Natchez has a long and fascinating history, dating back to 1716, making her the oldest continuous settlement on the Mississippi River. Even before Natchez was settled by Europeans, the city was home to the Natchez Indians, noted for being the only Mississippian culture with complex chiefdom characteristics to have survived long into the period after the European colonization of America began.
Natchez is home to some of the most well preserved and architecturally stunning antebellum homes in the American South, as it was once the wealthiest city in America. Luckily, most of the homes in Natchez survived the Civil War, but its history flows in abundance along the Mississippi and its memories leave a haunting tale. We invite you to take a tour through these mansions in order to grasp the glory, grandeur, and massive wealth of a lifestyle that is now gone with the wind.
1.We recommend beginning your Natchez experience at the Natchez Visitor Center. Here you will be greeted by a knowledgeable staff, dedicated to help you make the most of your visit. Take in the twenty minute video, The Natchez Story, and enjoy learning the overall history of how this enchanting city came to be. After the movie, enjoy the interactive, paneled exhibit depicting the development of the area and some amazing views of the Mississippi River. Then stop by the ticket counters and purchase antebellum home, carriage ride, and tour tickets all under one roof.
2. Tickets in hand, head out to tour a few of the perfectly preserved historic homes that have drawn millions of visitors to Natchez over the years. Guides will lead you through these majestic homes and tell the tales of the families that once lived in Natchez.
3. Put your carriage tour tickets to use and take the 45 minute narrated, horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic district.
4. Take the short drive out to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and stroll the hallowed ground of the home of the city’s original inhabitants. There are ceremonial mounds at the site, along with a replica of an Indian dwelling, and a museum complete with artifacts that have been recovered on and around the site over the years.
5. Head to Main Street to visit the Natchez Museum of African American Heritage and Culture. The museum contains exhibits from a number of Natchez related African American historic sites, important citizens and events. Adding the Natchez Museum of African Art and Heritage to your trip itinerary, will provide you with a look at another dimension of Natchez Mississippi history that you won’t get anywhere else.
6. A visit to the First Presbyterian Church downtown will lead you to Stratton Chapel’s Natchez in Historic Photographs, located in the rear of the church. The collection is comprised of over 500 photographs depicting life along the river, the merchants, and commerce that thrived in Natchez even beyond the war, and the families and their children who shaped this historic city.
7. Natchez is also full of fascinating residents that can be found in the Natchez City Cemetery and Natchez National Cemetery, both located on Cemetery Road overlooking the Mississippi River. Once you enter the gates, you can begin a self-guided tour following a brochure and map. The Natchez Visitor Center also offers a audio tour for the City Cemetery. Visit the Natchez National Cemetery office for more information on its decorated inhabitants.
8. Walk on over to The William Johnson House, located on State Street, to learn about the life of William Johnson, a once prominent citizen in the free black community of Natchez. Johnson kept very detailed journals describing life in Natchez in the 1800s. His home is now run by the National Park Service as a museum detailing Johnson’s life.
9. A visit to the 1800-acre Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gins includes extensive southern history. On the 1 ½ hour guided tour, you will get a taste of life in the days of “King Cotton,” including causes of change by the U.S. Constitution and Lincoln’s Civil War policies. “Cotton Then & Now” & “The Plantation Civil War” allow you to enter authentic buildings including slave & sharecropper cabins, an 1880’s Smithsonian quality, steam engine cotton gin, 1700’s log cabin, plantation church, and store.
10. After arriving back in Natchez, finish off your day with dinner at King’s Tavern, believed to be the oldest standing building in Mississippi. They offer tours of the building itself, and also of the rum distillery located on the property. Do note, however, that rum is only one kind of spirit found at King’s Tavern. Be sure and ask your server about the Tavern’s spooky history, if you would like a fright with your meal.
11. A trip to Natchez wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Historic Jefferson College, the first educational institution of higher learning in Mississippi. Visitors can tour a restored dormitory room, student dining room, kitchen buildings, and other historic sites.
12. 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 Market is commemorated with a historic marker.