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Arkansas Delta Family Road Trip: Black Heritage, Art & More!

Gullah-10 Arkansas Delta Family Road Trip:  Black Heritage, Art & More!

Looking for a unique way to do a family road trip? Then add the Arkansas Delta to the top of your list. I spent four days with my husband and baby Jackson a week before his birthday exploring the rich history and heritage of the Arkansas Delta and was graciously hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. This trip was full of African American culture from HBCUs, musical legends from gospel to blues and legendary African American art. The Arkansas Delta is a perfect place to explore with your family and experience many versions of southern living. Here is a snapshot of my four days including some of my trip highlights and suggestions of how to enjoy each city with your family, friends and even just yourself.

Arkansas Delta Family Road Trip: Black Heritage, Art & More!

Wilson

Small Town Charm with Modern, Southern Style: Looking for a cute place for a girlfriends getaway or to host a farm to table weekend party? Wilson is definitely where you should head. This adorable town is perfect for a family looking for a relaxing getaway. Not to mention the shops and town square are absolutely adorable!

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With an eye to the future, a diverse and capable group, including the town council, community members and outside consultants, continues working on a master plan for sustainable growth and advancement for all of Wilson’s residents. With longstanding relationships, generations of local families and a team of passionate professionals, Wilson’s community is its strongest asset. From education to infrastructure, agricultural practice, housing, dining, hospitality and entertainment, Wilson is continually exploring opportunities for innovation.

Learn more about Wilson, AR here. https://www.wilsonarkansas.com

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Wilson Cafe: The town of Wilson lured well-known chefs Joseph Cartwright and Shari Haley from Memphis to create a modern interpretation of the former Wilson Tavern. Sourcing the freshest ingredients from local farms, especially Wilson Gardens, Wilson Cafe anchors a renewed appreciation for healthy eating.

Wilson Cafe: Fred and Jackson loved this place. Couldn’t get enough of this food and also adored the decor. Plenty of traditional decor with modern aesthetic.

https://eatatwilson.com/

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Shops

White’s Mercantile is the perfect shop for a Black Southern Belle looking for a unique gift to add to her home or to give for a dear friend. Loved all of the local touches and especially the black and white art on the wall. Definitely a place to shop and get inspiration.

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Helena

Crawfish Soiree & Delta Blues Anyone? Helena is the perfect place to host a crawfish weekend with your besties or to host a romantic delta inspired weekend with the one you love. The Edwardian B&B is the perfect backdrop for Instagram pictures and has plenty of porch and garden space to host a casually chic crawfish picnic or front porch party. Not to mention, the downstairs suite I stayed in the perfect Netflix and chill with wine headquarters for a bachelorette party or sorority reunion. Helena is a great place to enjoy the scenery and relax.

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Learn more about Helena, AR here: www.visithelenaar.com/about-helena/

Delta Cultural Center

I could have bought everything I saw in the Delta Cultural Center bookstore. Perfect items to add to your library room, coffee table or include in a party favor to showcase your Delta travels with your friends at your next dinner party.

https://www.deltaculturalcenter.com/

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The Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, Arkansas, is a cultural center and museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the culture of the Arkansas Delta.

The Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, Arkansas, is a cultural center and museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the culture of the Arkansas Delta.

Handworks

This shop was adorable and a great place to bring your friends to pick up items to host an on the fly dinner party in the Delta.

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Loved the architecture of this historic space in Downtown Marianna, not to mention their art and candle collection. Check out more of their decor selection here: https://www.facebook.com/handworkshelena/ This is a perfect place to get lost for a day!

Edwardian Inn

http://www.edwardianinn.com/

he Edwardian Inn is an outstanding example of fine homes that were built in Helena around the turn of the century.  The quarter-sawn oak paneling that is used extensively throughout the house may have come from the 24 sawmills that were in the area at the time. Expert craftsmen in Chicago made the nine original mantels in the house. Eight of them remain in place with the ninth being used as the front desk for the inn. Wood carpeting made in Germany of 36 different kinds of woods are used throughout the first floor.  The stairway is of oak and is in excellent condition.

Marianna

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I do believe Fred ate 3 pulled pork sandwiches. Loved everything about this place and definitely will come back anytime I am in the Delta.

BBQ Tailgate Party? Looking for an excuse to upgrade your tailgate or hosting skills? Head over to Jones Bar-B-Q Diner to get a secret weapon for your tailgate tent at the next UAPB tailgate season. The pulled pork sandwiches will pair perfectly with anything because they are delicious, even James Beard agrees they are award-worthy.

https://www.arkansas.com/marianna

Pine Bluff

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Pine Bluff is located along several historic trails, including four approaches involved in the October 1863 Attack on Pine Bluff and the water route of the Trail of Tears. These passages, along with other historically significant routes, are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System. Lake Saracen, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission impoundment, lies immediately north of downtown and offers fishing and birding for egrets, herons and waterfowl. Saracen Landing hosts the local farmers market and numerous special events. Art enthusiasts can admire the fabulous work of James Hayes Art Glass at his studio in town.

HBCU Art and Style: I love supporting HBCUs and also have an obsession with art, so when I got to visit the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Museum and Cultural Center, I was absolutely ecstatic. Full of artifacts, historic photographs and beautiful paintings (many done by the museum director himself) this place is not one to miss. It is a great place to host your next family reunion or to pick up unique gifts for the HBCU alum in your life.

https://www.arkansas.com/pine-bluff

University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Museum and Cultural Center

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Free and open to the public, the museum is located in Childress Hall. UMCC is home to the Keepers of the Spirit: The L.A. Davis Historical Collection that documents the more than 140-year history of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Our website highlights our mission, exhibitions, and research opportunities.

Explore and plan a visit to the UMCC with this link: http://www.uapb.edu/administration/office_of_the_chancellor/title_iii/university_museum_cultural_center.aspx

Hot Springs

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Hot Springs is the city where intriguing history and an astonishing collection of exciting new attractions bubble to the surface alongside the 47 thermal-water springs that give the place its name. Three blue-water lakes, a pristine National Forest and more family-friendly attractions than you can imagine beckon you to a modern city with historical roots that include the boyhood home of a President, a colorful past that includes Al Capone, the birthplace of Major League Baseball spring training and the prototype for America’s National Parks. 

Unique Architecture & Classic Southern Charm: Want a unique location to host a girlfriends getaway or bachelorette weekend? Hot Springs is where you should head. This place was full of beautiful architecture, historic bath houses and unique shops and stores.

https://www.hotsprings.org/

Shops

I love shopping and Hot Springs was a great place to indulge and here are a few places I would recommend.

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Evilo Oils & Vinegar – Great place to spend a day getting inspiration for your next dinner party!

https://www.olivebackwards.com/

Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium – If you are looking for unique hostess gifts, this place is pure perfection! I even got to make a gift basket of my own. May give it to my best friend who loves Pink and Green!

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Fred loves soaps and candles even more than I do and we are passing the tradition to Jackson!

https://bathhousesoap.com/

Restaurants:

Cafe 1217: The food at this place was absolutely delicious and absolutely refreshing for a warm spring day in the South. The desserts were perfection and they have plenty of vegan options. The key lime pie was out of this world!

http://www.cafe1217.net/

Red Light Roastery: My husband is a serious coffee expert and he said he had the best latte of his life here.

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http://redlightroastery.com/

Hotel

The Waters

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I could have pulled up a chair and a glass of wine and admired this hallway and the mountain views all day.

Looking for a unique hotel experience with great architecture? The Waters is a great option. I adored the subway tiled hallways.

Garvan Woodland Gardens

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https://www.garvangardens.org/

From the adorable chapel to the beautiful landscaping, this place is a perfect location to spend a day or two just exploring, having a picnic with your besties. I loved getting to spend time with my husband and Jackson just relaxing and getting away from the day to day business of our lives.

Little Rock

After visiting Little Rock a few times, my family and I have definitely fallen in love with the town. It is absolutely family friendly, has great food and a wonderful arts scene. This is a perfect place to explore for a week with your family while not breaking the bank.

https://www.arkansas.com/little-rock

Esse Purse Museum: I have been a bag lady since I was two years old and I am obsessed with history, so the Esse Purse Museum was the perfect experience for me. Before I could even explore the museum the gift store was absolute perfection. Full of great stationery, books and of course purses, you definitely should be ready to upgrade your purse or wall when you visit this place. They even have some bags and wallets for the men in your life making it a great place to find a father’s day gift.

https://essepursemuseum.com

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More than fashion history, ESSE’s permanent exhibit honors and celebrates the progression of the 20th-century American woman – decade by decade – through the lens of her handbag and the contents within. Through the collection and artful display of this material culture, as well as with the help of photography and ephemera, ESSE provides a contemplative portrayal of the woman’s struggles, accomplishments, and more sweepingly, the times in which she lived.

South Main Creative

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Little Rock’s historic Main Street in the hip SoMa district is the perfect home for a creative twist on the traditional antique mall. With a fresh artistic outlook and an urban feel, South Main Creative is home to the traditional and the funky, appealing to the steadfast mindful buyer and a new generation of eclectic collectors. Authentic treasures from the past and present, including antiques and vintage, up-cycled furniture and lighting, reclaimed wood furniture, and handmade art await you! Each merchant and artist at South Main Creative has a unique story to tell through their art and collections. We also offer a variety of art, craft and DIY classes to release that inner maker and inspire your creative story!

Want to see more of Little Rock? Check out my previous blog posts on my Babymoon Trip (link here) and Jackson’s First Family vacation in Arkansas (link here).

Be sure to add the Arkansas Delta to your summer and fall travel list and make it a road trip. It is a cost effective and unique way to enjoy time with the ones you love and gives you plenty of flexibility to explore this bustling region and add a few unexpected spots along the way.

***This post was sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. All opinions are my own.***

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Michiel Perry

Michiel is a Black Southern Belle living a lowcountry life. I love all things fashion, home decor and southern! When I am not running around doing fun stuff for Black Southern Belle, I live in antique stores and have a minor obsession with historic homes 🙂

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