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Five Fun, Affordable Fall Adventures in Fort Collins, Colorado

Leaf peeping is a great way to explore Fort Collins, Colorado, and the surrounding Northern Colorado area during its most beautiful season: autumn. Fort Collins proximity to the Cache la Poudre River canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park makes it a leaf-peeping magnet, and the perfect basecamp for fall adventures to Lory State Park, the Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park and more. While the peak season for fall foliage typically runs from the last week in September to the second week of October, experts anticipate the leaves will peak slightly early this year, perhaps closer to mid-September. Here are five affordable fall adventures in Fort Collins: 1 - Take a Hike Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky While there are myriad hikes in and around Fort Collins, one stands out as perfect for a sunny fall day paired with a picnic lunch. Greyrock Trail is a 7.1-mile moderate-to-strenuous loop hike that is gorgeous in the fall (and a bit quieter), with sweeping views of Greyrock Mountain and the Poudre Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area. 2 - Drop a line Horsetooth Reservoir Between the Cache La Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins offers paradise found for fishermen and fisherwomen. The Poudre is perfect for fly-fishing, though there are a few spots where you can bait fish. At Horsetooth, try your hand catching smallmouth bass or walleye from the shore or a boat. Fort Collins also has 15 Natural Areas that allow fishing, including Riverbend Ponds, a popular fishing spot with easy access from the trailheads. It’s one of two Natural Areas where gizzard shad (part of the herring family of fish) are found. 3 - Road trip to Red Feather Lakes Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Red Feather Lakes, located an hour drive northwest of Fort Collins, is a secluded, hidden gem that’s less populated than many Colorado outdoor destinations. Surrounded by 612,000 acres of Roosevelt National Forest, the Red Feathers Lakes area is a year-round outdoor playground, but fall is stunning. Hike or fish in one of the eight lakes in the area, four of which are open for public fishing. You may also fish in the nearby Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River and the area’s best spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Nearby Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch offers lodging, fishing, horseback riding and more. 4 - Attend a festival Pumpkins on Parade - Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky Festival season doesn’t slow down come fall in the Fort; here are three to check out. Tour de Corgi (Oct. 1) brings a sea of cute corgis in costume to one of the most quirky festivals in town. Pumpkins on Parade (Oct. 20 - 23) is a fun-for-all-ages celebration at The Gardens on Spring Creek complete with hundreds of locally grown pumpkins and fun and festive activities for the whole family (tickets are $10 for adults/children 12+; $5 for children 5-11 and free for under age 4). Día De Los Muertos (Oct. 28) includes a spectacular alter, mariachi band and tributes in picturesque Old Town Square. 5 - Celebrate the harvest There is no shortage of local pumpkin patches and farms offering all sorts of fall fun: The Bartel’s Farm – Stop in for a huge selection of pumpkins, corn mazes, and hayrides. The Farm at Lee Martinez Park – Visit the farm animals and take a hayride. There’s also a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect future jack-o-lantern. Northern Colorado Corn Maze – Jack Lantern’s Corn Maze is a Colorado favorite. Something from the Farm – This family-owned farm features an organic pumpkin patch, hay bale maze, hayrides, a pumpkin catapult, and more. Fritzler Farm Park – Located in nearby LaSalle, attractions at the farm include a corn maze, pumpkin patch, pedal go-carts, barrel train, pumpkin cannons, slide mountain, and more. Spooky’s Pumpkin Patch — Choose from a variety of pumpkins, gourds, carving kits, and even straw bales and corn stalks for your fall decorating needs at this patch, located on South College Avenue. Colorado native Caramie Petrowsky is a former daily newspaper arts and entertainment editor who loves exploring new places with her husband and their two children. As a CSU alum, Fort Collins holds an especially dear place in her heart.

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Top Attractions in All 50 States

From north to south and from coast to coast, America is packed with diverse landscapes that are worth exploring for every type of traveler. Each state has its own culture and landmarks that make them unique. Courtesy of musement Outdoor enthusiasts have a plethora of places to choose from. National parks and outdoor attractions make up almost one third of the most popular attractions in the United States. From the greats like The Grand Canyon (Arizona) and the urban oasis Central Park (New York) to lesser-known gems like Blackwater Falls State Park (West Virginia) or the Gulf Islands National Seashore (Mississippi) and its beaches, you can get a taste of cultural activities while enjoying Mother Nature. Hersheypark: Hershey, Pennsylvania - Istock/ gsheldon Thrill seekers and families with young ones will be glad to see that ten states across the country have amusement/theme parks as their number one attraction. Snap pictures with Mickey and your favorite Disney characters at Walt Disney World (Florida) or Disneyland Park (California). Otherwise, you can escape to the east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Virginia). Got a craving for chocolate? Head to Hersheypark (Pennsylvania) and see what the hype is all about. The Alamo - San Antonio, Texas History buffs will be able to turn the clocks back at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (Michigan) where they can witness some of America’s most historical items, discover what life was like in the 1830s at The Alamo (Texas), or jump on board the World War II battleship turned museum at the USS Alabama (Alabama). Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta,Georgia - Istock/Gau Souza Animal lovers across the states have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best zoos and aquariums. From Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Nebraska) and its one-of-a-kind exhibits to the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium (Georgia), one of the largest in the world, to the west coast’s Oregon Zoo, the United States offers plenty to admire. Research done by Musement, the digital discovery and booking platform for travel activities and experiences around the world. To see the full list of all 50 attractions click here.

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Take a Hike in the Olympic National Park

Hiking the pristine trails of the Olympic National Park is just what the doctor ordered to relieve the stress of the urban crowds. Rain forest, old growth forest, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and a stunningly beautiful coastline offers plenty of options from easy to vigorous hikes. Three full days will yield a lot of spectacularly stunning nature, but five or more days will provide you with a fully immersive and very memorable experience. Getting there Sea-Tac, Seattle’s main airport, is the closest commercial airport to Olympic National Park. There are daily non-stop flights from most major airport hubs throughout the US. My wife and I flew Alaska Airlines outbound and Delta Air Lines for the return out of San Diego. Because the Seattle area is so popular fares for economy and business seats are more reasonable than you might think and for miles travelers the amount of miles needed seemed to be pretty low. Rental cars are easy enough to reserve in advance, and it’s always good to shop around for the best deal. A mid-size Avis fit our budget just fine. And no need for old time paper maps; Google will show you how to get to exactly where you want to go. Lodging One thing that makes Olympic National Park so great is that there isn’t much in the way of places to stay, which keeps the crowd sizes down. Camping is available in several places, but that’s limited also. There’s both RV and tent camping available throughout the park as well as wilderness camping. The Willaby Campground right on the shore of Lake Quinault in the south part of the park looked really nice as did the Sol Duc Campground right on the Sol Duc River more in the north of the park. All of the campgrounds appeared to be very well kept with fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. Lake Quinault Lodge - Courtesy of Jerry Olivas Camping looked great but we chose to stay in two different park Lodges, the Lake Quinault Lodge in the south and the Lake Crescent Lodge in the north. These are not upscale accommodation so don’t get fooled by the term Lodge. Both places offer a variety of types of accommodations including staying in the main lodge itself with wide-ranging prices. Note that these lodges, cabins, and motel style rooms are a bit old so bring your ear plugs. WiFi is good around the Lodges and voice and cellular data works well in most places throughout the park. Positively don’t miss out on that heated pool at the The Lake Quinault Lodge. Dining Oyster Saloon - Courtesy of hamahamaoysters.com For food, like lodging there are not too many choices but the Lodges themselves offer a variety of food options including formal sit-down, bar service, and take away. Nothing seemed too pricy except alcohol. However, it’s easy enough to stock up with supplies before entering the park. The town of Forks on Hwy 101 about halfway between the Quinault and Crescent Lodges has a large supermarket called Thriftyway. One tasty restaurant just a couple of miles from The Quinault Lodge is the The Salmon House Restaurant. It’s all about salmon here and a takeaway picnic is a good way to go because lake Quinault is just a few steps away. Don’t miss that yummy marionberry, or any berry, pie or cobbler, which are popular in the spring, summer, and fall. Another couple of dining experiences worth mentioning, but not actually in the park, are Hama Hama Oyster Saloon on Hwy 101 on the east side of the park. It’s all about oysters here; I mean the freshest and tastiest you have ever had. Another restaurant with both fabulous food and a view is Ocean Crest Restaurant on Hwy 109 on the coast about 30 minutes from The Lake Quinault Lodge. This is one of those places where you wonder who the heck is in that kitchen, because they definitely know what they are doing. Hiking Sol Duc River Valley, Olympic National Park - Istock/Bkamprath Hanging around the lodges, particularly sitting in the lobby near one of those nice big open fireplaces, can be intoxicating, but it’s the trails that offer the biggest rewards. All of the trails in the park have good signage and are well maintained and many have parking lots and restrooms. And no need for a map or GPS system because the trails are easy to navigate. However, there are plenty of trail maps to view and purchase online, but it’s easy enough to just pick up a free map at any of the lodges or park ranger stations. The trails run the gambit of difficulty with many flat broad paths and others that are more narrow and steep. As with any hike it’s best to have a partner, water, and comfortable walking shoes. Good to have waterproof shoes with good gripping soles because it can be a bit wet. And don’t forget that umbrella. There are signs warnings about wildlife including Roosevelt elk, black bears, and mountain lions but we didn’t see any. However, we did see several black-tail deer. But luckily no Sasquatch sighting. Our four favorite hikes were the Rain Forest Nature Trail and Gatton Creek Trail both near The Quinault Lodge, the North Fork Sol Duc Trail on the road to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and Barnes Creek Trail near The Crescent Lodge. These trails offer lush rain forest, old growth forest, streams, and falls. It’s certainly fine to back track and redo a section of a trail and it’s okay to just stop, close your eyes, listen, smell, and let your body feel the air. Don’t miss The Giant Sitka Spruce Tree near The Quinault Lodge is a 1,000-year-old, 190 feet tall, and 17 feet in diameter tree that is quite simply amazing. The Salmon Cascades is about halfway up the road to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. In the late summer and fall this is where you will see coho salmon leaping up the treacherous falls attempting to return to their spawning pools. The small town of La Push on the Pacific coast is a good place to take in some of the Olympic National Park coastal beauty. There’s plenty of trail hikes and on-the-beach sand walks to do. Lake Crescent - Istock/YinYang Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent sunrises and sunsets will positively set the tone for a great day on the trails or a relaxing evening planning your next day’s adventures. There are a variety of fees and passes for visiting The Olympic National Park. We used our lifetime National Park and Recreational Area Senior Passes. No matter what the costs the pay back you get from experiencing nature up close and personal on the trails of The Olympic National Park is well worth it. This is one of those trips you will remember for a long time to come. Jerry Olivas - is a travel writer and photographer specializing in "do-it-yourself" adventures worldwide. Some of his work can be found at European Travel Magazine. He has lived and worked in England, Italy, and Israel and is based in Carlsbad, Carlsbad, California, USA

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Florida's Top 5 Most Loved State Parks for Camping

Florida has some of the most beautiful state parks in the entire United States. They attract visitors from across the world for all kinds of outdoor activities and of course, camping. A new in-depth study analyzed data from multiple sources to rank the top Florida state parks as most loved by campers. The top 5 parks scored highly in all areas of the study including camping-related Google searches, ratio of Instagram hashtags to annual visitors, and Tripadvisor 5-star reviews. Some popular parks such as Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island were removed from the rankings as they do not permit overnight stays. Here are the top 5: 5. Ichetucknee Springs Traveling the pristine waters of the Ichetucknee River is the perfect outing, whether you’re looking for a vigorous adventure or a relaxing day on the water. Although well-known for its warm weather tubing, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a 2,669-acre wildlife haven, where beaver, otter, gar, softshell turtle, wild turkey, wood duck and limpkin all find a home. The main draw is the park’s eight major crystal-clear springs that join to create the 6-mile Ichetucknee River. 4. Weeki Wachee Springs Pair of Manatees in WeekiWachee Springs State Park - Istock/JulieHewitt Weeki Wachee is an enchanted spring where you can see live mermaids, take a trip on a river boat cruise, learn about Florida wildlife, and swim in the pristine waters at Buccaneer Bay. You can also embark on a paddling adventure down the pristine waterway of the Weeki Wachee River. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is one of Florida’s most legendary and unique family destinations, entertaining audiences since 1947. 3. Fort Clinch Fort Clinch State Park - Istock / KenWiedemann History meets nature at Fort Clinch State Park. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or a bit of both, enjoy exploring the unique natural and historic resources of this pristine park. A row of cannons pointing across the St. Mary’s River into Georgia are silent testimony to the strategic importance of Fort Clinch during the Civil War. Visitors can explore the fort’s many rooms, galleries and grounds, and learn about the life of a Union soldier through unparalleled living history programs. Make plans to visit on the first weekend of every month when a soldier garrison fires cannons and demonstrates other battlefield skills. The historic fort is only one aspect of this diverse 1,400-acre park. Maritime hammocks with massive arching live oaks provide a striking backdrop for hiking and biking on the park’s many trails. The park is known for its gopher tortoises, painted buntings and other species of wildlife. Camping, fishing, shelling and shark-tooth hunting are popular activities. 2. Myakka River State Park Bird watching boardwalk in the marsh of Myakka State Park - Istock/LagunaticPhoto The majestic Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. In a scene reminiscent of what early Native Americans and Spanish explorers witnessed, arching palm trees and live oaks are reflected on a winding tea-colored stream. The cries of limpkins and osprey pierce the air while alligators and turtles sun lazily on logs and riverbanks. This is the Myakka River, Florida’s first state-designated wild and scenic river, and it flows through a vast expanse of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands that make up Myakka River State Park. Boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on the water while hikers and bicyclists explore miles of trails and backroads. 1. Bahia Honda Calusa Beach at the Bahia Honda State Park - Istock/Orietta Gaspari Along with its iconic Florida Keys scenery, sandy beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets, the park is known for balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Henry Flagler’s bold effort to build a railroad to Key West in the early 1900s turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination. Along with its iconic Florida scenery — palm-lined beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets — the park is known for balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. The park is an excellent place to observe wading birds and shorebirds, and introduces nature lovers to the island’s plants and animals. Kayaks and snorkeling gear can be rented, and boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions are available. The study was run by EpicGenerators.com who combined data from across the web for all Florida State Parks with more than 150,000 annual visitors. For more information and to see the full rankings click here.

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Best spots for fall foliage out west

New England gets all the credit. It is known for its seasonal changing of the leaves throughout Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont - and you can find a road trip guide to New England here. But this region is not the only part of the U.S. that cast off different shades during autumn. Here is where to see the best fall foliage in the western states. WEST Arizona Outside of Sedona, Red Rock State Park’s riparian area of Oak Creek Canyon goes by fremont cottonwoods, sycamores, velvet ash and Arizona alder trees on various trails. Be sure to head up the path to the Eagle’s Nest Trail to get a top-down view. See Slide Rock State Park on the same day; trees there also provide a vibrant contrast against the Oak Creek’s red rocks. Idaho The Boise River Greenbelt is a tree-lined pathway throughout the city that connects walkers and cyclists to its various riverside parks. Or you can head out on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway, as Highway 75 rolls north past the Harriman Trail and the Galena Summit Overlook, then on through the resort towns of Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. Great Basin National Park. Photo credit: Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada Nevada In Eastern Nevada, the Great Basin National Park encourages you to drive around at your own pace. Its Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is a paved 12-mile route leading to an elevation exceeding 10,000 feet and views of groves of aspen trees in yellow, red and gold. New Mexico The Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway leads to a 13,000-foot aspen filled alpine wilderness, where the hillsides from Hyde Memorial State Park to Ski Santa Fe shine vibrantly gold. Fall colors hit nicely along U.S. 64, across the Carson National Forest between Taos and Chama and through Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla, where the view of the Brazos Cliffs is worth the stop. Wyoming Battle Pass Scenic Byway, is a 57-mile paved highway over the crest of the little-visited Sierra Madre Mountains of the Medicine Bow National Forest, see the famous strand of trees known as Aspen Alley. In northwest Wyoming, Jackson is a gateway to two of the country’s most beautiful national parks – Yellowstone and Grand Teton where the colors are dazzling. Head east to drive along the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, the southern-most route across the Bighorn National Forest, for views of the Bighorn Mountains that are framed by yellow- and gold-hued aspens.

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What's New? July 2022

Death Valley gets an Ice Cream Shop Courtesy of Oasis at Death Valley Perhaps the nation’s most remote and coolest old fashioned ice cream parlor just opened at the Oasis at Death Valley in the middle of Death Valley National Park. The largest national park in the lower 48 states and one of the hottest places on earth during the summer. Just off of a $150 million renaissance, The Oasis at Death Valley encompasses two hotels — The AAA Four-Diamond historic Inn at Death Valley with 66 completely renovated rooms and 22 private casitas (outfitted with a personal golf cart) and the family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley with 80 new bungalow-style, stand-alone cottages just steps away from the revitalized Town Square, including new retail shops, a restored saloon, and the resort’s newest and seemingly favorite attraction: a real ice cream/soda fountain shop. The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama Life Saving - The World Games This week The World Games begin in Birmingham, Alabama (opening ceremony July 7th). This is the first time they have been held in the US since the games began in 1981 in Santa Clara, California. What are the world games? The World Games are an international multi-sport event comprising sports and sporting disciplines that are not contested in the Olympic Games. They are usually held every four years, one year after a Summer Olympic Games, over the course of 11 days. In the most recent games, between 25 and 30 sports have been included in the "official" program. Some of these sports are Air sports, life saving, lacrosse, flag football, dance, body building and tug of war just to name a few. Around 3500 participants from around 100 nations take part. To learn more about the world games and to see an entire schedule click here. You can also watch The World Games on olympics.com.Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival is BackPhiladelphia Chinese Lantern Festival - Photo by J. Fusco for Tianyu The Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival — returns for the first time in three years — illuminates Franklin Square with dozens of massive, intricate, handcrafted lanterns constructed by artisans from China. Each night during the festival, the square comes alive with thousands of LED lights strewn across different displays. All 30-plus lantern designs are brand-new for 2022. Expect a walk-through bamboo forest, a giant whale (that swims!), plenty of mythological creatures and interactive installations like a kaleidoscope selfie spot. Also on the docket at this uber-popular ticketed event: live cultural performances, shopping, dining, the Dragon Beer Garden and more. The festival runs now thru August 7th. Click here to read more and purchase tickets.

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Discover USA: Natchez, Mississippi

Join Budget Travel as we continue our new series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. Each week we will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next. This week, we invite you to Discover what Natchez, Mississippi has to offer. Natchez may be most famous today for its annual pilgrimage. In 1932, the tour of grand antebellum homes and their gardens became an annual event. Thousands of visitors tour Rosalie Mansion, Longwood, Stanton Hall, Melrose and other former estates in spring and fall. Culinary Many come to the South with one thing on their mind: FOOD. It’s a fact; no place on earth loves its food quite as sincerely or as indulgently as the South. Even if you’ve never enjoyed a meal below the Mason-Dixon Line, you’ve probably got a good idea of what one looks like, because in the South, each meal is an event and is cooked and served with pride. From casual to elegant, Natchez culinary offerings will offer you a dining experience you won't soon forget. Little Easy The Little Easy café, located just a block from Bluff Park on High Street in an area known as the "Gateway of the Mississippi Blues Trail," serves up signature Boozy Brunch items, delicious sandwiches and salads, signature cocktails and more, all in a cozy, inviting atmosphere. Fat Mama’s Tamales Courtesy of Fat Mama's Tamales Fat Mama's Tamales is a local favorite with an atmosphere that is as festive as the food. Fat Mama's offers an exciting selection of signature dishes, including tamales, links of boudin, fire and ice pickles, and more eclectic, flavor-packed dishes. The restaurant has a large interior dining room, but guests can dine on the outdoor deck if the weather is nice. Magnolia Grill Overlooking the mighty Mississippi at Natchez Under-the-Hill, Magnolia Grill not only has one of the best views of the river, but also a wide array of entrées to satisfy every palate from succulent steaks and seafood to highly acclaimed burgers and more. Guests can enjoy both lunch and dinner on the sun porch that offers spectacular views of the sun setting over the Mississippi. Pearl Street Pasta Pearl Street Pasta is a local favorite downtown that serves up an incredible variety of traditional and regionally inspired Italian dishes, as well as classics like the filet of beef with a rich wine sauce and sauteed mushrooms. Pearl Street Pasta also boasts a talented team of mixologists shaking up signature house specials and smooth bar favorites. Rolling River Reloaded Rolling River Reloaded offers a variety of simply southern classic dishes with a creative twist to give guests a truly "Soulful Southern Experience." Packed with flavor, each dish is prepared with care and inspired by rich, generational history. The Camp Courtesy of The Camp Like sports? Love good food? The Camp Restaurant is the best place to share a cocktail with friends and family while enjoying the best of view of the Mississippi River. The Camp makes homemade bread in-house, hand-forms burger patties and fries up French fried potatoes to deliver fresh, quality food for every plate. The Camp Restaurant also boasts the best selection of draft beer in the city. The Carriage House Located on the grounds of Stanton Hall, this elegant dining establishment specializes in southern food with famous staples including fried chicken, fresh Gulf seafood specials and buttery silver dollar-sized biscuits. The Carriage House is owned and operated by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. The Castle Restaurant and Pub The Castle Restaurant & Pub is in Dunleith's 18th-century carriage house and stable. This architectural gem, built to resemble a castle, provides an incredible dining experience. The Castle serves a range of delectable southern cuisines prepared by acclaimed chefs while also boasting the most extensive wine list of any restaurant in the state. Natchez Brewing Company The Natchez Brewing Company, the first brewery in this historic city, is run by husband-and-wife duo Lisa and Patrick Miller. England-native Lisa is the owner and founder, while Natchez-native Patrick creates the recipes for their unique, southern-inspired craft beers including the Bluff City Blonde Ale, the Natchez Light Lager and more. Their taproom also serves freshly made brick oven pizzas. The Donut Shop Courtesy of The Donut Shop The Donut Shop is a city staple serving up sugary sensations, including the Maple Bacon Donut, the Triple Chocolate Donut, cinnamon rolls and many more sweet creations that are sure to please donut lovers of all ages. Missed breakfast? Indulge in an order of succulent tamales. The Donut Shop makes their tamale shucks from scratch and is one of Natchez's best-kept secrets. The Malt Shop When asked where to find the best B.B.Q. beef sandwich, catfish plate or chili cheeseburger, many locals will cite the Malt Shop. For more than 60 years, Natchez locals and visitors alike have sat at the old picnic tables in front of this local favorite and indulged in the hearty southern food served up at the Malt Shop. With an extensive menu full of generous helpings and traditional favorites, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Malt Shop Steampunk Coffee Steampunk Coffee is a traditional espresso bar, specialty coffee retailer and micro-coffee roaster. This beloved coffee shop also sells Papi y Papi's premium cigars and fine chocolates for an eclectic, small-town coffee shop experience like no other. Arts and Culture Kate Lee Laird art After one visit to Natchez, it is easy to see why artists such as John James Audubon were influenced by the natural beauty of the rolling Mississippi landscape. Today, you can still see the influence of the city on local artists in our downtown art galleries. You can even take a piece of art home to remember your trip to one of America’s oldest towns. Conde Contemporary Conde Contemporary is a fine art gallery established in 2013 and located in Natchez, MS. They specialize in representational works, with a concentration on narrative realism, photorealistic portraiture, and surrealism. ArtsNatchez ArtsNatchez is appropriately named as the broker for several works by various Natchez artists and craftsmen. The art gallery is situated in the heart of downtown Natchez on Main Street. If you spend a few minutes browsing through the local artwork, you'll know why each artist has a deep love for Natchez and expresses it in their work. They offer jewelry, paintings, sculptures, pottery, and more.Kate Lee Laird Art Studio + Gallery Kate Lee, a Natchez native, has been painting since she could hold a brush. She thrives off of the happiness her artwork brings her clients. Her bold and creative approach to life can be seen through the colorful artworks she creates. When she isn't live painting weddings and events, she is painting pet portraits, murals and large commission artwork. Magnolia Hall - Courtesy of natchezgardenclub.org Few American cities offer an in-depth look at the lives of southerners like Natchez. Walk in the footsteps of Southern belles, cotton barons, enslaved people, Civil War soldiers, and Civil Rights pioneers. Explore fascinating homes and historical landmarks for a glimpse at American history. Delve into modern museums for surprising historical tidbits about the Natchez Indians, the slave market at Forks of the Road, or daily life in pre-Civil War Natchez. Forks of the Road Slave Market Prior to the Civil War, Natchez was the most active slave trading city in Mississippi and the Forks of the Road site eclipsed all other markets in the number of slave sales. This historic site features slave chains and shackles laid in concrete and information panels discussing the slave trade in Natchez and the history of slavery in the South.Grand Village of the Natchez Indians The Grand Village is a 128-acre site featuring three prehistoric Native American mounds, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house and an on-site museum to tell the story of the Natchez Indians who inhabited these lands centuries ago. Two of these hallowed mounds, the Great Sun's Mound and the Temple Mound, have been excavated and rebuilt to their original sizes and shapes. A third mound, called the Abandoned Mound, has been only partially excavated and the remaining unexcavated areas of the site will be preserved intact, representing a "time capsule" of sorts from the Natchez Indians' past. This historic site also includes a nature trail, child-friendly activities, a visitor center and gift shop featuring Native American crafts.Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture African American related historic sites, important citizens and events are all recognized within the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum contains an exhibit on the Rhythm Nightclub fire, where over 200 African American Natchez citizens were killed as well as additional information on the Forks of the Road monument. It also features literary works from Natchez native and critically acclaimed author Richard Nathaniel Wright.The Dr. John Banks House Dr John's house - Courtesy of natchez.org The Dr. John Banks House, which is technically known as The Dr. John Bowman Banks Museum, was built around 1892 and belonged to Dr. John Banks, Natchez's first African American doctor. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and received his Mississippi medical license in 1885 before relocating in 1889 to practice medicine in Natchez. Dr. Banks recruited the city's second African American doctor, Albert Woods Dumas. Dr. Banks and Dr. Dumas founded the Bluff City Savings Bank, the only African American-owned bank in the city. Booker T. Washington often stayed with Dr. Banks' family during his trips to Natchez. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Banks House served as the headquarters for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Tours of Longwood – Circa 1860 - Construction of this grand, octagonal edifice began in 1860 but was halted in 1861 due to rising tensions over the Civil War. While the exterior of the Villa was largely complete, the home's interior was left unfinished except for the lowest level until the twentieth century. Colloquially known as "Nutt's Folly," the property was deeded to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970 by the McAdams Foundation and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. Longwood remains the largest octagonal house in the U.S and was featured in HBO's True Blood. Tours of Magnolia Hall – Circa 1858 - Construction on Magnolia Hall is believed to have begun in 1858 and is the last great mansion built downtown before the Civil War. The name of the house was inspired by the plaster magnolia blossoms incorporated into the design of the parlor ceiling centerpieces. It was restored by the Natchez Garden Club as a house museum and is operated by the club today. Stanton Hall - Courtesy of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Tours of Stanton Hall – Circa 1857 - This opulent Greek Revival-style mansion occupies an entire city block. The house is noted for its scale, outstanding marble mantles and large pier mirrors that give the double parlors infinite appeal. For a brief time, the house was home to Stanton College for young ladies and the name was then changed to Stanton Hall. Today the house is owned and maintained by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. Tours of Monmouth – Circa 1818 - Set on 26 acres of manicured gardens, this National Historic Landmark reflects all that is charming about the South. Rooms located in the main house or any of the seven outbuildings have period furnishings dating back to the Quitman family, the original owners of Monmouth. Outdoors The namesake for the Natchez Trace, the centuries-old, 444-mile path from Natchez to Nashville, long used by American Indians before becoming a U.S. thoroughfare. Today the Natchez Trace Parkway provides beautiful picnic areas, the rare Emerald Mound ceremonial mound, and the historic Mount Locust Inn, all just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Natchez. The Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway - Courtesy of nps.gov The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway begins in Natchez and extends through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, ending in Nashville. Once used by Native Americans, European settlers and soldiers, the trace is now maintained by the National Park Service and used by many for outdoor recreational use. The route is lined with historical lookouts and trails, which are great for biking, hiking or even a scenic drive. Natchez State Park Natchez State Park is located at 40 Wickcliff Road on Hwy. 61 North, which is 10 miles north of downtown Natchez. Its amenities include cabins, boat launching, fishing, hiking/nature trail, picnic area/shelter, playground and RV and tent campgrounds with restroom/shower facilities. Whether visitors consider themselves outdoorsy or “indoorsy,” Natchez State Park is a great experience for anyone in the camping caravan.Potkopinu Trail Potkopinu trail - Courtesy of nps.gov Potkopinu (Pot-cop-i-new), the southernmost section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, is only three miles long, but it is the longest stretch of "sunken" historic Trace remaining. It is no wonder it was named for the Natchez word meaning "little valley." This trail has some embankments over 20 feet high.Bluff Park The greatest natural attraction that Natchez has to offer is the Mississippi River, and the best vantage point from which to take in her beauty and splendor is the bluff. The best time to be on the bluff overlooking the river is at sunset and is a spectacular sight to behold.Homochitto National Forest The Homochitto National Forest was named for the Homochitto River, a Native American name for the "Big Red River." Natchez derived its name from this Native American tribe formerly located on the lower Mississippi River. There are numerous recreational activities available to pursue on the Homochitto National Forest like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and biking. Camping facilities are also available to rent. CARD WIDGET HERE