Mississippi River in Vicksburg
A car is essential for touring Mississippi; the main roads are
excellent and traffic is generally a non-issue. Starting in
Jackson, you might head west on I-20 to Vicksburg, then south on
U.S 61 to Natchez. Returning to Jackson, follow the scenic
Natchez Trace Parkway.
When to Go
Spring and fall offer the best weather and mildest temperatures,
with spring offering the additional bonus of beautiful flowers.
Natchez sits on high bluffs above the mighty Mississippi River;
cooling river breezes usually temper the summer’s heat. Despite
occasional cold snaps, mild winters, with highs in the 60s, are
great for hiking, biking, and golf. Advance reservations are
essential during the fall and spring pilgrimages in Natchez and
Vicksburg, generally held in March and October.
Sights & Activities
Jackson: The newly renovated
Museum of Art offers impressive traveling shows, plus
exhibitions from its own collections. Also worth a visit is the
International Museum of Muslim Cultures, the only museum of
its type in the United States. Focusing on Jackson’s history,
Old Capitol Museum is nearby but is closed until January
2009 due to severe hurricane damage. The whole family will enjoy
Mississippi Museum of National Science, complete with a
100,000-gallon aquarium, extensive greenhouse, and walking
Natchez: Set high on the bluffs overlooking the
Mississippi River, charming Natchez offers antebellum
plantations to tour, a historic downtown to explore, and much
more. Consider starting your visit with a stop at the
Visitor Center to get tickets and information, and watch a
brief background movie. While strolling around the historic
downtown, be sure to see the Natchez in Historic Photographs
exhibit at the First Presbyterian Church, with more than 500
fascinating photos dating back to the 1850s, ranging from formal
portraits to riverboats to scenes of daily life.
Dating to 1822, the
City Cemetery is fascinating to wander on your own, or with
a tour guide who can fill you in on the legends and gossip. A
tradition that originated in 1932,
spring and fall pilgrimages are when celebrated private
mansions are open to tour, guided by hoop-skirted hostesses.
Plantations and historic homes:
Longwood was begun in 1860, but the construction stopped
shortly after the Civil War began. The family lived in the lower
level, originally intended for the servants, while the
unfinished upper levels show you the
“bones” of 19th-century
Stanton Hall is a magnificent Greek revival mansion built in
Melrose, a Greek revival mansion completed in 1849, is now a
part of the Natchez National Historic park, along with the
William Johnson House. Johnson was a freed slave and
successful barber and businessman, and his 1840s home offers a
rare picture of the life of a financially successful family of
color. For more on the African-American history of Natchez,
NAPAC Museum on Main Street. The
Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will teach you about
the life of the first Natchezians. For a change of pace, take a
short drive west into Louisiana on Routes 84/65 and visit
Ferriday’s Delta Music Museum, home of Jerry Lee Lewis,
among other Mississippi River Delta greats. Six miles west on
Route 84 brings you to
Frogmore, an 1,800-acre working cotton plantation where you
can see both the restored slave quarters and the current
Restaurants: The grilled catfish, great iced tea, and
dramatic river views made a perfect meal combo at the casual
Cock of the Walk. For a classic Southern fried lunch, don’t miss
Stanton Hall’s Carriage House, famous for its fried chicken,
buttered biscuits, and mint juleps; check out the photos of
Pilgrimage Kings and Queens taken over the decades. For elegant
Castle at Dunleith has a limited but well-chosen menu with
well-trained staff. For an amazing plantation dinner party,
enjoy an elegant five-course repast at
Monmouth Plantation served at an enormous dining room table.
Vicksburg: Located on the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers,
Vicksburg was an important port and railroad town, making it of
key strategic importance in the
Civil War, and a must-see destination for history buffs.
Today’s visitors enjoy a restored city with activities for many
tastes, and many appealing shops and galleries to visit.
historic homes can be toured year-round, the
fall and spring pilgrimages offer special events. Coca-Cola
aficionados will want to stop by the
Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, where Coke was first bottled,
and art lovers may find the
Gallery the ideal spot to find a piece of Mississippi life
and culture to take home.
Start your battlefield tour with a visit to the
Vicksburg Battlefield Museum where a movie and a diorama of
the 46-day siege will prepare you for a visit to the battlefield
itself. Then head to
National Military Park, starting with the museum in the
visitors’ center. Be sure to buy a CD or hire a guide to come in
your car – you’ll get much more out of the battlefield tour.
B&Bs and Inns
Fairview Inn has spacious and inviting common areas, a
charming fine-dining restaurant, a cozy library, and more. Guest
rooms show equal attention to detail and are equally appealing
for business travelers and romantic escapes. Owner Peter Sharp
is taking years of big hotel experience and applying it to the
Fairview, so that it will have the best of both worlds.
Capitol Inn has involved owners and an exceptionally helpful
and hospitable staff. Amenities include a courtyard with a
swimming pool; free, secure off-street parking; and a rooftop
deck with hot tub. Guest suites are comfortable and elegant,
with different décor, colors and layout. The tasty buffet
breakfast can be enjoyed in the breakfast/lunch room or on the
More Jackson area inns…
innkeepers Mimi and Ron Miller are always working to update and
Wensel House with immaculately clean, neat, comfortable,
uncluttered guest rooms in two adjacent houses, plus a cottage
out back. The Millers are great sources of information about all
things Natchez. Great value; convenient in-town location close
to shops, restaurants, river bluffs.
Top Bed and Breakfast, an 1894 Queen Anne Victorian cottage,
has a great location high on the bluffs overlooking the
Mississippi River, just where the street ends and a cliff-top
path runs along the bluff. Its three guest rooms are decorated
in period furnishings.
Also overlooking the
river from beautifully spacious grounds is
View, a handsomely decorated private suite with its own
entrance, living area, bathroom and bedroom with comfortable
king-sized bed. Guests fix their own light breakfast of coffee,
juice, cereal, and fruit from the pantry area. The friendly
owners have an in-town suite as well,
Ron and Eleanor Fry offer a warm welcome to their guests at the
Shields House, located on a beautiful residential street,
convenient to both downtown and the river. Guest rooms are found
in the 1893 Queen Anne-style main house and the 1873 Aunt
Greek revival mansion built in 1856,
has 26 Tuscan columns surrounding the house in a double gallery
with floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests enjoy 40 acres of
landscaped gardens and wooded bayous, a swimming pool, and the
fine dining Castle restaurant and Bowie’s Tavern.
Cordial innkeepers Doug
Mauro and Don McGlynn have done a brilliant job of renovating
Historic Oak Hill, balancing beautiful antique décor with
comfort, both in the beautifully furnished guest rooms and the
many different common areas. Outstanding breakfast of sliced
fresh fruit and juice, sinfully delicious pecan French toast,
eggs, bacon and biscuits. Doug’s green thumb ensures beautiful
fresh flowers inside and out.
Built in 1818,
Monmouth Plantation was extensively restored and renovated
as a luxurious inn by owners Lani and Ron Riches. The 30 guest
rooms are in the original mansion and several newer buildings
scattered about the property’s park-like 26 acres, but all are
decorated in period, and many have working fireplaces and
Hill is an 1835 Greek revival home where guests enjoy full
use of the garden level of this raised cottage. Guest rooms are
elegant, uncluttered and comfortable; our favorites are the two
at the front of the house. We enjoyed having breakfast and
relaxing in the common area, as well as on the spacious back
porch/deck. Quiet residential location.
Cordial owner Tom Scarborough is helpful with advice and
information about Natchez, but you have complete privacy in his
Sunset View Cottage has amazing river views; Sunrise Cottage
is a two-bedroom house perfect for a longer stay. Guests fix
their own light breakfast from the stocked refrigerator.
Located on a beautiful residential street, convenient to both
downtown and the river,
was built in 1834; during the Civil War, it served as a Union
Army headquarters as well as a hospital for injured soldiers.
Today’s guests enjoy a more peaceful setting, with newly
redecorated rooms and extensive grounds with lush gardens and a
Limited time did not permit us to visit the many B&Bs in
click here for a complete list.
Named for the famous paddlewheel steamship that brought Teddy
Roosevelt to Vicksburg,
Ahern's Belle of the Bends is an elegant but uncluttered 1876 Victorian home, immaculate
inside and out, and highlighted by the original crown moldings,
hand-carved millwork, and original antiques. Best of all is the
wonderful hospitality of Mary and Dan Lee, demonstrated at the
delicious breakfasts and throughout your stay.
Choctaw for “happy home,”
is a Greek revival mansion built in 1830; it’s handsomely
furnished with fine antiques and art representing the 19th
century. Guests enjoy lunch or dinner at Café Anchuca, serving
contemporary Southern cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Owners Tom
Pharr and Chris Brinkley go out of their way to make guests feel
relaxed and at home.
B&B Inn was built in
1868 in the Italianate Victorian style; adjacent are the
gardens, swimming pool, and 1881 Guest House. Rooms are
decorated with beautiful antiques, highlighted by owner
Carolyn’s lovely crystal and china.
A Greek revival home built in 1840,
Cedar Grove was bombarded during the siege of Vicksburg, and a cannon ball
is still lodged in the parlor wall; the home was later used as a
Union hospital. Today’s guests will enjoy the Italian marble
fireplaces, French Empire gasoliers, Bohemian glass, gold leaf
mirrors, antique clocks and paintings, and Mallard furnishings
in the original mansion. Guests can stroll the park-like grounds
and enjoy a meal in the restaurant, or a mint julep in the bar.
For a peaceful country getaway, consider
offering the rustic and cozy Polly’s Cabin. Guests are invited
to the main house – a reproduction 1790 Creole Plantation home –
for delicious breakfasts cooked to order, and can wander eight
acres of beautiful gardens.
Limited time did not permit us to visit the many B&Bs in
click here for a complete list.
Note: An active train line runs right through the Historic
Garden District of Vicksburg where several B&Bs are located.
Railfans will love hearing the train whistles; others should
bring earplugs, and ask innkeepers for a radio with a white
noise setting. The city is currently taking steps to close the
railroad grade crossings, which will substantially minimize the
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