When planning vacations, we often overlook the obvious – our own backyard. For Christmas this year, my wonderful husband gave me a romantic getaway to ours. In my case, river cruises stop in my “backyard” so I knew it was a historical town that was good for tourists. I’d been to Natchez, MS once before on a day trip and enjoyed a tour of the Rosalie Mansion, and was very much looking forward to the getaway, but I confess I really was not aware of how much there was to do there.
Natchez is considered the birthplace of Mississippi and was first established as a French fort overlooking the Mississippi River in 1716. In 1798, the Mississippi Territory became part of the United States and Natchez served as the State of Mississippi’s first capital in 1817. Natchez was spared much of the destruction many other cities experienced during the Civil War, and is filled with historical homes, churches, buildings and heritage sites making it a wonderland for history lovers.
Our Bed and Breakfast check in was not until later in the afternoon so our first stop was to Natchez Under the Hill where we hoped to grab some lunch at the Camp Restaurant. Unfortunately, they were closed for a holiday party so we ate a few buildings down at The Magnolia Grill. We had a delicious lunch and a pretty view of the Mississippi River.
After lunch, before heading to check in, we decided to cross the Mississippi River into Louisiana for no other reason than it was right there!!
After checking into the Bed and Breakfast, we walked around the neighborhood a bit and enjoyed some time on our private balcony before heading to dinner at the Guest House Restaurant “Farrahs” and enjoyed our favorite meal of our getaway. Farrah’s is a Mediterranean style restaurant and the food is delicious. In fact, both my husband and I declared the baklava the best we’ve had in our lives. The food smelled so good and we were so hungry I forgot to take photos – until after it was all gone and we were seriously contemplating licking our dessert plate.
The night was still young so we headed over the 100 on Main for some beer on tap and cider. This family friendly bar restaurant was a nice place to hang out and wait out a storm before heading back to the B & B. A dart board, a new deck of cards, and some paper provided for scoring, made the time even more fun. Especially since I won both at darts and rummy. (My husband says letting me win was part of the Christmas gift – I don’t believe a word of it! My kids will testify that letting others win is not in his genes!)
On our way into town we had picked up a Natchez Tourist guide which included a walking tour so the next morning, with all storms past and a beautiful sunny day ahead of us, we decided to follow that guide. Beginning at the trail along the Mississippi river and crossing over the “Bridge of Sighs,” we enjoyed strolling through town reading the history plaques and seeing the historic buildings. As this walking tour also took us through downtown, our time was interspersed with visiting the cute shops and art galleries along the way. Our tour ended at the Natchez Museum of African American Culture and History which we found fascinating. The museum is free, with donations accepted. The museum tells the story of African Americans in Natchez and all they contributed to the building of the city and the nation. There is so much information there we couldn’t possibly take it all in and will return.
That evening we returned to Under the Hill to have dinner at the Camp Restaurant. The food and service were outstanding, and the view was spectacular.
We discovered, many places are only open in the later part of the week due to remaining Covid effects with lowered staff and tourism so on our final day, we visited the shops and art galleries that had been closed earlier in the week as well as visited some sites that we’d not had time to visit the day before. Steampunk Coffee is one of the establishments that was unfortunately closed on Wednesday. We had visited the original location in restored slave quarters several years earlier, and remembered the delicious coffee. Steampunk has now moved to a more convenient downtown location and the coffee was as good as we remembered.
The Stratton Chapel Gallery behind the First Presbyterian Church houses a wonderful collection of photographs taken by Henry and Earl Norman from as early as 1860. The photographs were restored by Dr. Thomas Gandy and his wife Joan and are now on display for a requested $5 donation. We were impressed with the quality of the photos and enjoyed seeing life from a bygone era.
A poignant stop of the day was at the Forks of the Road, the memorial found on the site of the former market place for slaves.
Our final stop before heading back home, was the Natchez Brewing Company where we enjoyed a brick oven pizza and my husband sampled a flight of beer.
Natchez is a delightful place to visit – whether by car or by river cruise. The Viking Mississippi was in port as we headed out of town, and I’m sure her passengers had a lovely day.