Poverty Point World Heritage Site sits within an hour’s drive of some of the best arts and cultural attractions you’ll find in north Louisiana. Symphonies, visual arts, museum exhibits—you’ll find these and more just down the road from the ancient archaeological wonder. Here are some suggestions for a road trip through some of the region’s top cultural destinations.
Start your journey in Monroe. After breakfast downtown, stroll down to the Masur Museum of Art—the largest visual arts museum in northeast Louisiana. There you’ll find both contemporary works and those of modern masters Picasso, Rodin and Dalí.
Head to Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, a sanctuary of plants and home to historical relics. The museum was started by the family of Joe Biedenharn, who in the 1890s was the first person to bottle Coca-Cola. Today you can see century-old memorabilia in the museum including the world’s first Coca-Cola delivery truck, as well as the lush English-style gardens. Visitors will not want to miss the Bible Museum where pieces from daughter Emy-Lou Biedenharn's extensive bible collection are on display.
Northeast Louisiana’s arts scene is thriving, thanks to artists like Brad Arender. He is a self-taught photographer who exhibits portraits and fashion photos at ARENDER studio, located in downtown Monroe’s arts district. You can see his work during open hours or during the bimonthly arts crawl. You’ll also find galleries downtown including Livaudais Studio, The Sugar Gallery, The Palace and many others. Across the river in West Monroe, you’ll find the Ouachita River Art Gallery, which is the oldest and largest artists’ cooperative in Louisiana and home to dozens of works by Monroe area artists.
After gallery hopping downtown, be sure to seek out some of Monroe’s eclectic restaurants near the Ouachita River waterfront. Restaurant Cotton is among Monroe’s culinary highlights. Others include Warehouse No. 1 Restaurant and River & Rail Cantina.
End the evening with a symphony. The Monroe Symphony Orchestra, now in its 44th season, plays classics and more contemporary fare. A Beethoven symphony and scores from blockbuster Hollywood films are featured in the orchestra’s 2014 – 2015 season.
In the morning, fill up the tank and drive east to Winnsboro. There you’ll find The Old Post Office Museum, which houses work by local artists and includes a stunning Depression-era mural depicting Franklin Parish in the 1930s. If you’re lucky enough to be in Winnsboro in April, put a visit to the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival on your to-do list.
Next, visit Poverty Point World Heritage site, where you’ll find ancient art on a grand scale—hand-decorated artifacts that were made millennia ago are on display.
Finish your trip in the north Mississippi cultural hub of Vicksburg. See what’s playing at the Vicksburg Theatre Guild, or visit one of the galleries downtown. A couple highlights include the H.C. Porter Gallery, which specializes in photographs depicting the South, and the Attic Gallery, which showcases contemporary Southern art and the works of self-taught outsider artists.