If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you might have noticed that I spent this past weekend in Helena, Arkansas. I was invited to visit Helena for the King Biscuit Blues Festival. I'll be honest, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, however, I was pleasantly surprised by this quaint town that is truly a hidden gem.
Now, I had an amazing time at the King Biscuit Blues Festival moseying from stage to stage listening to many different musicians, eating Fair Food, and getting caught in the rain. (All things that are staples for a good music festival.) However, I also was able to experience the other things the town of Helena has to offer. This lovely town is definitely worth a visit with or without the festival.
Here are five reasons why you should consider taking a trip to Helena, Arkansas:
The first reason is the location. Our drive to Helena took us a little over an hour from Downtown Memphis to Downtown Helena. The drive was super easy and absolutely beautiful passing lots and lots of crop fields. You simply take US-61 South through Mississippi, then cross the river and there you are, the adorable town of Helena.
Helena is the perfect destination for a quick weekend getaway, or even a day trip!
The next reason to visit Helena is the Blues. Whether you're there for the King Biscuit Blues Festival or just a regular weekend, the music is a very important part of this city (which I think most Memphians can appreciate).
Helena is the home to King Biscuit Time, the longest running blues radio show. In 1941, when the show first started, it was the only radio show in the country to feature African-American musicians. Today, you can actually sit in and listen to a broadcast. While there, I actually had the opportunity to meet the host, "Sunshine" Sonny Payne who has been hosting this program since 1951.
Something that I find so interesting about Southern towns is the history they possess. It seem like no matter where you are, there is incredible Civil War history. This brings me to the third reason you should visit Helena: the history.
Helena really takes pride in documenting and recognizing the role it played during the Civil War. Throughout the town there are sights and exhibits clearly marked to teach visitors and residents about the events that took place. While there, I visited Freedom Park and Battery C and definitely learned some new things.
In addition to Civil War history, Helena is also sprinkled with several historic homes that have been preserved. I toured the Pillow Thompson House and it was absolutely breathtaking. I also was able to enjoy breakfast at the Edwardian Inn, another historic home, which is now a Bed & Breakfast.
It would be difficult to be in Helena and not notice its beauty. Helena was built on the banks of the Mississippi River and is surrounded by lush forest and the mighty Mississippi offering excursions for any outdoors enthusiast.
I'll be honest, I'm not much of an outdoors-man, however, I had the opportunity to hop in a canoe and paddle the Mississippi River with the Quapaw Canoe Company who offer guided tours of the river, and had a ton of fun. Canoeing, though, is just one of the outdoor activities Helena has to offer. This part of the river is home to many catfish which grow rather large making the fishing in these parts ideal. Also, during the King Biscuit Blues Festival, many visitors pitch a tent for the duration of their stay. I absolutely loved how accessible the river was!
As a (relatively new) Memphian, I've learned that when you visit other places you should focus on the food. So, I couldn't recommend visiting another city without mentioning the cuisine! In the few days that I spent in Helena, I feel like I ate a ton. That's probably because everything we ate was so delicious that I just had to clear my plate.
Some places of note are:
- The Edwardian Inn- the most delicious homemade breakfast
- Granny Dee's- a plate lunch that was southern comfort food at it's finest
- August Moon- a Chinese restaurant known for it's Fried Chicken (yes, you read that correctly)
- Ray's Dairy Maid- ahhhhmazing fried pies!
Each of these places are definitely worth a try!
There you have it! Five reasons you should visit Helena, Arkansas. So, when are you going?
Huge thank you to the city of Helena (especially Julia!!!) for letting me spend the weekend and for showing me the highlights of this beautiful city.