Natchitoches, pronounced “Nack-a-tish”, this city in Louisiana was established in 1714, making it one of the oldest parts of the Louisiana Settlement. The region’s culture and heritage date back 3,000 years, starting with the Caddo tribe and then slowly acquiring Spanish, French, African, and Creole settlers.
This little city has a lot of history, a robust community, and gorgeous scenery. With over 30 bed and breakfasts for travelers to pick from and elaborate french architecture from colonial times, it’s clear that there’s something special about this charming town.
- Go on an adventure in the historic district.
This 33-block National Historic Landmark Distance in Natchitoches contains a multitude of structures, homes, and historic sites. You’ll see sites like the Fort St. Jean Baptiste Historic site located on the Cane River Lake (make sure to see the exquisite replica of a french fort!) and the Herman Taylor Home, known for its role as the home in the movie Steel Magnolia. You can even choose to stay in the pink “Shelby” room overnight, or choose one of the other rooms that is named after the characters.
If you want to see some original French architecture, check out the Roque House. Located downtown on the riverbank, the home was built by a freed slave around the 1800s. While your downtown, stroll through the oldest general store, Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.
- Learn about Creole culture in Natchitoches
Start at the Melrose Plantation, constructed completely by descendants of freed slaves, served as home to the Metoyer family for generations. The matriarch of the family, Marie Theresa Coincoin, was a freed slave who built her empire by trapping and selling local game, making medicine, and growing tobacco.
Oakland Plantation and Magnolia Plantation Complex are both a part of Cane River Creole National Park and provide a unique insight into the daily lives of past residents. On Magnolia Plantation, pay close attention to the slave cabin area – this would have been the heart of the African AMerican community before the Civil War era.
- Tour the Hall of Fame and History Museum.
The tour starts before you even enter the building – the modern architecture of the building is contributed to the area’s rich and dynamic culture. The uniquely designed building was named world’s top architectural project by Azure in 2013.
The Sports Hall of Fame caters a spot to Louisiana athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Audrey Patterson, and Archie Manning. New Orleans Saints’ fans need to check out the commemorative football signed by all players from the 2010 Super Bowl.
At the Northwest Louisiana History Museum learn how the native and early French, Creole, Spanish, and African settlers contributed to the dynamic melting pot Louisiana is known for today.
- Try Louisiana classics.
What’s the best way to dive deep into Louisiana culture? Food!
Fill up your plate (and your stomach) with meat pies and étouffée and explore the different options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with these favorite restaurants:
– Merci Beaucoup (try their mini crawfish pies and stuffed potatoes with etouffee!)
– Mariner’s Restaurant, (for fresh seafood fans)
– Lasyone’s Meat Pies(the name says it all!)
– French Market Express (for when you’re on the go)
- Get festive during the Christmas season.
Natchitoches Christmas Festival of LIghts is the oldest celebration in the state. The riverbank and downtown dress up for Christmas, brightening the night sky for over 90 years. Make sure to stroll through the shops downtown and try some fresh locan gumbo or gator on a stick!
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