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Kara's Sights and Bites: More than antebellum homes: 10 things to do in Natchez

By Kara Kimbrough

Kara's Sights and Bites: More than antebellum homes: 10 things to do in Natchez
The Turning Angel at Natchez City Cemetary is just one of the must-see attractions in the city.

Visitors from around the world flock to Natchez during all seasons, for every reason imaginable. It's true, the city's beautiful antebellum homes are a major tourism draw, but Natchez is much more than the sum total of its pilgrimages. You don't have to look far to find 10 additional things to do in one of the state's oldest cities.

1. "Take the carriage ride."

It's an invitation you'll hear over and over as you walk along picturesque downtown streets. The offer is one you should take. Sit back in the horse-drawn carriage and let the driver and professional tour guide take you on a 45-minute tour. The tour offers a unique view of homes and landmarks without having to leave the comfort of your carriage.

2. Get a snapshot of Natchez in historic photographs.

Located in the First Presbyterian Church's Stratton Chapel is a collection of more than 500 photographs depicting life along the river, area merchants and commerce, and the early families and children who shaped the historic city.

3. Exercise in a beautiful setting.

No trip to Natchez is complete without a brisk hike along the scenic Natchez Trails. The trails are a combination of city streets and walkways dotted with interpretive panels depicting the history of the area in which you are walking. The trails run throughout the downtown area and along the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Pedestrians and cyclists can share parts of the trails, which wind to the edge of the river.

4.  Retail therapy is alive and well.

Shopping is a way of life in Natchez, dating back to Natchez' first days as a crossroads for American trade from the Natchez Trace. With many antique stores (Franklin Street is referred to as "antique alley"), specialty shops, art galleries and locally owned treasure troves, you don't want to miss exploring the retail side of Natchez.

5.  Channel your adventurous side.

Natchez is a paradise for adventurers and those who love being outdoors. The Natchez State Park features clean campsites and amenities. With the Mississippi River and several nearby lakes dotted throughout the area, swimming, fishing, bird-watching, kayaking and boating are yours for the picking. If water is not your thing, play golf, go hunting, or pick up a geocaching map and add a treasure hunt to your trip.

6. Explore the Indian village.

 Take the short drive out to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and stroll the hallowed ground of the home of the city's original inhabitants. There are ceremonial mounds at the site, along with a replica of an Indian dwelling and a museum with artifacts that have been recovered over the years.

7. Great restaurants are as plentiful as antebellum homes.

Shopping, hiking and exploring can work up an appetite. Some must-tries:

• Biscuits & Blues, which helps perpetuate Natchez' reputation as biscuit capital of the world

• Local favorite Roux 61 serves up notoriously huge portions of its delicious fare.

• Stopping by Fat Mama's Tamales is a rite of passage in Natchez.

*  The desserts at Mammy’s Cupboard are legendary. Try a slice of the mile-high meringue pie served atop a variety of flavors. Tip: you won't go wrong with a slice of my favorite, coconut cream pie!

8. Visit King Cotton for a day.

Don't care to visit an antebellum mansion? Then stop by Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins for a more down-to-earth look at what it took to make cotton king. You'll tour the 1,800-acre working plantation, complete with several restored slave cabins and a 19th-century cotton gin replica. Weather permitting, drag a sack through the fields and pick your own cotton.

9.  Visit the Turning Angel at the Natchez City Cemetery.

It sounds a bit strange to consider a cemetery a major must-see, but once you glimpse the beauty of the Natchez City Cemetery and learn the history of some of the characters buried there, you'll understand why. One of the most famous attractions is the Turning Angel, the statue that some say appears to turn when they drive by it at night. The statue is such a Natchez landmark, it inspired the title of the novel "Turning Angel" by bestselling author and Natchez native Greg Iles.

     Take a self-guided tour of the cemetery with a brochure and map or hire a tour guide to provide history lessons and details of the deceased. Tombstone inscriptions, embellished by romantic and mysterious tales, draw portraits of the departed interned in this historic, beautiful place.

10.  Explore Natchez' ghostly side.

If the cemetery tour whets your appetite for "the other side," sign up for a ghost tour conducted by locals. You'll get a firsthand look at Natchez' "inhabited" buildings and hear stories of their tenants' wanderings. The ghostly getaways include drives to view local haunts and legends as well as a journey down through "occupied" spaces.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Email her at



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