When thinking about the jewel cities of the southern United States, metropolises such as New Orleans, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge all come to mind with their bright lights and towering buildings. However, just up the winding Mississippi River, lies Natchez, Mississippi – a destination brimming with southern charm and more than 300 years of history. However, despite its historic roots, the city has seen a recent renaissance and influx of new artisanal businesses.
Strolling through the streets of downtown Natchez, visitors will immediately take note of the distinctive architecture portrayed through many of the city’s buildings. But Natchez is much more than historic landmarks as this welcoming community is home to some of the south’s best food, a lively music scene, and plenty of things to see and do.
WHERE TO EAT:
- Magnolia Grill –
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Magnolia Grill is a favorite eatery specializing in southern cuisine. Modeled after an old saloon, it can be found in Natchez’s Historic Under-The-Hill district – once home to some of the more notorious locals back in the day. Guests can enjoy their meal with Mississippi River views from their deck or the spanning front porch. Leave room for dessert – Great Aunt Edna Eral’s family recipe is still used today for the Homemade Coconut Buttermilk Pie.
- Natchez Heritage School of Cooking –
Comprising of three generations of Natchez women sharing and creating African American recipes and lessons, Jarita’s Cooking School is considered a staple in the Natchez culinary scene. Guests can join in on the fun and learn a new skill during their trip by participating in one of her signature classes. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
- Fat Mama’s Tamales – Home of the “Best Tamales” in Mississippi, Fat Mama’s has also gained national recognition for the “Knock-You-Naked” margaritas and Fire & Ice pickles.
WHERE TO GET A SUGAR RUSH:
- Rolling ‘N’ The Dough – Hannah-Grace, owner of Rolling ‘N’ The Dough, first started baking when she was 13. Shortly after discovering her love for culinary treats, she found her obsession with edible cookie dough recipes. After selling locally in downtown Natchez and the local Farmer’s Market, Rolling ‘N’ The Dough was born. Customers can choose from over 20+ flavors of edible, fresh cookie dough from the cookie dough bar.
- Natchez Coffee Company – Situated in the heart of downtown, Natchez Coffee Company offers a range of freshly brewed coffees, breakfast and lunch delicacies as well as baked goods. Homemade treats with a smile are the standard at this little coffee shop. House specialties include the Cinnamon Roll Waffle and Oversized Buttermilk Biscuits.
- The Donut Shop – The bright blue building is a sight for sore eyes just off route 84 in Natchez. The Donut Shop makes all donuts in house and then covers them in varying flavors, icings and toppings. Hungry for lunch? The Donut Shop is also known for their hamburgers, too. Don’t miss this little stop when leaving town.
Once visitors have had their fill of southern comfort food, the craft beverage scene is full of venues featuring signature Natchez drinks and cocktails.
WHERE TO DRINK:
- Natchez Brewing Company –
With several in-house brewed beers, Natchez Brewing Company’s taproom is a bustling spot for meeting friends while enjoying a beverage. Additionally, the brewery also houses, Pizza Lab, a separate food service that operates within the taproom.
- The Bird Cage –
Catering to the LGBTQ demographic, The Bird Cage is one of the newer bars in Natchez, having opened in October of 2018. Great music, specializing in disco & lots of other tunes, drink specials and an outdoor patio are just a few of the reasons to spend a Friday night here. When guests need a break from dancing, the bar also offers darts and foosball.
- Charboneau Distillery –
After purchasing the King’s Tavern bar in 2013, Natchez’s own, Regina Charboneau and her husband converted the bar into their own distillery. Now, located adjacent to King’s Tavern restaurant, the distillery offers tours for $10, which includes opportunities for sampling in the Distillery as well as a drink in Kings Tavern at the conclusion of the tour.
With so much to see and do in Natchez, there are many local tour operators to assist in making the city easy to navigate.
THINGS TO DO:
- Downtown Karla Brown – Offering five different tours, Downtown Karla Brown takes guests on a journey through Natchez’s past to discover its culture and history. Popular tour itineraries include the 5 Flags of Natchez Tour, a Ghost tour and even a Book Tour that encompasses over 40 stops featured in the work of Natchez’s own, Greg Iles. Price varies by tour.
- Miss-Lou Tours – For an outdoors experience – southern style — Miss-Lou’s Outdoor Tours with Jim Bob offers a chance for guests to go hunting, fishing, kayaking and more. These activities bring on southern culture while further exploring the terrain of the Mississippi River.
- Natchez Pilgrimage Tours – Natchez Pilgrimage Tours company has a long roster of experiences it can coordinate for guests, from a carriage ride in historic downtown Natchez to tours of the city’s historic homes, including Longwood, the largest octagonal house in America, Stanton Hall and many more. The Tours offers a Decorative Arts Tour, where visitors can see the owner’s private collections & stunning furnishings. Lastly, for visitors looking to see multiple attractions and landmarks in one day, the Hop-On, Hop-Off Double-Decker Bus Tour takes guests across the city for spanning views of over 40 sights. Hop on or hop off at one of the bus’s 12 stops.
Natchez is proud to be a welcoming city to all, no matter the race, religion, or sexual orientation.
In October 2019, Natchez hosted Y’all Means All – a weekend-long event celebrating acceptance. To continue promoting open-mindedness and acceptance within the LGBTQ community, the Y’all Means All weekend was comprised of several events and festivities to help raise funds for mental health assistance and suicide prevention for Southwest Mississippi Mental Health. The weekend included social gatherings at famous Natchez landmarks including Choctaw Hall, open house tours through additional Natchez historic homes, and even an appearance from Grammy Award winner Ty Herndon (pictured below, left) with host Nina West (right) in the “Battle of the Belles” competition.
Given its deep-rooted southern history, it’s quite evident that Natchez is making strides across the board in making the beloved destination more accepting and appealing to everyone.
To learn more about Natchez, visit www.visitnatchez.org.