Experience peak holiday joy this season in Ruston and Monroe-West Monroe. Between incredible shopping, fantastic locally-owned restaurants and the awe inspiring Holiday Trail of Lights, everyone in the family will find something to love. 

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
The satisfying breakfast sandwich with sweet potato hash at Grown and Grazed.

Local Dining in Ruston 

Whether it’s a table for two or a big ol’ family affair, the restaurants around Ruston offer big flavors and Bayou State favorites. Not far from the Christmas light installation at Railroad Park are the twin food trucks of Staple Sandwich Co. and Grown and Grazed. Staple Sandwich Co. uses house-made focaccia bread for its offerings, like the Muffuletta, Cuban and Pimento Cheese sandwiches.

At Grown and Grazed, you can expect to find breakfast and lunch items that include Louisiana Sweet Potato Hash and several Smith Family Farms beef hamburgers (don’t miss the Patty Melt!).

Each with its own comfortable atmosphere, Trio’s Ruston and White Lightnin’ Cocktail & Culinary Co., a Louisiana-centric restaurant with a respectable bar scene, serve up fancier plates. At Trio’s (which also has a location in Monroe), try the Blackened Grouper & Crab; at White Lightnin’, pair one of the Prohibition-era cocktails with New Orleans’ favorite BBQ Shrimp & Grits or Creole Fish Meunière.

For a casual meal of pizza with a rotating selection of locally brewed beers, don’t miss Utility Brewing Co., conveniently located next door to the Dixie Center for the Arts.

Must-Dos in Ruston

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
Some of the dazzling holiday lights displays along the Holiday Trail of Lights include the Land of Lights in Monroe

Attractions & Experiences

Throughout the holiday season, Ruston offers a wide variety of events and experiences. From downtown carriage rides and a drive-through light display at Lincoln Parish Park to art marketplaces and the locals’ favorite Christmas Parade, there is plenty to pack your calendar and excite the whole family. The Dixie Center for the Arts, a 1928 building once known for being “North Louisiana’s most magnificent showhouse,” puts on showings of popular classic holiday films such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Polar Express, as well as seasonal stagings by the Ruston Community Theatre. Ruston’s walkable downtown provides a bounty of shops, restaurants and boutiques all within a few minutes’ walk of the Dixie Center for the Arts. Creative Exchange and Ruston Artisans act as hubs for the local art scene, and Patton’s Downtown (which opened 15 years ago in Ruston and has grown to four stores around Louisiana) is an ideal place to pick up clothing or gifts for loved ones. A few doors down from Patton’s, you can relax and recharge at Railway Coffee with a mug of hot chocolate and a sweet treat.

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
Driving through Monroe’s Candy Cane Lane

Holiday Trail of Lights

Countless twinkling holiday lights between seven northern and central Louisiana destinations is just the beginning for the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights. Since 1992, towns including Alexandria/Pineville, Logansport, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, Ruston and Shreveport-Bossier have come together to make one magical holiday experience. Catching a horse-drawn carriage ride in Ruston, shopping at Antique Alley in West Monroe and taking a cruise through the nearby Candy Cane Lane (a mile-long attraction with more than a million lights) are just a few of the memorable moments you and your family can make on the short trip between these cities. Theatrical performances, parades and dazzling fireworks displays fill out the schedule. For the full slate of events, visit holidaytrailoflights.com.

The beautiful and historic downtown area that Ruston has today hearkens back to a time when the arrival of the railroad offered fantastic opportunities to local cotton farmers. Now, Ruston is home to two growing colleges, and its central location on the Holiday Trail of Lights makes it an even more enticing location to visit during late fall and winter.

Monroe/West Monroe

Dining destinations

From classic Southern comfort foods to dishes with that distinct Louisiana flair, Monroe and West Monroe have got you covered. At Magic Grill, folks will find the famous roast beef po’ boy along with other country-fried favorites. Current owner Michael Rodriguez says the restaurant (which started in Ruston in 1959) goes through between 10 and 15 gallons of its roast beef gravy every day. For more seasonal comfort, head to Portico, where the fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and tender greens are sure to satisfy any ravenous Southerner. Sometimes, a restaurant’s name says it all, and Not Just Pie is certainly one of them. Its pies—which include pecan, coconut and chocolate cream, banana caramel and even savory pot pies—are stellar, but the savory options, like the roast beef po’ boy (served on authentic Gambino bread), are not to be missed. Levee Grill, which is not far from the Monroe downtown area, overlooks beautiful Bayou DeSiard and serves up memorable dishes like bacon-wrapped duck drizzled with cane syrup and mahi-mahi served with pineapple pico de gallo.

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
Crispy fried chicken with all the fixings at Portico

Must-Dos in Monroe – West Monroe

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
Magic Grill’s famous roast beef po’ boy

Shopping & Fun

West Monroe’s Cotton Port Historic District is known for the incredible finds along Antique Alley. This three-block area is stuffed with nearly two dozen shops, restaurants, B&Bs and boutiques that specialize in everything from home furnishings and knickknacks to art, clothing and even old baseball cards. During the holiday season, Antique Alley gets a festive makeover, making the experience even more magical than usual. Just a block away, visitors can enjoy a delightful Christmas display at The Land of Lights.

If the weather outside gets frightful, warm up while taking in some of the area’s well-appointed museums. The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens features the Coca-Cola Museum (as Joe Biedenharn was the first bottler of the iconic beverage) as well as a Bible Museum (which showcases a collection of rare and historically important Bibles, including an original 1611 King James Bible). The nearby Chennault Aviation & Military Museum honors soldiers and airmen from WWI through Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
The Flying Tiger Brewery taproom celebrates the area’s military history

Poverty Point

Just a short drive from Monroe, visitors will find the monumental earthworks at Poverty Point World Heritage Site in Pioneer, Louisiana. These earthen mounds were once part of a massive trading hub in the Mississippian culture and can be explored at this UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of just a handful of such important historical sites in the southeast United States). For more information about experiencing the hand-built mounds and the on-site museum, visit povertypoint.us.

Visit Monroe/West Monroe and Ruston
Poverty Point

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