Our Mississippi Vacation 2003

We had a wonderful time exploring the Mississippi towns of Natchez and Vicksburg - it was a great vacation. The highlights are here, including places that we went, inns where we stayed, and just some of the sights that we took in. I hope that you'll also find some tips for your own visit there... so let's get started!


Day 1 - Arriving in Natchez

King's Tavern

We were starving when we got into town, so we immediately went to the place that had been recommended by several of our friends: King's Tavern. We showed up and had a wonderful experience, along with incredible food. The steaks are unbelievable - probably the best ones we've had this year.

Ghosts of King's Tavern

Being one of the oldest buildings in Natchez, King's Tavern isn't without ghost stories. In the 1930s, workers were expanding the fireplace and tore out the chimney wall. They found a space behind the wall that contained the skeletal remains of three bodies: two men and one woman. Laying on the floor was a jeweled dagger, which was assumed to have been used in their demise. Many workers there can tell you about the ghostly experiences that happen all the time.

Mellen House B&B

Our Bed and Breakfast was the Mellen House, which was built in 1796 and renovated in 1831. It was completely restored in 2000, and is located in Natchez's Historic Garden District. The former home of Civil War Captain William Pepperell Mellen is a recipient of the Natchez Preservation Commission's "Outstanding Residential Restoration" and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Day 2 - A Day In The Old South City

Breakfast at Mellen House

Before sitting down to a delicious breakfast, we had coffee out on the courtyard of the house. It was incredibly relaxing - sipping hot coffee on a cold morning to the sound of the water splasing in the fountain.

Auburn House

Auburn was built in 1812, and is now a tour home (well, mansion). The city of Natchez owns Auburn, and it is operated by the Auburn Garden CLub. This imposing mansion is located in Duncan Park, and is famous for its architecture and its beautiful free-standing stairway unsupported to the second floor.

Biscuits & Blues

Lunch was at Biscuits and Blues restaurant on Main Street. They had great barbecue, and of course, biscuits. In the evenings, they have local musicians playing live music; we put that on our list of things to do before we leave town.

Natchez Under the Hill

There's a road that goes down below the bluffs to a notorious place from bygone days... Natchez Under the Hill. Today it has shops, a restaurant or two, and access to a casino riverboat, but in the old times it was a rough and tough, nasty place. It also has a great view of the river, as you can see!

The Mighty Mississippi

It's hard to believe that the "Old Man River" starts up in Minnesota at a place that you can wade right across. The history of this waterway is impressive, but not as impressive as the river itself.


Day 3 - Touring Mansions

Monmouth Plantion

The New York Times called this place "Natchez' most elegant hotel." Since the "Mothman Chronicles" movie came out, I can't quit calling this place "Mothman"... seriously! It is a wonderful old plantation home, though. You can take the tour, or even stay there as an overnight guest. It was built by John Hankinson in 1818, and was purchased in 1826 by General John A. Quitman, a hero of the Mexican War. The plantation remained in his family for nearly a century.

Longwood

Longwood has been called the grandest octagonal house in America. It was built in 1860-1861, and is a superb example of mid-19th century Oriental style. It was originally designed for Haller and Julia Nutt and contains original furnishings. The house was never finished, however, because many of the carpenters were from the North; when the Civil War broke out, they simply laid down their tools and left. Many of the tools are still where they were left by the craftsmen. It is an incredibly interesting tour.

Stanton Hall

Next we toured Stanton Hall, listed as one of the most magnificent and palatial residences of antebellum America. Built in 1857, the mansion is a preservation project of the Pilgrimage Garden Club. It is furnished with Natchez antiques and many original furnishings of the Stanton family.

Natchez City Cemetery

A must-see in the city of Natchez is the cemetery. There are graves dating back to the 1800s, and some wonderful headstones and ironwork. We spent over an hour just wandering around and reading the epitaphs.

Dunleith Tour, & Dinner At The Castle

We ended the day with a tour of this 1856 Greek-Revival mansion, and had a wonderful time. Dunleith is recognized as one of those buildings from the Golden Age of the South. It is also a B&B, which we will be visiting in the near future. After the tour, we had dinner at The Castle, a restaurant located on the grounds. We both had their turkey, which was simply delicious.


Day 4 - Up to Vicksburg

Lunch at Baldwin House

We got up, checked out of our B&B, and headed north towards Vicksburg. We got into town by lunch, and were famished. After asking around for a good place to eat we went to the Baldwin House, an 1890 home located in the Historic District of Vicksburg. It featured specialty salads and sandwiches, and we loved it. Later, we found out that it even has a few ghost stories associated with it!

The Coca-Cola Museum

Coca-Cola was first bottled here in Vicksburg, so it only follows that there is a museum dedicated to the frosty drink. We went through it, and found it to be very interesting. It featured everything from memorabilia to actual, historic equipment. This place was well worth checking out.

Shopping Vicksburg

We then walked up and down the main drag of Vicksburg, popping in stores and picking up a few things to bring back home. We found lots of great shopping, and had a great time.

The Battlefield Drive

This is the must-do attraction in Vicksburg - the battlefield drive. Stop at the gift shop to get started and watch the film, then purchase the audio tour on CD or Cassette to guide you through the park. It takes an hour or two, but is a very interesting experience. The history is simply incredible.

Cedar Grove

Our B&B for the Vicksburg part of the trip was Cedar Grove. Construction was started in 1840, and was not completed until 1852. The elegance of the mansion is unparalleled. During the Civil War the house was shelled, until the Union army was notified that the lady of the house, Mrs. Klein had family ties to General William T. Sherman. The house was spared, but a few cannonball holes can still be seen.

Dinner at Daily Grind Café

After going up to the roof to watch the sun set over the river, we drove down to have dinner at the Daily Grind Café. It was a first class meal that we can definitely recommend.

Vicksburg Ghost Walk

To finish out the day, we took the Vicksburg Ghost Walk. We've been on ghost walks all over the country, but this was one of our favorites. Don't miss this if you're visiting Vicksburg.


Day 5 - A Final Day of Vacation

Breakfast at Cedar Grove

After getting up and packing, we went downstairs for a delicious buffet-style breakfast... it was incredible! There was a great selection, prepared and presented very nicely. It was quite an experience. Afterwards, we walked around the grounds of Cedar Grove before heading out. It's a beautiful place, and we'll definitely be back.

More Shopping

Before leaving town, we went back downtown to see if there were any shops that we missed. Of course, we picked up a few things here and there to bring back to our friends.

Duff Green Mansion

Our final tour home was Duff Green, an old Palladian mansion that escaped destruction during the Civil War by serving as a hospital for both Confederate and Union soldiers. The rooms of the mansion are exquisite, and in one room, the ceiling beams show where a cannon-ball struck during the seige of Vicksburg. Original works of art hang throughout, and the mansion is furnished with antiques. There are four guest rooms that serve as a B&B, with working fireplaces and porches.

Rusty's Riverfront Grill

When we started asking around at some of the shops for a good place to eat lunch, one place was recommended hands-down: Rusty's. The place was packed, which we took as a good sign, so we took the only two seats that were open. The restaurant had a full menu featuring seafood, sandwiches, chicken and steaks. We opted for the cheeseburger, which is a full half-pound certified angus beef patty, topped with Provolone and American cheeses, and served on a sesame seed bun. Delicious, and a great way to wrap up our vacation. We finished our meal, got back in the car, and then crossed the Mississippi River heading home.


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