The holidays usually signify the end of a year. Exploding fireworks, colorful confetti cannons, fizzy champagne flutes, dancing lights, cozy Christmas sweaters, and glittery formal wear help us ring in a new year with the ones we love. But this year, it all means a little bit more.
Amidst these exciting traditions, many will be taking time to reflect on the last year and begin envisioning the next with New Year's Resolutions. This is a quieter way to celebrate the new year, dreaming about what it could be and making the first, tiny steps to bring it to life.
Whether your goals are to be more kind, more sustainable, healthier, or more successful, our organization thrives on the adventurous goals. Specifically, how to be adventurous in a smaller city. There's always something to do, so we've created a list of New Year's resolutions to help find the adventure wherever you are. Here's a hint: your local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is a huge help!
1. Try a new local restaurant every month!
Research your local CVB's restaurant guide to find places you've never been to! Make a date night out of it, or invite some new friends along. You may just discover your new favorite hang out spot. Try a new cuisine style, go to a different pizza joint, or choose a restaurant with a beautiful view. With over 100 local restaurants in Ouachita Parish, there are so many delicious options to try in Monroe-West Monroe.
2. Go mural hunting (and snap photos)!
Look for the local artist's creations, the ones with cultural significance, the vintage advertisements, or the fun patterns! In Monroe-West Monroe, start with the postcard murals. West Monroe’s is located on Antique Alley on the backside of JAC's Craft Smokehouse, and Monroe’s can be found across the parking lot from the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. Next, visit Art Alley, where you can find rainbows, lightning bolts, hearts, paper planes. This area also features the Outside Gallery, where a new mural is painted over the last for each new Downtown Gallery Crawl. Plus, there are four Coca-Cola murals to check out. You can also visit the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo for their stampede mural.
3. Shop locally once a month. (At least!)
If you’re used to doing your shopping online or hitting the big department stores with your lists, try swapping it out to shop local once a month. Visit your local boutiques for the latest trends and styles, stroll through unique vintage stores, head to a local hardware store or boat shop, or check out an outdoor venue that periodically sets up an array of local vendors on the weekends.
4. Find the perfect piece of locally created art!
Explore your local art galleries, or attend events with local vendors to find something that speaks to you! It's easy to find pretty pieces at department stores but for something truly unique and made with care, buying local is the way to go! Monroe-West Monroe is filled with talented artists who are always creating unique and beautiful works. Pick a spot on your wall that needs snazzing up, and find the perfect painting to fill it. Commission a custom piece from an artist you like. Visit the Downtown Gallery Crawl to buy art, or check out an event with artist vendors.
5. Kayak, canoe, or paddleboard on nearby waterways!
There are likely more places near you than you realize. If you don't own one of these crafts, many places offer rental opportunities! Explore a different side of your community on the water. At Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, you can rent a kayak or canoe during their regular hours. Follow the trail to the eagles’ nest for a chance to see our national bird. At the Wesley Organization on the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s campus, you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, or canoes even if you aren’t a ULM student. Head to H2 GO for a guided tour complete with transportation and equipment!
6. Visit a new attraction!
Local museums, parks, specialty shops, art galleries, or historical sites are a great way to learn more about your community. These places often offer unique, hands-on experiences that can be found nowhere else! In Monroe-West Monroe, you can drink a 5 cent glass bottle Coca-Cola at the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens. Get up close to vintage warplanes at the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. Try all of the wines that Landry Vineyards has in their tasting room. Pose at the President’s Desk inside the White House display at the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. See cool art pieces at Masur Museum of Art. There are so many places to try!
7. Stay in the know on upcoming happenings and events!
Most CVB's post on social media, send out newsletters or keep a calendar of events. Be the person in your friend group that always knows the cool things to do, and never miss a fun event! Sign up for our Upcoming Weekend Events newsletter, and get the weekend events delivered to your inbox each week. Our Calendar of Events is always filled with events in Ouachita Parish. Knock some of these resolutions off your list by finding events that match! Plus, you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Cheers to another year of discovering. Here's hoping that 2021 is the best year yet. Happy New Year, y'all!