Southern charm, antebellum mansions and beautiful gardens make Natchez, Miss., an ideal romantic getaway. Located on a bluff above the Mississippi river, plantation owners built their town houses here. At one time Natchez was home to more millionaires per capita than any other southern city.
Occupied by Union forces, the ravages of the Civil War largely bypassed the city leaving its antebellum buildings intact. Today, visitors can tour the stately mansions and historic houses.
You can experience history and southern hospitality, if just for a night, with a stay in a Natchez bed and breakfast.
For truly remarkable lodging, I recommend J. N. Stone House Musicale Bed and Breakfast recipient of Trip Advisors 2012 Travelers’ Choice award. Host, Joseph Stone, renovated his family home and now rents two suites to guests. There may be more lavish accommodations in Natchez, but none has quite the charm of Stone House, thanks to Stone’s genial hospitality.
You can play billiards in the antebellum billiard room or sip wine while Stone entertains you with an evening piano concert. In the morning, a lavish breakfast is served on fine china in the formal dining room. Stone’s open and engaging manor make you feel like an old friend invited for a weekend stay, setting the tone for exploring Natchez’s other historical homes.
To make reservations at J. N. Stone House Musicale Bed and Breakfast, call (601) 445-7466 or visit www.josephstonehouse.com.
Each spring and fall, Natchez hosts a month-long event dubbed the Pilgrimage. While larger mansions like Stanton Hall, Longwood and Rosalie are open year round, other houses, many still occupied by descendents of the original owners, open their doors to visitors only during the Pilgrimage. Costumed docents provide historic information about the homes and stories of early Natchez residents.
Tickets for Pilgrimage tours are available at the Natchez Visitor Center. Tickets for Stanton Hall, Rosalie and Longwood can be purchased at the mansions themselves.
Biscuits and Mint Juleps
Two ladies’ clubs, the Natchez Garden Club and Pilgrimage Garden Club orchestrated the first Natchez Pilgrimage in the 1930’s. Today, both are responsible for saving, renovating and operating several of the historic properties in Natchez. The Pilgrimage Garden Club also runs a restaurant on the grounds of Stanton Hall called Carriage House.
The Carriage House is a great place for lunch, serving salads and sandwiches along with traditional southern food. It’s hard to top their biscuits. The size of silver dollars, the miniature biscuits will melt in your mouth. Be sure to try their mint julep. Carriage House is open for lunch 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Brunch is served on Sunday.
If you visit Natchez during Pilgrimage, be sure to check out special evening performances by Natchez Little Theater and the Holy Family Catholic Church Gospel Choir.
Southern Exposure, a Pilgrimage spoof, is performed by the theater group. The story unfolds with a down-on-her-luck Natchez blue blood warding off foreclosure by opening her home to a Yankee boarder. What ensues is a light heartened romp poking fun at both Natchez pilgrims as well as staid southern gentry.
Natchez was not only home to wealthy plantation owners but also one of the South’s largest slave markets, Forks of the Road. In Southern Road, the Holy Family Catholic Church Gospel Choir tells the story of Natchez’s African Americans in narrative and song with the audience encouraged to participate in the performance.
Purchase tickets at the Natchez Visitor Center or at the door. Southern Exposure is performed at the Natchez Little Theater and Southern Road is at the Holy Family Catholic Church.
Plan Your Trip
Natchez is at the southern most end of the Natchez Trace Parkway. It is approximately 100 miles north of Baton Rouge, La., and about 100 miles southwest of Jackson, Miss. The Pilgrimage is a semi-annual event from mid-March to mid-April in spring, and the first part of October in the fall.
Special events, like a summer balloon festival, occur throughout the year in Natchez, and many larger mansions are open daily. More information on events and historic home tours can be found on www.visitnatchez.org.