Road Trip 2014 – Mississippi & Alabama

After New Orleans, our road trip continued onto Natchez, Mississippi. I didn’t realize the amount of history you could find in Natchez and I would love to go back someday when it’s nice out and walk around the town. Our first stop in Natchez was Stanton Hall, which was built with money from farming and selling cotton. We took a tour of the house and learned about its rich history.

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Stanton Hall

We then visited the Natchez National Historical Park and walked around the grounds. We didn’t pay to go inside the Melrose Estate shown below, but we did visit some of the other buildings and free exhibits in the park.

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Melrose Estate

We left Natchez and drove along the Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit on our way to Vicksburg, MS. The drive was through the woods and there were several spots you could stop for picnics, walking trails, etc. It definitely would be a scenic drive when the weather is nice, especially in the fall!

The one place we wanted to visit in Vicksburg was the Vicksburg National Military Park. I’m a total history nerd and the Civil War is one of my favorites wars to study, so I was really excited to visit this park. You pay an admission fee per vehicle and can drive around the entire park. They have signs showing where the Union and Confederate soldiers were located, as well as other landmarks. We were given a map of the park that included some of the history of the different stops along the park route. I had a really great time driving around the park and would love to go back when it’s nice out to walk along some of the trails. Here are a few pictures from the park:

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One of the memorials at the park
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They had monuments like this one scattered throughout the park. Most of the monuments had a state written on them to represent a state that fought in the battle at Vicksburg.
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There were cannons and signs throughout the park explaining which army fought in that area. Blue was for the Union.

I couldn’t imagine being a soldier and having to climb all the hills we saw! There was also a USS Cairo Gunboat replica and museum in the park. The boat was sunk in the Mississippi River and they pieced a lot of it back together, so the replica is part old and part new.

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USS Cairo
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You can see the old and new wood mixed together.

After Vicksburg, we drove through Birmingham, AL on our way to Chattanooga, TN. We stopped at Saw’s BBQ for dinner and I had the most delicious loaded baked potato I’ve ever had! They called it a “tater” and it was HUGE, but so incredibly delicious.

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A tater from Saw’s BBQ

After dinner, we drove to Chattanooga, TN, which is where we spent the last day of our road trip. You can read more about Chattanooga in my next post!

Recommendations:

  • Stanton Hall – It was a little pricey for such a short tour, but if you like American history, I’d give it a shot. There are quite a few plantations or houses similar to Stanton Hall to visit in Natchez. We only visited Stanton Hall, but would’ve loved to see a few others.
  • Natchez National Historical Park – In warmer weather, I would definitely visit this park and walk around. As far as I could tell, everything in the park was free except the Melrose Estate.
  • Natchez Trace Parkway – If you like scenic drives, this is a must! You can take the parkway all the way to Tennessee!
  • Vicksburg National Military Park – One of the nicest Civil War military parks I have ever visited. This is a MUST if you’re near Vicksburg and enjoy US history. I’d also recommend checking out the USS Cairo museum while you’re there. It’s free to walk around and they have a bunch of artifacts from the boat as well as exhibits on its history.
  • Saw’s BBQ – You cannot go to Birmingham, AL without checking out Saw’s BBQ. The food was delicious! If we had one in NJ, I’d be there all the time.

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