Sitting on the Red River opposite its sister city, Shreveport, Bossier City is a community of more than 60,000.
Combined with its neighbor, this is a gaming hub for the Ark-La-Tex region, with huge, Vegas-style casino resorts lining both banks of the river, interspersed with malls and top-notch family attractions.
Income from gaming has financed a series of projects around the city, like the Louisiana Boardwalk outlet mall and the hip new East Bank District, with locally-owned bars and restaurants.
There’s nature on Bossier City’s southern fringes at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge, while the Barksdale Air Force Base will fascinate aviation enthusiasts and has an excellent museum.
1. East Bank District
A couple of blocks north of Interstate 20, Barksdale Blvd is the artery for an exciting new entertainment and dining district.
East Bank District has taken shape since the late 00s, as part of the wider revitalization of downtown Bossier City.
Previously known as “Old Bossier”, the East Bank District has become a big draw for locals and visitors, with bars, locally-owned restaurants and attractions like the Bayou Axe Throwing Co.
There’s also a dedicated area for outdoor events at the East Bank Plaza, which sits on a quarter city block and was completed in 2017.
On quieter days the plaza is a place to take a break, with ample seating, steel shade structures and a public art.
2. Margaritaville Resort Casino
Towering over the north side of the Louisiana Boardwalk is the Margaritaville Resort Casino, which opened its doors in 2013, blending Vegas-style gaming with premium hospitality.
If you’re here for the casino there’s 26,500 square feet of gaming space, endowed with 1,200 slot machines and 50 table games. Like all modern casinos there’s also a sportsbook, for real-time wagers on all kinds of sports, from basketball to UFC.
To go with all that, you’ve got six different dining establishments, from white tablecloth at Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak, to quick bites at the Banyan Tree Coffee Bar.
3. Red River National Wildlife Refuge
Head down the Red River for a few miles, and just past the Brookshire Grocery Arena you’ll be at this nature conservation area managed by the National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bossier City unit is the headquarters for the refuge, home to an educational visitor center, and boasting more than five miles of trails.
The visitor center details the wildlife species you might encounter in the refuge, and if you’re here with children it’s well worth taking the Lake Bluff Trail (Green) to the Nature Discovery Play Area.
This is an engaging nature-themed playground with balance beams, hollow logs, a treehouse and a replica fishing boat to discover.
4. Shreveport Aquarium
The Shreveport bank of the Red River is lined with yet more casino resorts, but also a sprinkling of family attractions like the Shreveport Aquarium.
Opened in 2017, the aquarium has more than 3,000 animals from 300+ species, including many native to this region.
Dome on the Bayou for instance is inspired by Caddo Lake on the Louisiana-Texas border, and features freshwater species like American paddlefish, alligator snapping turtles and sliders.
The largest tank is the 30,000-gallon Ocean Tank, in which you can check out tropical reef species including gray sharks from an underwater tunnel.
Check the schedule for daily feedings, involving rays, sharks and alligator snapping turtles, as well as the chance to touch moon jellies, starfish and more.
5. Sci-Port Discovery Center
Also waiting for you on the west bank of the Red River is an enormous science and entertainment center, with three attractions in one complex.
First up is Louisiana’s Science and Space Center (LSSC), bursting with 200 interactive exhibits, mind-blowing live science demonstrations and the Sawyer Space Dome Planetarium.
Power of Play (POP) meanwhile is a children’s museum, where kids under 8 years old can innovate and solve problems in a mini version of Shreveport-Bossier City.
Then you’ve got the only IMAX Dome Theatre in Louisiana, with a screen three stories tall showing spellbinding movies on the cosmos and natural world.
6. Barksdale Global Power Museum
Dating back to 1921, Barksdale Air Force base borders Bossier City to the southeast and is home to the 2nd Bomb Wing, the oldest bomb group in the force.
This base is equipped with more than 40 B-52H Stratofortress Bombers, which are a sight to behold in take off and landing.
You can head to the base to visit the Barksdale Global Power Museum, with a comprehensive collection of aircraft (mostly bombers) and artifacts spanning the history of United States military aviation.
There are two B-52s on display at the museum, as well as some real curiosities for aviation fans, such as a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, a MiG-21F, an Avro Vulcan and a Boeing PB-1W Flying Fortress.
Something completely unique is the wreckage of an interwar-era Keystone B-6A bomber that was discovered in woods next to the base in the 1980s.
7. Bossier City Farmers’ Market
On the east side of the Pierre Bossier Mall, the Bossier City Farmers’ Market is a full-fledged event taking place every Saturday morning, April through November, without breaks. Impressive in size, the market has space for 200 vendors and usually fills up each week.
You can expect to find super-fresh seasonal produce from regional farms, as well as baked goods, jams, jellies, honey, sauces, spice blends, flowers, candles, handmade fashion accessories, paintings, jewelry, artisanal soaps, leather goods and tons more.
There’s live music and children’s activities each week, and a selection of food trucks serving anything from tamales to shrimp plates and po-boys.
8. Louisiana Boardwalk
Parallel to the Red River, this outdoor mall opened in 2005 and is another entertainment go-to thanks to the Regal Louisiana Boardwalk & IMAX multiplex.
The Louisiana Boardwalk was purpose-built from scratch, but because of its layout, size and proximity to visitor attractions, it has the feel of an authentic city district.
There’s a main, tree-lined boulevard here, with plazas, a central fountain and alleys, and the whole scene gets even prettier around sunset.
You’ll find outlets and factory stores for Nike, Levi’s, Under Armour and Kay Jewelers, to list a few, along with eateries for all tastes, from Sushiko Sushi & Grill to Joe’s Crab Shack.
9. Flying Heart Brewing & Pub
The first craft brewery in Bossier City can be found in the East Bank District, adding a pizza kitchen and full bar in 2018.
Flying Heart crafts a wide range of beers to suit every palate, whether you prefer light, spicy, hoppy, malty or dark.
In that spirit of variety, the six flagships are Louisiana Amber, Firehouse Blonde, Milk Maid Stout, Six of Hearts (Golden Ale), Barrel 52 (Porter), and Black Heart (Brown Ale).
There are also a lot of fun creations infused with creative flavors like cilantro or chili pepper. As for the pizza, this is with a thin NY-style crust, and there are rotating monthly pizzas so you can always try something new.
10. Brookshire Grocery Arena
If a major recording artist is passing by Northwest Louisiana on a tour, chances are they will perform at this arena that opened in 2000.
Coming through a few name changes in its time, the Brookshire Grocery Arena can hold crowds of 14,000 for concerts, with comfy, cushioned seating and free parking.
A few acts to have performed here in the last decade are Foo Fighters, Cher, Paul McCartney, P!nk, Garth Brooks and Bob Seger. This venue also hosts rodeos, family entertainment and sports events throughout the year.
11. Louisiana Downs Casino & Racetrack
This horse racing track and racino in the east of Bossier City was established in 1974. If you’re here for racing action then the thoroughbred season is May through September, and then there’s a quarter horse meet, January through March.
In all there’s 130 days of racing a year at Louisiana Downs. The graded events are the Super Derby (Grade III) in September, with a purse of $300,000 making it the richest race at the track.
The accompanying casino, at 150,000 square feet, features more than 800 games along with a sportsbook. So this is the only facility in the region where you can watch and wager on horse racing, play slots and bet on sports events.
12. Horseshoe Casino
Hard to miss for its golden 600-room hotel tower, Horseshoe Casino is another of the three casino resorts on the Bossier City riverfront, and opened in 1994.
Operated by Caesars Entertainment, Horseshoe Casino has 1,500 slot machines and a wealth of table games including roulette, blackjack, craps, Caribbean stud poker and three card poker.
There’s a spectrum of dining spots here, whether you want something upscale (Jack Binion’s Steak House), or more casual, like Jasmine’s Noodle Bar, 8 OZ. Burger Bar or The Port, a seafood bar.
13. Party Central Family Fun Center
A family entertainment center with something for everyone, Party Central has been on the scene for more than two decades now.
The lineup of attractions here includes an 18-hole miniature golf course, a go kart track, batting cages, arcades, a 25-foot super slide, a climbing wall, bungee trampoline, bumper cars, bumper boats and more.
You pay for each attraction, and the center offers a variety of packages and group rates. For concessions there’s a crowd-pleasing choice of comfort food, like pizza, burgers, nachos and chicken tenders.
14. Pierre Bossier Mall
At the intersection of Interstate 20 and Airline Drive in Bossier City is an enclosed mall with some 80 tenants.
As with most malls, occupancy at Pierre Bossier Mall has shrunk a little in recent years, but there’s still a long list of familiar names.
Think JCPenney, Foot Locker, Forever 21, Dillard’s, Claire’s, GameStop, Hot Topic and Kay Jewelers, for a snapshot.
When it comes to dining, there’s a cluster of chain restaurants flanking Airline Drive, from Red Lobster to Waffle House, Arby’s Subway, Taco Bell and Burger King.
15. Mike Wood Memorial Park
South of the air force base is an attractive, 30-acre park that has received a lot of investment in the last few years.
For one thing, Mike Wood Memorial Park is the setting for one of Bossier City’s two public swimming facilities, open Memorial Day weekend through the school summer break.
Then you’ve got tennis courts, a disc golf course, a superb modular playground and a walkway recently upgraded with ten fitness stations.
Another reason to come is to get a closer look at the aircraft taking off and landing at Barksdale Air Force Base, including those formidable B-52s.