This small city, about 170 miles upriver from New Orleans, is celebrating its 300th anniversary.
Natchez is on a bluff above the Mississippi and full of tragic, surprising history (it seems to be the oldest settlement on the river) and elegant architecture. It’s also the southwestern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile scenic highway through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee that once was an American Indian trail. No billboards, no businesses, no commercial vehicles, but plenty of cars and bicycles.
Natchez has home and plantation tours; art galleries; a Museum of African American History and Culture; more than 40 bed-and-breakfasts; and Natchez National Historical Park. The park preserves two houses that offer windows onto life before the Civil War: Melrose, the antebellum Greek Revival mansion of plantation owner John McMurran, and the downtown brick house of African American barber and diarist William Johnson.
The city’s celebration Aug. 3 at Fort Rosalie will feature a 300-gun salute.