5 Reasons To Visit Louisiana's Twin Cities

Add charming Monroe-West Monroe to your travel list.

Monroe is the eighth-largest city in the U.S. state of Louisiana. In the parish seat of Ouachita Parish
Photo: DenisTangneyJr/Getty

Situated along the banks of the Ouachita River and Bayou DeSiard, Monroe-West Monroe, Louisiana are two quaint river towns with big personalities. Thanks to the Robertson family from the A&E series, Duck Dynasty, you might be familiar with this north Louisiana area, but its charm stretches well beyond the people who call it home. Here, you can peruse blocks upon blocks of antiques, sink your teeth into catfish, and witness an ox, a goat, and countless other furry, feathered, or scaled pets strut in the annual Krew of Paws Mardi Gras parade. Here's why, among the aforementioned fun, Monroe-West Monroe is a North Louisiana must-visit.

It's the home of Delta Airlines.

The Atlanta-based company has humble beginnings. In fact, the commercial airline got its start in Monroe as a crop-dusting service in 1925 and remained stationed in Monroe until it moved its headquarters to Atlanta in 1941. Get off of the plane at the Monroe Regional Airport, and snap a photo in front of the Birthplace of Delta Airlines sign. Direct flights are available from Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth.

You can still buy a 5 cent coke.

Coca-Cola is the elixir of the South, and Monroe stakes claim as the home of the first bottler of Coca-Cola, Joseph Biedenharn. Set aside some time to explore the grounds and buildings at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. Begin at the Coke Museum to see Coca-Cola artifacts and memorabilia while learning about the historic bottling process from a soda jerk at a replica counter. After, walk next door and step back in time to the historic Biedenharn home, decorated by Joseph's daughter and famed opera singer, Emy-Lou. Before you leave, be sure to peek into the Bible Museum which houses Emy-Lou's extensive Bible collection, and tour the enchanting ELSong gardens. The 5-cent Coca-Cola machine is just outside of the conservatory, so have your change ready!

Southern style lives here.

Sue Sartor makes her home and her eponymous dresses in downtown Monroe. Sartor specializes in tailored block print dresses in bold colors and feminine silhouettes. Stop by her flagship store in the heart of downtown West Monroe to see one-of-a-kind pieces, shop ready-made dresses, and get a glimpse of the designer herself.

You can taste award-winning Delta cuisine.

At Parish Restaurant and Bar, Chef Cory Bahr prepared dishes inspired by his hometown of Monroe. The Louisiana culinary ambassador is a Food Network's Chopped! champion; he has beat Bobby Flay, and he is a Food Network Star finalist. Despite his obvious national television accolades, Bahr chooses to cook at Parish nightly using local products and herbs from his on-site garden. Don't skip the hearth-baked bread or the original duck wraps, the restaurant's signature dish. If you find yourself in Monroe-West Monroe for breakfast, venture to Bahr's coffee shop, Standard Coffee Co.

There are antiques and boutiques as far as the eye can see.

Over the river in West Monroe, there are two dozen shops to peruse in the city's popular Antique Alley. Founded by six antique dealers in 1987, the 100-300 Blocks of Trenton Street have become a draw for antiquitarians and shopping hobbyists alike. You can easily spend all day wandering in and out of the storefronts here in the Cotton Port Historic District. Dip into each of the six antique stores and more than ten other specialty shops. Should you find yourself famished after all of that buying, snag a pick-me-up plate of BBQ nachos from Jac's Craft Smokehouse.

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