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Getaways for Mother's Day

Shreveport heads the list of four favorite Southern cities that will make mom queen for a day or weekend.
By Deborah Reinhardt

Enticing kitchen aromas and a buzz created by constant conversation fill the air at Glenwood Village Tearoom in Shreveport, La., a beehive for ladies who seek to celebrate their gentility. The tearoom is a place to linger over a cup of Earl Grey and a cranberry scone with cream on the side, and Shreveport is a place to consider as a weekend retreat for Mother’s Day–or any time the lady of the house needs a getaway. It heads our list for Southern escapes that feature shopping, great food and kinder, gentler pursuits.

shopping

Above: There are endless shopping possibilities in Shreveport. Shreveport-Bossier CTB photo

Below: Across the Red River from downtown Shreveport, Louisiana Boardwalk offers outlet shopping, entertainment and riverfront dining.

Boardwalk

Lining up the fun

Recognized as a gaming destination, the twin cities of Shreveport-Bossier in northern Louisiana are also blessed with tucked-away gems that appeal to women. Glenwood Village Tearoom, for example, is a lovely find in the Line Avenue Shopping District. Since 1990, the full-service restaurant has served afternoon tea, lunch and breakfast using Victorian-era recipes. On a recent visit, I enjoyed the creamy Victorian soup and saved room for a large cranberry scone served with fresh cream and lemon curd. Tea is presented in individual pots with a dainty china cup and saucer.

The restaurant is comprised of four rooms, each with an English motif. Browse the impressive shop that’s filled with handmade jewelry and charming gift items. For more information, visit www.glenwoodvillagetearoom.com.

Line Avenue stretches for five miles in uptown Shreveport and is chock full of specialty shops, antique stores and great restaurants. Park the car and walk a while, then load the trunk with packages and drive down the street to the next stop. The city’s first indoor mall, Pierremont, is here; Pierremont Common, a neighborhood shopping district, is nearby. For more information, visit www.lineavenue.com.

The riverfront boasts the state’s largest outlet and lifestyle development, the Louisiana Boardwalk. Seventy shops line the pretty walkways. Enjoy a meal or take in a movie. A Courtyard Marriott hotel now is open at the boardwalk. You’re also close to the casinos and hotels downtown.

Shopping developments and districts are great, but like the thrill of bargain hunting, it’s fun to find a shop off the beaten path. Shreveport-Bossier has several of these, including shops at the R.S. Barnwell Memorial Art Garden Center, Artspace and Soumas Heritage Creole Cottage.

Located near the riverfront, Barnwell Center (601 Clyde Fant) features changing visual art exhibits, classes and a small but lush tropical garden under a glass dome. The shop is one of only three galleries in the state that offers works from the Louisiana Craft Guild and is well worth a visit. Special events include a Mother’s Day brunch on May 9 that features live musical entertainment on the patio and summer jazz concerts. Click on www.barnwellcenter.com for details.

Artspace at the West Edge is downtown’s funky Texas Street neighbor. In addition to showcasing cutting-edge visual and performance art, patrons can participate in a monthly culinary art dinner that’s grown very popular. Tucked in the back of the main floor gallery is the small shop that offers artistic accessories–belts, purses, jewelry–and pieces by rotating artists. For more information, visit www.shrevearts.org.

Across the Red River in north Bossier City is a new retail and lifestyle development called Villaggio on state Highway 80. In this setting made to resemble an Italian town square, a little bit of Creole heritage is waiting to be discovered. Panderina Soumas is a warm and welcoming woman whose shop, Soumas Heritage Creole Cottage, is a Louisiana foodie’s dream. Flavorful mixes for soups, stews and much more–many made by Soumas–are available. Pick up some of her own creamy pecan pralines, but don’t bother asking for the recipe from this cookbook author. According to Soumas, she’s only shared this with her grandson, and he’s not talking. For more information, visit www.soumascreole.com, and ask about the next Porch Stories event, a speakers’ series featuring local residents that share lifetime stories to bring community together and bring cultural clarity.

Cultural pursuits

When it’s time to give your wallet a rest, visit the impressive R.W. Norton Art Gallery, 4747 Creswell Avenue. Since 1966, the gallery–tucked away in a stately neighborhood–features original American and European art, including an impressive collection of 19th-century Hudson River School artists. Western artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell are also well represented here. Children of all ages will enjoy the Fairy Tale Gallery that encourages visitors to touch–quite unusual for any art gallery. The antique doll exhibit will charm any girl, from 7 to 70. In the spring, stroll the gardens, which are home to 10,000 azaleas that create a riot of color for bridal and prom photos. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.rwnaf.org.

See an independent or classic film at the trendy Robinson Film Center on Texas Street, across from Artspace. Two modern screening rooms feature comfortable leather seating, and a full-service bar with food service is a nice place to gather before the show or for lunch during the week. Patrons can bring a pre-ordered box dinner into the theater and enjoy the film. Visit www.robinsonfilmcenter.org.

Stop and smell the roses–118 acres of them–at the Gardens of the American Rose Center on Jefferson-Paige Road. Headquarters of the American Rose Society, the gardens are the nation’s largest dedicated to roses, which bloom April 1 through October. Admission is $5 per person. Take exit 5 from Interstate 20 and follow the signs.

Dining and lodging options

The Shreveport-Bossier area has several excellent restaurants and accommodations. We enjoyed an impeccable meal at Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop, 4801 Line Ave. For starters, butternut squash soup was creamy and satisfying. The artisan cheese board was shared and enjoyed by my tablemates. Low-country shrimp and grits–a specialty of the house–may be my new favorite comfort food. Andouille sausage, lump crab meat, shrimp and tomato were stirred into roasted garlic grits. Enjoy a glass or bottle of wine from the extensive list, and browse the bottle shop following dinner to take home a remembrance of your visit.

Although it was a little hard to have a conversation at our large table with the live music and diner chatter in the background, the overall ambiance here is warm, hip and welcoming.

Trendy American fare is served in a comfortable bungalow setting at the Columbia Café, 3030 Creswell Ave. Pecan-encrusted trout, Jamaican jerk pork and seafood and pasta are some of the dinner options here. Breakfast–featuring signature omletes– and lunch also are served. Herbs from the outdoor garden are fused into the recipes, and coffee is roasted on site. Pair a cup with a sinfully large slice of fresh coconut cake.

Other Southern getaways

What woman doesn’t enjoy a good soak in the tub, and that’s exactly what waits for her in Hot Springs National Park in central Arkansas. Indulge yourself with a hot mineral water bath at the Buckstaff Bathhouse downtown, which dates from 1912, the historical Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa or one of many day spas in town. Bathers can also add a 20-minute Swedish massage to their treatment for total renewal of body and spirit.

Hot Springs’ Central Avenue has a collection of fun boutiques and galleries to explore following your bath or massage. Head to Garvan Woodland Gardens (550 Arkridge Road) on May 9 for a Mother’s Day bell choir concert in Anthony Chapel. The gardens are situated on a beautiful 210-acre Lake Hamilton peninsula. May 30–June 12 brings the 15th Annual Hot Springs Music Festival at various downtown venues and features 200 international musicians.

Antique lovers know a weekend in Natchez, Miss., can yield treasure, as well as a restful stay in one of many historical plantation bed and breakfasts. About a dozen antique stores are downtown, many along Commerce Street. Additional specialty shops are here for you to browse.

Stately homes and gardens are a large part of Natchez history. This spring, enjoy the Symphony of Gardens Tour, April 30 and May 1. Spend an unforgettable night at Monmouth, a plantation home that dates to 1818 that’s now a AAA four Diamond inn. Don’t forget the charming gift shop here. There’s a variety of beautiful B&Bs in Natchez, many offering girlfriend getaway packages.

Tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains foothills of north Alabama, Scottsboro is home to the Unclaimed Baggage Center that has been the South’s favorite lost-and-found site for almost 40 years. Treasures from unclaimed luggage and cargo are sold up to 80 percent off retail prices. About 60 percent of the items (according to the center, 7,000 items are added daily) are clothing, with the balance represented by electronics, jewelry, designer glasses and leather goods. Spend a night at the new Comfort Inn and Suites in town.

About 5 1/2 hours from Jackson, Miss., this portion of northern Alabama offers golf, additional shopping, recreation on Lake Guntersville and a wine trail.

Deborah Reinhardt is managing editor of AAA Southern Traveler.

May/Jun 2010 Issue

BEFORE YOU GO

For more information, contact:

Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, www.shreveport-Bossier.org;

Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, www.hotsprings.org;

Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.visitnatchez.org;

Alabama Mountain Lakes, www.northalabama.org.

To visit Shreveport, Hot Springs, Natchez or northern Alabama, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.

Order free information about Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi through online reader service at http://southern.ai-dsg.com


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