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Southern sights: A journey through the lower Mississippi

Louisiana and Mississippi offer some of the best food and unique attractions in Mississippi River Country. Join us on this trip to America's South.

French Quarter, New Orleans
Cafe du Monde, New Orleans (Credit: Louisiana Office of Tourism)

Louisiana and Mississippi offer some of the best food and most interesting attractions along the entire Mississippi River. Visitors to New Orleans will find fun and excitement of all kinds, and historic Mississippi cities like Natchez and Jackson have their own unique draws. Plus, Mississippi’s beautiful Gulf Coast, home to nearly 100 kilometers of scenic shoreline, world-class casinos and more, is a can’t-miss stop. Join us on this trip through America’s South.

Day 1

You could spend your entire trip exploring New Orleans, Louisiana, but we’re just going to get a small taste of one of America’s greatest cities. Whether you’re interested in delicious dining, historic Southern culture or amazing live music, you’ll find it all in New Orleans. We’ll spend the afternoon exploring the French Quarter, stop by a historic bar for some tasty cocktails, enjoy a tasty dinner of authentic Southern cuisine and listen to some great live music in the evening.

Morning: Arrive at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Kenner, Louisiana

Afternoon: Explore the French Quarter

Take a stroll through the heart of New Orleans in the French Quarter. Looking for something to eat? Grab a po’boy or some jambalaya. Want to get moving? Take in some live music. Interested in history? Explore Jackson Square or take a historical walking tour. Whatever you’re interested in, you’ll be able to find it in the French Quarter.

Evening: Cocktails at Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans

New Orleans is the birthplace of several world-famous cocktails, and this bar—located next to Arnaud’s Restaurant—gives you a chance to sample some of the best while enjoying fine cigars. Try a Sazerac (a New Orleans original) or the bar’s namesake, the French 75.

Dinner at Antoine’s Restaurant, New Orleans

Try world-renowned French-Creole cuisine at the oldest fine dining restaurant in New Orleans. Opened in 1840, Antoine’s has been serving delicious food with impeccable service in a unique atmosphere for more than 175 years.

Late evening: Live music on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle but still want some lively entertainment and great live music, head over to Frenchmen Street, located just east of the busy French Quarter. Here, you’ll find some of the best live music in the city, as well as delicious restaurants and quaint shops.

Other options: There are plenty of ways to spend a day in New Orleans. Explore unique, historic neighborhoods like Treme or the Garden District, tour the city’s famous resting places on a cemetery tour or simply take in the sights on an evening stroll.

Day 2

Take some time to explore (and shop) in New Orleans’ famous French Market District before heading west to explore historic and awe-inspiring antebellum plantation homes. Next, you’ll travel to Louisiana’s capital city, where you’ll have some great seafood before turning in for the night.

Morning: Beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, New Orleans

No visit to New Orleans is complete without a stop at the world-famous Café du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee. Start your day with this sweet treat in the heart of the French Quarter.

Explore the French Market District, New Orleans

After you’ve had your fill of beignets, take a stroll through the French Market District, a collection of historic shops where you’ll find everything from books to pralines. Don’t miss the weekly farmers’ market on Wednesdays and Saturdays or the flea market, which is open seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Afternoon: Depart for Louisiana’s River Parishes (1 hour)

West of New Orleans, you will find historic, beautiful plantation homes all along the Mississippi River. Each has its own charms, and many feature on-site dining and lodging. Take a photo of the beautiful canopy of trees at Oak Alley Plantation, visit the eccentric San Francisco Plantation or explore the amazing gardens at Houmas House Plantation.

Evening: Depart for Baton Rouge, Louisiana (1 hour)

Dinner at Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant

Enjoy the best in Gulf Coast seafood at Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant, which has been serving delicious lunches and dinners to visitors since 2001. Try their tasty fresh catfish, oysters, shrimp and more—but save room for dessert.

Other options: Find great deals on brand-name clothing, shoes and more at the Tanger Outlet in Gonzales, Louisiana.

Day 3

Explore Louisiana’s capital city in the morning before heading north and across the Mississippi River to Natchez, a 300-year-old city that was once home to the most millionaires in the United States. Explore their ornate homes and the quaint charm of this Southern city before enjoying a delicious dinner on the grounds of an iconic Natchez mansion.

Morning: Explore Baton Rouge

Louisiana’s capital city has plenty to offer visitors, including educational historical sites, plenty of award-winning restaurants and festivals all year round. Visitors can explore the Baton Rouge Zoo, the Old Governor’s Mansion, the state Capitol or—if you’re in town in the fall—take in a college football game at Louisiana State University (LSU).

Afternoon: Depart for Natchez, Mississippi (95 miles/150 km, 1 hour, 45 minutes)

Natchez, which sits along the Mississippi River, celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2016, so it stands to reason that there’s plenty of historical things to see and do there. Natchez was once home to the highest concentration of millionaires in the United States, and many of their former homes are open for tours. If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

Evening: Relax in the 1800s ambiance of the Guest House at the Guest House Inn, which serves a delicious mix of International cuisine and Southern favorites, like shrimp and grits.

Other options: A short drive from Natchez, Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins is a 1,800-acre (728 hectare) working cotton plantation that offers tours and even cotton picking. If you’re feeling lucky, Natchez is also home to Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

Day 4

Today, you will drive on the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, which stretches across three states and was a favorite travel route of Native Americans and early settlers to the area. Then, we’ll visit the capital city of Mississippi and explore its history and culture before heading back south for dinner at a charming roadside barbeque spot.

Morning: Depart for Jackson, Mississippi via the Natchez Trace (100 miles/165km, 1 hour, 50 minutes)

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a historic forest trail that stretches for 444 miles (715 kilometers) from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. This scenic drive—it is especially pretty in fall—covers a course that has been used for centuries by American Indians, settlers and even future presidents.

Afternoon: Explore Jackson, Mississippi

Known as the “City with Soul,” Jackson is the largest city and the state capital of Mississippi. If you are interested in America’s past, discover Civil War and Civil Rights history sites in Jackson. Since it’s in Mississippi, Jackson is also home to great blues, gospel and jazz music, as well as delicious Southern cooking.

Evening: Depart for Hattiesburg, Mississippi (95 miles/150km, 1 hour, 30 minutes)

Dinner at Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn, Hattiesburg

Rated as the top restaurant in Hattiesburg, Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn doesn’t require a suit and tie for entry—just an appetite for delicious barbeque. Get ready for some delicious homemade recipes and mouth watering made-from-scratch dishes.

Other options: In Jackson, stop for lunch (or maybe just a milkshake) at Brent’s Drugs, a former pharmacy that has been transformed into a delicious stop for burgers and more. In Hattiesburg, stop by the Armed Forces Museum or the Hattiesburg Zoo.

Day 5

Begin your day by exploring the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast in Biloxi. There you’ll find everything from beautiful beaches to championship golf courses, casinos, amazing fishing and more. Then, we’ll return to New Orleans for a little more exploration before ending with a dinner at one of New Orleans’ iconic restaurants.

Morning: Depart for Biloxi, Mississippi (120 km, 1 hour, 15 minutes)

Explore Biloxi

Enjoy fun, food and more in Biloxi, located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. There, you’ll find nearly 100 kilometers of scenic shoreline, as well as world-class casinos, championship golf courses and much more. Be sure to stop by some of the area’s top attractions, like the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum or Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home & Presidential Library.

Afternoon: Return to New Orleans (75 miles/150 km, 1 hour, 30 minutes)

Evening: Dinner at Mother’s Restaurant

This New Orleans institution has been in business for more than 75 years, serving delicious down-home Southern cuisine to legions of visitors. Bring your appetite to this popular cafeteria-style restaurant, where you can get po’ boys, gumbo, jambalaya, catfish and much more.

Other options: In the mood for some fishing? You can find many charter boats in the Biloxi area that offer any type of fishing you could imagine. Back in New Orleans, get a behind-the-scenes look at where talented artists create the amazing floats for Mardi Gras and other parades throughout the year at Mardi Gras World.

Day 6

Depart for home from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, filled with the sights, sounds and tastes of the American South.