Monroe sits at the edge of "Cotton Country", a sprawling agricultural region graced with bright fields and aged tangles of verdant foliage. The Ouachita River snakes through this northeastern Louisiana city, that along with neighboring West Monroe serves as an urban hub for the surrounding farm country.
Expect, accordingly, to fine a higher concentration here of cultural sights, like the Masur Museum of Art or the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens, once the residence of Coca-Cola's founding bottler, Joe Biedenharn. For a peaceful wander, head for the botanical park attached, Elsong Garden and Conservatory. If it's longer walks and waterfowl you're after, head to the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge or spot animals at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo. Kids can get busy at the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum after brushing up on local history at the Northeast Louisiana Delta African-American Heritage Museum.
If you're after souvenirs, keep an eye out in this region for beautiful antique treasures to take away - Monroe's Antique Alley is a fine place to start your shopping.
In summer months, join locals fishing, boating and enjoying a picnic lunch at popular watery spots like the Bayou Bodcau Reservoir or the Red River Waterway.
With time for a longer detour, pay Poverty Point State Historic Site a visit. Explore the prehistoric earth-works edging the river for a glimpse of the area's early history. Epps, just southwest of the park, is about 50 miles from Monroe.
Monroe is 33 miles west of Ruston and 97 miles north of Alexandria.