A GIRLS’ GETAWAY TO NATCHITOCHES, LOUISIANA
Have you ever met your girlfriends for dinner and wished the laughter, support, camaraderie, and fun could last longer than a few hours? Then it’s time to plan a girls’ getaway. It’s good medicine for the heart and soul, and research supports this, indicating trips with friends can promote long-term happiness and better mental health.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE Finding a destination that appeals to everyone in your group is essential. Natchitoches (pronounced NAK-ə-təsh), where Steel Magnolias was filmed, is an ideal choice for many. Around a four-hour drive from both DFW and Houston, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase is steeped in history and offers a cultural blend of Spanish, Native American, African, Creole, and American influences. There are plenty of things to do, from shopping and dining in the Historic District to strolling along the Riverwalk by Cane River Lake and visiting historical sites.
STAY LOCAL Plan to stay at a B and B or rent a guest house for an immersive Natchitoches experience. There are so many wonderful options, and it’s impossible to cover all of them.
The six-bedroom Steel Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast is the home where Sally Field and her family lived in the movie. A popular choice, which means you need to make reservations well in advance. It’s within walking distance of the historic downtown, decorated with beautiful antiques, and features original wood floors, a grand staircase, crystal chandeliers, and eight gas-lit fireplaces.
We loved the idea of having an entire house to ourselves for our party of five and chose the restored five-bedroom, three-bathroom Elizabeth Lane Guest House on Henry Avenue. Located a half-mile from the historic downtown, just over the Church Street Bridge, the 3,700 square foot house boasts a peaceful backyard with a saltwater pool, a screened-in back porch with fans, and a gourmet kitchen that includes a six-burner commercial stove.
ARRIVAL I was the first to get there on a Thursday around 4 PM. After unpacking, I went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients we had agreed on for breakfasts and for a Saturday night meal we’d prepare together in the kitchen.
Once everyone arrived and settled in, it was time for dinner at Merci Beaucoup Restaurant. The single-story building located near The Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception Church was a pleasant walk from the house. We each enjoyed the Church Street salad tossed in a divine homemade orange dressing, then shared Crab St. Denis (crab cakes topped with crawfish etouffee) and an oyster plate among us. Ranked as one of Louisiana’s safest cities, we felt perfectly comfortable walking “home” in the evening after dinner.
DAY ONE Eager to indulge in some retail therapy, we crossed the bridge to the quaint historic downtown, with its brick streets, live oaks and magnolia trees, and wrought-iron laced buildings. Browsing through specialty stores, we enjoyed talking with friendly merchants treating us to Southern hospitality Louisiana-style. The Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store, established in 1863, is not to be missed. Its nostalgic charm is rare in this day and age, and they carry everything from souvenirs to distinctively unique items.
Finally, shopped out, we arrived at Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant around 1 PM. The local favorite has served its share of celebrities and has been featured in numerous magazines. Their stick-to-your-ribs pies filled with meats and other savory ingredients aren’t for calorie counters. They’re for food lovers who want to sample local cuisine and step back in time. We started with Louisiana corn fritters served with honey and butter, then dug into a shared crawfish platter and a meat pie platter.
After such a lunch, a long walk along the Riverwalk was in order before taking an afternoon Friday cruise on the Cane River Queen Riverboat.