Shreveport is the largest city in northern Louisiana and the site of the annual Louisiana State Fair. Home to the gardens of the American Rose Center, it's known for being one of the world's rose capitals, though in recent years gambling has become the area's biggest draw. Most of the action is centered in Shreveport's companion town, Bossier City. Louisiana Downs, the venerable horse track in Bossier, has been purchased by Harrah's Casino and continues to offer both horse racing and slot machines. Gambling is an unusual (though profitable) turn of events for this traditionally conservative, predominantly Protestant section of the state.

If you want to see something other than slot machines and gaming tables, Shreveport offers the American Rose Center (west of town). The roses are best seen in May and October, and the center is festooned in lights Thanksgiving-Christmas.

The city has two art museums of note: the Meadows Museum of Art on the campus of Centenary College (paintings and drawings of Indochina by Jean Despujols from the late 1930s) and the R.W. Norton Art Gallery (sculptures, Wedgwood collections and extensive works by Western artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell). Add a third museum to your list if you like classic automobiles. The Antique Car Museum not only displays the old beauties but also provides some context: 1930s radios, jukeboxes and so on. This museum is appropriately located in the repair garage of an old car dealership. Other Shreveport attractions include the State Exhibit Museum (at the fairgrounds) and the Spring Street Museum (a historic building that houses memorabilia of the region). Artspace, housing different exhibits throughout the year, is located in downtown Shreveport on Texas Street.

The Sci-Port Discovery Center, a hands-on science center with the world's first interactive planetarium and space center, is situated on the banks of the Red River on Clyde Fant Parkway, on the edge of downtown. The Robinson Film Center runs showings of arts films, classes and workshops.

Another interesting sight in the area is the Mansfield State Historic Site, where one of the most important Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River was fought.

Before you leave, attend a performance at The Strand Theatre, an ornate building on the National Register of Historic Places, and shop along Line Avenue. Afterward, savor a piece of heavenly strawberry pie at Strawn's Restaurant, a local diner situated across King's Highway from Centenary University. 265 mi/425 km northwest of New Orleans.

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