It started before I even arrived—the friendliness and want to help out a stranger. Maybe that’s what happens when you live in the Land of Bed and Breakfast; you learn how to return to those simple things like kindness, courteousness, bed, and breakfast.
I was planning a paddle trip down a stretch of the Mississippi River, about a hundred miles from Natchez, Mississippi to St. Francisville, Louisiana. Rather than take two taxis, two flights, and two buses to get from Washington, D.C. to Natchez and then immediately hit the water, I thought it would be nice to take a couple of days to relax and finish preparing everything to pack into the canoe. I’d never been to—or even heard of—Natchez before, but some quick research told me that I was headed to the right place.
On the Natchez Tourism Department’s website, I read, “Natchez is known as the Biscuit Capital of the World and also the Bed and Breakfast Capital of the South.”
Now, I like my outdoor adventures. I like to be active. But—I also like to balance that with a good dose of self-indulgent snoozing and brunching. I reached out to the Tourism Department to get some more information, and that was my first sign of the spirit that would accompany the trip. A woman named Amanda not only gave me the insider’s scoop on the area’s bed and breakfast options, but also went above and beyond in welcoming me before I even got there. We had the tricky situation of figuring out what to do with a 16-foot canoe while in town, and she made those logistics simple, connecting us with local business owners along the waterfront who gladly lent us a hand.
Natchez served as the first state capital of Mississippi back in 1817, and recently celebrated its 300th anniversary, making it the oldest continuous settlement on the Mississippi River. The city avoided much of the damage other southern cities faced during the Civil War since it didn’t hold a strategic position. This left it with over 600 examples of antebellum architecture standing today—more than any other city in the South. The city is also the namesake of the Natchez Trace, a centuries-old, 444-mile path from Natchez to Nashville long used by Native Americans before becoming the U.S. thoroughfare it is today. Natchez is rich in its history, as well as its charm, hospitality, and biscuits.
Weymouth Hall is a historic bed and breakfast in Natchez with a famous river view, and also where we would be resting our heads. This gorgeously quirky accommodation is run by a jovial businesswoman named Tabitha with the help of a heartwarming woman named Martha and a little dog named Teddy who will steal your heart, no questions asked.
Its rooms are comfortably decorated with timely antiques, colorful tapestries, and all the pillows a gal could ask for on a four-post bed. The building is an architectural statement resting atop one of the city’s highest grassy bluffs and providing a panoramic view of the mighty Mississippi, Louisiana farmland, and lush, green forest. On the building’s opposite side lies the curiosity of the Natchez City Cemetery, once named “Most Interesting Cemetery in the South” by Turner South. The grounds of Weymouth Hall are well-kept with an enchanting cocktail swimming pool tucked in the back, and—my favorite thing about bed and breakfast life—dozens of opportunities to sit.
You can sit on a swinging bench. You can sit in a lounge chair. You can sit at a patio table. You can sit on some steps. While at Weymouth Hall, I sat in all the places I could, watching the slow movement of barges heading up and down the river, watching the sun set and rise along the water, watching the peacefulness of life simply be. Sometimes I sat and sipped coffee. Sometimes I sat and sipped wine. Sometimes I sat and sipped nothing at all.
It would have been easy to solely lounge for three days, but Weymouth Hall helps remind you to get out and see the town a bit by providing a voucher to go have breakfast at The Castle Restaurant at Dunleith, an original brick carriage house and stables built in the 1790s that resembles a castle. The voucher also includes a tour of the historic home that sits on the 40-acre estate. It is a classic example of Greek revival design and includes 26 Tuscan columns built of brick and stucco.
If you happen to leave your bed and breakfast kingdom during your stay in Natchez, there’s more still to experience in this quaint southern town. We had another breakfast (…or maybe two and a lunch) at Natchez Coffee Co. at the suggestion of Martha, and Martha sure knew what she was talking about. Months later, I’m still dreaming of their homemade yeast bread. Steampunk Coffee Roasters is another place worth popping in—an old house converted into a hip hole-in-the-wall café where a very knowledgeable staff will walk you through a long list of pour-over coffee choices. Natchez is also home to the Natchez National Historical Park Melrose Site, a National Park Service land where just a glimpse of the magical, old cypress pond at the entrance is reason enough to stop by.
I didn’t know about Natchez before I arrived. I ended up there because it was an easy boat ramp at which to meet my boyfriend as he was coming down the river on his way to the Gulf of Mexico. But, I ended up loving my stay. It got me thinking about picking random towns on a map and just going. It got me eager to seek out some of the lesser known National Park Service sites. It also got me thinking about how adventure isn’t always climbing a mountain—it can be lounging in a friendly new town, too. Getting to know the heart and hospitality of a place like Natchez can bring you back to center.
There’s plenty to do in Natchez, Mississippi should you feel so inclined, but something I came to appreciate most about this place was that there was also no judgement in deciding to simply lounge in bed instead. After a day of doing just that, we’d close the night in the Land of Bed and Breakfast resting in the stunning light of Weymouth Hall’s golden hour, beer in hand, reflecting on the river that would soon balance out our sloth-like days.