Monroe Travel Guide

Explore the best things to see, do, eat, and experience in Monroe, LA with this in-depth travel guide. Discover the top tourist attractions, outdoor adventures, local culture, and more.

Introduction to Monroe

Monroe is a charming city located in Northern Louisiana, known for its natural beauty, rich culture, and southern hospitality. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or just looking to relax and unwind, Monroe has something to offer for everyone. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll take you through the must-visit places, best things to do, local culture, and more of this beautiful city.

List of Places to Visit in Monroe

Here are some of the top attractions and places to visit in Monroe:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Biedenharn Museum and Gardens: A historic home turned museum and gardens showcasing the Coca-Cola history, Bible history, and beautiful gardens to stroll through.
  • Chennault Aviation and Military Museum: This museum documents Northeast Louisiana’s aviation and military history, as well as the contributions made to aviation and military services by a local hero, General Chennault.
  • Masur Museum of Art: A contemporary art museum providing a space for the community to appreciate, create and learn about the arts.
  • Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo: A public garden and zoo offering a diverse collection of exotic animals and plants.

Natural Attractions of Monroe: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge: A national wildlife refuge stretching over 4,500 acres, offering hiking and biking trails, fishing, kayaking, wildlife watching, and more.
  • Kiroli Park: A 150-acre park where you can go for a picnic, hike, fish, birdwatch, play disc golf, or just relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
  • Louisiana Delta Adventures: Experience a swamp tour, fishing trip, or airboat ride through the scenic natural beauty of the Louisiana Bayou.
  • Landry Vineyards: Get a taste of Louisiana wines and enjoy the scenic views of this 20-acre vineyard.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Monroe

Monroe offers plenty of outdoor activities and several hiking and biking trails for those who love to explore. Some of the popular routes include:

  • Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge Trail: A 7.5-mile-long trail that takes you through the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and its diverse ecosystem.
  • Lake D’Arbonne State Park Trail: A 1-mile-long nature trail that loops around the lake and offers scenic views and wildlife watching.
  • Chemin-A-Haut State Park Trail: A 4.2-mile-long hiking trail that passes through cypress and tupelo gum swamps, hardwood and pine forests, and over a suspension bridge.

Best Things to Do in Monroe: Activities and Tours

From cultural experiences to outdoor adventures, here are some of the best things to do in Monroe:

  • Explore the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens: Learn about the history of Coca-Cola, Bible history and stroll through the beautiful gardens
  • Take a Swamp Tour: Get up close with the Louisiana Bayou and spot alligators, turtles, snakes and other animals.
  • Visit the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo: Explore the exotic collection of animals and the breath-taking botanical gardens.
  • Go Fishing: With several waterways in Monroe, enjoy some quality time relaxing with a fishing rod in hand.
  • Attend Live Performances: From ballets to operas, Monroe has a rich cultural scene and many performances are held at the Monroe Civic Center.

Week-Long Itinerary for Monroe

If you’re planning to spend a week in Monroe, here’s an itinerary to consider:

Day 1 Visit the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens for a deep dive into the Coca-Cola and Bible history.
Day 2 Go kayaking or take a swamp tour and witness the wildlife up close.
Day 3 Spend time exploring the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, where you can spend time with exotic animals and beautiful botanical gardens.
Day 4 Hike or bike through some of the trails around Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge or Kiroli Park.
Day 5 Visit the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum to learn about Louisiana’s aviation and military history.
Day 6 Take a trip to the nearby town of Ruston, just 30 minutes from Monroe, and visit the Louisiana Military Museum.
Day 7 Round out your trip with a visit to Landry Vineyards for an afternoon of wine tasting and scenic views.

Food and Drink Scene of Monroe

When it comes to food and drink, Monroe offers a unique blend of southern cuisine and traditional Louisiana dishes. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages to experience:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Po’ Boys: A New Orleans staple sandwich made of shrimp, oysters, beef, or chicken with lettuce, tomatoes, and remoulade sauce.
  • Crawfish Etouffee: A classic Louisiana dish made of crawfish smothered in a roux-based sauce and served over rice.
  • Jambalaya: A rice-based dish made with meat, vegetables, and spices, often including andouille sausage, chicken, or seafood.
  • Beignets: A deep-fried doughnut served with powdered sugar, a popular French Quarter dessert.

Local Beverages

  • Sazerac: A New Orleans cocktail made with rye whiskey, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters.
  • Hurricane: A sweet and fruity drink made with rum, fruit juice, and grenadine, often served in a large hurricane glass.
  • Abita Beer: A popular Louisiana-brewed beer, known for its flavors ranging from light, refreshing brews to heavier and more robust ales.

Where to Stay in Monroe: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Monroe offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes. Here are some of the best places to stay in Monroe:

  • The Hamilton House Inn: A charming bed and breakfast located in a historic Victorian home, offering comfortable rooms and southern hospitality.
  • Best Western Airport Inn: Located close to the Monroe airport, this hotel offers comfortable rooms and a complimentary breakfast.
  • TownePlace Suites by Marriott Monroe: A modern hotel with spacious rooms, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool.

What to Buy in Monroe: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

When in Monroe, don’t forget to bring back some souvenirs and local products for your friends and family. Some popular items to consider include:

  • Louisiana Hot Sauce: Known for its bold flavors and kick of heat, add some Louisiana spice to your meals.
  • Pecans: Louisiana is home to many pecan trees, and pecans can be found in various forms, from roasted to candied, to pecan pies.
  • Pottery/Glassware: Monroe has many local artisans who create beautiful pottery and glassware, perfect for unique home décor or gifting.

Local Culture and Customs of Monroe

Monroe is known for its friendly southern hospitality, and it’s always a good idea to reciprocate this kindness. When in Monroe, keep in mind:

  • Greet people with a smile and a friendly hello: Southern hospitality is all about making people feel welcome and at home, so don’t be shy to introduce yourself or say hi.
  • Respect for Elders/Authority: In Louisiana, elders and authority figures are given high respect, so be sure to address them accordingly.
  • Table Manners: Southern manners are essential, so always use good table etiquette – keep elbows off the table, chew with your mouth shut, and wait for all guests to be seated before beginning to eat.

Best Time to Visit Monroe

The best times to visit Monroe are in the spring and fall when the temperatures are mild, and outdoor activities are abundant. Summer can be hot and humid, while winter can be chilly. However, winter offers several unique holiday events, such as the Christmas Boat Parade and Kiroli Park Christmas.

Do’s and Don’ts of Monroe

When in Monroe, keep in mind these dos and don’ts:


  • Try Local Cuisine: Don’t hesitate to try new dishes or local cuisines on your travels.
  • Pack Light for Outdoors: With several outdoor activities offered, pack light and quick-dry clothes for water-based outings.
  • Remember to Tip: Feel free to tip at restaurants, hotels or for tour guides.


  • Be Rude: A smile and a friendly attitude will go a long way.
  • Assume Everyone Has an Accent: While Monroe is known for its southern drawl, it’s rude to assume everyone will have one.
  • Litter: Help keep Monroe beautiful by disposing of trash properly.

Safety and Health

Safety and health are essential when traveling, and Monroe is a safe city with several medical facilities.

Safety in Monroe

  • Stay Alert at Night: Like any other city, be cautious when walking alone or in areas you are unfamiliar with.
  • Lock Your Car/Hotel Room: Always ensure your belongings are secure when out sightseeing or in your hotel room.
  • Natural Warnings: Use caution when exploring natural areas, such as swamps and lakes. Closely adhere to warning signs and safety guidelines.

Health in Monroe

  • Stay Hydrated: Louisiana’s heat and humidity can be dehydrating, so ensure to drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t Drink and Drive: In rural Louisiana, public transportation is hardly available. Therefore, it’s better to hire a cab or take an Uber.
  • Pack Sunscreen and Insect Repellent: To protect yourself from harmful sun rays and pesky insects, pack sunscreen, and insect repellent.

Getting to Monroe: Transportation Options and Logistics

Monroe has several transportation options to access the city or get around within.

Airports Near Monroe

  • Monroe Regional Airport: Located around 5 miles from downtown Monroe, has two major airlines flying directly to it.

Bus Stations Near Monroe

  • Greyhound Bus Station of West Monroe: Located around 4 miles from downtown Monroe.

Other Options

  • Car Rentals: Several car rental companies have their offices located at the airport and throughout the city.
  • Taxis and Ride Shares: Cabs, such as Yellow Cab and Uber, are available throughout the city and provide quick access to nearby destinations.

How to Get Around in Monroe

Getting around Monroe is easy, with several transportation options available:

  • Car Rentals: Several car rental companies are available at the airport and throughout the city, ideal for individuals or groups wanting to explore at their leisure.
  • Taxis and Ride Shares: Services like Yellow Cab and Uber provide affordable transportation around the city.
  • Public buses: The Monroe Transit System has several buses running throughout the city, offering an affordable way to explore.

Where to Go Next from Monroe: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

After exploring Monroe, there are several nearby destinations and excursions to consider:

  • Ruston, Louisiana: Just a 30-minute drive from Monroe, Ruston is home to Louisiana Tech University, the Louisiana Military Museum, and more.
  • Shreveport, Louisiana: Located around 100 miles from Monroe, Shreveport offers casinos, museums, gardens, and more.
  • Ouachita River: Rent a boat and explore the stunning Ouachita River, nestled between the forested hills of northeastern Louisiana.


If you’re looking to explore Louisiana’s rich culture, natural beauty, and southern charm, Monroe is an ideal city to visit. Whether you’re in town for a long weekend or an extended stay, Monroe offers something for everyone and promises a memorable vacation experience.