What are some of the best things to do in Natchitoches, Louisiana?
After all, when we think about the city of Natchitoches in Louisiana, what typically comes to mind?
Well for starters, the city of Natchitoches is a small city that was established back in the year of 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana. It is considered to be the oldest permanent settlement in the region.
This area was originally founded as a French outpost on the Red River where people can do trade with the Spanish-controlled Mexico. The post was conveniently established near the village of the Natchitoches Indians, after whom the city was named after.
But aside from that, what else should visitors know about the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana?
Well being as how this city was originally part of the French Colony, this city still retains much of its European flavor through this day. From things like architecture, heritage, culture and even lifestyle, visitors will find that much of the area will remind them of the French.
For example, the city’s historic landmark district, which fronts Cane River Lake and encompasses a 33-block area, including many things like historic homes, churches and commercial structures. It is here where visitors will see a mixture of Queen Anne and Victorian architecture, along with Creole style cottages that surrounds the area.
And with things like the Natchitoches Alligator Park, American Cemetery, The Minor Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum and more are all things visitors must see if they ever visit the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
And best of all is that you’ll also find the oldest general store in the entire state located here as well.
With so many things to see and do here, it’s no wonder the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana is always highly regarded as being one of the best places to visit.
So if you’re wondering what exactly you are able to see and do here while visiting this city, then you are in the right place.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
So if you’re ready, lets get started!
- Things To Do In Natchitoches, Louisiana
- Visit The Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store
- Explore Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site
- Check Out Grand Ecore Visitor Center
- Eat At Merci Beaucoup Restaurant
- Visit The The Minor Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception
- Roam Around The Historic District
- Explore Oakland, Magnolia and Melrose Plantations
- Visit The Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery
- Cruise Around Cane River Lake
- Explore The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum
- Visit The American Cemetery
- Check Out Los Adaes State Historic Site
- Go On A Walking Tour
- Attend The Natchitoches Christmas Festival
- Try The Famous Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen
- Visit Natchitoches, Louisiana
Things To Do In Natchitoches, Louisiana
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Visit The Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store
One of the best places for you to visit here in Notchitoches, Louisiana, is a place that has a long and deep history with this city. Known as the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store, it is considered to be the oldest standing general store in the state of Louisiana.
The Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store was originally founded by Jewish Prussian immigrants “Adolph and Harris Kaffie”, and is currently being run by a third generation of Fredericks. But even though the owners are different, the store still keeps that warm welcoming old town charm that is beloved by many.
Established back in 1863, visitors who come here will feel like they walked right into the past as this store still features many wonderful memories of the past.
It is here where you’ll be able to find a variety of old fashioned items. From things like old-fashioned toys to cookware, hardware or even home supplies and more. Plus, best of all is that the customers can even come here and use the original freight elevator as well as the old cash register from 1910.
But aside from the old items, they also do carry some modern-day products as well. From things like gardening tools to kitchenware and swings, you can find everything you’ll need here in this store.
Definitely one of the best places to visit here in Notchitoches, Louisiana.
Explore Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site
One of the most interesting and unique places you can ever visit here in the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana is a place called “Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site”.
Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site is a fort that is part of the Cane River National Heritage Area.
It is actually a replica fort, built just a few hundred yards away from the original fort site. The fort was based upon the original blueprints after doing extensive archival research. Building materials were all obtained locally, and many 18th-century building techniques were even used during the creation of this fort.
The original fort which this was modeled after, was built back in 1716 by Sieur Charles Claude Dutisné. He along with a number of troops were sent to this city to build an outpost that would help keep the Spanish forces in Texas from coming into the French Louisiane. During this time, the fort acted as a trading and military outpost and became a center of economic life in the area.
However it has since been abandoned and nobody actually knows where the original fort was actually made. But what they do know is an estimated area where it was created, which is why this new replica fort was made in its place. Today, this fort is the site of frequent living historical re-enactments in period costumes, showing visitors what life was like many years ago.
It’s a fun filled place where you can see and learn so many new things. It’s an experience you definitely do not want to miss!
Check Out Grand Ecore Visitor Center
If you are interested in doing a day trip type event from the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana, then there is no place better to visit than “The Grand Ecore Visitor Center”.
The Grand Ecore Visitor Center or also known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Grand Ecore Visitor Center, is located in the town of Grand Ecore. Which is just 4 to 5 miles away north of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
This visitor center is actually perched on an 80-foot high bluff, and offers visitors some of the best views they can ever see of the Red River. Plus, all along the center grounds, visitors will find that this place is home to a variety of different wildlife, art and historical displays as well as signs showing information on the waterway exploration and navigation throughout the area. There is even a walking trail which visitors can see the Civil War entrenchments.
Inside the center, visitors will also be able to find nine exhibits that showcases the history of the waterways. Not only that, but there is also an interactive video which you may watch that mentions all the important people who played a major role in the development of the city as well as the Red River Basin.
The J. Bennet Johnston Waterway stretches for about 236 miles wide between the areas of Shreveport, Louisiana and the Mississippi River. This waterway helps provide flood damage reduction, navigation, ecosystem restoration as well as offering many types of recreational opportunities.
It’s a wonderful place to visit and if you have the time to spare, should definitely be on your list of places to visit.
Eat At Merci Beaucoup Restaurant
If you’re ever feeling hungry while visiting the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana, then one place you definitely have to visit is a place called “Merci Beaucoup Restaurant“.
Merci Beaucoup Restaurant is one of the most popular places for people to come eat some truly delicious foods. And for good reason too, as their yelp reviews are always highly rated and customers rave about how good their food really is. This place specializes in serving customers cajun/creole, seafood, and sandwiches type meals for them to enjoy.
With a huge menu offering many different things, customers will be able to find all kinds of amazing foods for them to try. For instance, some of the things they might find on the menu include things like chicken and sausage gumbo, meat pie plate, oyster plate, crab st. dennis, crawfish etouffee and more all made fresh for you to enjoy.
Plus, best of all is that the service and quality of food here is top notch, so you can rest assured your dining experience will be fantastic.
Which is why, if you ever are in the mood for some food, then the Merci Beaucoup Restaurant is definitely the place to go. It’s an experience you definitely do not want to miss.
Visit The The Minor Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception
If you are a religious person, then one place you might love visiting is the church.
And here in Natchitoches, there are an abundance of churches for you to visit. With the most famous one being “The Minor Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception“.
The The Minor Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception is a church that acts as a parish church in the Diocese of Alexandria. This church was once the cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Natchitoches. Because of this, it is part of the Natchitoches Historic District and was even registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
This church is actually made after a line of other churches in the area. For instance, after the parish was founded back in 1728, the first church in the area was built within the Fort St. Jean Baptiste place sometime before 1733. Then a second church was built and named St. John the Baptist and was built around 1738 between the areas of the fort and what is now the American Cemetery. Not long after that, a third church was made in 1771 at the same location. Then a fourth church waas built 14 years later at what is now the Front and Church Streets.
After a few more other churches was built, the Minor Basilica Of The Immaculate Conception which is the present church was completed in 1905 and was transferred to Natchitoches to Alexandria. This church was elevated to a Minor Basilica in 2009. Now it has continued to be a place where people can come in to worship the lord as well as see all that makes this church so special.
It’s really an interesting place that any and all people would love to explore. Definitely a sight to see if you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful church.
Roam Around The Historic District
If you have the time to spare and want to explore the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana in a more intricate way, then you might want to explore around the historic district.
The Historic District of Natchitoches is filled with an abundance of places for you to see and explore.
For instance, this area offers many things like museums, trolley and boat rides, historic homes, cemeteries, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, art galleries, antiques, arts and crafts, books, libraries and more! It’s the perfect place to escape from all the stress and unwind yourself as you’re browsing through all the various places around.
The entire historic area encompasses around 33 blocks and includes more than fifty century old buildings for you to see. Many of which have even been designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
For example, when roaming around, you’ll see things like the reconstructed Ft. St. Jean Baptiste that symbolizes the colonial days in Natchitoches. Or the mercantile buildings and houses with the cast iron grillwork galleries overlooking the Cane River Lake that brings to life the old days of the Cotton Kingdom and Natchitoches’ old river port.
Plus, with things like the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana Regional History Museum which recently opened up in the area, it gives visitors a chance to learn more about the history and culture of the city.
With so many things to see and do here in the historic district, one can spend days if not weeks trying to explore everything being offered. It’s a fun filled adventure that everyone would love to enjoy.
Explore Oakland, Magnolia and Melrose Plantations
Do you love learning about all kinds of US History? How about plantation history?
If so, then you will definitely love visiting one of the many plantations being put on display here in the city of Natchitoches.
For instance, it is here where you’ll be able to find many plantations around for you to explore. Oakland and Magnolia being the most popular and are even part of the Cane River Creole National Historic Park. The area is a 63-acre preservation that showcases the lives of the Creole people who have lived here from over 150 years ago.
Oakland Plantation is the most preferred place to visit as it is the most complete Creole plantation in the South, and is a time capsule containing many fragments of the country life from the 18th and 19th centuries. Inside here, there are 17 outbuildings where everything from food preparation to carpentry and more was done.
Magnolia Plantation on the other hand, tells a different side of the plantation life, like the heavy toll the plantation and the surrounding areas have taken during the Civil War.
Visitors who come here will be able to go on a tour of either of these National Park Service Run Sites where they can see exactly what life was like for these Creole folks as well as learn a bit about their culture.
Visiting these plantations will give you a whole different meaning on life as there is simply so much to take in and learn. No wonder why this place is definitely one of the best things to do in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Visit The Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery
Did you know that there is only 69 Federal Fish Hatcheries located across the United States?
And one of them is located here in the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Known as the “Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery“, it is the only Federal fish hatchery located in the state of Louisiana. This hatchery opened back in 1931, and has raised many different species of fish over the years.
Currently this hatchery is raising animals like “Alligator gar, Alligator snapping turtles, recreational fish species, and even freshwater mussels”. This hatchery has also been trying to make an effort to make a difference in their community by working with the local Caddo Indian Nation to make more educational resources available for students to learn about the Caddo people who originally inhabited this land.
Aside from that however, this hatchery also contains some indoor displays where people can learn more about different things. For instance, visitors can find displays about the Caddo people, a memorial plaza dedicated to the tribes who were there before the hatchery, and more.
Overall, the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is a great place for kids and adults alike to come and learn about many new and interesting things.
Cruise Around Cane River Lake
Sometimes roaming around the city might be a tiring thing to do. It may sound fun and all, but can sometimes be quite stressful.
So why not take a break from all of that and surround yourself with some peace and quiet.
Fortunately for you, there is a place to do just that here in the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Known as the “Cane River Lake“, it is the premiere destination where people go and surround themself with beautiful nature and a peaceful atmosphere.
This lake offers so much in terms of what you can see or do. For instance, visitors who come here can simply go swimming, kayaking, jet skiing, canoeing and more. Basically any water activity you can think of, you are able to see and do here at this lake. But one of the most popular things to do here is to simply go fishing. There are so many different kinds of fish living in these waters that you can fish for hours on end.
Another thing visitors might like is that they are also able to go on a boat tour around the lake as well. With one company being called “Captain Tom’s Boat”, where they will take you on a fun-filled leisurely tour around the entire lake. The tour lasts about an hour long and is filled with all kinds of fun historical facts about the surrounding area.
Overall, whatever it is you decide to do, you will definitely get your fill of fun here at this lake.
Explore The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum
Do you like sports? How about the history of the city?
If so, you’ll be happy to know that there is a place here in Natchitoches, Louisiana where it combines the best of both worlds in a museum.
Known as the “Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum“, it is a place where locals and visitors alike can come and learn about so many interesting things.
For instance, the Louisiana Sports Hall Of Fame area celebrates the history of sports in the state of Louisiana and the achievements of more than 300 Louisiana athletes, coaches, and other sports personalities. Exhibits here showcase rare artifacts while interactive media and videos highlight in-game drama as well as the biographies and career states of the inductees.
The Northwest Louisiana History Museum on the other hand, explores the history, culture and tradition of the area from the early Native-Americans, French and Spanish Settlers, Free and Enslaved Africans, and rural southern whites civilizations. One of the most prominent features of this museum is that it proudly displays the works of internationally renowned folk artist Clementine Hunter with 12 of her original paintings on display, 10 about life on Melrose Plantation.
Aside from both of these places, the building they are housed in is also something to see. The building was built in a unique manner where the idea was inspired by the surrounding landscape. For example, the exterior is reminiscent of the shutters of plantation homes and plowed fields, while the interior with its curved walls resembles the natural cut of a river.
With all the things you are able to see and learn here, it’s no wonder it is one of the best places to visit in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Visit The American Cemetery
If you’re interested in doing something totally out of the ordinary, then try visiting the American Cemetery.
The American Cemetery was established way back around the time of 1737, and is thought to be the oldest cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase
Not only that, but many historians around believe that it may also be the site of the second Fort St. Jean Baptiste.
Besides that however, the American Cemetery is the burial place for many war heroes and villains, politicians, doctors, educators and more. In fact, the town’s original founder is speculated to have been buried here as well, although any evidence of that happening is long gone.
Visitors who come here are able to roam around the cemetery, look at al the beautiful graves and tombstones, while enjoying an eerie aspect that makes the experience so much more magical.
It’s definitely not the most common place people might think about visiting, however its a place that can definitely live up to its hype. Plus, you’ll be able to learn a lot of information from just spending a little bit of time here as well.
Check Out Los Adaes State Historic Site
If you’re interested in doing a short day trip style event to someplace close around the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana, then one place you might want to visit is the Los Adaes State Historic Site.
Los Adaes State Historic Site is located about 20 minutes away or 14 miles from the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana, and is a fantastic place to visit where you can see and learn so many amazing things.
This place was actually the capital of Tejas (Spanish Texas) on the northeastern border of New Spain from the years of 1729 to 1779.
Los Adaes included a mission San Miguel de Cuellar de los Adaes and a presidio Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Los Adaes, Our Lady of the Pillar of the Adaes. The mission was made in order to serve the indigenous Adai people living in the surrounding region and it was noted for the unique cooperation between the French, the Spanish and the indigenous Adaes people.
Today however, this historic site is one of the most important American archaeological sites for studying colonial Spanish culture. Visitors who come here are able to explore around the area and see all the important pieces that make Spanish culture so interesting.
It’s truly a fantastic place to visit and one where you will absolutely not want to miss out on.
Go On A Walking Tour
One of the best things to do in Natchitoches, Louisiana, is to simply go on a walking tour.
After all, their is no better way to explore the city in a closer detail than by walking around examining all that this city has to offer you.
For instance, just by roaming around, you’ll find many amazing places like museums to visit, historical buildings, cemeteries, restaurants and cafes, and more all waiting for you to explore. There is simply so much for you to see and do in this city.
The tour was designed to help provide a general overview of the city and the Cane River region. During this tour, it’ll cover many different topics like the Cane River region prior to European contact; the French & Spanish colonial period; antebellum plantation culture and period; Reconstruction and tenant farming; architectural history; and Creole and Catholic culture, history, and customs.
Tours are all free to do and begin at the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (located at 780 Front Street). The tours are all family-friendly and great for anybody of all ages and experiences.
So if you have the time to spare and want to see everything that the city has to offer, then going on this walking tour. isa no brainer.
Attend The Natchitoches Christmas Festival
If you love Christmas and celebrating all that this holiday has to offer, then you will definitely love visiting the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Every year, this city is home to the annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival.
This festival started way back in 1927 and is considered to be one of the oldest community-based holidays in the country. It started out as a one-day festival where they would string Christmas lights along Front Street and have an 8 foot tall “Star of the East” on the banks of Cane River Lake.
The idea came from Max Burgdorf, who was the Superintendent of Utilities for the City of Natchitoches, Louisiana. He thought that the city should have a special event to celebrate the Christmas Season and brought enough Christmas tree light bulbs to light the entire area.
Now the festival has evolved from being a one day festival into a whole 6 week long event. Every single night during this time, the city is decorated with over 300,000 lights and over 100 decorations. This festival literally brightens up the entire city as everywhere you go you’ll be able to see many Christmas themed decorations and lights.
Plus, on the first Saturday in December, there will even be a daylong event that features “City of Lights” 5K Run/Walk & 1-Mile Fun Run and the Festival of Lights Parade, as well as live musical entertainment, arts and crafts, and food vendors. At the end of the day, there will even be a special fireworks display for people to enjoy.
It’s definitely one of the best Christmas experiences you can ever witness. So if you happen to be visiting the city of Natchitoches during the month of December, then this is one event which you simply can not miss.
Try The Famous Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen
If you didn’t know, meat pie is actually synonymous with central Louisiana cuisine.
And there is no place better than Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant.
Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant is a small old-school diner that. is located right in the heart of downtown Natchitoches. It is here where you can find some of the most delicious meat pies ever made for you to eat.
They specialize in serving authentic Creole Cuisine in a cozy, friendly atmosphere. There menu features many traditional Southern dishes made using old family recipes. For instance, you are able to find things like Louisiana Cornfritters, Cajun Crawfish Etouffee, Shrimp and grits, Po-Boys and more all made fresh for you to eat.
However, aside from their regular menu items, their most famous items are definitely the meat pie. You can find them serving meat pies like Lasyone’s Crawfish Pie Platter or Crawfish Pie which are simply delicious.
Basically you can’t go wrong with any item on the menu as everything is made with love and care. And best of all is that the menu of foods are all very affordable to buy. So you will not have to break the bank eating any of these foods.
Once you try their food, you will never want to leave. Which is why, if you ever get the chance, definitely come visit the famous Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant.
Visit Natchitoches, Louisiana
The city of Natchitoches in Louisiana is a really interesting place that everyone should visit. This city offers so many interesting things for you to see and do, and is an experience unlike any other.
So hopefully this post about the “15 Best Things To Do In Natchitoches, Louisiana” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Natchitoches in Louisiana, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.
Also, if you’re going to be traveling around to the state of Louisiana anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Louisiana related posts:
Or you can check out all my blog posts by clicking this link.
Have fun traveling and let me know how it goes~