The brick streets of downtown Natchitoches, Louisiana, have been welcoming visitors longer than any other Louisiana city. As the oldest one in the state, this town has taken care to preserve and honor many unique elements of its storied past.

These stand alongside new attractions and this combination of old, new and one-of-a-kind continues to draw visitors to Natchitoches.

Located on the banks of Cane River Lake, Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish), is an easy drive via I-49, which connects to I-20 in Shreveport, to the north, and I-10 in Lafayette, to the south. It is located within the Cane River National Heritage area, a region known for its multi-cultural history. Natchitoches was at the heart of that history, as a crossroads for historic routes such as El Camino Real National Historic Trail and the Jefferson Highway, the first paved international roadway. Today those routes are still bringing travelers who love to explore authentic destinations and local flavor. While these roads connect Natchitoches to the rest of the world, they offer perspectives on the uniqueness of this destination. Here are just a few more of its many memorable features: 

  1. Though it was the first permanent settlement in the region, Natchitoches was still considered no man’s land because it was part of a neutral strip between the United States and Spanish territories. It’s come a long way as a vital part of Louisiana’s past and present, but is still a partner in No Man’s Land, where the stories of the outlaws, bandits and pioneer settlers are brought to life.
  2. Those exploring No Man’s Land will find a refreshing, if off beat, way to enjoy some lesser-known gems of Louisiana’s famed cuisine. Gas Station Eats offers a list of tasty roadside dishes along with a slice-of-life experience that can’t be found anyplace else.
  3. In downtown, Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen (622 Second Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457; 318-352-3363) is said to be home to the legendary Natchitoches Meat Pie and the recipes have been handed down through generations. Down river, the Cane River Commissary (4191 Highway 494, Natchez, Louisiana 71456; 318-238-6360) is a local favorite housed in an old commissary and serving Creole specialties. It is home to a popular Zydeco Brunch held each month on the 2nd Saturday.
  4. At the heart of Natchitoches’ riverfront downtown is its 33-block National Historic Landmark District. The beautifully landscaped waterfront park is the centerpiece for one of the best-known and loved holiday celebrations in the south, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights. This 45-night celebration includes lots of fun and festivities set along Cane River Lake and is illuminated by more than 300,000 twinkling lights and 100 lighted set pieces.
  5. A mainstay in downtown is Kaffie-Fredericks General Mercantile (758 Front Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457; 318-352-2525), the oldest general store in Louisiana. It opened in 1863 and today is a popular attraction in itself, in addition to being the go-to spot for both common hardware needs as well as so, so much more. The aisles are lined with everything from plumbing parts to kitchen décor.
  6. This is also home to the beloved film, “Steel Magnolias.” The story was inspired here, the movie was filmed here and locations continue to draw visitors. A self-guided city tour takes visitors to locations of the beauty shop, wedding, funeral, Easter egg hunt and more. And true fans can stay in the Steel Magnolia House bed and breakfast (320 Jefferson Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457; 318-238-2585) to experience living in Shelby’s childhood home.
  7. Families can find a host of options for fun at a favorite local attraction like no other. Dark Woods Adventure Park (4343 University Parkway, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457; 318-228-1725) offers a mix of activities throughout the year. Lost Treasure Mining Company, is a year-round attraction for the young and young at heart where visitors enjoy panning for gems along a 100-foot wooden running water mining sluice. Dark Woods Haunted Attractions adds fall seasonal fun followed by Christmas in the Park each year. 
  8. Kisatchie National Forest is Louisiana’s only national forest and includes more than 604,000 acres of preserved land. The variety of recreational opportunities is as vast as the landscape. There are areas for enjoying hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, boating, off-roading and seasonal hunting. 
  9. Natchitoches and the region’s history and culture are celebrated at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum (800 Front Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457; 318-357-2492). The museum celebrates the achievements of legendary Louisiana athletes and sports figures and also explores the cultural traditions of the state, from early native-American civilizations to the present. 


Natchitoches has a unique collection of lodging selections, too. In addition to a full slate of hotels, motels and inns, from national brands to local favorites, there is a host of bed and breakfasts, with choices to fit every need.