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Twenty fabulous things to do in Natchez, Mississippi!

Check out these twenty fabulous things to do in Natchez, Mississippi! No matter what your budget, you can make the most of your Mississippi travel adventure with this extensive list. From nature trails and winery tours to carriage rides and antebellum homes – there’s something for everyone.

1. Begin at the beginning

Start your journey at the Natchez Visitor Center. With helpful staffers, free brochures, maps, informative displays and even refreshments, our Visitor Center is all about providing you with Natchez visitor information and hospitality.

2. Meet the Mississippi

Say hello to Old Man River. Unlike many cities along the Mississippi River, Natchez has kept its river banks unspoiled and unpolluted by industry. There are many pleasant, shaded areas around town where you can gaze across the wide expanse of water, watch the tugboats and other river traffic and view our local wildlife. It’s one of the most peaceful things to do in Natchez.

3. Explore our downtown walking trails

Set out at your own pace and enjoy the fresh breezes, the scenic views, historic markers, and the sights and sounds of the riverside. Tour our historic downtown on foot and visit gorgeous antebellum homes. Wind your way around the awe-inspiring Mississippi River. See it all firsthand.

4. Hitch a ride in a horse-drawn carriage

Cruise in high style throughout the most charming downtown you’ve ever seen, with our quaint shops, magnificent churches, and shady Victorian neighborhoods. These classic tours offer a unique look at historic homes and landmarks.

5. Find inner peace

Reflect and enjoy the beautiful architecture and stained glass in the many historic churches and synagogues across Natchez.

6. Become a culture vulture

Visit our downtown Mississippi art galleries and enjoy the works of local and regional painters, sculptors, photographers and potters – some are nationally renowned.

7. Take a visual history lesson

Embark on a journey back in time by viewing our collection of Natchez in Historic Photographs at Stratton Chapel of the First Presbyterian Church.

8. Discover your roots in the African-American History and Culture Museum

Spend some quality time in the African-American History and Culture Museum, where you’ll view a stunning collection of folk art, antebellum clothing and furnishings, vintage photographs and contemporary paintings by nationally renowned African-American artists.

9. Immerse yourself in antebellum history at the Natchez National Historical Park

Take a free tour of the grounds at one of Natchez’s most elegant antebellum homes. Exploring the property’s timeless elegance is one of many things to do in Natchez that will take you back in time.

10. Visit Historic Jefferson College

Stroll through the lovely campus of the learning institution named for Thomas Jefferson. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s the site of the first institution of higher learning in Mississippi. Tour a restored dormitory, kitchen buildings and the indoor elements – or take a hike on the adjacent nature trail.

11. Celebrate our Blues History and Live Music

You’ll find that Natchez is peppered with informative Mississippi Blues Trail markers, and we’ve upheld this rich tradition in our annual Natchez Bluff Blues Festival.

12. Kick back and relax at Natchez-Under-the-Hill

Sip a beverage on the porch of a vintage tavern and watch the sun set over the river. Long ago Silver Street was a famous hangout for riverboat captains, gamblers, painted ladies and even pirates. Under-the-Hill Saloon, the oldest bar in town, still sparkles with congeniality and fun.

13. Play, compete, or just enjoy nature in our parks

There’s golf and tennis at Duncan Park, a bubbling fountain at Memorial Park, a gazebo, fountain and walking trails overlooking the river at Bluff Park and much more to explore.

14. Discover the historic site known as Forks of the Road

The days of slavery marked a sad and troubling time in our nation’s history, and Natchez has honored those who unwillingly lived their lives in service to wealthy landowners. The site of the Forks of the Road Slave Auction is commemorated with a historic marker.

15. Take a tour of William Johnson House

Known as “The Barber of Natchez,” William Johnson began his life as a slave, and once freed, bought a barber shop and began teaching the trade to free black men. Until his death over a land dispute in 1851, he kept a lifelong diary that today serves as an important resource in the study of his time and the life of freed blacks. His restored home on State Street in downtown Natchez offers a glimpse into this subject matter.

16. Tempt your palate at the Old South Winery

At this family-run winery, they harvest American grapes with a European name – Muscadine grapes. The grapes are grown in the vineyard right outside the back door, and visitors can take a 20 minute tour and sample the products. The local favorite is a rose variety dubbed Miss Scarlet.

17. Paddle your canoe or kayak on the Mississippi River

Natchez is home to the annual Phatwater Kayak Challenge on the Mississippi, and the boating and recreation opportunities are excellent on several other local lakes and waterways. Enjoying the river is one of the best things to do in Mississippi.

18. Embrace nature along the Natchez Trace

Stretching 444 miles in length from just outside Natchez to Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace was a path used by traders and riverboat employees to travel back to their homes in middle America. There are countless historic and notable sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway and breathtaking natural scenery at every turn.

19. Take a trip back in time at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians

The Grand Village, also known as the Fatherland Site, is the site of a prehistoric indigenous village and earthwork mounds originally constructed by members of the prehistoric Plaquemine culture and later added to by the Natchez tribe. Today, visitors can explore a museum, a reconstructed Natchez Indian House, and three ceremonial mounds.

20. See Emerald Mound and Windsor Ruins

Emerald Mound was built and used by ancestors of the Natchez Indians as a ceremonial center. Hiking to the top will earn you an amazing view.

Windsor Ruins are the remains of what was once the largest antebellum Greek-Revival mansion in Mississippi. It was utilized during the Civil War, and sadly destroyed by fire in 1890 from an abandoned lit cigar, but ruins remain as a Natchez Trace landmark.

Mammy's cupboard.

Mammy's Cupboard

Field review by the editors.

Natchez, Mississippi

Mammy's Cupboard -- a roadside restaurant giant Aunt Jemima -- has spawned countless debates over its cultural and social merits. But no one argues that she's great at what she was meant to do: getting travelers to pull off the highway.

Mammy.
Mammy in 2014.

Mammy was built by Henry Gaude (Go-day) in 1939-40. Henry had a gas station, and wanted a roadhouse that would capitalize on the then-current craze for Gone With the Wind. One tale is that Mammy was designed as a white Southern belle by Annie Davis Bost, the wife of a prominent Natchez architect -- and Mammy's shape does seem more Scarlett O'Hara than Hattie McDaniel. Henry then transformed the big lady to black from white because black was better than white in the road-food visual shorthand of 1940 Natchez, conveying ideas of nurturing and nourishment.

"Here in the South, the mammy was good; she was revered," said Lorna Martin, Mammy's current owner. It's an aspect of Mammy's Cupboard that its later critics may have missed.

As the years passed, Mammy fell from grace. She was nearly bulldozed in 1979 for a widening of Highway 61, but was saved by early roadside preservationists. Old photos of Mammy -- she's always been popular with shutterbugs -- show that around this time her skin began to lighten, gradually, with each subsequent repainting.

Under the skirt.
Under the skirt.

She continued to be a roadhouse for po' boys, catfish, and BBQ, but by the early 1990s she was in bad shape. Her gas pumps were gone, her skirt and blouse were peeling, her arms had fallen off.

Mammy in 1993.
Weathered Mammy, 1993.

In 1994 Doris Kemp took over and began Mammy's revival. She introduced a menu of Mammy-cooked home-style meals: no burgers or fried food. The building was repaired and repainted. Doris died in 2004, but Lorna has wisely kept the menu unchanged. Today, Mammy's Cupboard is a foodie destination; online reviewers rave about the blueberry lemonade and meringue pie while barely mentioning that they're eating it under the skirt of a 28-foot-tall black woman.

The decor inside Mammy is Mammy: newspaper clippings, historical photos, artists' renderings. You can buy Mammy postcards, magnets, and t-shirts while surrounded by the clank of silverware in the dining room and the roar of traffic through the creaky screen door. Diners are advised to arrive early; once the popular daily menu items are gone, they're gone. "Everything's made from scratch except the crackers," said Mary, Lorna's mom, who runs the cash register.

Mary gave us a rundown of recent visits from Hollywood celebrities: Hilary Swank ("She was making a movie about a swamp"), Linda Hunt ("She was so nice, and neat as a pin"), and Craig Robinson ("He said he was looking for some good macaroni and cheese"). These sojourns by America's cultural elite -- Mammy is a long way from Hollywood -- show how far Mammy's Cupboard has risen in public esteem, although Lorna said that some diehard visitors are "disappointed that she's not still black."

Modern-day mixed-race mocha Mammy seems to have survived long enough that most people are willing to accept her as something more than a racial stereotype. "She needs to be kept up," said Mary. "She's a historical item."

Mammy's Cupboard

Address:
555 Hwy 61 S., Natchez, MS
Directions:
Two miles south of the Natchez city limits. On the east side of US Hwy 61 just south of the intersection of Dunbar Rd.
Hours:
Tu-Sa 11 am - 2 pm (Call to verify)
Phone:
601-445-8957
Admission:
Free to look
RA Rates:
Major Fun

 

The Barber of Natchez

William Johnson's Diary

William Johnson kept a 16-year diary detailing everyday life in Natchez.

Natchez National Historical Park Staff Photograph

The Life of William Johnson

By Timothy Van Cleave, Park Ranger, Natchez National Historical Park

Known as the “barber” of Natchez, William Johnson began his life as a slave. His freedom at age eleven followed that of his mother Amy and his sister Adelia. After working as an apprentice to his brother –in-law James Miller, Johnson bought the barber shop in 1830 for three hundred dollars and taught the trade to free black boys. It was shortly after he established a barber shop in downtown Natchez that he began to keep a diary. The diary was a mainstay in Johnson’s life until his death in 1851.

As a young prominent citizen in the free black community of Natchez, Johnson’s interest in marriage and starting a family was strengthened by his thriving business. By 1835, his initial investment of three hundred dollars had grown to almost three thousand. His dress was impeccable and he was confident in his future. So confident that he caught the eye of twenty year old Ann Battles. Battles, also a free black married Johnson in 1835. Their eleventh child was born in 1851 at the time of Johnson’s death.

Besides enjoying his family and thriving business, Johnson found time to play. Johnson enjoyed the company of friends such as Robert McCary and other free blacks. His journal is filled with hunting and fishing exploits as well as his love of going to the local horse track and betting on the races.

In 1851 a boundary dispute with his neighbor Baylor Winn found the two men in court. Although, the judge ruled in Johnson’s favor, Winn was not satisfied. Winn, also a free black ambushed Johnson returning from his farm and shot him. Johnson lived long enough to name Winn as the guilty party. Through strange circumstances, Winn was never convicted of the killing. Winn and his defense argued that he was actually white and not a free person of color because of his Indian ancestry in Virginia. Therefore, the “mulatto” boy who accompanied Johnson on that fateful day could not testify against Winn. Mississippi law allowed for blacks to testify against whites in civil cases, but not in criminal cases. Two hung juries could not decide if he was white or black, so Johnson’s Killer walked free.

Although a black man, at the time of his death, Johnson’s owned sixteen slaves. He writes openly in his diary about his slaves and his trial and tribulations of being a slave owner. William Johnson’s diary encapsulates sixteen years of his life. From 1835-1851, Johnson filled fourteen leather bound volumes with diary entries. Today, his diary is an important resource for the study of free blacks, African –American History and American History in general. It is also an important part of his legacy and what sets William Johnson apart from other free blacks during the time period.

Johnson’s house on State Street in downtown Natchez continued to be owned by the family until they sold it to the Ellicott Hill Preservation Society in 1976. The house was then donated to the city who in turn donated to the National Park Service in 1990. After an extensive restoration process, the National Park Service opened the house as a museum detailing William Johnson’s life in 2005.

 

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours
640 South Canal Street • Natchez, Mississippi 39121
Phone: (601) 446-6631 • Fax: (601) 445-6110
Toll Free: (800) 647-6742

Antebellum Mansions Open Year-Round

The magnificent mansions listed below are available for touring year round. Tour times and prices are subject to change. Some houses are not open daily during Pilgrimage. See your Pilgrimage brochure for scheduled homes, or
call 800-647-6742 for details.
Shop Ticket Options
Individual Ticket Prices
Adults 19 and older $15 per person (The Towers Christmas Tour $20)
Youth 6 - 18 years $10 per person (The Towers Christmas Tour $15)

 

3-House Tour, Carriage Ride and Lunch at the famous Carriage House Restaurant

This Gift Certificate provides a grand tour of three Antebellum Mansions, a horse drawn Carriage Ride through historic downtown Natchez, plus lunch at the famous Carriage House Restaurant on the grounds of Stanton Hall! Tax and tip included. THE CARRIAGE HOUSE LUNCH IS ONLY GOOD WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY 11am-2pm!

NOT available during Spring or Fall Pilgrimages. The Carriage House is open from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (Daily during Pilgrimages).

To redeem online purchases, present your certificate with invoice number to the NPT Ticket Counter located inside the Natchez Visitor Reception Center at 640 S. Canal Street.

$76 per person

PLEASE CALL 1-800-647-6742 | 1-601-446-6631 TO PURCHASE TICKETS OVER THE PHONE.

 

Mansions on Tour Throughout the Year


Longwood (ca. 1861)
Open Daily
9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tours every half hour


Stanton Hall (ca. 1857)
Open Daily
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tours every half hour


Magnolia Hall (ca. 1858)
Open Thursday - Saturday
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2 p.m.)
Tours every hour


House on Ellicott Hill (ca. 1798)
Open Friday and Saturday
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2 p.m.)
Tours every hour


Rosalie (ca. 1832)
Open Daily
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Last tour at 3 p.m.)
Tours every hour


Auburn (ca. 1812)
Open Tuesday - Saturday
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2:30 p.m.)
Tour upon arrival


Monmouth Plantation (ca. 1818)
Open Daily
Tour at 10 a.m.


Melrose (ca. 1848)
Open Daily
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tours at 10, 12, 2, 3, and 4


Dunleith (ca. 1856)

Currently closed for public tours


The Towers (ca. 1798-1826-1858)
Friday 2 pm
Saturday 10 am and 2 pm 
Tours are available other days and times by appointment

 


Linden (ca. 1800)
Open Wednesday - Saturday
Tour at 11 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longwood
140 Lower Woodville Rd
Natchez, MS 39120

Stanton Hall (ca. 1857)
Open Daily
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tours every half hour
Address: 401 High Street, Natchez, MS 39120

Magnolia Hall (ca. 1858)
Open Thursday - Saturday
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2 p.m.)
Tours every hour
215 S Pearl St, Natchez, MS 39120

House on Ellicott Hill (ca. 1798)
Open Friday and Saturday
10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2 p.m.)
Tours every hour
211 N Canal St, Natchez, MS 39120

 

Rosalie (ca. 1832)
Open Daily
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Last tour at 3 p.m.)
Tours every hour
100 Orleans St, Natchez, MS 39120

Auburn (ca. 1812)
Open Tuesday - Saturday
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Last tour at 2:30 p.m.)
Tour upon arrival
400 Duncan Ave, Natchez, MS 39120

Monmouth Plantation (ca. 1818)
Open Daily
Tour at 10 a.m.
36 Melrose Ave, Natchez, MS 39120

Melrose (ca. 1848)
Open Daily
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tours at 10, 12, 2, 3, and 4

 

 

 

 

 

[photo]Temple Mound at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

These three platform mounds, an adjacent ceremonial plaza and associated habitation areas mark the political and religious capital of the Natchez Indian chiefdom of the late 17th century and early 18th century. A number of French colonists who witnessed the use of the mounds at Grand Village recorded their observations. These 18th-century accounts offer a rare firsthand glimpse of mound ceremonialism, by then a nearly extinct holdover tradition from the precontact period.

The paramount chief of the Natchez, called the Great Sun, lived at the Grand Village. The French accounts describe both the Great Sun's house, which stood on Mound B at the center of the site, and a ceremonial temple, which stood on Mound C, the southernmost mound of the group. Within the temple, a sacred perpetual fire was kept burning day and night. Foundation remains of both the Great Sun's house and the temple were discovered during 1962 archeological excavations of the mound. Mound A, at the north end of the site, apparently was no longer in use by the time European chroniclers arrived. The mounds, which stand about eight feet high, rose in several stages as the structures that stood on top of them were demolished and rebuilt in accordance with ceremony.


[rotating photos]Rotating images of the Natchez Powwow, a two-day annual event showcasing American Indian dancers and crafts, and a reconstructed Natchez Indian house
Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Elaborate funeral ceremonies for the Natchez elite were conducted on the mound plaza. These rituals included the sacrifice of relatives and servants of the deceased. Natchez pottery vessels, as well as European trade goods obtained from the French, accompanied the dead. Two of the burials may have been those of the Great Sun, whose death in 1728 is mentioned in the historical sources, and his brother and war chief Tattooed Serpent, whose 1725 funeral was recorded in detail by the French. 

Increasing French confiscation of Indian lands led to rapid deterioration of Natchez-French relations following the death of the Great Sun. The Natchez attacked nearby Fort Rosalie in 1729, killing most of the French garrison there. In response, the French organized a retaliatory expedition in 1730. They and their Choctaw Indian allies occupied the Grand Village, using the location to lay siege to the Natchez, who had withdrawn into stockaded fortifications to the south. During the siege, French troops used the central mound, formerly the site of the Great Sun's house, as an emplacement for their artillery. This confrontation marked the beginning of the destruction of the Natchez as a nation. Although the siege failed to force their surrender, the Natchez permanently abandoned their traditional territory as a result of it. Fewer than 300 of the Natchez eventually were captured by the French and sold into slavery in the West Indies. The remainder escaped to join other tribes as refugees. Today, people of Natchez descent live among the Creek and Cherokee Indians.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, designated a National Historic Landmark, is maintained as a park by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The museum exhibits artifacts excavated from the site and sponsors public education events and activities.

The Grand Village of Natchez Indians, is located in Natchez. Turn east off US Hwy. 61/Seargent S. Prentiss Dr. onto Jefferson Davis Blvd., just south of the Natchez Regional Medical Center. Proceed on Jefferson Davis Blvd. a half mile to the entrance gate on the right. It is open Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm, and Sunday 1:30pm to 5:00pm, free admission. Call 601-446-6502 for further information.