If you're like me, when you visit a new place, you want to find nice accommodations and great regional food. But, after that, what are you most likely to seek out? Do you like sports? Movies? History? Art? In Natchitoches, LA, you can find attractions that satisfy all of these interests.
1) When the "Steel Magnolias" movie was filmed and then unveiled to the public, Natchitoches was immediately brought into a national spotlight. It was filmed in the city, and it tells the true story about a family event that happened to Robert Harling. Stop in at the Visitors Center on Front Street for directions to the primary filming locations. They include the Steel Magnolias House Bed & Breakfast, St. Augustine Catholic Church, Riverfront Park, and American Cemetery. Be sure to find the tiny, but lovely Susan Harling Robinson Park created in memory of the real-life person whose story parallels Shelby in the movie. As you meet people in the town, take note of how many are named Shelby or Jackson? I suspect you won't find many Ouisers.
2) Oakland and Magnolia Plantations inside the Cane River Creole National Historical Park seek to tell the WHOLE story of plantation life, not just that of the owners who lived in "the big houses." Many buildings are still standing in the exact spot they were during the 1800's. Curators and park guides will be happy to share the stories of what happened in these lands. Check the website to gather the information you need for your visit -- cost, hours of operation, etc.
3) Melrose Plantation is primarily the story of three remarkable women: Marie Therese Coincoin (a former slave who became enormously wealthy), Carmelite (Cammie) Garrett Henry, who founded a retreat for writers and artists, and Clementine Hunter, who once served as the cook at Melrose before rising to prominence as a primitive artist. You'll be inspired during your visit to Melrose.
4) Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site is a reconstructed replica of the original settlement and fort founded in 1714 that began as 2 huts and then grew to be the first European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory.
5) It might be difficult to decide which events are most popular at Dark Woods Adventure Park -- the Dark Woods Haunted Attraction in October or the Christmas in the Park light and entertainment displays in December. During the remainder of the year, these 17 acres provide lots of fun activities for the whole family. Check the website when you plan a visit to Natchitoches. You don't want to miss something your children would love.
6) You don't HAVE to be an LSU Tigers fan or a New Orleans Saints fan to enjoy the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame/Northwest Louisiana History Museum, but you will certainly appreciate the number of remarkable athletes who claim Louisiana as their birthplace. If you like fishing and hunting, the displays of people who have made names for themselves in those areas will also impress you. Political and societal history is also included in this facility with its stunning architecture located at 800 Front Street.
7) A one-hour cruise in the Cane River Queen paddlewheel boat will provide a middle-of-the-river view of homes and wildlife to be found along Cane River Lake. Cruises are offered from noon to 7:00 p.m. during their days of operation and depending upon weather conditions. It is a very relaxing, informative, and enjoyable way to spend an hour in Natchitoches. Refreshments and a restroom are available onboard.
I hope the past two Monday blogs along with today's post have stimulated your appetite to visit a new and extremely interesting place.
Eat some yam cake and a meat pie for me while you're there.