Date: October 21, 2015 | Photography: Karen E. Seagrave |
Rich in heritage and history, the Arkansas Delta spans the entire eastern portion of the state, from the northern tip of Clay County all the way to southerly Chicot County. Comprised most notably of fertile farmland, the 27 counties in the region offer more than just beautiful landscapes and bountiful harvests. Read on for a few of our favorite stops in this stretch of land.
EATS & SWEETS
Whether you’re just passing through or native to the area, chances are you’ve heard of Pickens Country Store & Restaurant (122 Railroad Road, Pickens, 870-382-5266) and there’s good reason for that—it’s a stop not to be missed for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner. Open Monday-Friday, the joint—which was originally a commissary for the locals and workers at the Pickens Plantation—is one-part general store and one-part restaurant. Inquire about their daily specials and don’t skip the pie. To get there, keep an eye out for their roadside sign on U.S. Highway 65 South. You’ll take a right here and travel a little more than a mile to Pickens.
Also located in Desha County is Taylor’s Steakhouse (14201 Highway 54, Dumas, 870-382-5349). Open for dinner Thursday – Saturday starting at 5:30, Taylor’s is the Delta’s go-to destination for steak and sides. Their chalkboard menu features bone-in or boneless rib eyes and porterhouses (both starting at 25-ounces!) as well as filets—all dry-aged and hand-cut. Be sure to come hungry!
While you are in Dumas, be sure to visit potter Gail Miller at Miller’s Mud Mill (862 Highway 65 South, Dumas, 870-382-5277, millersmudmill.com). Well known for her handmade pieces, including bowls, trays, vases, cheeseboards, and more, Miller’s pottery features natural colors and forms, and the pieces are often prized for their individuality as well as their Arkansas Delta origin.
Further south you’ll find one of the area’s most popular destinations for home décor—Paul Michael Company (3696 Highway 65, Lake Village, (870) 265-3872, paulmichaelcompany.com). Shoppers come from all over the region to find quality pieces of American-made furniture, much of which is designed and constructed from reclaimed or native wood and salvaged materials in nearby workshops. This time of year, holiday décor fills the Lake Village store, including harvest and Thanksgiving pieces as well as Christmas items. The store is open seven days a week, with extended hours during the holiday season.
Heading back towards the northern portion of the Arkansas Delta, make a stop at Handworks Helena (227 Cherry Street, Helena, 870-338-4340, handworkshelena.com). Filled with beautiful dinnerware, including Skyros and Juliska, the shop is a go-to for finding the perfect wedding gift and for viewing the registry of a local bride-to-be. While you’re there, be sure to browse their selection of home décor, art, and other fashionable accessories.
If you’re in the market for on-trend clothing, jewelry, and accessories, be sure to step next door to visit Bella (229-A Cherry Street, Helena, 870-228-5004). The boutique features top women’s brands, including Nally and Millie, BB Dakota, Chaser, and Kendra Scott. You’ll also find a full selection of children’s clothing, and have the opportunity to shop registries for local little ones.
If you want to learn more about the region, one place offers a history of the 27-county span all in one location. The Delta Cultural Center (141 Cherry Street, Helena, 870-338-4350, deltaculturalcenter.com), located in Helena, is a museum dedicated to the Arkansas Delta’s history. Visit the center for a free, guided tour of the exhibits, or register for one of their educational programs. While the museum is housed in the depot, there are a number of historical and new buildings as well as landscaped parks that comprise the Cultural Center. Visit their website to learn more about upcoming lectures, exhibits, and events.
Helena also boasts another interesting regional stop that’s especially popular among outdoors enthusiasts. The Delta Heritage Trail (5539 Highway 49, Helena-West Helena, 870-572-2352, arkansasstateparks.com/deltaheritagetrail) is a part of the national “rails to trails” initiative, which aims to convert former railroad lines into pedestrian and bicycle routes. Currently being developed in phases, the trail will span 84.5 miles when complete. Bicycles are available for rental at the visitor center, which is located on U.S. Highway 49 in Barton.