by Clarisse Washington
Historic Downtown: Between Main and Franklin streets is the hub of Old Natchez with tree-lined streets, old homes, plenty of places to walk and view restored historic properties. Restaurants, antiques and gift shops, banks, bars. Very visitor friendly. Safe day and night. Call the Chamber of Commerce for specific sites worth visiting, 601-445-4611.
Vidalia Riverfront: A mile-long river walk and the best views of the Mississippi River highlight this spectacular collage of scenery of new facilities including restaurants, a hotel and amphitheater. The river walk is the perfect place to unwind, relax and get a touch of exercise.
Delta Music Museum: A restored post office in downtown Ferriday offers a glimpse into the lives of Ferriday’s most famous musical natives: Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart, and PeeWee Whittaker. Free admission, 318-757-9999.
Natchez Visitor Reception Center: Offers an orientation to the area through exhibits, maps, brochures and displays. Located next to the Mississippi River Bridge, the center features “The Natchez Story,” a good cinematic introduction to the history and culture of the region, 800-647-6724.
Duncan Park: Nice tennis facilities and 18-rounds of golf, picnic tables, driving range, handicapped accessible playground, nice biking and walking. Golf just $24 weekdays ($21seniors), $26 weekends (all adults), cart included. Inexpensive recreation, 601-442-5955.
Longwood and Rosalie: These homes offer the best of the best tours of pre-Civil War mansions. Longwood, an unfinished octagonal house (800-647-6742), and Rosalie, with its original furnishings and beautiful gardens (601-445-4555), have great family histories.
Antebellum Home Touring: Natchez Pilgrimage Tours offers individual and group tickets to antebellum mansions year-round. Fall and Spring Pilgrimages offer more than 30 homes on tour, all restored, beautifully furnished with priceless antiques, art and collectibles. Many homes feature exquisite gardens and landscaped grounds, 800-647-6742.
Magnolia Bluffs Casino: This casino offers Las Vegas-style gambling, dining and entertainment. Call 601-235-0045.
Downtown Carriage Ride: The guides know just about every story about every building and the people who lived there during Natchez’s historic past. Get tickets from the drivers themselves at the Canal Street Depot. Carriage rides are just $15 per person, $5 for children age 12 and under, a real value when you consider the quality and beauty of the tour.
Grand Village of the Natchez Indians: A historic site and museum commemorate the Natchez Native American culture. Mounds rebuilt, nature trail, picnic tables, tree-covered grounds. Free admission. School and civic groups welcome, 601-446-6502.
Natchez in Historic Photographs: Nearly 100 years of Natchez history is captured in photos hung on the walls of Stratton Chapel of First Presbyterian Church. More than 300 photographs from the 1850s-1950s. Free admission, donation requested, 601-442-4751.
Natchez Museum of African-American History: This museum on Main Street offers more than 600 artifacts that interpret the life, history and culture of black Americans in Mississippi from the 1890s to the 1950s, 601-445-0728.
Historic Jefferson College: The oldest educational institution in the state is now a museum; the 19th century school buildings detail the history of this military prep school, nature trails and picnic area, school tours welcome, 601-442-2901.
Natchez National Historic Park: The park includes two properties, Melrose and the William Johnson House. Melrose is a stately antebellum home built in 1848, situated in a lovely park-like setting. Outbuildings are preserved. Tours are offered. The William Johnson House is a three-story townhouse, once owned by a free black businessman, 601-442-7407.
St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge: This 25,000 acre refuge, located along the Mississippi River from Cloverdale Road to the Homochitto River, offers a nature trail, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching opportunities, 601-442-6696.
Natchez City Cemetery: This cemetery was established in 1821 and contains graves dating to the 1700s. Many of Natchez’s historic figures are buried here. Tours are available, 601-445-5051.
Websites: www.vidaliaconventioncenter.com and www.visitnatchez.org
by Clarisse Washington