Leesville & Alexandria, Louisiana – off the beaten path but the heart of Louisiana!
We often don’t take the Interstate system and found ourselves somewhere on our 17 day RV road trip with no destinations traveling the back road of Louisiana State Road 28 from Leesville which is called the Alexandria Highway between the two towns.
Leesville is a town that has positive signs of historic preservation and a commitment to make the town attractive to residents as well as visitors. It is small but not tiny. Just perfect for a stop to get something to eat or poke into a shop or two. Some of the restored buildings are home to attorney offices – something most tourists don’t care to visit – but there are some others of interest. It is a nice compact town center and easy to see it. And it isn’t really anywhere near an expressway. It is also the seat of Vernon County government.
We pulled into Alexandria, a fairly easy town to navigate, and parked the RV on the street with no problems. There isn’t an actual “hub” of activity in the downtown but there seemed to be plenty of buildings, including a few taller than I would have expected. We meandered down Third Street and passed some vacant buildings and found a drug store. Sentry Drugs on the corner of Third Street and Murray Street.
Inside was a classic drug store or discount store diner that seemed to be a leftover from decades ago and we just knew we had to eat there. It was a fabulous experience. Really good diner food that was very reasonably priced in an atmosphere that was not at all retro – it was original – but a complete throwback in time.
There wasn’t a lot around the area to see – an Irish pub down the block, a Kress Department Store converted to a theatre (The Hearn Stage), the offices of the local arts council, and a few places you could opt to go to. A fairly new performing arts center in a somewhat non-descript building also exists on this street. I know the Alexandria Museum of Art is quite nice but couldn’t intuitively find it when there.
It definitely is a town that can benefit from some good planning and development of facilities that would be of interest to tourists as most of the infrastructure is there, including a riverfront along the Red River. But the Sentry Grill was truly worth getting off the I-49 for if that is your route.
Happy discoveries along your way – next stop will be an RV resort where you can walk to the French Quarter of New Orleans!