The promise of something delicious to eat is enough to want to make me travel pretty much anywhere. So you can bet I had yummy southern American cooking on my mind as I set out to Natchez—the oldest settlement on the Mississippi river—a few months ago. Pretty much everything I ate there was scrumptious; but there are a slew of other reasons to visit the city, which celebrates its 300th birthday this year.
Natchez has more Antebellum homes than anywhere else in the United States.
Did you know that “Antebellum” simply means “before the war” in Latin? Antebellum homes are the type of dwellings from before the American Civil War. They are majestic and grandiose, and so interesting to visit. Yes, they are a feast for the eyes; but also a wonderful opportunity to learn about how people lived back then. Many of the homes are open for tours all year round. Among the homes I visited: Longwood, an impressive octagonal construction that was never finished, Linden, whose front is said to be the inspiration for Tara in classic movie Gone With The Wind, Dunleith, a historic inn, and Stanton Hall, a gorgeous home in the Greek Revival style.
It is also the Biscuit Capital of the World.
I’ve already mentioned my penchant for a savoury meal, but I should also point out my unusual enthusiasm for biscuits. I don’t come across them very often in Canada (the breakfast biscuit they serve at Tim Horton’s is about as close as it gets here in Montreal), but in the southern states, they are pretty much a staple. Imagine my delight when I learned of Natchez’ special biscuit status! I even got to sample Natchez native and renown Chef Regina Charboneau’s scrumptious butter biscuits hot out of the oven. Oh, and did I mention there is a yearly Natchez Biscuit Festival? Biscuit demos, cook offs and even the crowning of a Biscuit Queen!
It has a rich music scene.
Natchez is part of the Americana Music Triangle, and home to many great stops for music lovers. I got to check out some live music at Smoot’s Grocery, a lounge that was quaint and cozy. There are so many other music stops to explore—I’ll have to go back someday!
The people are kind.
It’s something I notice every single time I travel to the South, and it was especially true in Natchez. Everyone I met was friendly, very warm, and welcoming, which makes a huge difference when you’ve travelled a long way to experience a destination. You can never get enough southern hospitality!
It’s a great opportunity to learn.
Natchez is quite rich in history, and there are several activities that can help further your knowledge about topics like slavery, the lives of Native Americans, and the American Civil War. The Museum of African-American History and Culture is right on Main Street, and houses an array of exhibits, displays, and books about African-American history and culture in the South. Other interesting stops: Forks of the Road, which was one of the largest slave markets in the Deep South, and Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, where you can learn about the Natchez Indians who inhabited the area centuries ago.
EAT & DRINK
Picturesque Restaurant 1818 at Monmouth Historic Inn
Rolling River Bistro for their delicious chargrilled oysters!
Sunday brunch at Carriage House Restaurant, on the grounds of Stanton Hall
Drinks and eats at King’s Tavern, the oldest standing building in the Mississippi territory
Smoot’s Grocery for drinks and live music