By Cheré Coen
The heart of Louisiana offers a unique crossroads, where bayous meet hills and piney woods, where French and Spanish history turns English and everything in between. It’s this mix that makes Alexandria fascinating, offering a variety of attractions, from Civil War forts to the World War II camps, from the French architecture of the Kent House Plantation to the ghosts of Finnegan’s Wake Irish pub.
Alexandria’s a great weekend getaway and here’s why:
Standing proudly above the rest of downtown Alexandria stands the historic Hotel Bentley, built in 1907 and meant to impress all who visit. The stunning lobby features a center fountain with elaborate fresco overhead, marble columns and a gracious staircase used for weddings and homecoming photos over the years. The 90-plus rooms provide a great landing place for your trip.
The Arts Scene
Visitors receive a Louisiana art history lesson at the Alexandria Museum of Art. “Its mission is to provide art for social change, uplift different cultures in the community and present untold stories,” said Catherine Pears, executive director. “And sometimes, just art because it’s beautiful,” she concluded. Down the street is the River Oaks Square Arts Center which promotes visual art and fine crafts. Both offer wonderful special events and classes throughout the year.
Forts Randolph and Buhlow across the Red River highlight the Civil War events that occurred in the region, plus the visitor’s center takes tourists back in time with an authentic cabin a soldier might have lived in during the time.
The state park contains hiking trails and elevated boardwalks, which makes it a great nature outing as well. The well-preserved Kent House Plantation dates to 1796 and includes out buildings such as the kitchen, where authentic foods are made, and the sugar house, where every year they produce syrup the old-fashioned way. Check out both for special events.
Take a Break
For something more relaxing, visit the LUX Studio in the Holiday Inn downtown, where yoga and Tai Chi classes, massage and salon services are offered in a lovely quiet spa that takes you away from the world. There’s even acro-yoga if you dare, yoga that involves acrobatics. Check out their services at https://www.luxstudioswellness.com.