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Trip report (long) - New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburg

Trip report (long) - New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburg

Jun 6th, 2019, 12:36 PM
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Trip report (long) - New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburg

After returning from a trip to Paris with a friend, I was itching to take a trip with my husband. We had a small window to travel in late May/early June and we settled on New Orleans, Natchez, and Vicksburg. My husband had been to New Orleans several times for work but I'd never been and neither of us had been to the other places. I planned the trip in a few hours (usually I spend day or weeks planning, mostly because I enjoy it) and I think it turned out pretty well. Here's what we did and where we stayed.

Day 1 - non-stop flight from Detroit, picked up rental car
Place d'Armes Hotel - loved this place! Great location near Jackson Square and a bit out of the craziness, beautiful room, on-site parking ($34/night), nice pool, lovely courtyards, only negative is small and dated bathroom. Highly recommended!
Steamboat Natchez - very pleasant and relaxing boat ride with live music. We skipped the buffet.

Day 2 - we had planned a self guided walking tour of the French Quarter, but we saw a sign for a tour with this group https://friendsofthecabildo.org/ so we took the tour and it was excellent! No need to pre-book, just show up.
Lunch at Antoine's. While on the tour we noticed a sign for a summer special of a 3 course lunch for $20.19. Not the best meal we've ever had but good, and the inside is really pretty.
In the afternoon we did this swamp tour https://www.jeanlafitteswamptour.com/swamp-boat. Narrationwas only so-so, but we saw quite a few gators and had a chance to hold one.

Day 3 - went to the National WW2 Museum. I had very much been looking forward to this but we had a bad experience. There's a lot of construction going on and it was unclear where to enter so we ended up inadvertently starting in building 4. We then exited through a door that we thought led to the next building. The area we entered had a path with a fence on each side covered with tarps. We walked through and discovered that the path dead-ended into another fence. Turned around and went back and found ourselves locked out. Called their number, they couldn't understand where we were and hung up after vaguely promising to send help. 10 minutes of rattling the door to no avail, called again, and this time another person seemed to take me more seriously. But at this point a construction worker happened by and with the remark that it happens all the time, moved a fence and let us into the other building. We immediately asked to see a manager, who stated that this had never happened before. Hmm, really? We were too angry at this point to enjoy ourselves, demanded and got a refund, and left.
Visited the Presbytere where they had 2 excellent exhibits, Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina. Spent the rest of the day strolling around the city and enjoying the hotel pool.
Dinner was at BB King's Blues Club. We arrived at 6:30 having reserved online about 20 minutes earlier. $3 cover charge, excellent ribs, very enjoyable music.

Day 4 - We'd planned a self guided tour of the Garden District so we took the St. Charles streetcar to the starting point. The tour was hard to follow. We had booked a tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1 with a group called Save Our Cemeteries, but arrived to find the guide waiting to inform us that the cemetery was closed due to a funeral. The guide was not well informed, he thought there was another tour available later but when we called the office this wasn't the case. They refunded our fee and we stopped at the coffee shop on the corner for a cold drink. By the time we came back out, the cemetery was re-opened and we were able to walk around on our own. Better than nothing.
That evening we went to a show at Preservation Hall. They recently started pre-selling tickets if you want a seat for a specific show rather than waiting in line and taking a chance on standing ($40 or $50 compared to $20). We took advantage of this and had seats in the 2nd row. It was worth it. The show was good, although I think I enjoyed some of the music we saw other places more.
Afterwards we had reservations for dinner at Dickie Brennan's. I love steak and very much enjoyed my dinner here.

Day 5 - left New Orleans and headed to Natchez. Along the way:
Laura Plantation - we were disappointed with the tour here. Guide presented the script well but couldn't answer most questions. The focus is almost completely the history of the family rather than more general history of the times.
Oak Alley - so beautiful! We ate lunch here, which was pretty good. The mint julep flight (original, lemon, and frozen blackberry) was fun and only $10. The house tour was much better than at Laura and there was a lot to see on the grounds too.
Houmas was next on our agenda but we ran out of time.
Natchez Grand Hotel - a bit disappointing. Great views of the river, but amenities were more that of a chain hotel. In fact the Hampton we stayed at next was better!

Day 6 - visited the Natchez Visitor to buy home tour tickets. If you know which home you want to visit, you can get a discount if you tour 3.
Rosalie - nice tour, small group of 5, guide was knowledgeable and personable.
Stanton - Stunning inside! We were the only ones on the tour and our guide was excellent.
Longwood - so unique with the octagonal shape. Sad that it was never finished.
Dinner at The Camp in the Under the Hill area and enjoyed it.

Day 7 - Frogmore Cotton Plantation - excellent tour here about cotton then and now. They do several other tour also. Highly recommended!
Natchez City Cemetery - interesting but the heat of the afternoon defeated us and we didn't stay long.
Returned to the Natchez Visitor Center where they have some excellent displays.

Day 8 - drove to Vicksburg and toured Vicksburg Battlefield National Park. Sooo many monuments!
In the afternoon we spent an hour or two at the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum. Lots of interesting exhibits, including the chance to visit a tugboat, and free.
Stayed at the Hampton Inn right across Battlefield National Park. Very nice Hampton with and evening reception and attractive rooms.

Day 9 - our only rainy day. We stopped in Baton Rouge to visit the state capitol. The next tour was 1.5 hours away so we walked around on our own. We went up to the 27th floor viewing platform but it was absolutely pouring, so we only looked out the window. I like visiting state capitols, but they're usually not especially welcoming to visitors for some reason and this one was no exception.

All in all it was a good trip. I really liked New Orleans and thought it was beautiful. I liked what we did in Natchez, but the city itself seemed really depressed. If you go to New Orleans, be sure to check out the New Orleans Visitor's Guide website. I found lots of downloadable coupons here including for the plantations along the way to Natchez.

Thanks for reading my overly long report! I'm happy to answer any questions.
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