A visit to Natchez, the jewel of the Mississippi River, is a “must” on any Southern road trip as it is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River and in the 1850’s had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America.
Natchez was originally inhabited by Native Americans known as the Noche, a sophisticated and sun-worshipping tribe who had a flourishing commercial empire. Established first as a French fort overlooking the Mississippi River in 1716, the city was later laid out as a new town by the Spanish in the 1790s. Natchez became part of America with the establishment of the Mississippi Territory in 1798.
Natchez still maintains an antebellum atmosphere, abounding in Greek Revival mansions with immaculately maintained gardens. Many of the historic homes are open daily for tours and additional homes and gardens are opened to visitors during their annual Spring and Autumn Pilgrimages. During the Spring, the tour season lasts for six weeks and the Autumn tour season for two weeks.
Visitors can explore this history along the five Natchez Trails as interpretive panels provide a view of the city as it was and discover the stories of African-American ancestors at the Natchez History Museum and sites like Forks of the Road or the Rhythm Night Club.
Natchez is the namesake for the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile path from Natchez to Nashville. The Old Trace was first trod by buffalo then American Indians. Today, the Trace is a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road providing a scenic and unhurried route with historic sites, wayside exhibits, picnic areas, biking and camping.
Perched on a natural bluff above the Mississippi River with 30-mile views of the river both north and south, Natchez has some of the best sunsets on Ol’ Man River which are best enjoyed while sipping a beverage in a rocking chair on the porch of one of the bars in Natchez-Under-The-Hill, the perfect romantic spot too.
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