Snuggled between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, most visitors to Louisiana pass by the state’s oldest city without so much as a sideways glance. While it is famous in part due to the movie, Steel Magnolias, Natchitoches (sounds like “knack-ah-dish”) still remains a local’s favorite weekend getaway. We’re letting the cat out of the bag and telling you now, this city with a small town feel is quickly going to become your new favorite escape, too.

Besides the quaint streets overlooking the Cane River and amazing historical significance, here three reasons you need to visit Natchitoches:

Relax in the Capital of Bed and Breakfasts

Not many states pride themselves on the sheer volume of bed and breakfast options, but that hasn’t stopped Louisiana from declaring Natchitoches as its official capital of bed and breakfasts. Whether you want a down home weekend in antebellum splendor at Judge Porter House Bed and Breakfast, a visit to one of the former movie sets at the Steel Magnolia Hotel, or a picturesque river view at Andre’s Riverview Bed and Breakfast, Natchitoches will undoubtedly raise the bar on your next hotel stay.

"DSC03327" by Nsuengineer06 via Flickr Creative Commons

City of Lights at Christmastime

Family vacations just got a whole lot easier thanks to Natchitoches’ amazing Christmas spirit. Decorated annually from mid-November to mid-January with over 300,000 twinkling lights, Natchitoches invites locals and tourists alike to trade in their snow boots for flip flops, pose with alligators for one of a kind holiday cards, and marvel at the amazing town all lit up. To really get into the spirit, plan your trip around the first weekend of December, when they hold their annual Christmas Festival. You and your family can enjoy a fantastic fireworks display, parade, and sample authentic Cajun cuisine from one of the many street vendors.

Photo by Natchitoches Convention and Visitor's Bureau

A foodie’s delight

As you head further down state and deeper into the bayou, the food takes on a life of its own (in a good way!). Natchitoches’ s range of cuisines and classic Louisiana favorites does not disappoint, especially if you stay in the downtown core. If you’ve never tried alligator tail, Natchitoches is the place to do it. A light lunch at Merci Beaucoup is a great mid-day treat, but save room for the very best at The Landing. The Sunday Champagne Brunch barely overshadows the fried green tomatoes, meat pies, and crab and alligator dishes at dinnertime.