The Natchez Trace Parkway has been named among the Top Ten Most Loved Parks in America for 2014! For those of us that have visited the Natchez Trace Parkway, it should be clear why the 444-mile scenic byway consistently tops the lists of favorite public treasures in the country. For those who haven’t traveled the Trace yet, this should serve as confirmation of how the stunning views, historical sites and stories, beautiful towns, and wonderful locals make the Trace an attraction that can’t be missed!
Plenty of people from around the world proved just how great the Natchez Trace is throughout 2014. According to figures from the United States National Park Service, nearly 6 million visitors made a stop on the historic trail last year. Although it has been fairly cold lately, spring is just around the corner. And with summer following in-tow, the Trace should be set to see even more visitors in 2015!
Let’s start with history. The Trace has been around a long time. In some form or fashion, it has twisted through the hills and valleys of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee for at least 10,000 years. Evidence of the earliest travelers and settlers are scattered all along its path. From Pharr Mounds located at milepost 286.7 northeast of Tupelo, Mississippi to the Civil War battle grounds of the Battle of Franklin near Franklin, Tennessee, history is on display.
For music fans, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has hosted the likes of W.C. Handy, Bob Segar, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, and Rod Stewart. If you make a stop there, don’t miss the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio – one of the most visited places on the historic music trail.
The Natchez Trace is also a sure bet for small town charm. Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee is quickly becoming known as the Tennessee area’s #1 art destination. Today, there’s plenty of artistry within this small historic village with numerous galleries: try David Arms, the Copper Fox and Leiper’s Creek Gallery.
Like entertainment? There’s always something going on at local entertainment spots like The Lawnchair Theatre and The Franklin Theatre in Franklin, TN (right near Leiper’s Fork.) If you’re hungry, this area welcome visitors at local establishments like Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant and Joe Natural’s. Great people and great food!
Making your way south, you’ll come across Tupelo, Mississippi, better known as the Birthplace of Elvis Presley. Tupelo charms visitors with a unique blend of fascinating history, diverse recreation, a variety of shopping venues and interesting Tupelo tourism attractions. Tupelo is the headquarters to the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, the Tupelo Automobile Museum exhibiting over 100 antique and classic cars, the family-friendly HealthWorks! Kids Museum, which exposes kids to an outbreak of fun and learning and the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo that showcases exotic animals from around the world.
Further south into Mississippi you’ll find Ridgeland, a place offering excellent dining and access to the Ross Barnett Reservoir, a 33,000 acre lake which offers great opportunities for nature-watching, fishing, and various water sports. Ridgeland also boasts the Mississippi Craft Center, a 20,000 square foot facility that represents over 400 artisans from 19 states and displays works elevating crafts to fine art. Open year-round, the center is a perfect destination for the art enthusiast, group tours, meetings or conferences.
There are plenty of beautiful and unique places to get a good night’s rest along the scenic Natchez Trace. Just outside of Tuscumbia, Alabama, you can stay at the magnificent Big Bear Cabin on Pickwick Lake.
In Natchez, there are numerous elegant and historic bed and breakfast options. Take the Devereaux Shields House for example. You can experience “Victorian Southern Comfort” at this historic B&B. Another excellent choice is Monmouth Historic Inn built in 1818. This landmark offers delectable food at Restaurant 1818, along with 26 acres of beautifully manicured grounds.
As one of Top Ten Most Loved Parks in America, there’s no better time than now to plan your trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway and love what everyone else is loving! Over five million annual visitors can’t be wrong, so add your special journey to rolls of savvy travelers taking advantage of the scenic Natchez Trace.