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6 hours in Lake Village

Tamale town.

DELICIOUS: Rhoda Adams shows off a plate of her famous tamales. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • DELICIOUS: Rhoda Adams shows off a plate of her famous tamales.

If you're headed to New Orleans or somewhere along the Redneck Riviera, the last place to stop in Arkansas's most southeasterly county should be on your radar. The county seat of Chicot County, Lake Village has quite a bit to offer for a town of only 2,600.

Pick up some tamales and pie

If you do nothing in Lake Village, make sure you stop at Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales, 714 St. Mary St., for a to-go order. Owner Rhoda Adams has been making delicious Delta-style hot tamales for more than 30 years, but that's not all she's famous for. Her pies, available in full size or mini handhelds, are dynamite. They come in chocolate, coconut, lemon icebox, lemon meringue, sweet potato and pecan varieties, along with several half-half combos. If there is a better pie than Rhoda's half sweet potato, half pecan, we've never tasted it. Rhoda does a variety of soul food and burgers and such, too. Bring cash; that's all she takes.

Shop Paul Michael

The third generation of his family to be born and raised in Lake Village, antique treasure hunter Paul Michael started his eponymous store in 1993. Today, it's the flagship of what's grown into a massive business, with additional locations in Canton, Texas; Lafayette, La.; and Monroe, La; and a manufacturing facility in nearby Dermott, where Michael takes items he's found and recycles and repurposes them, like creating an Adirondack chair made from vintage skis or serving trays with deer antler handles. You'll find all sorts of other home decor and furnishings in this massive warehouse, 3696 Highway 65.

Or tour the Lakeport Plantation

Arkansas State University painstakingly restored this 1859 house and grounds, 601 state Highway 42, over the course of five years and continues to manage it. It's lovely and fascinating and terrible to see and tour, this 8,000-square-foot antebellum manse built on the backs of chattel slavery. ASU does solid work of relaying the history of the slave owners and slaves that once lived on the plantation.

DANGEROUS: The Lake Chicot State Park will take you on an alligator tour.
  • DANGEROUS: The Lake Chicot State Park will take you on an alligator tour.

Spend time on the state's largest natural lake

Separated from the main channel of the Mississippi River centuries ago, 20-mile long Lake Chicot is the country's largest oxbow lake. If you're short on time, at least stop at the Lake Village Welcome Center along U.S. Highway 65 (and right across from Paul Michael) and spend a minute counting turtles from the center's deck that overlooks the lake. But if you're up for more of an adventure, Lake Village State Park has 14 cabins available for rent, dozens of camping spots and primo crappie, bass and bream fishing. You can swim, too. If you're lucky, you'll see wood storks. You can definitely see alligators on the nighttime alligator boat tours. The visitor's center for the state park is on state Highway 144, 8 miles northeast of Lake Village.

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