Your time in Natchez won’t require you to break the bank – far from it. There’s a myriad of activities in Southwest Mississippi that won’t cost you a dime. Numerous museums, lush city parks and local landmarks all offer exciting and educational diversions that are perfect for penny-pinchers and bargains hunters. Here are just a few of the fun things you can do for free while you’re in Natchez.
1.Natchez Visitor Reception Center: The Natchez Visitor Reception Center stands on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Less than a mile from the heart of the historic downtown district of Natchez, it is the perfect way to get a quick overview of Natchez and its history. Numerous interactive exhibits introduce tourists to the variety of cultures that make up Natchez’s history. The visitor center offers the information services of the National Park Service, the State of Mississippi and the City of Natchez. Complimentary coffee, soft drinks and public restrooms are offered.
2. Grand Village of the Natchez Indians:Recorded history in Natchez began long before the Civil War. The Natchez Indians inhabited what is now southwest Mississippi ca. AD 700-1730, with the culture at its zenith in the mid-1500s. Between 1682 and 1729 the Grand Village was their main ceremonial center, according to historical and archaeological evidence.The 128-acre Grand Village site features a museum, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house and three ceremonial mounds.
3. The Natchez City Cemetery: A tour of the Natchez City Cemetery is a glimpse back in time to the early days of historic Natchez, revealing the rich and colorful tapestry of this early Southern city on the Mississippi River. Many of the builders of the magnificent Natchez antebellum houses are buried here. Located on Cemetery Road, and overlooking the Mississippi River, the Natchez City Cemetery was established in 1822 and covers approximately 100 acres of land.
4. Natchez in Historic Photographs: Located in the Stratton Chapel behind the beautiful First Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Pearl and State streets, this outstanding collection of photographs taken from as early as 1840, offers a grand depiction of life in Natchez over the course of its early history. The collection, donated by late Dr. Thomas Gandy and his wife Joan, includes more than 500 photographs of steamboat activities along the river, the families and homes of Natchez, and downtown Natchez as it once looked in the days of old.
5. Memorial Park: Spend a leisurely lunch beside the recently refurbished 1889 cast iron fountain that takes center stage in one of Natchez’s favorite parks. Surrounded by oak trees, the shaded park can be a respite from a long day of shopping and visiting attractions. Sit on a park bench and watch people pass by as the chimes of St. Mary echo in the background.
6. Historic Jefferson College: At the first educational institution of higher learning in Mississippi, visitors can tour a restored dormitory room, student dining room, kitchen buildings and other historic sites. The adjacent nature trail winds up and down through a wooded ravine, past St. Catherine’s Creek, over bridges, past Ellicott Springs and a historic cemetery, with plants and trees clearly identified along the way.
7. Historic churches: Houses of worship in Natchez are as splendid in architectural style as the historic houses visitors flock to the city to tour. Many of the downtown churches are open to the public on a daily basis. Take a chance to visit St. Mary Basilica, Trinity Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church and any of the other historic churches in Natchez.
8. Natchez National Historical Park: Throughout its history, Natchez has always been a place of opportunity. This is evident throughout Natchez National Historical Park. From the magnificent antebellum Melrose estate, to the downtown home of African-American barber and diarist William Johnson, to the French Fort Rosalie, this diverse Mississippi River town has lent itself to opportunity for hundreds of years. Learn more about these attractions at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.
9. Mississippi River Bluff: One of the most breathtaking views in Natchez is absolutely free. Tourists can walk along Broadway Street, stand in the Natchez gazebo and watch barges push their loads up and down the river. Stroll north along the bluff and see some of the stately mansions overlooking the river from the bluff. Hike down Silver Street to visit Natchez Under the Hill and watch the sun sink below the twin Mississippi River bridges.
10. Natchez Trace Parkway: A beautiful place to spend an afternoon is the Natchez Trace. The federal parkway winds through forests and across creeks once traversed by flatboatmen on their way home to the North and by rogues and thieves who lurked in the shadows ready to attack unsuspecting travelers. Stop and see one the largest Indian mounds in the Southeast at Emerald Mound or visit one of the typical small inns that used to populated the trace at Mount Locust Inn.