flavor from each bean. Their single source coffee comes from the world’s best coffee producers from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Guatemala. RoeLA Roasters sell their coffee online, but if you are in Monroe, you can get a cup of their hot or cold coffee at the former Tiger Mart convenience store, now called Now Save, at 18th and Forsythe.
523 Desiard St, Monroe, LA 71201, Phone: 318-528-1763
10.Warehouse No 1 Restaurant
© Warehouse No 1 Restaurant
Warehouse No. 1 is a popular restaurant located in downtown Monroe on the banks of the scenic Ouachita River. It sits in a more than 100-year-old former warehouse. The corrugated tin exterior is original to the old warehouse, which was used to store bales of cotton that were loaded from steamboats coming down the Ouachita. During its restoration, the original floors, exterior walls, and massive beams were kept and left exposed, creating a rustic, unpretentious atmosphere where great food and fantastic river views rule. There is lovely porch overlooking the river, perfect for celebrations and family gatherings. The menu has something for everyone, but their steaks are famous and are perfect with a glass of wine from their fine selection. If you come with a bunch of friends, start with delicious appetizer tray with baked oysters, fried button mushrooms, catfish, boiled shrimps, and crispy breaded chicken strips.
1 Olive St, Monroe, LA 71201-6251, Phone: 318-322-1340
11.Flying Tiger Brewery
© Flying Tiger Brewery
Flying Tiger Brewery is the first full scale brewery in northeast Louisiana that makes and packages its beer on site. Besides a range of flagship beers, Flying Tiger has a number of rotating beers served in their large, popular taproom in downtown Monroe. The name Flying Tiger Brewery pays homage to the WWII legendary Flying Tigers fighter squadron and its historic commander, Monroe resident General Claire Chennault. The brewery taproom has great funky decor with a larger-than-life portrait of the general and all sorts of other Flying Tiger memorabilia. Flying Tiger does not serve food, but there is always a food truck parked outside. The brewery has nice outside sitting area where they hold live concerts and other events.
506 N 2nd St, Monroe, LA 71201, Phone: 318-547-1738
11 Best Things to Do in Monroe (Louisiana)
- Northeast Louisiana African Heritage Museum, Photo: Northeast Louisiana African Heritage Museum
- Biedenharn Museum and Gardens, Photo: Biedenharn Museum and Gardens
- Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Courtesy of DIIMSA Researcher - Fotolia.com
- Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, Photo: Chennault Aviation and Military Museum
- Cooley House, Photo: Cooley House
- Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of mije shots - Fotolia.com- Fotolia.com
- Masur Museum of Art, Photo: Masur Museum of Art
- Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, Photo: Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum
- RoeLA Roaster, Photo: RoeLA Roaster
- Warehouse No 1 Restaurant, Photo: Warehouse No 1 Restaurant
- Flying Tiger Brewery, Photo: Flying Tiger Brewery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of digidreamgrafix - Fotolia.com