My family loves short day trips. These can be going on a hike in town to driving about 1 to 2 hours away. We’ve lived in this area for over 4 years now and I’ve been wanting to visit Monroe, Louisiana, for that long. This past Saturday, we finally got to take a day trip and it was so much fun!
There is so much to do in this large town of 50,000+ people. Many famous and accomplished people call Monroe home such as the family from Duck Commander. And also Joseph A. Biedenharn who opened the first Coca Cola bottling plants in this region.
From Wikipedia, he “was an American businessman and confectioner credited in the summer of 1894 with having first bottled the soda fountain drink, Coca-Cola, at his wholesale candy company building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. As he expanded this business, he created a model of bottling-distributor franchises and built his company through this state, as well as Louisiana and Texas.
In 1913, he moved the manufacturing and bottling operations to Monroe, Louisiana, continuing to grow the business. With his son Malcolm and other entrepreneurs, in 1925 he bought a crop-dusting business. They added eighteen planes to the fleet, making it the largest private one in the world. They developed this business as Delta Air Lines, moving it later to Atlanta, Georgia. The Biedenharn family has had a philanthropic tradition in both Vicksburg and Monroe, making major contributions to historic, educational, recreational and charitable purposes.”
There are tons of things to see and do in Monroe but for this day trip, I wanted to take the kids to the Coca Cola museum, Biedenharn historic home & gardens, and the Bible Museum. It was fantastic! We also enjoyed checking out the giftshop and found two perfect Christmas gifts – one for my mom-in-law and one for my niece.
First though… by the time we got into Monroe it was around lunch and we were hungry. Luckily, my favorite restaurant was just off the interstate… (It really is my fav!) We stopped and have some of that DELICIOUS bacon, hash browns, and… of course pancakes.
With our bellies full, we were ready to check out the historic Coca Cola museum and grounds. It was such a great visit AND if you bring change, you can even get a bottle coke for just a nickel. Check the website if they are still offering this when you go.
When you visit the museum and grounds, you’ll get your tickets to see the gift shop and then connected to that will be the soda shop room where there is a talk about how the coca cola bottles have changed over the years. Gary was our guide and did a great job with the interpretation of the history of Coca Cola and the Biedenharn’s. We also enjoyed the video talking about the family and how important their part in distributing system for Coca Cola and the impact that had on the expansion of this now worldwide company. The museum is made up of about 4 rooms including the video viewing room plus the main entry with a very old school delivery truck which was really cool and then an entrance room with a bunch of different bottles that have been used around the world plus a collection of old school coolers.
Next, you will exit the front door and turn right to walk down the side walk to visit the family’s historic home, amazing gardens, and Bible museum. It was all fascinating. I love seeing historic home and how they were decorated. This house had lots of 1940-1950s vibes and I love it!
The garden and huge green house was AMAZING! I loved the “ballet lawn” with 8 foot cast iron statues on 3-4 foot pedestals at each corner and one more at the very end having been turned into a fountain. These weighed over 1800 pounds each and had to be shipped by railcar from New Orleans.
The Bible Museum was so neat! It had artifacts that were thousands of years old, a Bible that George Washington owned, artwork, and sculpture and ancient pieces of Bibles. WOW! This was the main reason that I wanted to visit the museums. There is an exhibit in the Bible Museum called Stations of the cross which has many table sized sculptures as descriptions of the time leading up to the crucifixion and also the crucifixion. Next year, there will be a congruent group exhibit with regional artists creating 2D artwork to hang on the wall behind each sculpture. I’m so excited to get to be part of this exhibit and will be dropping this off mid January.
The entire group of museums and grounds only took about 2-3 hours. We took our time but also didn’t read every little bit of information that was posted. It was perfect for my kids’ ages from 8-12 years old. Don’t forget to bring a nickel for each mini bottled Coca Cola that you want to drink while you are there. You can also keep these as a souvenir. I highly suggest making a day trip just to see this group of museums! Or try out a weekend getaway in Monroe and don’t miss the little zoo(I hear to not miss the boat ride or the train ride), antique alley, Duck Commander, and more!
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