Sightseeing in Natchitoches

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Typically, when someone walks into a restaurant and leaves with a piece of artwork it's a misdemeanor. But at café @ artspace it's not just legal, but encouraged—as long as you pay for it. Since the café is attached to artspace—a hub for art exhibitions, poetry readings, and live concerts—there's always a selection of original artworks by regional artists on hand in the gift shop. These creations occupy diners as they wait for one of the café's golf-themed sandwiches or housemade desserts, which they can order from the menu or a chalkboard scrawled with the day's specials. Meals may be prepared to go or enjoyed in the café, where free WiFi allows diners to tweet photos of their silverware.

710 Texas St
Shreveport,
LA
US

The halls of the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse are decked in bows of sarcasm as David Sedaris’s sardonic diatribe The Santaland Diaries fills mature audiences with Yuletide cheer and apropos humbug. Adapted from Sedaris’s popular irreverent essay, the play features actor Luke Thomas Eddy embodying the foul mouth and uncomfortable shoes of Crumpet the Elf during a scintillating one-hour, one-man performance. Tearing at a famous department store’s holiday façade like a grizzly bear rudely woken up from hibernation, Crumpet reveals the sordid lives of Santa’s little helpers as they endure the side effects of the holidays. Chock-full of one-liner chestnuts and hilarious humiliation, the show ensures audiences howl with empathy as the embittered elf rants against baffled tourists, entitled parents, and the anti-elves known as children. Like standing under sulfuric mistletoe, The Santaland Diaries gives the season both a heartfelt kiss and a swift kick in the chimney.

2911 Centenary Blvd
Shreveport,
LA
US

Hands-on exploration of science, mathematics, and space travel awaits within more than 290 exhibits at Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science center. The 92,000-square-foot nonprofit museum is divided into nine galleries, where visitors can play 3D versions of tic-tac-toe, try on a spacesuit, and even pretend-land a space shuttle inside a simulator. Roaming the galleries, meanwhile, Sci-Port's science-savvy demonstrators invite guests to help them with activities such as dissecting sharks or dissecting all the plot holes in Jaws.

The museum also hosts myriad events throughout the year, from science-of-mixology sessions for adults to famous-scientist "birthday parties" where kids can swap scientist-themed trading cards. Even more scientific enlightenment can be found in Sci-Port's IMAX Dome Theatre and Sawyer Space Dome Planetarium, which show films on subjects such as the human body and the sun, respectively.

820 Clyde Fant Pkwy
Shreveport,
LA
US

During the narrated one-hour jaunt, the Spirit of the Red River Cruise careens aqueous explorers down the Red River and Cross Bayou toward a plethora of sights, ranging from historical bridges to local wildlife. The 35-passenger vessel comes equipped with a bevy of windows and an observation deck ideal for optimal water vistas. Glean fascinating tidbits from Captain Sandy Jackson, a long-time waterway navigator who highlights the area's history from its beginnings as a trading post to its current status as a riverboat casino haven for blackjack-engrossed egrets. The tour encourages participants to revel in up-close glimpses of the Old Railroad Swing Bridge, the Texas Street Bridge, and the Waddle "A" Frame Bridge as they engage in a heated game of bridge. The expedition often alights upon kingfishers, water snakes, turtles, alligators, great blue herons, and other local residents of the estuary that are usually spotted sunning themselves, stalking their prey, or opening up burgeoning lily-pad real-estate businesses.

820 Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway
Shreveport,
LA
US

Diamond Bowl, a refreshing fusion of bowling alley and robust restaurant, serves as a hangout for pin-battering rollers hungry for lane-thundering action and thirsty for food. Games ($5) on Diamond’s eight lanes keep hook-happy fingers limber, and shoes ($3) safeguard feet from toe-stomping sore losers. Follow up your fourth turkey with tangible foodstuffs from Diamond's full menu, such as the blackened-salmon sandwich on a kaiser roll ($7.99), the well-rounded bowling burger ($7.49), or the crispy chicken-tender salad ($8.99). Serious contenders can take a break from finger calisthenics to enroll in one of Diamond Bowl's leagues, and casual players can pair their match play with drinks from Diamond’s fully stocked bar, or they can watch a less phalange-intensive sport on one of nine crystalline HD TVs. Hourly games are also available.

401 Market St
Shreveport,
LA
US

Jubilee Zoo corrals a herd of furry and fluffy animals in its spacious conservatorium, allowing visitors to pet, feed, and behold a variety of creatures. Fistfuls of feed in the hands of visitors can win over the hearts of sheep and donkeys in the petting zoo, while alpacas, miniature cows, and Zoe the zebra smile at guests from the fields. Kids can ride a pony, and animal lovers of all ages are welcome to sit perfectly still on the hayride while pretending to be needles. The zoo also contains fun play spaces, including a playground, a mountain of sand, and a swath of inflatable slides and obstacle courses.

6402 Highway 1
Shreveport,
Louisiana
US