Our Family Visit to Natchez, Mississippi
Updated: Oct 5, 2020
This year is a milestone birthday for both my mother and my mother-in-law. So as my wife and I were trying to decide what to get our mothers for their birthdays, we decided that a memory was better than a trinket and opted for a weekend trip. Since Labor Day was in between both of their birthdays, we chose that weekend for a little getaway to historic Natchez, Mississippi.
Most of my dad’s side of the family lived in Natchez. So I grew up visiting there a good bit. However, rarely did we do any touristy things. So I had a good time visiting Natchez as a tourist.
Since this trip was a birthday celebration we did not want to stay in a chain hotel, especially since Natchez is such a historic town. We opted for a bed and breakfast. When I was researching B&Bs in Natchez, I came across the Guest House. It had a lot of great reviews and where we opted to stay.
Day 1: Saturday, August 31
We drove down to Natchez in time for lunch. We stopped off at Biscuits & Blues in downtown Natchez. This joint was one of many places recommended to us. While the service was great, the food was just ok–nothing to brag about. I think the ambience must be the bigger draw for this location.
After lunch we went down to the river to kill a little time before our designated check-in time at the Guest House. We took a walking path down the bluff along the river in the area known as “Under the Hill.” While walking off your lunch is great, the bluffs of Natchez are no joke. While one end of the path had stairs, the other end didn’t. Rather than re-trace our steps back to the stairs, we chose to walk up a steep incline in very hot and humid weather. Boy, did we get a work out!
Now it was time to go to check in at the Guest House. After we got checked in, we freshened up and rested for a few minutes before setting back out. We walked around downtown and stopped in at a few of the quaint local shops.
For dinner we opted for Pearl Street Pasta. This place is a definite must. However, come hungry or plan to share a plate. While the food is some of the most delicious pasta you will ever have, they serve enough to feed an army. Not only did the great food make the dinner enjoyable but our service was superb. I would definitely return again.
After dinner we headed back to the Guest House where we enjoyed time sitting around, visiting and playing games.
Day 2: Sunday, September 1
We slept in what was considered late for us and made our way to breakfast shortly after 8am. As part of your room rate at the Guest House, you get a freshly cooked southern breakfast. Mr. Henry, the only server in the restaurant, will take care of you with his genuine southern hospitality.
After breakfast we headed over to the Natchez Welcome Center where we had planned to purchase tickets for the City Sightseeing Hop On/Off bus tour. While it was scheduled to run that day, we found out that the owner decided at the last minute to give his employees the day off. A bit disappointed, we had to make alternate plans for the day.
We ended up heading over to Melrose Estate for a tour of the home. This home is one of the few antebellum properties that was not a plantation. It is managed by the National Park Service. This visit was my first to this home. While it was beautifully decorated, it was not as garish as compared to some of the other antebellum homes in the city.
Following the tour, we drove over to Silver Street where Natchez Under the Hill is located (near where we had hiked the hill the day before). There are two restaurants, a bar, and a locally owned boutique/gift shop located here. We ended up eating at The Camp Restaurant, another one that was recommended to us. Again, we were greeted with the southern hospitality we expected and more delicious food.
Recommendation: The Camp has some of the best fried pickles I have ever had: thinly sliced and not greasy and served with fried jalapeños. The 3oz slider burgers with fries are a great meal for someone who is hungry but not too hungry.
After lunch we walked next door to the boutique so the ladies could do some shopping. My son and I walked to the boat ramp at the river’s edge to watch the barges go by.
Once we were finished with this area, we drove over to the City Cemetery. I wanted to check on the Tracy family plot where my paternal grandparents and great-grandparents are buried. I am not trying to be morbid, but this cemetery is so neat and very well maintained. The various wrought iron gates, tombstones, grave markers, statues and mausoleums located throughout are all so unique. This cemetery goes back hundreds of years and is full of history.
Next we drove back downtown to visit St. Mary’s Basilica. It was the first cathedral built in Mississippi and is one of only three in existence in the state today. The gothic architecture and stained glass throughout are breathtaking. There is no admission charge, as it is an operating church, and it is one place that shouldn’t be missed.
After we visited St. Mary’s, we dropped my mother and the kids off at the Guest House while my wife, her mother and I continued to drive around Natchez taking in some of the sights. We also did a bit more shopping.
Fast forward to supper time when we ran into a bit of a challenge. Natchez closes down on Sunday evenings, especially during a holiday weekend. We drove over the river into Vidalia, Louisiana, to eat at Johnnie Mae’s Seafood, as it looked like a place we would enjoy. Even though the sign and its website said it was going to be open, we arrived to find out they decided to close for the evening. So, we, along with about six other carloads of folks that happened to get there at the same time, had to go and find supper elsewhere.
We then drove back to Under the Hill to try out Magnolia Grill, another highly recommended restaurant, only to find no parking. So instead of fighting to find a parking space, we tried going over to the historic King’s Tavern, another recommended restaurant. Strike 3. The bartender kindly told us he would not be able to accommodate our party of six because the owner decided to rent out half the restaurant that night to party of thirty. The bartender was very kind and tried to help us find another restaurant. Everything he recommended was either closed or full. So the last place he suggested was Pedro’s, a local Mexican restaurant back in town. So we headed over there. They didn’t have the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten, but it was good and the service was very friendly.
After supper we drove back to the Guest House where we enjoyed another evening of sitting around the parlor, visiting and playing more games. I even got a Yahtzee! during one round of play.
Day 3: Monday, September 2
Our day started out leisurely again as we slept in before heading back down for another southern-style breakfast with Mr. Henry. After breakfast we checked out and stopped off at the William Johnson home. This house is a free site to visit that is maintained by the National Park Service.
Mr. Johnson was a man born into slavery and later freed who went on to become a very successful entrepreneur. His home in downtown Natchez was very modest compared to most but still showed signs of a successful man. It was said that Mr. Johnson was worth approximately $30,000 at the time of his death, equaling nearly a million dollars by today’s standards. I definitely recommended stopping off at this property for about a 30 minute
visit to learn about some lesser known Natchez history.
Next it was time to depart for home.
While some of our plans didn’t pan out, we did not let that stop us from having a good time and making memories. That’s why we always plan to be flexible, just in case.
For more information about Natchez, or to book your next getaway, contact me. I would love to plan your next vacation.
What is your favorite place to eat or visit in Natchez, Mississippi? Comment below and let me know so my visitors can see other recommendations.