Shreveport and Bossier was the first stop on my family’s Great Louisiana Road Trip. As the third largest city in the state, Shreverport quietly holds its own as a road trip stop for families. Read on to learn about the fun things to do in Shreveport with kids. (And check back soon for the complete road trip!)
Disclosure: Our visit was hosted by Visit Shreveport-Bossier and some experiences were complimentary, while others we paid for ourselves. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Things to know about the area
Shreveport, located along the Red River in northwest Louisiana, has a storied past marked by flourishing highs and challenging lows. Established in 1836 and named after Capt. Henry Miller Shreve, who opened the Red River for commerce, Shreveport quickly grew into a bustling river port city. Much of the city’s attractions and famed restaurants were located along the port.
Its rich history is visible in landmarks like the Strand Theatre and the historic Line Avenue shopping district. However, the city faced economic downturns in the 20th century, particularly with the decline of the oil industry. You can see it today in some neglected areas of the city.
In recent years, though, there has been a concerted effort to rejuvenate these parts of Shreveport. There’s a focus on preserving historical sites while introducing modern amenities and attractions.
During our brief visit, we saw this in action. Attractions like the Shreveport Aquarium and Sci-Port Discovery Center bring families downtown (as do the towering, neon casinos). New restaurants are popping up nearby.
But, we had to drive through some neighborhoods still in the rebuilding process to get to restaurants on our itinerary. Just be aware that when you visit, some areas will be more rundown than others.
Shreveport and its neighbor, Bossier, are redefining themselves, aiming to attract visitors. The twin cities can be considered a testament to the resilience and enduring charm of Louisiana. I hope you’ll visit one day soon!
Top things to do with kids in Shreveport
We were in Shreveport in late December, so our stops were driven by seasonal experiences at attractions. However, I can say with certainty I would’ve picked these as stops any time of year.
Two attractions near each other, Shreveport Aquarium and Sci-Port Discovery Center, should be on your list, especially if you’re traveling with young children. The aquarium is on the small side, but it offers a fascinating glimpse of wildlife found in Louisiana.
My kids loved the various touch tanks. One had sting rays, while another had moon jellyfish (the kind that’s OK to touch). A third, the Shoreline Tidepool, had starfish, anemones and other interesting aquatic life.
Tip: Only use two fingers to touch things in the touch tanks. They’ll remind you while you’re there.
We visited during the holidays, so the Shreveport Aquarium was open at night for the ticketed event, Believe. Kids could meet Santa and explore the aquarium with “magic” wands that could activate things to move, make noise, or flash some lights. It’s magical for the younger crowd!
You’ll find Sci-Port Discovery Center down the street from the aquarium, making a visit to both of these places a pretty easy day! The Sci-Port is part-science center and part-children’s museum. We stuck to the science center area given the ages of our kids (12 and 14), but if you have younger kids, head to the second floor of the building first to see the PoP Children’s Museum.
Some things are included with admission — permanent exhibitions and seasonal exhibits like Snow-Port, as well as science shows and the planetarium. And others are not included, like movies on the IMAX screen.
Our favorite experience at Sci-Port was an add-on, and I highly recommend it! Adventures at the Gallery of Intrigue is kind of like an escape room, where you choose an adventure and then we had to solve puzzles and riddles to get our next clue.
My kids and I loved our adventure. It was probably the most engaged I’ve seen my tween and teen in a while! The space we had to explore consists of made up of relics and replicas from Shreveport history dating back as far as 1835 (back int he days of Capt. Henry Miller Shreve. And all of the puzzles were history-related, so it was both an educational and fun experience.
Tip: Adventures at the Gallery of Intrigue is recommended for ages 11+.
On the outskirts of Shreveport is a magnificent getaway: American Rose Center. As the largest park dedicated to roses in the U.S., it serves as the headquarters for the American Rose Society. There’s a playground for kids and the Children’s Garden is under construction.
We went at night to attend Christmas in Roseland. Now, this is an event kids love! The garden grounds are decorated with light displays, and music is playing throughout. Kids can ride a mini train or make s’mores. Santa is on the property and there are food trucks with food available for purchase.
It’s all very festive and the best part for this Midwestern family, the weather is quite moderate compared to December in Nebraska. Granted, it started to rain toward the end of our walk around the gardens, but at least it wasn’t freezing rain.
Venturing out of Shreveport and into Bossier, there are a few spots worth highlighting. Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets is an outdoor shopping center. If your kids are like mine, they aren’t necessarily interested in shopping. So if you go, point them toward Island Fun Arcade. Or take them to Build-A-Bear or to a movie at Regal Cinemas Louisiana Boardwalk 14 & IMAX.
I liked seeing some shops at the outlet mall that aren’t typical of the ones in the Midwest, like Nebraska Crossing. The particular shop I liked best was Do Good.
Dining with kids in Shreveport
We ran into a few snags planning which restaurants to visit in Shreveport. I had a whole list of places to visit and, well, weather and tired kids ran my plans into the ground. So, of the restaurants we visited, I have one that I say is a must-visit. And that is Orlandeaux’s Cafe.
Orlandeaux’s Cafe is one of the longest continuously-running, African American-owned restaurant in U.S. It’s an institution in Shreveport, and the menu has some of the best Creole dishes. I particularly liked my introduction to boudin balls there. The restaurant is well known for stuffed fried shrimp, but to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite.
I should also mention that there was an insane wait at Orlandeaux’s Cafe, especially since Christmas was just around the corner. We waited 2 1/2 hours before we were seated. They don’t take reservations. And if you want take out, you can’t call it in; you need to go there and place the order.
So, just bring your patience. Enjoy the view of the lake outside. And save room for those boudin balls.