With the return of the scorching summer heat and lack of time being the most prevalent obstacle to plan a major vacation, the weekend road trip is a welcome alternative for families who are opting to break away from the rat race and spend some quality time rejuvenating.
The 3 to 4 hour road trip is an ideal set up for a lunch time arrival, afternoon activities, a dinner out to celebrate nothing in particular, a hearty breakfast, and somewhere along the way finding time to relax in a cosy bed, read, or perhaps escape the heat with an evening swim.
If this sounds like something for your family, Shreveport is an anytime destination that is just a morning’s drive from Dallas. The North Louisiana Red-River stop prides itself in its own history that still speaks volumes through oak-canopied streets flanked by St. Augustine grass so thick that even while wearing shoes, the tiniest of feet sink into it as if it were plush shag carpeting. It’s a place so friendly that while eating out, don’t be surprised if you run into an old friend or end up sharing a table with a new friend. That is Shreveport. A friendly town that is waiting to tell you what happened there on any ordinary day over 100 years ago.
Begin your Shreveport getaway at the historical 2439 Fairfield Inn, a 1905 bed and breakfast that is known for authentic Southern hospitality, including a visit with owner Jimmy Harris who is a walking encyclopedia of both the region’s history and European antiques. The house has been featured in some of the most renowned travel magazines and is often referred to by visitors as a Victorian dollhouse. Each bedroom has exquisite bedding and Old World antiques that have been renovated to disguise modern conveniences such as televisions or refrigerators. After the kids are asleep, relax in the whirlpool tub or sip a cool drink on your own private balcony equipped with the Deep South mandatory porch swing and rocking chairs.
You will definitely introduce your family to early 20th century living at the 2439 Fairfield Inn as enchanting music keeps you company in the grand hallways and common rooms. Expect to dress for breakfast, but not before in-room coffee service perks you up prior to greeting fellow travelers. Enjoy breakfast with your loved ones at the downstairs porch, a quaint area of the mansion enclosed by French doors and stained-glass accents. Feast on fresh breads and muffins, butters, preserves, sliced citrus, English teas, juices, and of course—a good strong cup of coffee if you need it! The main course includes the arrival of Applewood smoked sausage, a variety of meats, fresh scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms, and the best hash brown casserole you have ever eaten!
Just when you think you couldn’t possibly eat another bite, Jimmy swings by for a visit and reminds you to save room for your choice of fried pie: blueberry, apricot, apple, blackberry, peach, or coconut cream. Warning: These are neither low-cal nor low carb, but they are, oh, so good!!
After eating a dainty, yet hearty, breakfast, challenge yourself to a dual with Andy Shaw of Fairfield Avenue School of Fencing. The studio is not only a place to learn the sport of fencing, but a place to appreciate the sport and it’s contribution to athletics through the years. It doubles as the Museum of American Fencing, housing the original Fencing Constitution from 1891, twenty national fencing trophies dating back to 1906, and many more fencing artifacts making it also the U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame. Call ahead and book a lesson for the family. You will be guaranteed a good time and a history lesson all in one and you’ll see what you can learn about yourself and your family within a very short period of time. (www.fencingonfairfield.com)
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that a road trip is incomplete without your favorite traveling music. I love to pop in a little Norah Jones, Harry Connick, Jr., James Taylor or Carole King, but travelers keep coming back for the sweet sounds of Allison Krauss (Okay….me. I keep coming back for AK). Though it’s not my favorite of hers for all times, her recent release of Paper Airplane is another great listen for the road.
In Shreveport, you can make some paper airplanes of your own as you wind down and take a break from the heat at the Louisiana’s Science Center, A.K.A. The Sci-Port. Here you will discover a covert way to help younglings to study the physics of aerodynamics and so much more! Making science interesting, educational, and interactive for both children and parents is what the Sci-Port does best. The parachuting egg drop, water rockets experiments, marvelous mucous research, and shocking “hair-raising” science experiences are just some ways to escape to the far away galaxy of Cerebral Cortex.
In addition, the IMAX Theatre features films such as Hurricane on The Bayou, Tornado Alley, Hubble, and Under the Sea and offers healthy or not so healthy snacks at the Sci-Port’s food center, Counter Culture. Voted by Parents Magazine as one of the Top Ten Science Museums for Kids in the U.S., the Sci-Port lives up to it’s mission of providing a fun, educational environment for people of all ages to explore and actively engage in the world of mathematics, science, and technology using hands-on tools and every day applications. Visit www.sciport.org for rates and current attractions.
Because every road trip is made complete by at least one fine dining experience, visiting Olive Street Bistro (www.olivestreetbistro.com) is a MUST. When you call ahead to reserve your seating, chances are, owner and Chef Fernando Maldonado will be occupied in the kitchen with one of his original creations such as a fan favorite, Filetto de ala Fernandino. “He touches every dish,” says his son Vladimir Maldonado.
Once arriving at Olive Street Bistro, be prepared to feast on Fernando’s freshly baked artisan bread and Northern Italian cuisine like delectable crab cakes, linguini, and bistro salad with the perfect homemade vinaigrette. Here you will find flavors similar in characteristics to the fresh, simplistic, and complex flavors of French dining. There are several choices for the kids, including a wood-fire brick oven pizza with a personal tour of the brick oven if time permits. While the kids are selecting their pizza toppings and watching the imported mozzarella melt into the crust within just a matter of minutes, Fernando will have no problem helping the adults select the perfect Italian wine. For dessert you can’t go wrong with Fernando’s homemade tiramisu and a cup of bold black coffee. There is only one word for the dessert: Heavenly!
Limitations on time and resources should never take the place of getting away to relax, meditate, and spend time together. A road trip like one to Shreveport can be a quick and affordable escape to an unforgettable family adventure that will be fondly recalled when we retell the stories of when this or that happened all the way home. For more information on additional Shreveport attractions, visit www.shreveportchamber.org.