Right in the center of the state, Alexandria has a strong Southern, 1800s feel to it. Visit the town's Museum of Art and the River Oaks Square Arts and Crafts Center, where resident artists work in all kinds of media—quilts, handmade paper, pottery, calligraphy, oils and watercolor. For sumptuous, European-style architecture, visit the Hotel Bentley, which first opened in 1908 and was renovated in 1998. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is no longer a hotel, but the architecture is still worth a stop. The Arna Bontemps African-American Museum and Cultural Arts Center is located in the house where Bontemps, one of the writers of the Harlem Renaissance, was born. If you're interested in Native American ceremonial mounds, drive about 30 mi/48 km southeast on Louisiana Highway 1 to see the Marksville State Historic Site. It contains earthworks and two burial sites from AD 300-600. For more Native American history, head to the mound-shaped Tunica-Biloxi Indian Center and Museum (just south of Marksville). Alexandria is also a great base for exploring the Kisatchie National Forest. Alexandria is 165 mi/265 km northwest of New Orleans.

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