January 8, 2021

Roaming Around Natchez, MS

I don’t love car trips, I will be honest. However, under 3 hours works for me. On the Louisiana state border lies a beautiful town called Natchez, and it’s located in the great state of Mississippi. Being from a southernmost state, I often discount the beauty of the states, cities, and towns around me. I often try to travel far and wide for changes of scenery. This year, in my dedication to travel more deeply and locally, I am finding that I have been missing beauty located right under my nose. I don’t need to get on a plane for that change of scenery I crave. I can actually be there in 2 hours, 45 minutes. Oh, the places I am going this year! Let’s discover Natchez together.
Natchez Balloon Festival
Balloon Fest featuring the Jester!

There is More to Natchez than the Balloon Fest

Although I did, in fact, plan my trip around this annual festival, Natchez has a lot to offer at any time of year. The balloons were incredible to watch, and my favorite was by far the Jester with a nod to New Orleans, but that lasted one hour out of the 48 we were there. Naturally, I sought out other activities, which were as gratifying as walking around town or learning about the history of the city by touring old homes and cemeteries. I did a little bit of everything.
ArtsNatchez Gallery
One of my favorite shops in Natchez - Arts Natchez Gallery

Shop ‘Til You Buy a Hot Air Balloon

Walking in the heart of Natchez is a treat in and of itself. Our bed and breakfast (which I’ll tell you about later) was on somewhat of the outskirts of the main area. That means an extra three blocks out, so no big deal. As you’re walking, you see house after house with a little sign in front with a name. Yes, each house, for the most part, has a name. It’s the most endearing thing I have seen in a city. The houses are also mixed with a lot of commerce. You’re never too far from a home decor shop, a restaurant, or an art store. My favorite art shop, which was filled with different pieces from different local artists, was called Arts Natchez Gallery. It seems somewhat like a co-op for local artists. Near there is another store called The Painted Petal. It was an eclectic little shop with some art pieces as well as children’s items. Finally, a beautiful home store called Darby’s stole my heart with the array of lamps and accent pillows they had. I could’ve come away with half the store, but I didn’t bring a deep enough pocket book for all of my desired items - it’s not cheap!
Longwood House in Natchez, MS
Longwood House in Natchez, MS

Must-See Historic Houses

My plan was to tour Longwood, the largest octagonal house in the USA, and that was it. However, when I called for a ticket, I was talked into also buying a tour to the Stanton Hall. Since it was located directly across from my B&B, I decided to go for it. The house is 14,000 square feet, 10,000 of which we were able to see. Stanton Hall was truly a magnificent tour, and our tour guide was a hoot. It probably lasted about an hour, and I learned a lot, although I feel like I could hear it again. Longwood was the piece de resistance. I hardly have the right words to describe the house. Although the outside of the house looks complete, the inside is a different story. It was started right before the Civil War, and was completely abandoned only slightly into the project. Only the first two floors of the house are on tour (which was too quick, in my opinion) and I definitely want to go back to hear the history again.. There is also a family cemetery that you can visit, which is on the premises and only a short walk from the main house.
Natchez Cemetery in Natchez, MS
Natchez Cemetery in Natchez, MS

The Sound of (Cemetery) Silence

One of my favorite activities was visiting the Natchez Cemetery. It is expansive and laid out somewhat randomly it seems, although I’m sure there is a method to the madness that I didn’t detect. You have to park outside the cemetery, as it is primarily walkable only, and you can get lost in there just wandering around. Cemeteries are special places and each one is unique, so I enjoy visiting them when I travel. One of my “things” I do when I go to a cemetery is try to find the oldest tombstones and see what information it has about the person.  I found some dating back to the 1700s. Some of the graves even displayed where the person was from. Random and fun fact: a lot of Germans and Irish people are immigrants in that cemetery, and most date back to the 1800s. Now we know that there is a big German and Irish settlement in Natchez. There is so much you can find out without anyone saying a word.

Starting Your Day off with Cafe au Lait

There is pretty much one coffee shop in Natchez that opens early, and it earned my business two mornings in a row. The Natchez Coffee Co (no website available) provided a nice cafe au lait each morning, as well as a muffin and a scone. Although they serve a proper breakfast and have a nice dining room, I got mine to go because I like to drink coffee in bed on vacation if I have that option. They have coffee that you can squirt out of a carafe, but don’t get that. Pay a little more and get the good stuff that they make behind the counter. One other mention of a breakfast/brunch spot that would be spectacular (but I didn’t get to go because I failed to make reservations) is the Carriage House Restaurant. It is located in Stanton Hall and gets fantastic ratings. Next time I’m in Natchez, I’m definitely giving it a whirl.

Lunching with the Locals

Biscuits and Blues was our one and only lunch spot while visiting Natchez. Although I got excited thinking I was going to eat a fancy biscuit for breakfast while listening to the blues, I realized that this was a lunch and dinner spot only, so no breakfast biscuits. We hit it for lunch on a Saturday and the food, although not ordered correctly at first, was brought out and devoured. I had the spinach salad with fried oysters. It was the right decision. We also got the nachos and those were spot on. Oh yeah, and a Blue Moon because...I’m on vacation. Speaking of beer, let’s talk locally crafted.
Natchez Brewing Company in Natchez, MS

Hey Natchez, Beer Me

Another worthy visit for drinking some really good beer is the Natchez Brewing Company. I am personally a huge fan of German-style beers, and they had a bunch. If only I could drink them all and not get drunk! I’ll definitely be back. The outdoor space is perfect for a relaxing time with friends. It’s located a block off the river and is in the heart of the action. It’s got picnic tables inside and out so there is no shortage of places to sit and have a flight and some good pizza. I could’ve spent three days sampling their beer. I’m a huge fan of this place and highly recommend going if you like a good brew.

Winner Winner, Chicken Wing Dinner

Because Natchez is located on the Mississippi River, it was a must to eat at a restaurant with river views at least once. Because it was a festival weekend, we decided to head over to The Camp a little early the first night since it was on the river and the balloons were putting on a show that evening. We met up with a family we know who has kids, and The Camp was the perfect setting. The upstairs balcony would be a perfect place for a twosome to sit, have a cocktail, and dine while looking out at the river. The view was stunning. Our dining experience was great. The waitstaff was friendly and informative, and the food was really good. My dinner of choice were the wings, and they did not disappoint! After watching the “balloon glow” (which is the hot air balloons being blown in the air but the basket was still on the ground) we ducked in for a glass of wine to a place that quickly  became my favorite spot while visiting.
Regina's Kitchen in Natchez, MS
My absolute favorite restaurant - Regina’s Kitchen

Dine in Style at Regina’s

Regina’s Kitchen is a cozy and European-looking eatery that has a great menu and solid wine and cocktail list. After a long day Friday of driving to Natchez and walking a lot, I wanted to relax with some wine. When I Googled “wine Natchez” Regina’s came up. So, I headed over with no expectations. When I walked in, I realized I probably wouldn’t get a seat because it is a reservations-needed type of place - it’s popular with the locals! To my delight, the folks who work there, including Regina herself, made sure I was greeted, seated and served. The whole experience hit the spot. I even booked a reservation for a full dinner for the next night. The second night was even better than the first. The service is outstanding and the food is top-notch. It’s my #1 recommendation in Natchez to eat.
Stanton's Guest House in Natchez, MS
My absolute favorite restaurant - Regina’s Kitchen

Be Our (Stanton Guest House) Guest

Not to be confused with the Stanton Hall I mentioned earlier, the lovely bed and (no) breakfast (they did have bananas and that could be breakfast) I stayed in also bears the name Stanton. It’s also directly across the street from Stanton Hall. Confusing, I know. This beautiful property, located on the fringe of the main square of the walkable area of Natchez, has very generously sized rooms and they are outfitted beautifully. The bathroom fixtures were absolutely stunning,  and the size of the bathroom was quite large, too. Only drawback is the door didn’t shut so I had to prop a chair against it if I wanted privacy to go numero dos. I’m just being honest, friends. Plenty of room for two people to get ready, though!! My favorite was the deliciously comfortable bed and pillows. I am super particular about the firmness of the bed, the fluff of the pillows, and this place nailed it. They also provide as much water as you need in the downstairs fridge. I like that a lot. I would stay here again, hands down.

Two Days is Just Perfect in Natchez

My stay in Natchez for approximately 48 hours was the perfect amount of time. You’re not going to find a plethora of amazing drool-worthy restaurants or shopping that knocks your socks off, but you will find curiosity there. The history, the old houses lining the town, and the river are enough to draw a person into its little magical city. My friend who came along said “This is like being in another world.” I kind of agree. It’s like stepping back in time where people want to know you, are interested in your goings on, and even stop to let you cross the street even if you’re jaywalking. It’s well worth a visit because it’s simply different than most places I’ve been (and I’ve been to a lot of places). When you go, soak it up for what it is. You’ll get so much out of it when you do.

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