Immerse yourself in Mississippi’s historic Natchez
Powered by 240 horses, the sleek little speedboat rockets across the brown backwaters so fast that it feels like it just may take flight — but self-professed redneck Jim Bob Allgood looks completely relaxed.
Racing at speeds reaching 100 km/h, he’s turned halfway in his seat, right hand firmly on the wheel, his gaze alternating lazily between his on-board guests beside and behind him, and the willows whipping toward us at an alarming pace.
But Allgood, who runs a local tour company called Miss-Lou Tours and hosts a television program called Redneck Adventures, has been here before — many times.
“This river is in my blood — it’s in my veins,” he says in an accent as molasses-thick as the muddy waters below us. Cutting the speed, we slow to a crawl through a narrow channel, kudzu creeping on the swampy banks, snakes and state-record huge alligators not far from our hull.
Meals in the Magnolia State: What to Eat in Mississippi
Natchez is famous for its antebellum mansions and riverboats. It’s also the Biscuit Capital of the World. Regina Charboneau, a seventh-generation native daughter, helped her hometown earn the official designation in 2008 and launch a biscuit festival, with a cook-off, demos and a crowning of a biscuit queen. A Paris-trained chef, Charboneau prepares extra-buttery, flaky biscuits that have become legend. She refined the homespun recipe with puff-pastry skills and built a nightclub in San Francisco, Biscuits & Blues, around their reputation. Now she has one by the same name in Natchez. Guests at her bed and breakfast at the Twin Oaks plantation house get to sample her biscuits, as do passengers aboard the cruise steamboat The American Queen. Her thyme-flecked biscuit dough tops the pot pies on the menu at the historic King’s Tavern, which also serves a few cocktails made with the rum from her husband’s distillery next door. Her biscuit recipe is no secret. She’s shared the method in cookbooks and cooking classes, and with national press.
Stretching from the rolling hills of Tennessee to the bluffs of the Mississippi, the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of America’s most scenic and historic drives. It’s also one of the most tranquil: semi trucks are banned from all 444 miles of the two-lane parkway. Today’s Trace was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration along a well-trod route that carried wildlife, Native Americans and European settlers for centuries. As part of Lonely Planet magazine’s “Easy Trips” section, we’re giving readers tips on how to get the most out of their time on this long-trodden route. With the blaze of summer behind us and autumn’s blazing foliage ahead, it’s the perfect season to discover the fascinating history, music and culture of the Natchez Trace.
Natchez, Mississippi: History and Heritage On Every Corner
Nestled along the banks of the curvy Mississippi River and situated high on The Bluff is a piece of preserved United States history that tells a story for generations to come. Natchez, first settled by the French in 1719 – 1729 makes it the oldest city to be established along the Mississippi River! Once considered the second wealthiest city in the U.S. (behind NYC) in the 1800s, Natchez was a retreat for many well-known millionaires. There is no doubt that the history of Mississippi is the history of America. The Magnolia State continues to leave its imprint with playing a pivotal role in the Civil War and later serving as the setting for some of the landmark events in the struggle for Civil Rights. Today, Mississippi is easily regarded as a unique and rich intersection of history, architecture, commerce, culture, and the arts.
Celebrating over 300 years, this beautiful city overlooking the river boasts antebellum homes, delightful bed and breakfast escapes, fine dining experiences, and fun shopping. In Natchez, there is beauty among the history.
Read about Orbitz writer Sheryl Nance Nash‘s trip to Natchez and all of the wonderful food, tours, history and southern hospitality she enjoyed while here. “The past is ever present in Natchez, Mississippi. There’s the history you see, like the majestic antebellum homes, and then there’s the invisible, yet palpable history that permeates the air like ghosts. At 301 years old, this town has stories and secrets. But just as fascinating as its past is its present and future.”
While tamales are closely connected to Mexican cuisine, these corn or cornmeal made dishes – often stuffed with various meats and vegetables – have many cultural influences, especially in the Mississippi Delta. Zagat editor Billy Lyons traveled to the region to discover the stories behind a selection of restaurants that make up the state’s famed tamale trail. Craving tamales on his return home, Lyons visited Gordo’s Cantina in Queens to explore the differences and similarities behind this well traveled treat.