Southern charm, hospitality, and history endure in this throwback city on the Mississippi River, which is home to more antebellum mansions than any other American city. Founded by French pioneers in 1716, Natchez is also the oldest permanent European settlement set on the banks of the Big Muddy.
What We Love
Natchez Trace: The southernmost section of this 444-mile-long scenic and historic drive (that stretches all the way to Nashville) is gloriously verdant and pastoral. The pretty parkway winds past such sites as the country's second-largest ceremonial earthwork known as Emerald Mound; Mount Locust, a travelers' "stand" since 1748; and the Sunken Trace.
Longwood House: The largest octagonal house in the U.S., this unfinished antebellum mansion illustrates the dramatic rise and fall of a Southern family, and how they were forever affected by the Civil War.
Best Known For
Natchez National Historical Park: The sprawling riverside area encompasses a variety of historic sites that weave the tapestry that tells the fascinating story of this Lower Mississippi River enclave. Visitors can tour monuments and buildings dedicated to the area's local population, French settlement, cotton trade, the Civil War, and the civil rights struggle.
The Pilgrimage: During four weeks each spring and another four weeks every autumn, costumed docents guide visitors on living-history tours through many of the town's photogenic homes.
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Who It's Best For
Wannabe Time Travelers: More than any other port along the Lower Mississippi, Natchez affords a glimpse into 19th-century life along the great river.
Nature Lovers: Between the Natchez Trace, Homochitto National Forest, and St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, there are plenty of places near town to experience the region's natural wonder.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Vidalia Isn't Worth the Hike: Don't bother crossing the bridge to the Louisiana side — there isn't much to see.
The Isle of Capri Is No More: The floating paddle wheel casino along the Natchez waterfront was dingy and downtrodden before it permanently closed in the fall of 2015.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.