Ruston, LA and Other Day Trips from Monroe, Louisiana You Don’t Want to Skip
Anyone who is a Karl Malone fan (former NBA basketball star) may know about Ruston already, but for the rest of us, Louisiana Tech is what will put this town on your radar. Still not ringing a bell? Ladies, Kelly Moore bags were born and raised in this beautiful Northeast Louisiana town. You know, the camera bag disguised as a purse. The home office is still in downtown Ruston, LA.
My friend Allison and I couldn’t have been more excited to discover the boutique and meet Kelly’s pup, Copper.
While our purse idol may have been out of town for a wedding, there was plenty to explore on our day trip from Monroe, LA, just a 30-minute drive east of Ruston. Other day trips we would enjoy on our girls’ getaway in Monroe, LA included Epps (about an hour northeast of the city) and a stop at Landry Vineyards for some local Louisiana wine.
We spent most of our day wandering around the Ruston streets in search of murals, popping into cute boutiques, checking out the local history and enjoying burgers at the local food truck.
Things to do in Ruston, LA
If you are a sports fan, you will find more than enough games to go to with Louisiana Tech in town. Local life centers around it. In every shop we entered, owners were talking to customers about the upcoming football game.
Outside of sports, local events and festivals take place every season, usually on the weekends. Keep an eye out for fliers around town and check the Ruston website (RustonLincoln.com). When in doubt, ask a local shopkeeper. They are always in the know about the local happenings, especially at Vintage and Vogue.
There are four Ruston murals that we knew about thanks to a quick Google search. We found three of them easily, but the last was under an overpass we couldn’t quite find.
Two of the murals are on walls fairly close to each other and are known as “Ruston Murals” since they have the town name in the design. The third is on the side of the building where the weekly farmers’ market takes place.
The newest, and probably the coolest mural we saw, was on the north side of the Louisiana Center for the Blind building. This spiral art based design on a black background also had “Ruston” spelled out in giant braille letters. I’m not sure how the blind would find this mural without a little help from their friends, but at least they could read it once they got there.
Lincoln Parish Museum
The 1886 Kidd-Davis House was donated to the museum to house their permanent collection, but it is also a beautiful example of late 1800 architecture in Louisiana. Another set of murals, painted by Louisiana Tech students, depicts the history of Ruston and Lincoln Parish with an audio narrative telling the stories behind the murals.
Local vintage furniture, Dr. James C. White church drawings, 23 DeCinter Caraway Farley paintings and a large collection of Native American artifacts, many from the Caddo tribe, are also on display. As a historical society, the museum also has a collection of historical documents pertaining to the parish, including census data and historical maps of the area that researchers can access.
Collins Natural Horsemanship
782 Rock Corner Road, Dubach, Louisiana. Just outside of Ruston, on about 45-acres of land, lives Dave and his wife, who have created a magical world for kids and families who love horses.
While locals can take regular lessons and even board their horses, visitors can attend special events, like Halloween parties and Christmas events with Santa. Dave and his wife go all out for these events, and the community loves them. If you want to meet other families and get your kids around other kids for a good time, this is the best place to go.
If you are just looking for a trail ride, give Dave a call. You never know when he might need to work a few of the horses out and can take you across the property. He may even let you trot (if you ask nicely, that is).
Ruston, LA Restaurants
There are several restaurants in downtown Ruston, but many are open only for dinner or have limited lunch hours. We grabbed burgers and fresh-cut sweet potato fries at Grown & Grazed just as our stomachs and minds were getting a bit cranky after a morning of driving around Louisiana and riding horses. It was a great choice, especially since the owner was able to make a bun-free version for Allison, who has to eat gluten-free for health reasons.
- Grown & Grazed, 93 East Railroad Avenue, Historic Downtown Ruston, Louisiana. This food truck has outdoor seating available at picnic tables. Breakfast and lunch are served.
- Utility Brewing, 206 N Vienna St, Ruston, LA 71270. This pizza spot/brewery is only open for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays, and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Kid’s pizza is available, but make the kids branch out a little. The Ruston Home Pie sounds amazing (Italian tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted red bell peppers, farm egg, asiago and arugula).
Ruston, LA Shops
It should be no surprise that a college town would have beautifully curated collections of clothing, especially when Kelly Moore set up shop down here. Free People and other brand name labels we were used to seeing in larger cities can be found at the boutiques around town, but don’t expect any small-town prices.
Shops worth popping into:
- Vintage and Vogue, 103 N Trenton St, Ruston, LA 71270
- The Fashion of Ruston, 208 W Park Ave, Ruston, LA 71270 (you can find Kelly Moore Bags here)
- Chartreuse Pear, 210 W Park Ave, Ruston, LA 71270
- All That Jazz & A Little Bit Gypsy, 205 N Trenton St, Ruston, LA 71270
- Patton’s Downtown, 126 W Park Ave, Ruston, LA 71270
Day Trip to Epps, LA
Epps, which is an hour drive northeast of Monroe, has two things going for it: Poverty Point Heritage Site and Wild Country Safari Park. If you are traveling with kids, they will love the Safari Park. You can feed animals right from your car, or hop on a tour to feed them from a tractor-pulled tram. Personally, I’d opt for the tram, as the buffalo can rub their horns against your paint trim and the donkeys do kick your car. You will learn more about the animals and the park with a guide as well.
Poverty Point UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fascinating archeological dig, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. More than 3,400 years ago, when Stonehenge was being built over in Europe, Native Americans were building concentric circles, a 72-foot-tall mound and a thriving society in Northern Louisiana. It would be abandoned in 1100 AD and barely used after that.
Only sometime in the 20th century did archeologists start cataloging the artifacts that were being found. In 1962, the federal government labeled it a National Historic Landmark, and in 2014 it was labeled a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only three UNESCO archaeological sites in the U.S.
While the landscape doesn’t look like much to the naked eye, tour guides and the self-guided pamphlet unravel the marvel that this site actually is and why it is being preserved. The museum is home to many of the artifacts that have been dug up, and you can still climb the largest mound that the community built.
You may think Epps is out of your way, but for history lovers and UNESCO buffs, this is definitely worth the drive.
Day Trip to Landry Vineyards
Wine lovers won’t want to miss a chance to sip a true northeast Louisiana vintage. Tours of the vineyard and the wine cellars are offered on Saturdays when concerts aren’t happening, and are by appointment only. The tasting room is open Monday through Saturdays.
Landry has live concerts sporadically on weekends throughout the year, perfect for picnics on the lawn with your favorite bottle from the winery. Food is available for purchase if you just can’t be bothered with making a meal ahead of time to bring with you (we don’t blame you).
Kids are welcome at the vineyard, and encouraged to run, jump and play throughout the concert. There is plenty of space for dancing when the mood strikes, or you can just sit back and relax as you enjoy the tunes. Just make sure you leave the pup and outside alcohol at home. Note: Check the Landry Vineyard concert flier (on the website) for concert dates, times and bands performing.
Ready to head back to Monroe? Here’s your Monroe, LA guide.
This post is part of a paid partnership with Louisiana Travel and Travel Mindset. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.