101 great things about Natchez

Published 9:45 pm Saturday, February 22, 1997

101 Great Things About Natchez

1. The friendliness of the people

There’s nothing quite like the quick smile and warm greeting you’ll get from the people of Natchez.

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2. Historic homes and antebellum houses

From National Historic Landmark properties to unassuming old houses that families have called home for generations, historic properties crowd the landscape of Natchez, making it one of the most architecturally and historically interesting places around.

3. Flowers and trees in spring

Tulips and daffodils, crepe myrtles and dozens of other colorful blooms delight the senses as Natchez heralds spring.

4. Looking at sunsets over the bridge

There’s nothing quite so breathtaking as watching the sun set from high atop the Natchez bluffs, as the two spans across the mighty Mississippi River glisten in the early evening light.

5. The churches and the temple

Historic houses of worship – from St. Mary Catholic Church to Temple B’Nai Israel – line the downtown streets. In other areas of town, churches filled with life, love and faith minister to the people of Natchez and surrounding communities, providing a spiritual home for all of us.

6. Golf courses and golf tournaments

Whether you prefer to play at Duncan Park’s popular 18-hole course or Beau Pré Country Club just south of the city, the golf courses here will prove challenging and fun. Just ask any number of folks who come to play at both professional and amateur tournaments held throughout the year.

7. Rich history

It’s the basis of our past, the building block of our future. Our history – more than 200 years strong – has shaped the character of Natchez and its residents.

8. One-way street signs

They may drive you crazy downtown, but its just one of the charms of living in Natchez.

9. Natchez Under-the-Hill

Once a rowdy river port with a rough reputation, Natchez Under-the-Hill served as a port to the luxurious traveling riverboats that cruised the Mississippi River. Today, a floating casino, a popular restaurant and bar add to the appeal, making Under-the-Hill a uniquely Natchez place to visit.

10. Pralines

Who can resist the sugary-sweet treat, sold fresh each day at dozens of places around Natchez. And, during Pilgrimage seasons, you can buy the pralines from sidewalk vendors who’ve made them fresh the night before.

11. Carriage rides

As the horses clomp along downtown Natchez, knowledgeable drivers share their mix of history and charm with visitors and locals alike who journey on these carriage rides.

12. Natchez Festival of Music

May becomes magical in Natchez as artists from throughout the country come to Natchez for the festival. Weekend performances range from popular operas and Broadway shows to children’s productions, and a wide range of daily programs offer something for everyone.

13. The Queen’s ball

It’s many a young Natchez girl’s dream to reign as queen of the Historic Natchez Pageant, but only a few are chosen. For them, the lavish ball that celebrates their honor is the stuff memories, and dreams, are made of.

14. The Levee

It’s a much-needed device, keeping Old Man River in control.

15. The Natchez Eola Hotel

In the heart of downtown Natchez, this grand hotel provides a sweeping view of our city from its rooftop rooms.

16. Spanish moss

Draping gracefully from the trees, Spanish moss provides a hazy curtain to our landscape.

17. Adams County Courthouse

Firmly planted in downtown, the courthouse houses records dating back to the Spanish era in Natchez – a treat for genealogists and researchers alike.

18. Mississippi Queen

The mightly Mississippi is home to the traveling lady, a grand paddlewheeler which carries on the best of riverboat traditions.

19. Delta Queen

A sister ship, the Delta Queen makes frequent stops in Natchez too, bringing its riverboating passengers to Natchez Under-the-Hill.

20. American Queen

The newest of the boats, the American Queen already has hosted dozens of Natchezians who joined in its inaugural cruise.

21. Copiah Lincoln Community College

Co-Lin continues to grow and expand, offering Natchez area residents a first-rate curriculum and facility.

22. Natchez books

Folk tales, favorite stories, gorgeous photographs – they’re all found in the many books published about Natchez. Just as important, too, are the Natchez authors, from best sellers to historians, who share their words with the rest of us.

23. The Big Maypole

Young children, dressed in period costume, steal the show at the annual Historic Natchez Pageant when they twist and twirl around the maypole with their colorful ribbons and well-coached steps.

24. Weather

At times, it’s just perfect. With cool breezes blowing in October, and warm spring days in March and April, you can’t help but fall in love with the climate here.

25. George W. Armstrong Library

Located in the heart of downtown, its treasures hold the keys to travel, knowledge and fun for all ages. It’s research records are a treat.

26. Historic Cemeteries

With antique roses, beautiful wrought iron gates and a wealth of knowledge carved in marble and granite, the cemeteries of Natchez are a rare treasure.

27. Natchez Silver (Melrose)

A classic silver pattern inspired by the Natchez mansion that now serves as the centerpiece of the Natchez National Historical Park.

28. Mardi Gras parades

These frolicking parades bring thousands of spectators to downtown Natchez, all joining in the chant of “throw me something, mister.”

29. Santa Claus Parade

Philanthropic businessmen don their best suits and escort the jolly old elf through the Natchez streets each year, bringing him at last to the Children’s Christmas Tree gift distribution party. There, hundreds of needy youngsters receiving their Christmas presents from Santa himself.

30. Tourists

What would we do without them? Few towns can roll out the red carpet for visitors the way we do in Natchez.

31. Fishermen

Expert or otherwise, these folks know that Natchez area lakes and streams are filled with white perch, bream, catfish, crawfish, gar and goo. And then there’s the state park, with its record-setting bass.

32. International Paper and other industries

They keep our economy thriving, and they employ thousands of Miss-Lou residents.

33. Adams County Port

It’s growing each year, a bustling hub of commerce on the Mighty Mississippi.

34. Pumping oil wells

Black gold for the lucky owner.

35. Bales of cotton

It’s what built much of Natchez, and cotton is still an important crop for area farmers.

36. Memorial Park Fountain

As restoration efforts continue, this fountain continues to delight another generation of Natchez youngsters who love to peek over the brick walls in hopes of spotting a fish or two.

37. Natchez wine

With a name like “Miss Scarlet,” how can you resist the sweet taste of muscadine wine produced here in Natchez.

38. Tiffany windows at Trinity Episcopal Church

True works of art which must have been divinely inspired.

39. High school football games

Friday nights during the fall are set aside for this all-important ritual, when fans of all ages turn out to cheer on their favorite players. Loyalties run deep, and passions are strong. It’s school spirit at its best.

40. Pilgrimage Garden Club Antiques Forum

With more than 20 years under its belt, this renowned forum draws experts from across the United States each year.

41. Antiques Row

The prestigious shops along Antiques Row are a treasure trove for window shoppers and serious collectors alike.

42. Natchez Trace Parkway

The ancient artery is now a beautiful national parkway, linking Natchez with Nashville, Tenn.

43. Grand Village of the Natchez Indians

This historic site is popular among history buffs of all ages, bringing the lore of Indians to life.

44. Historic Jefferson College

Where the great and near-great were educated for nearly two centuries.

45. Hoopskirted hostesses

On duty at the front door of Natchez’s antebellum mansions, their big skirts, big smiles and big welcomes make you glad you came.

46. St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge

A haven for ducks, deer and wildlife of all sorts, the south Adams County refuge is a true nature lover’s dream.

47. Walking downtown

Whether it’s a leisurely afternoon stroll or a brisk power walk along the tree-lined, historic sidewalks, nothing beats the charm of downtown walking in Natchez.

48. Lake St. John and Lake Concordia

Our neighbor to the west, Concordia Parish, boasts two fine lakes ideal for fishing, water skiing or simply relaxing and listening to the sounds of nature in the early evening.

49. Garden Clubs

A formidable force in historic preservation, tourism and dozens of other projects. These women know how to make good things happen.

50. Hunters

If there’s a season for it, these dedicated folks will be out in the woods or the duck blinds of their camps. From youngsters to senior citizens, hunters are a fixture of our society.

51. Starry oaks

White Christmas stars hang year-round at Memorial Park, twinkling through the leaves at nighttime passersby.

52. Southern accent

Y’all know what we’re talkin’ about here. There’s nothing quite like that drawl.

53. Downtown window shopping

Unique gifts, grand antiques and much, much more are found in our unique downtown shops.

54. Historic Natchez Foundation

Ron and Mimi Miller know how to preserve, market and protect Natchez’s history – with style and flair.

55. The Natchez Democrat

Bringing you the news about your neighbors and friends each morning.

56. Ghosts of Natchez

Most friendly spooks who love Natchez so much they can’t bear to leave.

57. Shelled pecans

Crunchy, habit-forming, indigenous Deep South delights.

58. Historic downtown Natchez

A unique mix of homes and businesses, downtown Natchez invites window shoppers, weekend strolls and lingering dinners on the sidewalks.

59. Hospitality

We’ve got that down to a fine art here in Natchez, and it’s as genuine as it comes.

60. Copper Magnolia Festival

This annual weekend event draws some of the most interesting area craftsmen to Historic Jefferson College.

61. Chili Cookoff

From red-hot to spicy sweet, the local concoctions will tempt your tastebuds while helping raise money for the Natchez Children’s Home.

62. Law enforcement

Our dedicated officers are some of the best around. And we don’t say thank you to them often enough.

63. Great hotels

They give you more than just a roof over your head.

64. Delicious restaurants

From gourmet dining to malts and burgers, Natchez eateries keep hungry souls satisfied.

65. Bed and breakfast homes

Gracious homeowners open their houses to visitors, sharing their personal charm with overnight guests in some of the most inspiring surroundings.

66. Voices of Hope Choir

This award-winning choir sounds like “voices of angels” in their annual “Southern Road to Freedom” production.

67. Natchez Little Theatre

Year-round this theater showcases local talent in an entertaining mix of musicals, comedies and serious productions.

68. Natchez Mall

One-stop shopping at its best.

69. Great Mississippi River Balloon Race

Each October, the skies above Natchez are filled with the spectacular sight of brightly colored hot-air balloons. This nationally recognized race is a tribute to volunteer effort, the beauty of our natural surroundings and man’s devotion to flight.

70. The Mississippi River

It courses through our community, our hearts and our history with a never-ending mystery and appeal. What would we be without it?

71. The Gazebo

This scenic spot high atop the Natchez bluffs has hosted its share of weddings and even a marriage proposal or two. It’s the ideal spot for watching the sunset.

72. Hospitals

We take health care seriously in the Miss-Lou, and our hospitals lead the way in technological advances.

73. Christmas Pilgrimage

The newest kid on the pilgrimage block, this holiday event showcases Natchez mansions decked with greenery, red bows and thousands of white lights. It’s spectacular.

74. Mardi Gras

Once a week-long celebration, Natchez’s carnival season now spans more than a month, with three Mardi Gras krewes, scores of parties and balls and great fun for all.

75. Spring Pilgrimage

The granddaddy of them all, this annual event draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to see Natchez houses, gardens and events.

76. Fall Pilgrimage

With cool, crisp days, it’s an ideal time to take a series of tours of Natchez’s favorite antebellum houses.

77. Alcorn State University

A real treasure for Natchez, this four-year college is expanding its commitment in Natchez beyond the nationally-recognized School of Nursing. An MBA program in Natchez cements Alcorn’s place in our business and economic community.

78. Pig Out Inn barbecue

It’s so good, you can’t help but pig out when you eat it.

79. Carriage House fried chicken and biscuits

Some might say that the fried chicken is a sly test of your table manners (do you pick it up or use a fork?) but no one can resist that crispy chicken, fried to perfection, and the buttery little biscuits that go along with it.

80. Duncan Park

Whether you’re a golfer or a tennis player, Duncan Park is the place to be on spring and summer weekends.

81. Tom Hughes’ pottery

The artisan is hitting his peak, drawing on his love of nature and his imagination.

82. The Gandy Collection of photographs

A priceless treasure of Natchez history, carefully restored and preserved by one of Natchez’s most beloved couples. This collection showcases the dedicated work of the Norman photographers, men with the insight and foresight to chronicle the every-day history of Natchez.

83. Elderhostel

A unique program that marries education and sight-seeing for folks who believe you can never stop learning.

84. White fire trucks

With no real threat of snow to cloud motorists’ vision, Natchez can proudly call these bright white trucks its own.

85. The Mississippi River bluffs

We fret when it rains, worried that more water will loosen the loess soil on our grand bluffs. They still provide the most spectacular views of the river.

86. Downtown Christmas tree

We may be the only city around that proclaims the spirit of Christmas with a tree not-so-firmly planted in the middle of a busy downtown intersection. Motorists just learn to drive around the towering tree, which itself is a tribute to the volunteers who fund and supply the tree each year.

87. Bicycle races

These daring young athletes careen through downtown’s one-way streets at incredible speeds. It’s fast-paced action and thrills for the spectators and riders alike.

88. NAPAC Museum of African American history

This museum preserves some of Natchez’s most important history, and it continues to grow and expand.

89. The Millennium

This year Natchez residents plan to kick up their heels and party like it’s 1999 – because it is!

90. Natchez State Park

The cabins can’t be beat for a weekend retreat. The lake draws hundreds of fishermen in hopes of hooking another record bass.

91. Duck hunting

You can’t beat the area, and when the weather cooperates, it’s a hunter’s paradise.

92. Krewe of Killarney and the St. Patrick’s Day parade

Even though Natchezians boast enough true Irish heritage to paint the town green, everyone joins in this annual celebration as our own St. Patrick chases the snakes down to the Mississippi River.

93. Blessing of the Flotilla

Each year on July 4, residents of Lake St. John deck their boats and don their costumes for the annual Blessing of the Flotilla.

94. Two bridges over the Mississippi

The heart of the Miss-Lou, these bridges connect us with Vidalia and beyond. They are breathtaking tributes to man’s ability to span nature.

95. Our neighbors

Concordia and Catahoula parishes, Wilkinson, Franklin and Jefferson counties and beyond, our neighbors are a vital part of our economic community and our personality.

96. Historic Natchez Collection

Natchez treasures are reproduced by top-quality manufacturers, bringing profits to the Historic Natchez Foundation while sharing the beauty of our artifacts with folks around the world.

97. New Intermodal Center

When completed, the intermodal visitors center at the old toll booth site will be a don’t-miss stop for visitors to Natchez.

98. Stanton Hall’s iron fence

Uniformly perfect as it marches along for an entire city block, politely protecting its famous confines.

99. Mint juleps

On a veranda in the early evening, a medley of shiny silver, fresh mint, crushed ice, aged bourbon, honorable men and beautiful women. How could one little drink embody so much spirit?

100. Natchez Literary Celebration

This acclaimed event showcases local, state and national talent and draws some of the most interesting and prominent authors to Natchez each year.

101. You

What would Natchez be without its great people?