Discover Monroe-West Monroe

Bunnies, Brunch, and Market-Ritas: Spring Market 2017

The weather is warm, the sky is sunny, the champagne is poppin’, and the ladies are shoppin’.


The Junior League of Monroe’s latest Spring Market is happening this weekend, and of course the shopping possibilities are endless. With clothing boutiques and various other goods coming from all over Louisiana and other states, this is your one-stop shop. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Monroe Civic Center will be brimming with fresh spring apparel, but throughout the weekend, the Junior League hosts special events to make this sweet deal even sweeter.

  1. Shop ‘til You Drop!

This event is a fun, champagne brunch catered by The Coffee Bean in Monroe, with entertainment by Rod Allen Payne. Throughout this event, you can shop the market also. So grab your brunch buddies and make plans to be at the Civic Center on Friday, March 24, from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

  1. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

No statement is more true. Enjoy extended shopping hours at the Spring Market with door prizes and live entertainment by Mike McKenzie. Thurman’s Food Factory will cater, and you can also enjoy Market-Ritas throughout this event. This one takes place Friday, March 24 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

  1. Breakfast with Bunnies

Not sure if any other explanation is needed. On Saturday, March 25, from 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., breakfast will be served! You can also get live bunny portraits made, and there will be story time as well as other activities for children. At $20 per family, this is a great event for your whole crew!

  1. 2017 Spring Market Raffle

Throughout the weekend, enter for a chance to win a $10,000 Sleepy Hollow HGTV Home Makeover. This fundraiser supports the Junior League of Monroe and their various activities in the community. Purchase a $20 ticket, and you just might win a magnificent home renovation!


Along with the incredible shopping experience and the fun events, all proceeds from this event go to the Junior League of Monroe. Their mission is to continue to better our community, so every penny you spend at the Spring Market goes right back into our beloved city.

And that is a pretty good reason to shop ‘til you drop.


spring market

Pickleball: The Popular Sport You May Not Know About

No pickles are used in the playing of this game.

Pickleball 1

The Louisiana State Games’ first 2017 event kicks off this weekend. Is it tennis? No. Is it ping-pong? Nope. Is it badminton? Wow, that’s specific, but no. Throw all three sports in a blender and you get…



The sport was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum created the game for their kids who were getting bored with their typical summer activities. The name “pickleball” was either derived from Pritchard’s wife Joan, who called the game pickleball because the combination of sports made her think of the pickle boat, whose crew were oarsmen chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Or the name may have also come from the Pritchard’s dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it. Other accounts claim that Pickles the dog was adopted a few years later, and was named after the game instead of the other way around.



This game can be played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court and with a modified tennis net. Played as singles or doubles with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes, this is a paddle sport for all ages and skill levels.

A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court, used for both singles and doubles. The court is striped similar to a tennis court, with the non-volley zone referred to as the “kitchen.” Courts are either constructed specifically for pickleball or existing tennis and badminton courts can be converted.

A pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racket but larger than a ping-pong paddle. Originally made of wood, today’s paddles are primarily made of lightweight composite materials. Each player must use a pickleball paddle. The ball has holes in it, similar to a whiffle ball, and different ones are used depending on indoor or outdoor play.

The Louisiana State Games Pickleball Tournament is March 8-9 at the ULM Activity Center. Go check out the popular game that can be played by all ages.

Pickleball 2.JPG

You might just discover your new favorite sport.

And check out all of the other tournaments coming up this year for the 2017 Louisiana State Games. There might be something you’d want to compete in! Winners advance to the State Games of America held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Instagram Contest: Tasty Tuesdays

How well do you know your local Monroe-West Monroe restaurants?


Where, oh, where can you find these drool-worthy seafood nachos?

We love our local restaurants. If you haven’t had the chance to try all of them, we’re here to help. Our new contest will highlight some of our Monroe-West Monroe eats.

Here’s how it works:

Every Tuesday starting on Feb. 14, we will post an Instagram story at 11am with pictures of a particular local restaurant. There’ll be pictures of the food, the interior, and maybe some other notable aspects. Your job is easy—guess which restaurant it is! Comment your answer on our Tasty Tuesday post by 8am the next morning. The winner will be drawn from the correct answers. What do you win? A $10 gift card to that restaurant! Giving you the perfect reason to eat local.


Only one place to get these delicious duck wraps. 


Here’s a helpful strategy to prepare you for this intense competition—try new local places! That way, you’ll know the ins and outs of all the restaurants. No post will be a mystery to you. You might just catch us in there one day!

Follow us on Instagram @discovermonroewestmonroe to see our weekly Tasty Tuesday post.

Good luck to all, and good eatin’!


Valentine’s Date Ideas in MWM

There’s only one thing better than a perfect Valentine’s Day, and that is a perfect Valentine’s Week. Whether you and your partner are making plans or you want to surprise that special someone, there are some great events happening this week for unique date opportunities. Because who doesn’t like to mix it up a bit? Go to one of them or go to all for a full week of V-Day romance. Here are 6 Valentine’s Day date ideas:


  1. Cupids & Cocktails Valentine Gala

Surprise your Valentine the weekend before the holiday with tickets to this party in Downtown Monroe. Chef Pat Nolan is catering this event that takes place at Austin’s by the River on Saturday, Feb. 11. There will be live music, a dance floor, delicious dessert, and a champagne toast. This date will seem like it’s straight out of a movie, guaranteed.


Photo courtesy of Biedenharn Museum

  1. Valentine’s Day Concert at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens

The gardens alone make for a romantic staycation, but this event combines that with live music. Kick Valentine’s Week off right, with this event taking place on Sunday, Feb. 12. It starts at 3 p.m., so you can enjoy the concert, take a stroll through the gardens, and then make it in plenty of time for your dinner reservation. (Suggestion: Roma’s Italian Bistro)


  1. Health with Hope Cooking Class

On Valentine’s Day, learn how to prepare a healthy, delicious meal with Hope Anderson. Start the evening with appetizers and a glass of wine, then you’ll prepare and enjoy a 5 course meal. The menu includes a pork tenderloin with caramelized garlic and orange salsa, a whole roasted spicy cauliflower with tahini, and two decadent desserts. You and your partner are welcome to bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy throughout the evening. (Suggestion: Landry Vineyards’ Bayoutage Red Blend)


  1. Valentine’s Day Dinner with Chef Pat Nolan

Another unique dinner option for Valentine’s Day is an evening with Chef Pat Nolan. She prepares a delicious, 5-course meal. Enjoy a duck confit salad and veal chops cooked to perfection. Finish off the meal with a sinful chocolate pate with white chocolate. RSVP to this event by Feb. 10.


Photo by Restaurant Sage


      5.  Local Restaurant Specials

Our local restaurants are always serving up delicious food. On Feb. 14, Restaurant Sage— home of Louisiana Seafood King, Chef Blake Phillips— is having a special menu, curated specifically for a romantic dinner. Trapp’s is also hosting a special event that evening. Reserve your table, and choose from a special menu that includes 5 courses. Is your favorite local restaurant planning a special menu or event for Valentine’s Day? Check their Facebook pages or websites for information.


6.  The Wig and ‘Stache Bash

Waiting for the weekend to have your Valentine’s Day Date? Geneva Academy’s annual 1920’s themed fundraiser is a unique and fun date night. Dress in your 20’s best, and enjoy catering by Waterfront Grill. There will be live and silent auctions at this event, so you can buy gifts for your significant other here too! Dance the night away, and capture the evening with a picture from the Bash Booth photo booth that will be there.



Add a unique spin to your Valentine’s Day plans, with all of these date options. Choose one or go to several for a week-long celebration of you and your favorite person. Dress up, dance, and enjoy delicious food right here in Monroe-West Monroe.

New Park Will Bring Smiles to Monroe-West Monroe

Smiles Park is a playground that all kids can enjoy.


A 3D Diagram of the new park.

West Monroe Civitan Club is bringing an inclusive playground for kids with and without disabilities to play together. This ¾ acre playground will be located inside Kiroli Park. This project was announced in 2013. An opening date has yet to be set, but it is likely to open within a few months.

The theme of the playground is a fair, inspired by the Civitan Club’s annual fundraiser the Ark-La-Miss Fair. This will include a pretend Ferris wheel, animals constructed of fiberglass and concrete, a 5-12 year old play area, a 2-5 year old play area, a 6-24 month old play area and a “ZipKrooz.” (If you’re wondering what a ZipKrooz is, click here. It’s awesome.)  All of the play equipment was manufactured by Landscape Structures Inc. out of Minnesota.


A concept plan for the park.


Even though the opening date is still being determined, pieces of the park have already started to arrive. On Tuesday, January 3, equipment rolled in on 4 semi-trucks. The delivery included four life-like sensory animals— Betty the Elephant, Xavier the Seal, Zeus the Lion, and Gummie the Bear.


Betty the Elephant poses with Matt West, Chairman of the Smiles Park Committee.


Designs for the playground were created by Shane’s Inspiration, an organization whose mission is to create inclusive playgrounds for children all over the world. In 2000, they opened their first park “Shane’s Inspiration Playground” in Los Angeles, California. Now, they have assisted in the creation of 63 inclusive playgrounds with another 75 being developed. “Our vision is to foster a bias-free world for children with disabilities. Our mission is to create inclusive playgrounds and programs to unite children of all abilities,” they say on their website.

The Civitan Smiles Park can bring that vision to West Monroe.

In a video shared to Facebook, Ella Ecker, a seven-year-old girl, reacts joyfully to the news that the park equipment was delivered. She is a child with spinal muscular atrophy, which causes her to be bound to a wheelchair. This park will allow her to play alongside her friends and family. The happiness seen on her face and in her tears makes you wish the park already existed. Be prepared to cry some tears of your own.


For more information on this project or to learn how to get involved, visit the West Monroe Civitan’s Club website. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page, Civitan Smiles Park, for updates on progress and an official opening date.


The Prettiest Lights You’ll See

All of the locations that put the light in delightful.

holiday-lightsMonroe-West Monroe is an official partner with the state’s Holiday Trail of Lights, which basically means we have lights everywhere. From dancing elves, to lighted tunnels, to Christmas trees from every decade—we’ve got it in lights. If you’re a fan of the Christmas twinkle, here are the locations you can go to bask in the holiday glow.


Adding a little Christmas spirit to your Christmas shopping.

1. Antique Alley- 100-400 blocks on Trenton Street, West Monroe

This location is a classic go-to spot for Christmas light lovers. For years, the already charming area on Trenton Street decks itself out. The stores each create festive window displays, and the whole street is covered in a canopy of lights. Last year’s updated design included lights draped over the street in a criss-cross fashion. The new look has added a unique sparkle to the alley’s already dazzling look.


Winter wondering where all the Christmas lights are? They’re here.

2. Winter Wonderland of Lights- Corner of Commerce and Wood Streets, West Monroe

Located behind Antique Alley, this display features light tunnels and many other displays wrapped around a field. Take pictures with the enormous JOY letters, or shoot a video of you and a friend walking through the lighted tunnel. Christmas music plays around you while the lights twinkle along to the songs.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has a very shiny nose and a very wide vocal range.

3. Downtown Monroe- Desiard Street/South Grand Street, Monroe

Santa’s hidden talent is on display here in the “Christmas Rocks” display at Palace Park. With the help of two of his friends, ol’ St. Nick puts on a show spreading Christmas cheer for all to hear. Walk throughout the downtown area to see lights dripping from the trees, and more lights hanging over the streets. You can also visit the Downtown RiverMarket who lights up for the occasion.


4. Santa’s Christmas Village- 323 Walnut Street, Monroe

The Holiday Tree-Jays Chris and Christina narrate a delightful, animated light show in front of the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. There are many activities to do here, including cookie decorating, ice skating, and visiting with Santa. The lights dance along to the music, and the Tree-Jays merrily chat in between.


Where is Jacob now? We need to know if he saw the reindeer.

5. Throwback Christmas- 1 Olive Street, Monroe

The newest kid on the MWM Christmas display block is also the coolest. This display features memorabilia and music from decades past. Throwback Christmas is a great destination for Christmas lights lovers, and also a perfect photo opportunity for an epic #tbt Instagram post. Located near the Warehouse No.1 Restaurant, this walk-through display takes you through time. Starting from 1916, jumping to 1966, and then carrying on through each decade until 2016. You can reminisce on holidays past without being visited by that ghost from “A Christmas Carol.”


Thank you to our veterans and soldiers. We hope that yours is a particularly merry Christmas.

6. Freedom Trees- 701 Kansas Lane, Monroe

Visit the Freedom Trees at the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum for a patriotic light display honoring those who serve and have served our country. These lights twinkle and dance in red, white, in blue. Along with classic Christmas ornaments, the trees are decorated with pictures and profiles of war heroes who sacrificed so much for our freedom. This display is in remembrance and gratitude to them.


You don’t have to travel far to see magical Christmas displays. The lights can be found everywhere, which means that the photo ops are endless. Post your pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #mwmholidays for a chance to be featured on our page! Check out our official Christmas on the River website.


Miss Kay’s Sweets and Eats Now Open!

“Food is the language. I know how to speak it.”- Miss Kay


Miss Kay’s Sweets and Eats is open!

Antique Alley in West Monroe got a little sweeter today with the opening of Miss Kay’s Sweets & Eats! The new shop, founded by Miss Kay and the “beardless brother” Alan Robertson of A&E’s hit TV show Duck Dynasty serves breakfast, drinks, coffee, and specialty goodies including Phil’s Pralines and Miss Kay’s biscuits.

You only have to drive for just a bit down Trenton Street before you see a covered patio across the street from Roma’s Italian Bistro. Once you arrive at Miss Kay’s, you’ll find adorable multicolored chairs, rocking chairs, and even a checker board on their patio!


Too many sweets to pick just one!

Inside is an urban coffee shop vibe mixed with a downhome bakery feel. Enjoy the sweets or a cup of joe with friends at the couches, around tables, or even at the bar along the wall with a great window view of Antique Alley. Order a handcrafted espresso drink, or keep it simple with one of Mamaw Kay’s biscuits ….or treat yourself with both! We recommend an iced chai latte with a warm praline cinnamon roll- so delicious!


The full menu waiting to be unwrapped.

Throughout the Christmas season, their menu is limited to serve only holiday treats. This includes pecan pies, sugar cookies, Phil’s pralines, and the Carmelitas. When the grand opening takes place in January, they’ll have the full menu available! So keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, you can buy your Christmas cookies here to guarantee that when Santa Claus eats them, he’ll be happy, happy, happy!

Even though Miss Kay isn’t the one cooking and baking in the kitchen, she has tested every recipe. So everything still tastes as good as if Miss Kay made it herself, Jack! Treat your sweet tooth today to some delectable goodies because the bakery is now open from 7am-6pm Tuesday- Saturday.

5 Must-Have Items for Fall 2016

by Jerrica B.

We’re still several weeks away from cool weather, but it’s never too early to start scoping out your must-have clothing items for fall. Every year we see new trends emerge, but the local boutiques in Monroe-West Monroe know just how to keep you up to date on the latest styles. Here’s a look at some of the season’s hottest pieces and where to find them.


HerringStones Boutique- Monroe 

1. Hats

The hat is where it’s at. These go with EVERYTHING, and they add so much flair to your outfits. As we transition into fall, the style moves from straw and woven hats to heavier textures like felt and suede. There is a hat for everyone, with a wide range of brim sizes, crown shapes, and textures. Add some adventure to your outfit with a panama-style hat or a wide-brimmed fedora, or make it classy and cute with a felt floppy hat. BONUS: If you’re having a bad hair day or missed a wash, then this is your go-to solution. These gorgeous hats from HerringStones Boutique are perfect for fall.


Hemline- Monroe

2. Bomber Jackets

This jacket style is huge right now, and this is another trend with tons of variety. Remember when leather bomber jackets were popular a few years back? This is a twist on that trend in that these jackets come in all sorts of textures and colors. The basic cut of the jacket is what stays the same. The end of the jacket hits you right at your natural waist, which gives you that hourglass silhouette. It’s perfect for your high-waisted jeans or your A-line midi skirts. This jacket from Hemline is a beautiful, neutral blush that can be paired with almost any color, making it a super versatile piece.


K-Sera Boutique- West Monroe

3. Suede

Adding this texture to your fall wardrobe will make you stand out, for sure. It can put a chic spin on any outfit. From pants and leggings to tops and vests, this fabric can be found as just about any piece of clothing. This outfit from K-Sera Boutique goes full suede with both top and pants in this smooth fabric.


Free Birds Boutique- West Monroe

4. Chokers

No matter how much you try to deny it, this trend is back. But this time, it comes in a variety of styles. Leather, lace, and velvet can be used, and a pearl can give it that soft accent. This stylish piece makes your neck look longer and slimmer. Check out Free Birds Boutique in West Monroe for these unique choker styles, and find what works for you!


Eleven 26 Boutique- West Monroe

5. Lace-Up Necklines

This is a fun trend that made waves over the summer and has now carried into the fall. This sultry neckline adds an interesting twist to your typical casual shirt. As it transitions into fall, you’ll see these pieces become available in more fall colors, heavier textures (like velvet or suede), and with long sleeves. These pieces from Eleven 26 Boutique prove that this style is here to stay. Throw a wide-brimmed fedora with this style for an effortlessly cool look.

This fall, don’t forget about your local Monroe-West Monroe boutiques who have you covered for the latest fashions. What are some of your favorite upcoming fall trends? Let us know!

Coca-Cola Week at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens

A whole week dedicated to America’s favorite beverage? We’re in.


An accurate representation of all the Coca-Cola we’ll be drinking to celebrate.

The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens will be celebrating its inaugural Coca-Cola Week Sept. 6-10. There will be a variety of events and fun activities including a look at the museum’s Coca-Cola collections, a display of Coke vehicles and a dinner featuring a Coca-cola based menu. Check the schedule below, and remember to mark these dates on your calendar!


The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Musuem is your exclusive Coca-Cola Week headquarters.

Tuesday, Sept.6th

The week kicks off at 7pm with author Larry Jorgenson. Jorgenson will be discussing his upcoming book about various Coke museums and public collections of the iconic brand in the Education Building located behind the Coke Museum. This program is free and open to the public.

Jorgenson is a self-described “news dog”, who started working for a newspaper when he was only 13. He conquered the world of publication, radio, and TV news and now focuses much of his time on history. He recently completed a book on the history of Hot Wells, Louisiana.

Jorgenson’s upcoming book, The Coca-Cola Trail, is about the influential people and places that make up the history of Coca-Cola. People like Joseph A. Biedenharn, who in 1894, made a world changing decision and became the first to ever bottle Coca-Cola.

The book details the stories of the early independent bottlers throughout the nation, who had the vision and invested their efforts and money to create what is now the world’s best known product. With over thirty chapters, the book takes readers on the Coca-Cola Trail adventure. Accented by historic photos and interviews, the book pays tribute to those who really made history happen!

Now 122 years later, Coke is not only the number one soft drink in the world, but it is also an iconic image that represents family, fun, and home.

Biedenharn Soda Jerk.jpg

Soda Jerk at Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum who is surprisingly sweet.

Thursday, Sept. 8th

At 6pm, Chef Pat Nolan will wow guests with delicious food prepared with Coca-Cola or other Coke brand product. A beautiful four course meal will begin before sundown. Guests can enjoy a flavorful menu of deep fried Coke and crawfish fritter, green salad with Sprite vinaigrette, Coca-Cola beef short ribs, garlic Cola chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, and Coca-Cola tres leche cake. Before each course, Museum Director Ralph Calhoun will present a taste of Coke history and trivia. Guests will be seated at tables of six to encourage conversation and fun. Music will be provided by the NELA Clarinet Choir directed by Scot Humes.

Reservations are required for this amazing event. The dinner is $35 per person and seats can be purchased by calling the Museum Gift Shop at 318-387-5281 or stopping by.


Vintage Coke Delivery Truck at The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum which is the perfect vehicle to drive around showing off all the Coca-Cola you just bought for Coke Week.

Saturday, Sept. 10th

The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens will not only offer visitors FREE ADMISSION but also excite them with Diet Coke and Mentos Blasts, at 11am and 1pm. Visitors will also be able to view and interact with classic Coca-Cola trucks, including a Model A Ford, a Model T from 1917, a Coca-Cola Panel Truck, and a 1946 Chevy Flat Bed delivery truck. Several Soda Jerks will be available to illuminate patrons on the 100th Anniversary of the iconic Coca-Cola contour bottle.

The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens is open Tues. thru Sat. from 10am to 5pm. Free parking is available on three sides of the museum. The main parking area is located on Speed Avenue near the main entrance to the Coke Museum. Tour information, maps and tickets are available at the Museum Store located inside the Coke Museum. An unloading zone for buses is also located on Speed Avenue directly adjacent to the Coke Museum. Adults $6 Students $4 (Under 12 years old) Annual Pass $20 (a great bargain) Tickets may be purchased in the Museum Store, located in the Coke Museum building at 2000 Riverside Drive (the corner of Riverside Drive and Speed Avenue).

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Executive Director, Ralph Calhoun, please call Mr. Calhoun at 318-387-5281 or e-mail at

6 reasons to escape to Monroe-West Monroe with your family in September

  1. ULM Football
    ULM football field

    ULM Football Field

    Start your 2016 Football season soaring while watching the ULM Warhawks fight their way to a season of victory starting with a home game at ULM’s Malone Stadium against the Southern Jaguars to kick off the season on September 3rd.

  2. Prep for Hunting Season

Hunting bows

What better place to get ready for hunting season than in the heart of Sportsman’s Paradise!  Get your gear here at great local stores like TP Outdoors and The Honey Hole, or even from classic retailers such as Academy Sports & Outdoors or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Looking for a way to get the kids involved? Come visit northeast Louisiana the weekend of September 17th for a Hunting & Fishing Day in Tensas Parish where the whole family can practice skeet and archery shooting as well as get their hands dirty with some live critters!

  1. Making New Family Memories

Go-Karts at Excalibur

Break the back to school blues and take some time out to reconnect with your kids with a quick weekend away. Make new memories with your kiddos here by strolling through the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo and Splash Pad, doing some Go-Kart laps at Excalibur Family Fun Center, and of course, taking a photo op with a stop by the Duck Commander Warehouse!

  1. Trying Something New…Like Kayaking on a Bayou!
Mike Roberts Jay Roberts Kayaking Black Bayou 2

Kayaking on Black Bayou

Not everywhere has bayous, and definitely not everywhere has ones where you can rent kayaks and canoes to go exploring! Make some new, adventurous memories as the temperatures begin to slowly fall while you experience a beautiful fall sunrise or sunset along Black Bayou.

  1. Escape from the world


    Southern Escape

Well…sort of. Take one of the Southern Escape challenge courses with your friends or family as a time to get away from it all….literally. How, you may ask? Through hour courses, you are locked in a room and must creatively work together to find your way out. The catch? NO PHONES ALLOWED. But don’t we all need a mini vacation from our phones sometimes?

  1. Shopping…lots and lots of shopping.
Shopping on Antique Alley (2)

Shopping on Antique Alley

It’s true that Monroe is home to the second largest mall in Louisiana (Pecanland Mall), but there are plenty more places to shop as well! With hundreds of stores both locally owned and chain retailers, there is no shortage of shopping here! What better places to get your home ready for the fall season then at Walsworth and Company, Woodstock Furniture Revival, or at the regionally known and loved Paul Michael Company.

Need any more reasons? We doubt it. But if you do, find out what amazing things you can shop for, eat, and discover while in Monroe-West Monroe along with a full calendar of events.