Southern Traveler
h Home h Features h Departments h Web Bonus h Media Info h Reader Resources h Archives h space
Travel Treasures departments

Nov/Dec 2011 Issue

New Crystal Bridges museum shines in northwest Arkansas

This isn’t your grandfather’s art museum.

When Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art debuts in Bentonville, Ark., on Nov. 11, its architecture will astound as much as its art. Instead of a boxy building filled with nondescript rooms adorned with paintings, Crystal Bridges has a vibrancy created by its sweeping rooflines, curving laminated pine beams and generous use of glass in its buildings nestled into a steeply sloping and forested ravine.

Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the state-of-the-art museum unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. Named after a nearby natural spring, the museum is composed of several structures, including two buildings that act as bridges across the ravine and the museum’s two ponds. One bridge houses galleries and the other a restaurant.

A variety of outdoor spaces, including courtyards and promenades, interweave the complex. The rest of the site, about 120 acres, is developed as a public park, including trails, sculptures and picnic grounds. The campus is connected to a trail system that leads to downtown Bentonville, which is just a 15-minute walk away.

The art on display is as richly and deeply layered as the natural site. Spanning five centuries of American art, the collection ranges from the Colonial era to the present day.

The museum’s opening ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. on the Bentonville Square featuring music, entertainment and several guest speakers. The museum is anticipating a large number of guests that day and in the following weeks, so reserved, timed tickets will be required from Nov. 11–Jan. 2. Reserve your free tickets online at

The museum is located at 600 Museum Way. Hours are 11 a.m.–6 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday. Trails are open daily sunrise to sunset. For more details, call (479) 418-5700.


A rendering of the museum’s innovative and imaginative design. John Horner photo



Salute veterans and maritime history in Baton Rouge, La.

To salute U.S. veterans, memorialize those who lost their lives in service to the country and to celebrate the richness of maritime history, several events have been scheduled in Baton Rouge, La., for November and December.

Kicking off the ceremonies will be a special service paying tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the Old State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge. The patriotic service begins at 11 a.m.

Then two memorial observances are slated for Dec. 7, one in recognition of the lives lost at Pearl Harbor and the other commemorating the lost crewmen of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter White Alder.

The U.S. was dragged into World War II by a surprise attack by Japanese warplanes at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. The attack and the death of an estimated 2,400 Americans will be memorialized in services starting at 11:55 a.m. aboard the USS Kidd, a World War II-era destroyer anchored on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. Among those killed were 45 men from Louisiana and Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, Sr., after whom the USS Kidd is named.

A memorial service also will be held that day at the nearby Louisiana Memorial Plaza for the 17 crewmen lost aboard the White Alder. On Dec. 7, 1968, the ship and all but three of her crew were lost in a collision with a freighter on the Mississippi River just south of Baton Rouge. (The time of the service had not been determined at press time.)

Visitors to the USS Kidd also will get a chance to explore the ship’s museum for free during its “First Sunday” programs on Nov. 6 and Dec. 4. And on Dec. 15, Baton Rouge will be “discovered” by explorers aboard replicas of Christopher Columbus’ Niña and Pinta. The ships will be available for touring through Jan. 1 adjacent to the USS Kidd.

For details on any of these events, call (225) 342-1942 or visit

flags and plane

A Vietnam-era jet on display at the Veterans Memorial near the USS Kidd. Baton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau photo


New Visitors Center is a beacon in Biloxi, Miss.

It’s only fitting that the new Biloxi Visitors Center is located next to the Biloxi Lighthouse because the center acts as a guide to help visitors find their way in this Mississippi Gulf Coast city.

The new $13 million center, which opened late this summer, also serves as a museum, offering information not only about attractions and visitor amenities in Biloxi but about its history, as well. The museum houses nearly a dozen multi-media exhibits that tell the story of Biloxi, its people, its connection to the water and its cultural diversity.

On the second floor, visitors will find a 60-seat movie theater showing the 10-minute film, “We are Biloxi.” Stepping out onto the second-floor porch, visitors are at eye-level with the beacon of the Biloxi Lighthouse, which was erected in 1848. From that vantage point, visitors can enjoy cool breezes off the Gulf of Mexico or soak up the panoramic view of the Biloxi beach.

The 24,000-square-foot center bears a striking resemblance to the mansion that once stood in that very spot–the Dantzler House, a two-story 1850s structure that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Among the features inspired by the Dantzler are two-story porches, a grand staircase and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The center is located at 1050 Beach Blvd. and is open seven days a week. Hours are 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For details, call (800) 245-6943 or visit

visitor center

The new visitors center is located next to the Biloxi Lighthouse. City of Biloxi photo


Sink your teeth into inaugural cornbread fest

Cornbread is a simple dish with relatively few ingredients, but what it lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in flavor. And now there’s even a new festival to celebrate this staple of the South in all of its comforting glory.

The inaugural Cornbread Festival will be held on Nov. 5 at Bernice Garden in downtown Little Rock, Ark. Contestants will include professionals and amateurs competing in several different categories. Judges will include a celebrity panel, as well as anyone who attends the festival.

In addition to cornbread, there will be sides and beverages. The festival also will include children’s activities, live music and vendors selling new and vintage items.

Located at the southeast corner of South Main Street and Daisy Bates Avenue, Bernice Garden is privately owned by Anita Davis but intended for public use to host community events.

The cornbread tasting will take place from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., and the winners will be announced at 3 p.m. followed by entertainment until 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 6–12. For details, call (501) 617-2511 or visit

cornbread from Grav Weldon


Destrehan Fall Festival offers harvest of fun

The popular Destrehan Plantation Fall Festival in Destrehan, La., is a real feast for those who love Louisiana foods, crafts and music, as it features 150 artists and craft vendors from throughout the United States.

Held annually on the grounds of the Destrehan Plantation, the festival is a past winner of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events. This year’s festival will be held Nov. 12–13.

Festival-goers can expect to find a variety of crafts, such as pottery, jewelry, ceramics, dolls, stained glass and more. Visitors looking for antiques or collectible items will want to hit the Mule Barn, where more than 20 vendors will be selling their wares.

In addition, festival food favorites will include cochon de lait (roasted pig) po-boys, crab cakes, alligator sausage and more.

Live music will be presented throughout the weekend, as well as other forms of entertainment, like demonstrations of period crafts, cooking over an open hearth and indigo dyeing. Children’s activities will include face painting, pony rides and more.

Tours of the plantation by costumed guides also will be available for an additional fee. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Destrehan Plantation was established in 1787 and remains the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi River Valley. 

Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Admission is $7 for adults and teens, and free for children 12 and under. Destrehan Plantation is located at 13034 River Road. Visit or call (985) 764-9315 or (877) 453-2095 for more details.

^ to top | previous page