Touring Texarkana

James Bowie

Sightseeing when on business is iffy at best. Fortunately, I had the chance to get some in during my recent trip to Texarkana.

The main tourist attractions are located downtown. The area is easy to get to, as you just drive south on Stateline Avenue. On the east side of the street is Arkansas. On the west side is Texas.

Texarkana State Line The main attraction is the state line sign. It sits in front of the post office/federal courthouse building. The courthouse is the second-most photographed courthouse in the United States, behind the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Near the Chamber of Commerce building is the Jim Bowie statue. It honors one of the heroes of the Alamo.

Texarkana Near the post office/courthouse is a confederate soldier memorial.

A few blocks away, near 4th and Pine streets, is the Perot Theatre. It was originally the Saenger Theatre. Ross Perot, the multi-millionaire who ran for president in 1992 and 1996, paid to refurbish the theatre in 1980. It was then renamed the Perot Theatre,  in honor of his parents. The Perots were Texarkana, AR, natives.

The theatre hosts musicals, symphonies and concerts. BB King was there a few days before my trip there.

The Saenger originally was a movie theatre. During the days of segregation, African-Americans had to use a different entrance and had to sit in the top section of the theatre. Sometimes, we forget the history of our country has not always been positive. It is good that we have moved on from that era.

Looking down from the top section of the theatre.
Looking down from the top section of the theatre.

A small statue sits on the second level of the Perot in honor of Ross’ brother, Gabriel. He died at age three.

Across the street from the Perot Theatre is a half-block long mural of the great composer Scott Joplin. Joplin, a native of the area, was known for his ragtime music. My colleague and I wondered if Joplin would have been allowed to perform at the Saenger when it was segregated. Our guess is he couldn’t have.

Mural We stopped in at the Regional Art Center, a few feet away from the mural. It had graphite drawings of African-Americans. They were very detailed. Some looked like they could be black and white photos because they appeared lifelike.

We drove to the Ace of Clubs House. It has an interior design that gives the appearance of a club in a deck of cards. Unfortunately, it was closed that day. It is open for tours on weekends. You can call ahead during the week for a tour. This was unknown to us.

Ace of Clubs HouseSo, all that was left on our tour of Texarkana was the regional auto museum. We decided to take a lunch break before heading to the museum.

Hopkins Ice houseHopkins Ice House provided a nice break.  The exterior looks like an old feed store. The interior has an eclectic style of décor – from a bike hanging from the ceiling to a sword fish on the far wall.

The food was good, and lots of it. The menu varies from salads and sandwiches  to pizza. The menu is decently priced. The only criticism I have is the soda seemed watered down. They use a lot of ice in the drinks. That contributes to a watery taste more than a soda taste. Hopkins IceHouse

Following a nice leisurely-paced lunch, we headed over to the auto museum. It looked small from the outside, not much bigger than a three-car garage. And it was closed. It’s open on weekends or by appointment (a week in advance). Oh well.

That summed up the tour of Texarkana. It took about and hour and 40 minutes.

I do believe the area could be marketed better. It doesn’t seem that the tourist attractions are promoted strongly. I could misunderstand it, but I did not see a lot of tourism promotion any where. Finding souvenirs for the family was a bit difficult. I ended going to gas stations and a Walmart to find stuff.

In the end, while Texarkana may not be a destination city, it is well worth a stop off the interstate.