Looking for a fall destination that is family-friendly with lots of open space and southern charm? You should definitely add Natchez, MS. The historic city of Natchez is one of the oldest cities located in Mississippi. Established along the side of the Mississippi River, Natchez holds true to its vibrant yet relaxing scenery and Southern hospitality. As one of the major settlement cities about 90 miles away from Jackson Mississippi, Natchez has remained steadfast to its historic value and has been able to conserve remarkable museums, parks, antique stores, and prominent churches. Natchez is becoming known for their tourist lifestyle and I am here to fill you in on the Must Do’s while in Natchez for a true Black Southern Belle fall vacation experience that is perfect for a family all while socially distancing:
Ideas for Curating a Socially Distanced Family Travel Experience While Supporting Local Vendors in Natchez, Mississippi
Book Two Hotel Rooms: Treat these spaces as a suite. One place to sleep and watch TV and the other to utilize and enjoy fine dining and to experience open-air (rooms with a front porch work best). And when you are traveling with kids it may be nice to book part of a bed & breakfast for them to have their own space depending on age or just for storage and baby stations.
Order Takeout and Eat Outdoors: If you have to busy little ones like me, eating out can be difficult but if you get creative you can make it work. From doing pickup on the road to your next stop to bringing food for a picnic at a state park or ordering delivery at your hotel, you can still support local Natchez businesses while on your trip with your kids in tow or running around if they are like my babies.
Book a Venue for a Day and Create a Family Experience: Not having your normal holiday parties? That doesn’t mean the party has to stop. You can book a private space while traveling to Natchez and hide a private caterer, event planner, and floral designer to curate a weekend or daylong experience including adding outdoor activities such as a painting class with a local artist or mocktail class with a mixologist or even a mini-concert. Just let the vendors know what you like and curate your own experience.
Shop Online and Pickup Locally in Store: I love antique shopping but find it hard to do with little ones. One way to do this while traveling is by first shopping on social or asking the owner for a virtual tour or call to discuss what you have in mind. Once you find your favorites, you can pay ahead of time and pick-up in-store. I also like the idea of buying gift baskets from vendors where they curate based on your budget and interests. Shopping with toddlers while traveling has some challenges but can be tons of fun!
Where To Stay
Natchez has a reputation for their numerous places to stay while visiting, however, they are distinctly known for their bed and breakfast accommodations. Here are some Bed & Breakfasts (B&B) that every Natchez traveler should book on their next trip:
Concord Quarters is a Black-Owned Bed & Breakfast Your Family Will Love: Beautiful massive oaks, garden areas, and magnolias make this setting a truly magnificent place. Nestled in a community that is rich in culture north of the city, and just five minutes from downtown. Concord Quarters offers one spacious guest room and one two-bedroom suite, each with a private bath. Guests will enjoy a full southern breakfast each morning that you are here. The guest rooms are located on the second floor. All of the rooms open on to the broad gallery supported by giant order columns.
Black Owned Natchez Manor: Looking to explore Natchez from the heart of the city? Check out the Natchez Manor. This boutique hotel style B&B has everything you need for a great socially distanced vacation. From rooftop terraces to curated food and living spaces, Natchez Manor is a wonderful way to experience all that Natchez has to offer.
What to Eat
After securing a place to stay on your adventure in Natchez, food excursions should be the next concern of any visitor. Since Natchez is known for their soul food and Southern classics we compiled a list of places to fill your appetite:
Natchez Heritage School of Cooking
Want to experience heritage food unique to the Natchez region? Be sure to add The Natchez Heritage School of Cooking is three generations of Natchez women sharing African American recipes and lessons. Taste the traditions of the African heritage diet as you learn the stories of the African people whose descendants continue to live in Natchez. Contact owner Jarita King for your own custom catering for the entirety of your trip or just a special meal while out at a park or museum.
Looking to celebrate an HBCU tailgate from your room while in Natchez or have snacks for a walking tour? Be sure to pick up classic burgers, wings, and fries at Midtown Grill you can also enjoy their outside seating and keep you and your family safe while fed on your trip.
While NX Level Cooking brings a new flare to BBQ. As a Best BBQ Nominee in Natchez, NX Level serves BBQ with almost anything, to include Cajun rice, baked beans, and potato salad. NX Level also serves appetizing wings and classic cheeseburgers that will have you wanting to take some to go.
Where to Explore
Natchez is home to various places to explore and for a family to enjoy while being socially distant and experiencing the culture and history of the city. Check out a few of these options below:
One specific place that is a must for any tourist is Bluff Park. Bluff Park provides the best view of the Mississippi River and is great for taking a tranquil walk to wind down before the Natchez vacation comes to an end. Bluff parks include historic markers to let tourists know exactly what Natchez is all about and the history it adds to Mississippi.
Museum of African American History and Culture
The African American Museum of History and Culture contains exhibits from a number of Natchez related African American historic sites, important citizens, and events. Other exhibits within the museum include The Rhythm Nightclub fire, where over 200 African American Natchez citizens were either burned or trampled to death; Forks of the Road, which was the second-largest slave market in the South; and some of the literary works of critically acclaimed author Richard Nathaniel Wright, a Natchez native. Adding the African American Museum of History and Culture to your trip itinerary will provide you with a look at another dimension of Natchez history that you won’t get anywhere else.
Natchez National Historical Park
Want to get some virtual history lessons on your trip? Add the Natchez National Historical Park to your itinerary for sure. This park includes the home of William Johnson, an African American who was freed from slavery in 1820 at the age of 11 and became a respected businessman before his murder in 1851. Johnson’s diary was published in 1951, providing unique and detailed insight into African American life in the 19th century, and his house was opened by the National Park Service as a museum in 2005 and is a must-see for any Black Southern Belle mom and her family.
Dr. John Banks House:
Are you a civil rights history buff? You should definitely make a stop at the Dr. John Banks House. This home also served as headquarters for the local chapter of the NAACP during the civil rights movement and is a great place to have a virtual history lesson. More information to start your traveling lesson plan here.
Rhythm Club Museum
The Rhythm Night Club Onsite Memorial Museum was constructed by the Sago Family in 2010, as a place to honor those wounded and killed in the tragic 1940 fire that took the lives of over 200 Natchez citizens. There are actual accounts of survivors, newspaper clippings, stories from eyewitnesses and images housed in the museum, and it’s a “must-see” attraction, which is worth giving to, an hour or more of your trip.
Saint Catherine Wildlife Refuge
What better way to socially distance than in the great outdoors and in Natchez, you should see the Saint Catherine Wildlife Refuge. The 24,589-acre refuge located in southwest Mississippi contains a diverse array of habitat types consisting of bottomland hardwoods, cypress swamps, upland hardwoods on the loess bluffs, small cliffs made from a specific type of wind-blown sediment. This is the perfect place to explore outdoor activities and get fresh air with busy kids.
Proud to Take a Stand Monument
Last year, the city hosted Ambassador Andrew Young at the dedication of the Proud To Take A Stand Monument. The Proud to Take a Stand monument honors those Natchez-Adams County citizens who were wrongfully incarcerated in October 1965. The monument has more than 400 names engraved into the marble, and more than 150 of those are names of the young men and women forced to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman in October 1965, where they were humiliated, punished, and abused for days. They became known as the survivors of what is called “The Parchman Ordeal.” This is a must-see monument and another perfect opportunity for a remote learning lesson for your family.
Where to Shop
Shopping while on a vacation has its pros and cons, however, shopping in antique stores is a must for most tourists and Natchez has a variety of antique shops to find those unique pieces one didn’t know they needed until they saw it. Since 1987, Lower Lodge Antiques has been able to provide unique furniture, art, and porcelains, while also conserving valuable pieces to the Natchez community. Looking to support Black Owned shops while you are in town or holiday shopping from afar? Check out these options:
Want to splurge on yourself or a loved one this holiday without breaking the bank? Check out My Shoe Kloset for affordable and stylish shoe options. Shoes are a great way to dress up your leggings and sweaters for fall and zoom calls.
Want to curate some new fashion looks for your closet to add to your casual wear at home? Be sure to check out Decisions. This downtown boutique is a great place to explore your inner fashionista and curate holiday hostess gifts for your friends and family near and far.
What to Attend
Touring Natchez provides many special events for tourists to try when traveling to Natchez. Although this year looks a little different, socially distanced events are still an option. Check these out below:
Natchez Balloon Festival Reimagined:
On the third weekend in October, there will be hot air balloons flying and fireworks over the Mississippi River! Usually that weekend there is a big festival (Natchez Balloon Festival) but in the spirit of making it work, the city will celebrate with smaller supportive events like Friday night music on the bluff and a new event called the Four Elements Celebration.
Longwood Afternoon is another great event to socially distance with your family. This event features an all-day outdoor music festival on the grounds of Longwood. There will be live music, food, costume contests, and most importantly plenty of room to spread out. Great place to make your kids tired and get some great family photos.
Natchez is one of the oldest yet preserved cities located in Mississippi and has plenty of places to stay, eat, and shop as a tourist. Natchez holds themselves accountable for presenting historic value and bringing recognition to museums, parks, antique stores, and churches. Therefore, when visiting or touring Natchez knows there will never be a dull moment.9