Guest Blogger Alice Phillips toured each of the eight cities on Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights. This is her experience in Stop 2 – Minden.
Stop 2: Minden
I drove just under an hour from Monroe and West Monroe to get to my next destination on the Holiday Trail of Lights – Minden, Louisiana. Known as the “Friendliest City in the South” by locals and visitors, I looked forward to a day in the historic downtown.
The Broken Bean in downtown Minden was the first place I went. It was early in the morning so I got a coffee and some beignets. The baristas shared the story of the organization that ran the Broken Bean. The staff is made up of students from Louisiana Adult and Teen Challenge of Minden, a program for women to live and work while recovering from addictions while also providing a place for their children to live. The women were passionate with sharing how far they have come and how the organization has helped themselves and their family. I sat at a table inside the quaint coffee house that felt like I was having coffee in someone’s home. The beignets rivaled ones you would find at Café du Monde in New Orleans and I was ready to learn more about Minden.
Downtown Minden is full of historic homes and the residents decorate their porches and doorways festively with lights and other ornaments. I walked through the few blocks of the downtown looking in windows at the many unique stores. The City Art Works had a window display with a decorated tree where people could stop for pictures. Inside, local artwork was displayed, and visitors could walk through while getting a glimpse of the artistic side of the town.
Nutcrackers sat at just about every streetlight, guarding the town and providing holiday cheer. Minden is also home to the filming location of over 20 movies. You can walk through the downtown while following the film trail seeing spots where Willie Nelson, Jessica Simpson, Ice Cube and more were filmed.
Just outside of downtown Minden, sits Ivy Vale Plantation, one of the last remaining plantation homes in Northwest Louisiana. The building was restored by Minden local Denton Culpepper in 2017 after abandonment for many years. Today, visitors can walk through the house filled with eight Christmas trees and seasonal décor. Denton walked me through the house while sharing the history of the plantation. Each element in the house reflects the historical significance right down to the antique ornaments on the Christmas trees.
Eager to learn more about the history of Minden, I headed to the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum. The museum shows a timeline of Minden’s history starting with the first Native American inhabitants to famous achievers from the city. The Dorcheat has hundreds of artifacts that visitors can look through to learn a little about what life was like in Minden’s past.
During my visit, I learned that Minden has deep German heritage going back to the early 19th century. Outside of the time, sits the Germantown Colony Museum, one the site of a utopian society created by German colonists in the 1800s. Here I saw original Bibles used by the colonists, clothes they wore and cabins they would have lived in. It was neat to see how far the town of Minden, named after a town in Germany, had come since its early days. There are even several families living in the town today that are ancestors of some of the original colonists.
After learning just some of the town’s historical significance, I was hungry for a taste of local cuisine. Grace Estate, a local bed and breakfast is the spot to be for lunch in Minden. Ladies meeting for lunch, workers on break and visitors all gathered in the historical house for a buffet. Southern comfort foods like hamburger steak, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans and red beans were on the plates of locals and visitors alike. Upstairs are three rooms that can be booked for a stay near downtown Minden.
If you are looking to antique shop or buy holiday presents, Minden has a variety of antique and resale shops. I stopped in Heavenly Treasures and Possibilities Antiques & Collectibles to check some of them out. Both stores were compromised of multiple vendors selling items ranging from antique furniture to custom t-shirts and toys. There is a little bit of everything to find in these shops and the perfect place to get your Christmas shopping done.
After learning about the town’s history, stepping into shops and seeing how locals do a regular day in the “Friendliest City in the South, it was time for me to head to my next stop just over 30 minutes away.
Read more about Alice’s tour in her other four stops along the Trail of Lights.