Story: Laura Keech Allen |
Rising as much as 200 feet above the alluvial plain of the delta, Crowley’s Ridge is a geographic anomaly, and was an immediate draw to the area’s earliest settlers, including Benjamin Crowley, for whom the ridge is named. The Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway winds its way through this beautiful, hilly terrain, characterized by forests, farmland and historic buildings and battlefields. Home to four state parks, the parkway combines natural splendor with the shopping and dining possibilities of a number of towns, including Helena-West Helena, Forrest City, Jonesboro, Paragould and Piggott.
726 Columbia St., 870-338-8099, www.carriagesquare.net, www.magnoliahillbnb.com
Encompassing an entire block of Helena’s historic district, Carriage Square includes two historic buildings and an amazing garden. The Solomon House is the perfect spot for special events downstairs, while the upstairs is devoted to shopping for fine antiques. Around the corner, you’ll find the carefully restored Magnolia Hill Bed and Breakfast, with the beautiful Victorian Gardens connecting the two.
Cotton & Kudzu
413 Cherry St., 870-338-8339
In a spacious downtown storefront, Cotton & Kudzu houses 14 different merchants’ booths, offering everything from hand-smocked baby clothes and local art to cute storage options and bath and body products, as well as antiques. They even have a section devoted to Delta-made food and gifts.
Delta Cultural Center
141 Cherry St., 870-338-4350, www.deltaculturalcenter.com
Dedicated to preserving the history of the Arkansas delta through events, the Delta Cultural Center offers educational programs and exhibits on subjects as diverse as Helena’s music scene, the Civil War in the delta and the great floods of the Mississippi River. The Delta Sounds exhibit explores blues, gospel and rockabilly, and each day “Sunshine” Sonny Payne broadcasts King Biscuit Time, the longest running daily blues radio show in the United States, from a specially built radio studio inside. Don’t miss the gift shop, which is filled with great books and music.
Delta Gypsy Caravan
509 Cherry St., 870-816-6466
Gifts of every kind fill the cozily appointed and constantly changing Delta Gypsy Caravan. We love their huge selection of colorful purses and luggage, along with monogrammed gifts and housewares, barware, stationery and bath products from names like Elizabeth W. Locally made pottery is joined by chic serving pieces and crystal, creating a delightful mosaic of styles.
The Edwardian Inn
317 Biscoe, 870-338-9155, www.edwardianinn.com
Built in 1904, this 12-room inn was completely restored and opened as a bed and breakfast in 1983. Stellar hospitality in stunning historic surroundings is their specialty, as each room is beautifully appointed in antiques.
The Pillow-Thompson House
718 Perry St., 870-338-8535, www.pccua.edu/pillowthompson
Built in 1896 and designed by architect George Barber, the Pillow-Thompson house was donated to the Phillips Community College Foundation and went through an extensive restoration through a joint effort with the University of Arkansas in order to offer visitors a look at an unparalleled example of Queen Anne architecture. It’s open for tours Wednesday through Saturday and is available for event rentals as well.
115 Cherry St., 870-338-3003
Lunch and dinner are both a must at this elegant space, defined by its exposed brick walls and Helena-related memorabilia. Plate lunches are available daily, along with sandwiches and salads, with an extensive dinner menu and wine list in the evening.
624 E. Garland St., 870-633-8100, www.chez-weenie.com
With room after room of fun gifts and home décor inside a 100-year-old home, Chez Weenie has much to choose from, including James Hayes glass, holiday decorations, hand-made pottery, candles from The Thymes and Kobo, cookbooks and gourmet foods. During our visit, new additions were being made to their selection of handbags and wallets from Big Buddha and Hobo.
4478 Hwy. 70 W, 870-581-2545
Steaks are the specialty at this dinner spot, open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, but you’ll want to sample the burgers, salads and fish as well.
St. Francis County Museum
603 Front St., 870-261-1744, www.sfcmuseum.org
Located inside the Rush-Gates Home, the St. Francis County Museum preserves the rich history of eastern Arkansas. With exhibits on Crowley’s Ridge, agricultural history and Native American culture, the 7,000-square-foot home also contains historical photographs, fossils, documents and more.
Camden & Co. Jewelers
2704 Alexander Dr., 870-932-6456, www.camdenandcompany.com
A great atmosphere starts at the door at Camden & Co., with its pink walls and leopard carpet. This vibrant setting can’t outshine the jewelry from names like Doris Panos, JB Star and Kwiat.
1903 Grant Ave., 870-972-8551, www.enhancementsboutique.com
You’ll be set from head to toe after just one visit to Enhancements, where you can browse apparel from Joseph Ribkoff and Karen Kane, jewelry and accessories, and cosmetics from Aveda, Borghese and Ahava.
J. Christopher Toys
2801 S. Caraway Rd., 870-933-8726, www.jchristophertoys.com
Filled with awesome toys for all ages, J. Christopher offers birthday and wish lists to make shopping even easier. From arts and crafts to cars and trucks to dolls and science labs, they have absolutely everything your kiddos crave.
Lower Deck & Cooking Now
1320 Stadium Blvd., 870-802-4040, 870-935-7171
Two great stores in one location offer the best for outfitting your home and kitchen in style. Home décor, china and silver are met with French Bull casual dishware, gourmet foods and coffees and top-notch cookware.
624 Southwest Dr., 870-932-6256, www.pagansjewelry.com
A trusted name since 1927, Pagan’s Jewelry offers beautiful diamonds from Hearts On Fire, custom-designed pieces, watches and much more, including luxurious gifts, all in an upscale setting.
2235 S. Caraway Rd., 870-932-3351
Dress your little ones in style with the latest looks from Patty Cakes, where they offer baby and children’s clothing in a number of exclusive lines.
3410 E. Johnson Ave., 870-336-1620
Cutting-edge style and pieces for every taste and budget, along with names like Bassett Furniture, are helping Swank stand out as the go-to furniture and accessories boutique.
2614 E. Nettleton Ave., 870-935-9456
Stylish ladies of all ages will find just the thing at Steamroller Blues, whether it’s swimwear in the summer, adorable coats in the winter, or premium denim and chic shoes and accessories all year round.
600 Southwest Dr., 870-933-2019
Although you can find a wide variety of items at Wenfield’s, including crystal and china, beauty products by Caudalie and Niven Morgan, baby gifts and accessories, they’re all unified by their elegance and style and beautifully displayed in the store’s light and airy environment.
The Downtown Inn
193 W. Main St., 870-598-8888, www.thedowntowninn.com
The former Piggott State Bank building has been renovated into a chic boutique hotel on the downtown square, minutes from area attractions. Each room or suite includes a private bath and complimentary hot breakfast, and they even offer Mystery Weekends!
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
1021 W. Cherry St., 870-598-3487, www.hemingway.astate.edu
This colonial-revival-style home belonged to Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, whose daughter, Pauline, was married to Ernest Hemingway from 1927 until 1940, one of his most prolific periods as a writer. During their marriage, Pauline and Ernest traveled to Piggott frequently, and the barn was converted into a writing studio, where he completed major portions of A Farewell to Arms and multiple other pieces. Both the house and the barn-studio were acquired by Arkansas State University in 1997, restored to their 1930s style and opened for tours seven days a week. The museum also functions as an official visitors’ center for the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway.
Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum & Study Center
1701 Heritage Park Dr., 870-598-3228, www.pfeifferfoundation.com
The historic home and gardens of Pauline Pfeiffer’s brother Karl and his wife Matilda have been preserved as an exhibit space for Matilda’s extensive collection of minerals and geodes collected all over the world, as well as Native American artifacts.
Rose Dale Farm Bed and Breakfast
1577 E. Main St., 870-634-7100
Located on the parkway, this historic bungalow is surrounded by acres of scenic fields just down the road from the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum. Stocked with activities and a fully equipped kitchen, the home boasts three bedrooms, ensuring privacy for each guest.