Natchitoches Louisiana is a town in touch with its French roots. Its downtown, elegant houses, and restaurants reflect reflect four centuries of history and culture. The city is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory, which was established by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis in 1714. In the years since, Natchitoches has grown into a modern city that remains connect to it Old World ways. The Natchitoches Christmas festival has become one of the most famous and best-attended holiday events in the entire region.
Like most of the great cities around the world, Natchitoches Louisiana is located along a river. Monroe has the Ouachita River, while Bossier City and Alexandria are perched along the Red River. And of course, New Orleans is port city at the end of the Mighty Mississippi.
Many of the things to do in Natchitoches are centered in and along the Cane River. Boat tours are a favorite way to explore, and you'll also find anglers and kayaks along the river. Outdoor recreation is also available at Briarwood: the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve, a part of Kisatchie National Forest.
After Thanksgiving, the banks of the Cane River transform into a gathering place for the Natchitoches Christmas festival. The community has been hosting this holiday celebration since the 1920s, and it has grown into one of the largest special events in Louisiana.
The annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights includes a full calender of events beginning the day after Thanksgiving. In early December, visitors and locals gather to enjoy the parades and live entertainment. Until the early days of the New Year, the fun continues with food fairs, arts and crafts, and fireworks. The Cane River looks spectacular when fireworks light up the skies. During this time, the Natchitoches hotels can fill up fast, so be sure to make your reservations well in advance.
At Christmas and all of the other seasons of the year, the downtown is home to a high concentration of things to do in Natchitoches. This historic district along the Cane River can be explored on a trolley tour or on foot. The buildings facing the river are reminiscent of the French Quarter as well as the Old World. You'll find wrought-iron balconies, sidewalk cafes, and art galleries, all within view of the river. The boutiques along the way offer excellent shopping opportunities you won't find anywhere else.
If you're looking for vacation rentals, you'll find a unique options in downtown Natchitoches Louisiana, the Taylor-Cook House. This historic and stately residence, also known as the Steel Magnolia Bed and Breakfast, appeared on much of Steel Magnolias, the modern classic film shot in Natchitoches.
On your Natchitoches vacations, you also have the chance to step back into the early days of Natchitoches with a visit to the Fort St. Jean Baptiste Historic Site. The fort was a trading post and military outpost a until the 1760s, the when France saw defeat by the English during the French and Indian War.
Heritage tours are another option on the list of things to do in Natchitoches. Today, the Cane River National Heritage Area honors the Creole heritage and landscape where many of these plantations dotted the landscape. The boundaries extend approximately a mile on either side of the Cane River Lake from the southern border of Natchitoches to Monette's Ferry.
Along the way, you'll have the chance to explore the Kate Chopin House and the Los Adaes and Fort Jesup state commemorative areas. At the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Oakland Plantation and the Magnolia Plantation outbuildings are open for tours. The nearby Melrose Plantation also welcomes visitors.