Updated: May 4
The boundary lines separating Monroe and West Monroe, Louisiana are fortunately blurred these days, and visitors are finding the best of both towns while seamlessly crisscrossing between the two. Steve and I spent a day and a half there recently and could have easily filled more days. Great attractions and food, attractive shops, and passionate fans, students, and alumni of the University of Louisiana-Monroe make this a fun place to visit. Go Warhawks! :)
Antique Alley, consisting of three blocks of Trenton Street in West Monroe, is a great place to spend money and time. In fact, Steve found my birthday present there . . . with a big hint from me while browsing. Along with antiques and collectibles, there are boutiques, jewelry stores, a tea and spice exchange, and plenty of home decor shops with names such as Cloud 9, The Nude Nomad, The Rustique Gator (this is Louisiana, after all), K-Sera Boutique, Three Threads, and Just Peachy. Trust me. You won't be able to leave without finding something that "needs" to come home with you. Don't worry about getting hungry while you shop. Jac's Craft Smokehouse on the edge of Antique Alley is a casual and delicious place to enjoy lunch or dinner.
CHENNAULT AVIATION & MILITARY MUSEUM
The Chennault Aviation & Military Museum in Monroe appears deceptively small from the outside but is impressive in size and scope when you walk in the door. The stories of servicemen are woven throughout the three main sections. One tells of the Navigation School used to train over 15,000 navigators during World War II. Another showcases the beginnings of Delta Airlines from its roots as a crop dusting operation, and the namesake section shares the life and contributions of General Claire Chennault, grandfather of the knowledgeable and caring President and CEO of the museum, Nell Calloway. More than 11,000 artifacts are on display representing the U.S. involvement from WWI through Iraqi Freedom.
I loved the colorful murals and the painted herons found around both towns. The herons are a great representation of north Louisiana and the creativity of the artists is fun and whimsical.
Considering the presence of the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens and its association with Coca-Cola bottling, it is natural to see several vintage-style Coke murals in prominent locations.
Monroe and West Monroe are situated along Interstate 20 between Atlanta and Dallas. Don't pass it by without stopping to investigate when you're in the area.