Monday, November 23, 2015

5 Holiday Travel Trips

image via
Written by Tori Ward, CVB Marketing/PR Assistant 

With the holidays quickly approaching, we know that a lot of you will be traveling to see family and friends. Whether you’re loading up the car and taking a road trip or checking your bags at the airport and boarding a plane, we have some helpful tips to make your holiday travels a little bit easier.

1. Avoid peak travel dates. 

While holiday traffic jams are sometimes unavoidable, adjusting your travel plans slightly can prove to save you time, as well as a headache or two. To avoid the craziness that surrounds peak holiday travel dates, plan to travel on the actual holiday when things have settled down a bit. If that isn’t a feasible option for you, then plan to travel early or late in the day to avoid heavy traffic. Fun fact: The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, so start mentally preparing now for crazy traffic in airports and on highways.

2. Do your research. 

Before you even pack up the car, do some research on your travel route. Are there any highway closures you should know about along the way? Any big events happening in places you’re passing through that could cause traffic issues? Even if you don’t foresee any problems, have a back-up travel route in case you hit any unexpected traffic issues. 

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3. Download helpful travel apps beforehand. 
When traveling, your smartphone is your best friend. Take advantage of all the great apps that are out there to help make your travels easier. We’ve listed a few of our favorites below.
  • TripIt
  • Flight Status
  • Gate Guru
  • Gas Buddy
  • Roadtrippers
  • iExit
  • TripAdvisor 
  • Waze 

4. Ship gifts beforehand or stick to gift cards.

Traveling with gifts can be a pain. They take up room in your luggage and can often lead to baggage fines if they put your bags over the weight limit. Also, there’s a possibility that your gifts could get unwrapped in a random baggage search. Consider shipping gifts beforehand to avoid fines and make your life a little easier. If you really want to simplify your holiday travels, go the gift card route. They take up very little space and you can keep them safe in your carry-on luggage. If you do travel with gifts, we recommend you wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap them. 

5. Stay hydrated and nourished. 

While you may be saving room for big, delicious holiday meals, make sure you eat before and during a trip. When traveling, you want to avoid a drop in blood sugar, which can make you sleepy, lethargic and irritable. Definitely don’t skip meals and pack plenty of snacks and water to ensure you stay high in energy and spirits while traveling. You and your travel buddies will be thankful, trust us. Hint: If you’re flying, pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on and fill it up once you get past security.

We hope these tips help to make your holiday travels just a little bit easier. Visit our Pinterest for more travel tips. Safe travels and happy holidays from the Ruston Lincoln CVB!

Tori is a proud Louisiana native and social media nerd. She has a passion for travel, food, and all things related to tourism promotions. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic, and lover of the outdoors. Still want to know more? Head over to her website 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Sweet Treat for Thanksgiving

Written By: Tori Ward, CVB Marketing/PR Assistant

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, but we just couldn’t wait another day to start cooking things up in the kitchen! Eager to create a culinary masterpiece, we turned to our “Louisiana Cooking” Pinterest board for inspiration. We decided right off the bat that we wanted to make something sweet, yet savory with a touch of fall flavor. The moment we saw, “Roasted Apples and Sweet Potatoes in Honey-Bourbon Glaze,” we were hooked. After looking at the recipe, we knew we could use several local items as ingredients for this tasty-looking dish. 

Fresh, local ingredients  
Our first stop for local ingredients was the Ruston Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. We were able to snag some locally-grown sweet potatoes at the market, as well as a jar of local honey from Jennings Apiaries. We then visited Mid South Pecan, a local, family-owned company that sells incredible pecans in just about every form imaginable. After a quick trip to the grocery store for the other ingredients, we were all set to make this yummy fall dish! Here’s what you’ll need:
Roasted Apples and Sweet Potatoes in Honey-Bourbon Glaze

Roasted Apples and Sweet Potatoes in Honey-Bourbon Glaze
5 large sweet potatoes (about 5 lb.)
3 Golden Delicious apples
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Follow these steps for roasted sweet potato and apple deliciousness:
Recipe ingredients 
Right before going into the oven 

1. Wash sweet potatoes, and place on a baking sheet; prick with a fork. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until almost tender. Remove from oven. Let stand until cooled.

2. Meanwhile, peel and core apples. Slice apples into 1/3" thick wedges; toss with lemon juice in a bowl. Peel cooled potatoes, and slice 1/3" thick. Arrange potatoes and apples alternately in a greased 9" x 13" baking dish. Pour remaining lemon juice over potatoes and apples.

3. Combine brown sugar, honey, butter, bourbon, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a saucepan, stirring well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally; boil 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour glaze over potatoes and apples. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 30 minutes.

4. Remove from oven; baste with glaze from bottom of dish and sprinkle nuts across the top. Bake 15 more minutes or until apples look roasted. Baste with glaze just before serving.

Bon Appétit!

Not only will this fall dish make your house smell incredible, but
 it’s a perfect Thanksgiving dinner side or dessert. Our favorite thing about this recipe is that it brings delicious fall flavors together and is subtly sweet, making it an extremely versatile dish. Definitely try it out this Thanksgiving; you never know when you’ll find a new favorite holiday recipe! Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at the Ruston Lincoln CVB!

Recipe pinned on Experience Ruston Pinterest, originally from Southern Living Magazine.

Tori Ward is a proud Louisiana native, born and raised in Shreveport, La. She is a Louisiana State University alumna and has a passion for all things PR. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic and lover of the outdoors. She is currently attending Louisiana Tech to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Downtown Ruston: Not Your Mama's Mainstreet

Written By Tori Ward, CVB Marketing/PR Assistant

Ruston, La. was put on the map in 1883 to serve as a railway town that would help connect the Deep South with the West. Today, you can still hear the trains rolling through Downtown Ruston several times a day; we like to think it adds some character to the town. While Ruston remains true to its historic roots, there’s no denying that it’s evolved and grown over the years. 

Downtown Ruston, photo by Adam Mullins
It seems like every day we hear at least one visitor, Ruston native or Louisiana Tech alum talking about how much the “little town of Ruston has grown” since the last time they were here. Within the last 10 years alone, Ruston has seen some very big changes. A great deal of the growth happening in Ruston has to do with its now-thriving downtown district.

Downtown Ruston is an 18-block historic district that serves as the heartbeat of this town. With local restaurants, shops and historic landmarks all within walking distance, Downtown Ruston is the ideal place to visit when you find yourself in the area.

There is a great selection of restaurants downtown ranging from Italian to Japanese to Cajun and everything in between. While there are some amazing new restaurant additions to the downtown district, like RAW and Roma Italian Bistro, traditional local favorites, like Sundown Tavern, are still thriving. You can even get some fresh, sweet treats in Downtown Ruston at the local cupcake bakery, Social Bites. It’s undeniable that some of the best Ruston eats can be found downtown.

RAW, Downtown Ruston 
Sundown Tavern, Downtown Ruston

Additionally, the shopping in Downtown Ruston has been taken to the next level in the last few years.  There is an abundance of clothing boutiques located downtown, as well as other charming shops featuring home décor, gifts, jewelry, antiques and more. The local stores in Downtown Ruston have truly evolved over the years into gorgeous, sophisticated shops, which has greatly added to the aesthetics of downtown. After going to shops like Chartreuse Pear, The Fashion of Ruston and Fine Line Supply Co., visitors are always pleasantly surprised at the quality and diversity of our downtown shopping options.

The Fashion of Ruston, Downtown Ruston 
Display at Chartreuse Pear, Downtown Ruston

You can also catch annual events downtown like the Ruston Makers Fair, ARToberfest, Holiday Arts Tour, Ruston Fashion Week and more. Most notably, Downtown Ruston is home to the  Louisiana Peach Festival, which takes place every summer during the fourth weekend of June. Next year's festival is on June 23-24, 2017 so make plans now to visit Ruston for this fun event!

Concert at the 2015 Louisiana Peach Festival in Downtown Ruston

The Dixie Center for the Arts is also located downtown and serves as a hub for the arts in Ruston. They feature productions by the Ruston Community Theatre, various musical ensembles, film viewings, local events and more. It’s always a good idea to check the Dixie’s marquee when driving through downtown.

The Dixie Center for the Arts, Downtown Ruston

Every year the downtown district continues to grow and improve due to the outpouring of creativity and innovation from local business owners and community leaders. Ruston’s ability to remain a tight-knit community while continuously growing year after year is a truly special quality that captures the hearts of locals and visitors alike.  It’s a town that stays with you long after you leave its quaint and homey atmosphere. We hope that you’ll take a day or weekend in the near future to visit historical Downtown Ruston and everything it has to offer!

Tori Ward is a proud Louisiana native, born and raised in Shreveport, La. She is a Louisiana State University alumna and has a passion for all things PR. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic and lover of the outdoors. She is currently attending Louisiana Tech to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Holiday Festivities in Ruston!

Click here for 2017 holiday events!

Written By Amanda Quimby, CVB Marketing Director

Christmas in Ruston is like nothing else. It elicits all those warm feelings of being home for the holidays. And this is the year for collaboration as many community partners have been hard at work planning a very busy and exciting calendar of events for the holiday season. We hope to residents and visitors alike come out and take part in all the festivities!
Holiday fun will be kicking off with North Louisiana’s premier holiday shopping market – With over 45 vendors and live music, it’s the perfect opportunity to get started on your Christmas list or pick out a few holiday decorations for your home. 

This year local business have gathered together for Shop for Good on the 19th, partnering with local non-profits and donating proceeds to those organizations. The Downtown Christmas Open House will also be your chance to see downtown’s Christmas decorations, take advantage of extended store hours and get in on some great sales to start the season.

Don't forget to "shop small" for Small Business Saturday. Local merchants are offering specials and sales in celebration. Use #ShopRuston to show your support!

Bank of Ruston's 12th Annual Holiday Art Exhibit is the perfect opportunity to buy for the person who has everything. Purchase artwork by local artists Joey Slaughter, Jerry Berg, Nicole Duet, and Sherry Owens. The exhibit kicks off Tuesday, Dec 1st with a reception open to the public and will continue on weekdays in December from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Portion of sales benefit NCLAC.

This is an all-time holiday favorite about Ralphie and the Red Ryder 200 Shot BB gun will be taken to the Dixie Center for the Arts stage! Show starts at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.


New to Christmas in Ruston this year is an artificial ice rink! The rink will be located in the Sexton parking lot and will use real ice skates. Sessions are 45 minutes and $10 per person. This is just another great activity for the whole family. Come out and enjoy Downtown Ruston. Click here for hours of operation.

Get downtown and take this unique opportunity to celebrate the arts in our area. Shops will host visual artists and their works, as well as demonstrations and children’s activities; plus, live musical performances! Click here for a schedule of events.

DEC. 4-5 - LINCOLN LIGHTS UP THE PINESHighly anticipated this year is Ruston’s first drive-through Christmas lights display through Lincoln Parish Park. Admission is $5 per car; Friday & Saturday 5-8 p.m. You don’t want to miss this inaugural trail of lights running through one of the state’s most beautiful parks. Bring $15 cash if you would like to purchase a shirt.

DEC. 10 - RUSTON CHRISTMAS PARADEThe Ruston Christmas Parade by Rotary is something we all look forward to enjoying! The theme this year is "Songs of Christmas." Parade begins at 6 p.m. and will start at the Thomas Assembly Center and run through downtown.


Come out to Railroad Park in Downtown Ruston to hear our local school choirs sing for the community. Concert starts at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
DEC. 5, 12 &19 - SANTA IN THE PARK
Bring the kids out to visit and take photos with Santa in Railroad Park from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

What's better than being rewarded for your Christmas shopping?! Stop by the Ruston Lincoln Chamber of Commerce or any participating retailers to pick up your shopping passport and get busy! Fill up the passport to winner awesome prizes!

What better what to brighten your holiday spirit than hearing you favorite Christmas tunes on the Dixie's stage? And as always, admission is a nonperishable food item or a toys for Toys for Tots!


For both men's and women's basketball game on Friday, Dec. 18 and Tuesday, Dec. 22, fans can have their photo taken with Santa and participate in the ugly Christmas sweater contest to receive a signed basketball from Coach Konkol and Coach Summitt. Click here for ticket information. 

It's always a joy to see the Dixie Dancers take the stage for their annual Christmas program! Event is free to the public, with donations for the Dixie Center for the Arts accepted. Show starts at 6 p.m. 

The Christmas spirit that is present in Ruston is undeniably infectious. The CVB encourages you to invite your friends and family to join in on the Christmas shopping, ice skating and all of our holiday celebrations. For more information on these and other events in the area, visit or give us a call at (800) 392-9032. 

Amanda Quimby is a native of Franklin Parish, a University of Louisiana at Monroe alumna and now a proud Ruston resident. As the marketing director for the CVB, she has an love for travel and tourism, and the coolest job ever. Amanda’s favorite things: coffee, wine and swing jazz. When she’s not working, ...just kidding. She’s always working. Follow her on Instagam and Twitter.