There’s no place as unique as historic Natchitoches (pronounced “Nack-a-tish”), Louisiana.
Established in 1714, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase and it’s a favorite destination for visitors from around the world.
Located in Northwest Louisiana, Natchitoches is a one-of-a-kind community full of culture, history, recreation, shopping and more! At the heart of Natchitoches lies the National Historic Landmark District, a 33-block area that serves as a shopping and dining paradise and a bed and breakfast lover’s dream.
Stretched along the banks of the beautiful Cane River Lake, Natchitoches is home to three state historic sites, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, and museums all within the boundaries of the Cane River National Heritage Area.
If you’re looking for a quiet weekend with the family or a romantic weekend with a loved one, historic Natchitoches offers a dynamic atmosphere for everyone. Enjoy the French and Spanish architecture from the 18th century that makes up this historic landmark. Grab your picnic basket and take a stroll down the promenade along Cane River Lake. Bring your camera and capture memories at Beau Jardin, a beautiful garden and water feature on the banks of Cane River Lake in downtown. Explore the unique finds at Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile, Louisiana’s oldest general store celebrating more than 150 years. Shop for home decor, kitchenware and fashion in our many boutiques that outline Front Street. Break for a famous Natchitoches meat pie with a 50 plus year old recipe shared with many at historic Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen.
Take a tour of the Landmark Historic District by foot or horse and carriage. The Cane River National Heritage Area offers complimentary walking tours of the District most days beginning at the Natchitoches Visitors Center. The Cane River Carriage Company offers horse-drawn carriage rides of the District with colorful tour guides and interesting facts (and lore) of the region.
If you’re an avid sportsman or a history seeker, you’ll want to tour the beautiful Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum. The $23 million, 27,500 square foot facility will take your breath away with its winding stone walls and touch screen technology. Search for your favorite sports legend from Louisiana and glance at memorabilia housed in vibrant exhibits. The history section of the museum brings 3,000 years of history forward to the unique cultural traditions that survive and thrive in the region today.
The Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site is a replication fort based upon original blueprints and extensive archival research in Louisiana, Canada, and France. It is located on Cane River Lake (formerly the Red River), a few hundred yards from the original fort site. Today, you can step back in time by exploring the Visitors Center and walk through the replica fort.
Now open year-round, Louisiana’s largest alligator park is located in north Natchitoches Parish. Gator Country – Natchitoches Alligator Park offers fun for the entire family. Be entertained with educational feeding shows, wade in a pool with baby alligators and grab a pole to feed alligators for yourself!
Other family favorites include mining for gems at Lost Treasure Mining Company and 18 holes at Pecan Orchard RV Park’s Putt Putt range.
Explore three-hundred years of history when you travel the Cane River National Heritage Area Byway. Home to numerous plantations, you’ll learn the history of the Creole culture and community. Oakland Complex and the outbuildings at Magnolia Complex are free to tour and open to the public as part of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. These historic homes are two of the most intact Creole farms in the United States. Both farms were established in the 1700s and were owned and operated by the same families for the next 200 years. Today, the landscapes contain 65 historic structures surrounded by 200-year-old live oak trees. Oakland and Magnolia are not set up to showcase one time period or decade but rather the progression of a plantation from the 1780s to the 1960s.
Discover the two-hundred-year history of beautiful Melrose Plantation. A National Historic Landmark, Melrose Plantation contains nine historic buildings including African House, Yucca House, Weaving Cabin, Bindery and the Big House. A collection of work by world famous African American folk artist Clementine Hunter is available for viewing including her popular African House Murals.
Don’t forget to bring your fishing boat! Natchitoches is surrounded by numerous bodies of water perfect for fishing. Cane River Lake, Sibley Lake, Black Lake and the Red River are a paradise for any fisherman looking for that “big catch”. Public boat launches throughout the parish make it easy to sail the calm bodies of water throughout Natchitoches Parish.
Or take it easy and rent a kayak or paddleboard from Cane River Paddle and Pedal to explore the Lake on your own. Or better yet, grab a seat on the Cane River Queen and allow Captain Paul to take you on a scenic river cruise.
Natchitoches is also the doorway to the Kisatchie National Forest where camping, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities are abundant.
Natchitoches is well known for the story and filming of “Steel Magnolias.” The town has seen its share of visitors to its charming main street community, as well as surrounding areas, looking for the Eatenton’s home, now the Steel Magnolias Bed & Breakfast, and other scenes from the movie. A self-guided “Steel Magnolias” filming site tour is available, as well as guided tours from local tour guides.
Natchitoches is home to the world-famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival held on the first Saturday in December with a spectacular half-hour firework show. More than 300,000 Christmas lights are strung throughout the downtown area with 110 lighted set displays shining bright along Cane River Lake. The lights are turned on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and stay on through January 6. Visit www.natchitocheschristmas.com for a full schedule of events and details.
Natchitoches loves to celebrate! Annual festivals include the Natchitoches/Northwestern Folk Festival, the Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, Natchitoches Car Show, Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival, Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival, and the annual Holiday Tour of Homes.