A visit to Bluff Park in Natchez demonstrates why the town attracted the French in the 18th century and why it then became the capital of the Mississippi Territory: the riverside cliffs offer a clear strategic military advantage. Today, the high vantage point above the Mississippi River is cherished for its stunning, panoramic beauty rather than its defensive position. Nearby, horse-drawn carriages set off from Canal and Washington and go clip-clopping down the streets.Throughout town, beneath boughs of oak trees dripping with spanish moss, dozens of antebellum mansions show off their Greek Revivalist columns and wide-brimmed straw hats affixed to chimneys to combat the southern sun. Several restored mansions open their doors year-round for tours, but many remain private residences to this day. Near the river, the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture illustrates the history of slavery in the region through historical artifacts and turn-of-the-century portraiture.
Perched on the banks of the Mississippi River in southern Mississippi, Vicksburg is a little city with outsize historical significance. In the summer if 1863, Union troops bombarded the fortressed Confederate city in what became known as the Siege of Vicksburg. After six weeks of relentless shelling, Vicksburg fell to the Union Army, which gained total control of the Mississippi River in a major turning point of the Civil War. Not surprisingly, Vicksburg is home to many historic military sites, such as the Vicksburg National Military Park, where rebuilt trenches and forts tell the story of the siege. Vicksburg's historical downtown waterfront is worth the 3-mile trip from the hotel. Large murals painted by local artists stretch the length of the riverfront and depict the city's past. The quaint, red-brick buildings of Vicksburg's downtown house upscale restaurant, antique stores, and museums dedicated to the old riverboat days and the Civil War. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
When Don Newcomb, Debra Bryson, and Chris Newcomb opened the first Newk's (short for Newcomb's) back in 2004, they hoped to move away from the American traditions of fast food?that is, food that came out fast, but wasn't very fresh. So the foodies created a place that quickly dished out gourmet sandwiches dotted with pesto, crisp mixed-green salads loaded with housemade chicken salad, hand-rolled pizzas, and gooey mac 'n' cheese with asiago, white cheddar, parmesan, swiss, and Newk's signature pimiento cheese. It even has a variety of grab-and-go meals, including sandwiches, made-from-scratch soups, and pasta salads.
Since then, Newk's has expanded to a long list of locations across the U.S. The menu now boasts 600-calorie options that are at least 600 times more satisfying than a glass of water. It also caters to patrons with food sensitivities with its allergen menu tool.
Generations of Lachaussees have lovingly prepared Cajun meals from family recipes, using succulent cuts of game and traditional meats. For almost two decades, Chris Lachaussee has carried on the family tradition with a full menu of spice-laden, fully cooked meats that are ready to be heated and served. Chris and his staff craft the specialty meats and homestyle sides every day, ensuring that delectable portions of stuffed quail, pork tenderloin stuffed with cream cheese and bacon-wrapped jalapeños, and seafood gumbo arrive at patrons’ tables fresher than a ripe banana’s newest dance moves.
A homegrown success story with a slew of awards and nearly 40 years of history, Popeyes has introduced its menu of Louisiana eats to taste seekers around the globe. Rather than downloading low-quality, unsatisfying meals through the Internet, packs can pick up Popeyes’ family-style meals, pairing eight pieces of Cajun fried chicken with four buttermilk biscuits and a side of award-winning rice and beans ($16.99). A po boy stuffed with crunchy shrimp ($3.49) makes a splash in lunchboxes, and chicken nuggets ($2.49 for six pieces) surf into mouths on waves of refreshing sweet tea ($2.99/gal.).
A hunk of brisket at VooDoo BBQ & Grill begins its journey suspended over a bed of pecan and oak logs. Coated in a dry rub of local spices, the meat slowly turns on a rotisserie rod for up to 16 hours, its skin crisping while the inside stays a warm pink. The chefs smoke all their beef brisket and pulled pork over logs from Louisiana-based trees to lend them the region's unique smoked flavor, even at the risk of confusing passing botanists. They lightly coat grilled sausages, chicken, and burgers in three signature sauces inspired by the state's Cajun recipes. To complement their menagerie of smoked and grilled meats, they sling a variety of southern sides such as corn pudding, greens, and potato salads. At each of the 13 locations, the aroma of roasting meat fills a space of dark-stained wood and wrought iron; dining rooms awash in a palette of reds, greens, and oranges buzz with the sounds of jazz and blues.