Shreveport a motorcoach mecca with new sites, events

SHREVEPORT -- This area of Louisiana can boast of a few attractions that will make it a prime destination for motorcoach visitors.

Among its highlights are museums, casinos and soon, golf courses. And in conjunction with the state's year-long celebration of FrancoFete, the annual state fair held in Shreveport is to feature special French-Canadian guests.

According to Preston Friedley, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau, this year as many as 50 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will participate in a musical ride.

The Louisiana State Fair is scheduled for Oct. 21 to 27.

On the non-French related front, the 67,000-square-foot Sci-Port Discovery Center opened in downtown Shreveport this winter, offering visitors a place where "science is fun."

"We had 40,000 visitors the first month it opened," Friedley said. Sci-Port became the fifth resident of an area where Friedley said there are already a cluster of museum attractions.

Most of the exhibits and interactive displays at Sci-Port focus on oil, gas, the river and railroads, which are dominant in this area. Friedley said it even has a working oil well.

Officials claim it is the only museum of its type and has 200 exhibits. Most of the exhibits are interactive, and will appeal to people of all ages.

The domed facility features six interactive discovery areas; an IMAX Dome Theater; an innovative demonstration theater; more than 200 experiences; a Galaxy Cafe, which claims to offer morsels that are out of this world, and a gift shop pushing "way cool stuff."

Sci-Port is open every day except Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $6 for the discovery areas ($4.50 for children ages 3 to 12) and $10 for a combination Discovery/IMAX ticket ($7 for children).

Groups of 20 or more are offered a $1 discount off rates, and senior and school group rates are available. Sci-Port, Phone: (318) 424-3466

"Also in the downtown riverfront Shreveport area, we have what we call Museum Mile," Friedley said. It is an area with five museums. Among them are:

  • The Spring Street Museum which traces the community's history with rare antiques and artifacts.
  • Ark-La-Tex Antique & Classic Vehicle Museum, featuring classic modes of transportation, costumes and special exhibits.
  • The R.S. Barnwell Garden & Art Center, a climate-controlled geodesic-domed conservatory.
  • Sports Museum of Champions, comprising a large collection of memorabilia from international and All-American (mostly north Louisiana) athletes.
  • Also being developed in stages is an $8.5 million, four-block permanent riverfront festival site. This fall, phase one opened in time to host Red River Revel; construction on two more phases is to begin this spring.

    However, by summer, this area will boast a few more attractions, according to Friedley.

    A Mardi Gras Museum is to open by fall in Bossier and besides exhibit and storage space, will have a courtyard for entertainment and receptions.

    Also, a renovation of a railroad depot is to result in the Red River Valley Scenic Railroad Museum, featuring 26 train cars, including a 1920 Erie Lackawanna series.

    Two new golf courses are under construction. Stonebridge golf course in North Bossier, an 18-hole, Fred Couples-designed course, is scheduled to open in May.

    In South Bossier, the Golf Course at the Oakes, a 27-hole course, is to have the first nine holes available in late summer.

    The four casinos in the Shreveport/Bossier area account for as much as 50% of the casino business in Louisiana. "On weekdays, we have about 7,000 people per day, per casino," Friedley said.

    The Shreveport/Bossier CTB continues to create programs to boost arrivals. Efforts are being made to create commissionable packages to draw both casino and family markets. Shreveport/Bossier CTB, Phone: (800) 551-8682 or (318) 222-9391

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