Join Budget Travel as we continue our new series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. Each week we will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next.
This week, we invite you to Discover what Natchez, Mississippi has to offer. Natchez may be most famous today for its annual pilgrimage. In 1932, the tour of grand antebellum homes and their gardens became an annual event. Thousands of visitors tour Rosalie Mansion, Longwood, Stanton Hall, Melrose and other former estates in spring and fall.
Many come to the South with one thing on their mind: FOOD. It’s a fact; no place on earth loves its food quite as sincerely or as indulgently as the South. Even if you’ve never enjoyed a meal below the Mason-Dixon Line, you’ve probably got a good idea of what one looks like, because in the South, each meal is an event and is cooked and served with pride. From casual to elegant, Natchez culinary offerings will offer you a dining experience you won’t soon forget.
The Little Easy café, located just a block from Bluff Park on High Street in an area known as the “Gateway of the Mississippi Blues Trail,” serves up signature Boozy Brunch items, delicious sandwiches and salads, signature cocktails and more, all in a cozy, inviting atmosphere.
Fat Mama’s Tamales
Courtesy of Fat Mama’s Tamales
Fat Mama’s Tamales is a local favorite with an atmosphere that is as festive as the food. Fat Mama’s offers an exciting selection of signature dishes, including tamales, links of boudin, fire and ice pickles, and more eclectic, flavor-packed dishes. The restaurant has a large interior dining room, but guests can dine on the outdoor deck if the weather is nice.
Overlooking the mighty Mississippi at Natchez Under-the-Hill, Magnolia Grill not only has one of the best views of the river, but also a wide array of entrées to satisfy every palate from succulent steaks and seafood to highly acclaimed burgers and more. Guests can enjoy both lunch and dinner on the sun porch that offers spectacular views of the sun setting over the Mississippi.
Pearl Street Pasta
Pearl Street Pasta is a local favorite downtown that serves up an incredible variety of traditional and regionally inspired Italian dishes, as well as classics like the filet of beef with a rich wine sauce and sauteed mushrooms. Pearl Street Pasta also boasts a talented team of mixologists shaking up signature house specials and smooth bar favorites.
Rolling River Reloaded
Rolling River Reloaded offers a variety of simply southern classic dishes with a creative twist to give guests a truly “Soulful Southern Experience.” Packed with flavor, each dish is prepared with care and inspired by rich, generational history.
Courtesy of The Camp
Like sports? Love good food? The Camp Restaurant is the best place to share a cocktail with friends and family while enjoying the best of view of the Mississippi River. The Camp makes homemade bread in-house, hand-forms burger patties and fries up French fried potatoes to deliver fresh, quality food for every plate. The Camp Restaurant also boasts the best selection of draft beer in the city.
The Carriage House
Located on the grounds of Stanton Hall, this elegant dining establishment specializes in southern food with famous staples including fried chicken, fresh Gulf seafood specials and buttery silver dollar-sized biscuits. The Carriage House is owned and operated by the Pilgrimage Garden Club.
The Castle Restaurant and Pub
The Castle Restaurant & Pub is in Dunleith’s 18th-century carriage house and stable. This architectural gem, built to resemble a castle, provides an incredible dining experience. The Castle serves a range of delectable southern cuisines prepared by acclaimed chefs while also boasting the most extensive wine list of any restaurant in the state.
Natchez Brewing Company
The Natchez Brewing Company, the first brewery in this historic city, is run by husband-and-wife duo Lisa and Patrick Miller. England-native Lisa is the owner and founder, while Natchez-native Patrick creates the recipes for their unique, southern-inspired craft beers including the Bluff City Blonde Ale, the Natchez Light Lager and more. Their taproom also serves freshly made brick oven pizzas.
The Donut Shop
Courtesy of The Donut Shop
The Donut Shop is a city staple serving up sugary sensations, including the Maple Bacon Donut, the Triple Chocolate Donut, cinnamon rolls and many more sweet creations that are sure to please donut lovers of all ages. Missed breakfast? Indulge in an order of succulent tamales. The Donut Shop makes their tamale shucks from scratch and is one of Natchez’s best-kept secrets.
The Malt Shop
When asked where to find the best B.B.Q. beef sandwich, catfish plate or chili cheeseburger, many locals will cite the Malt Shop. For more than 60 years, Natchez locals and visitors alike have sat at the old picnic tables in front of this local favorite and indulged in the hearty southern food served up at the Malt Shop. With an extensive menu full of generous helpings and traditional favorites, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Malt Shop
Steampunk Coffee is a traditional espresso bar, specialty coffee retailer and micro-coffee roaster. This beloved coffee shop also sells Papi y Papi’s premium cigars and fine chocolates for an eclectic, small-town coffee shop experience like no other.
Arts and Culture
Kate Lee Laird art
After one visit to Natchez, it is easy to see why artists such as John James Audubon were influenced by the natural beauty of the rolling Mississippi landscape. Today, you can still see the influence of the city on local artists in our downtown art galleries. You can even take a piece of art home to remember your trip to one of America’s oldest towns.
Conde Contemporary is a fine art gallery established in 2013 and located in Natchez, MS. They specialize in representational works, with a concentration on narrative realism, photorealistic portraiture, and surrealism.
ArtsNatchez is appropriately named as the broker for several works by various Natchez artists and craftsmen. The art gallery is situated in the heart of downtown Natchez on Main Street. If you spend a few minutes browsing through the local artwork, you’ll know why each artist has a deep love for Natchez and expresses it in their work. They offer jewelry, paintings, sculptures, pottery, and more.Kate Lee Laird Art Studio + Gallery
Kate Lee, a Natchez native, has been painting since she could hold a brush. She thrives off of the happiness her artwork brings her clients. Her bold and creative approach to life can be seen through the colorful artworks she creates. When she isn’t live painting weddings and events, she is painting pet portraits, murals and large commission artwork.
Magnolia Hall – Courtesy of natchezgardenclub.org
Few American cities offer an in-depth look at the lives of southerners like Natchez. Walk in the footsteps of Southern belles, cotton barons, enslaved people, Civil War soldiers, and Civil Rights pioneers. Explore fascinating homes and historical landmarks for a glimpse at American history. Delve into modern museums for surprising historical tidbits about the Natchez Indians, the slave market at Forks of the Road, or daily life in pre-Civil War Natchez.
Forks of the Road Slave Market
Prior to the Civil War, Natchez was the most active slave trading city in Mississippi and the Forks of the Road site eclipsed all other markets in the number of slave sales. This historic site features slave chains and shackles laid in concrete and information panels discussing the slave trade in Natchez and the history of slavery in the South.Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
The Grand Village is a 128-acre site featuring three prehistoric Native American mounds, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house and an on-site museum to tell the story of the Natchez Indians who inhabited these lands centuries ago. Two of these hallowed mounds, the Great Sun’s Mound and the Temple Mound, have been excavated and rebuilt to their original sizes and shapes. A third mound, called the Abandoned Mound, has been only partially excavated and the remaining unexcavated areas of the site will be preserved intact, representing a “time capsule” of sorts from the Natchez Indians’ past. This historic site also includes a nature trail, child-friendly activities, a visitor center and gift shop featuring Native American crafts.Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture
African American related historic sites, important citizens and events are all recognized within the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum contains an exhibit on the Rhythm Nightclub fire, where over 200 African American Natchez citizens were killed as well as additional information on the Forks of the Road monument. It also features literary works from Natchez native and critically acclaimed author Richard Nathaniel Wright.The Dr. John Banks House Dr John’s house – Courtesy of natchez.org
The Dr. John Banks House, which is technically known as The Dr. John Bowman Banks Museum, was built around 1892 and belonged to Dr. John Banks, Natchez’s first African American doctor. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and received his Mississippi medical license in 1885 before relocating in 1889 to practice medicine in Natchez. Dr. Banks recruited the city’s second African American doctor, Albert Woods Dumas. Dr. Banks and Dr. Dumas founded the Bluff City Savings Bank, the only African American-owned bank in the city. Booker T. Washington often stayed with Dr. Banks’ family during his trips to Natchez. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Banks House served as the headquarters for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Tours of Longwood – Circa 1860 – Construction of this grand, octagonal edifice began in 1860 but was halted in 1861 due to rising tensions over the Civil War. While the exterior of the Villa was largely complete, the home’s interior was left unfinished except for the lowest level until the twentieth century. Colloquially known as “Nutt’s Folly,” the property was deeded to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970 by the McAdams Foundation and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. Longwood remains the largest octagonal house in the U.S and was featured in HBO’s True Blood.
Tours of Magnolia Hall – Circa 1858 – Construction on Magnolia Hall is believed to have begun in 1858 and is the last great mansion built downtown before the Civil War. The name of the house was inspired by the plaster magnolia blossoms incorporated into the design of the parlor ceiling centerpieces. It was restored by the Natchez Garden Club as a house museum and is operated by the club today. Stanton Hall – Courtesy of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours
Tours of Stanton Hall – Circa 1857 – This opulent Greek Revival-style mansion occupies an entire city block. The house is noted for its scale, outstanding marble mantles and large pier mirrors that give the double parlors infinite appeal. For a brief time, the house was home to Stanton College for young ladies and the name was then changed to Stanton Hall. Today the house is owned and maintained by the Pilgrimage Garden Club.
Tours of Monmouth – Circa 1818 – Set on 26 acres of manicured gardens, this National Historic Landmark reflects all that is charming about the South. Rooms located in the main house or any of the seven outbuildings have period furnishings dating back to the Quitman family, the original owners of Monmouth.
The namesake for the Natchez Trace, the centuries-old, 444-mile path from Natchez to Nashville, long used by American Indians before becoming a U.S. thoroughfare. Today the Natchez Trace Parkway provides beautiful picnic areas, the rare Emerald Mound ceremonial mound, and the historic Mount Locust Inn, all just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Natchez.
The Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway – Courtesy of nps.gov
The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway begins in Natchez and extends through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, ending in Nashville. Once used by Native Americans, European settlers and soldiers, the trace is now maintained by the National Park Service and used by many for outdoor recreational use. The route is lined with historical lookouts and trails, which are great for biking, hiking or even a scenic drive.
Natchez State Park
Natchez State Park is located at 40 Wickcliff Road on Hwy. 61 North, which is 10 miles north of downtown Natchez. Its amenities include cabins, boat launching, fishing, hiking/nature trail, picnic area/shelter, playground and RV and tent campgrounds with restroom/shower facilities. Whether visitors consider themselves outdoorsy or “indoorsy,” Natchez State Park is a great experience for anyone in the camping caravan.Potkopinu Trail Potkopinu trail – Courtesy of nps.gov
Potkopinu (Pot-cop-i-new), the southernmost section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, is only three miles long, but it is the longest stretch of “sunken” historic Trace remaining. It is no wonder it was named for the Natchez word meaning “little valley.” This trail has some embankments over 20 feet high.Bluff Park
The greatest natural attraction that Natchez has to offer is the Mississippi River, and the best vantage point from which to take in her beauty and splendor is the bluff. The best time to be on the bluff overlooking the river is at sunset and is a spectacular sight to behold.Homochitto National Forest
The Homochitto National Forest was named for the Homochitto River, a Native American name for the “Big Red River.” Natchez derived its name from this Native American tribe formerly located on the lower Mississippi River. There are numerous recreational activities available to pursue on the Homochitto National Forest like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and biking. Camping facilities are also available to rent.
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