USA Radio
Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana: Where Learning History is Fun

By Marieve Herington


Natchitoches, Louisiana (pronounced “Nac-Au-Tish”) is the oldest town in the state, celebrating its 300th birthday in 2014. This community offers not only fascinating historical sites, but also a variety of shopping and dining in the charming downtown – all of which make for a perfect holiday.

Historical Sites

Fort St. Jean Baptiste was originally built in 1716 by French Canadian Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. At this site today, right on the riverfront, you’ll find a great museum and a replica of the original fort. The interpretive rangers dressed in period clothing offer so much information and insight about life back in the 18th century, and how the French, Spanish and Native American cultures intermingled.

In the commandant’s house, one of the gentlemen dressed as a soldier showed us how they would make lead bullets and load cartridges. It was fascinating! Up the path at the main museum house, we watched an interesting video about St. Denis and his respectful relationship with the Caddo Indians, the significance of the location of the fort, and how the different, often warring cultures would come together and all use the fort as a trading post.

Plantations

From the fort, we jumped forward a bit in time by visiting some of the cotton plantations of the area. I just adored Melrose Plantation. The story of plantation owner Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer’s long-standing relationship with slave woman Marie Therese Coincoin is truly fascinating, complex and inspiring. This plantation also houses an exhibit of plantation worker Clementine Hunter’s African-American folk art. These beautiful, bright murals allow you to see the realities of life as a slave through Clementine’s unique perspective.

We also visited Oakland Plantation, which is part of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park and on the Isle Brevelle Trail. Unlike many of the plantations that are restored to their original conditions back in the 1800s, the main house reflects almost 200 years of history with decorations, furniture and artifacts from various eras. The bedrooms showcase the stunning furniture of centuries ago, while the kitchen contains the most modern kitchen of the 1950s – a fun glimpse into how the times and the people changed.

Relax and Enjoy the Riverfront

After a day exploring historical sites, you can’t find a more charming spot to unwind than right on the riverfront in the Natchitoches' National Historic Landmark District. Gas lamps dot the brick-paved streets as you walk alongside the water. There are beautiful shops, delightful bed and breakfasts to stay in and lots of restaurants to explore. Be sure to stop by Lasyone's Meat Pie Kitchen for their famous meat pie, a Natchitoches institution.

Natchitoches has a long and fascinating history to explore, which makes for a unique present-day culture. With its beautiful riverfront as your backdrop, Natchitoches is bound to leave you feeling enriched and relaxed.

For more information, please visit us

Cane River National Heritage Area

Welcome to Discover America!

Now that you have registered, you can save trip ideas to your suitcase.

Start exploring

Enter your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Please check your email.

Start exploring

The password on your account has successfully been changed. Please use your new password to login.

Start exploring

This website is set to 'allow all cookies' for the best user experience. By continuing without changing this setting, you are consenting to this. You may change your settings at any time at the bottom of this page.

More information about cookies

Cookies are very small text files that are stored on your computer when you visit some websites.

We use cookies to make our website easier for you to use. You can remove any cookies already stored on your computer, but these may prevent you from using parts of our website.

If you choose to disable non-essential cookies, the website will:

  • Allow you to log in and remember you are logged in, while in session
  • Determine your country of origin in order to serve you the most relevant version of the site

This website will not:

  • Restrict welcome messaging to the first time you visit the site
  • Track any activity on the site for analytics purposes

More information about cookies