Hear about driving the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi as the Amateur Traveler talks to journalist and southerner Kristin Luna.
Kristin says, “the Natchez Trace Parkway is 444 miles of federal parkway that travels from Tennessee, through Alabama and ends in Natchez, Mississippi. My connection to it is the fact that I am a southerner who was looking for ways to travel safely the past few years when I was stuck at home. There was this iconic route that the American Indians took centuries ago that I had never done. So my husband and I started exploring it in chunks by car over the past three years. But it is a road trip that anyone can take if they have a week or ten days or however long they’re willing to dedicate to it.”
We start in Nashville, Tennessee, and then make the short drive to Leiper’s Fork near Franklin, Tennessee, where you can find the northern terminus of the parkway. You can also find the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. Kristin recommends taking some time to explore the Franklin area, including the site of the Civil War Battle of Franklin.
The next place that she recommends we pull off the road is Muscle Shoals. Here in rural Alabama, in an unassuming building is a recording studio where artists like “The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Tamiko Jones, Cher, and Cat Stevens” have recorded. You can also visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the nearby homes of Hellen Keller and of the Father of the Blues W. C. Handy.
Tishomingo State Park is named for one of the last great local Chickasaw leaders. It is a great spot to get out and take a hike or enjoy the park’s swinging bridge.
The Phar Indian Mound is one of the first sets of Native American mounds you will find along the trace. These mounds are over 1800 years old. If you have to pick one set of mounds to explore, Kristin recommends the Empire Mound near the end of the trip.
Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis, and you can learn more about him and his music there. Learn more of the local crafts in the Bill Waller Craft Center.
Kristin recommends the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Art when you visit Mississippi’s capital city of Jackson. The Iron Horse Grill also hides a music museum upstairs. Take in the nightlife at the converted grammar school Duling Hall.
The drive ends at Natchez, which is located on the bluffs over the Mississippi River. Explore some of the antebellum plantations in the area which survived the Civil War.
There are many places to stop along the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is not just a great drive but a piece of American History.
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Camels and Chocolate
Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
Helen Keller Birthplace
W. C. Handy
Weekend in Muscle Shoals Alabama
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Tishomingo State Park
Phar Indian Mound
How to Do Tupelo, Mississippi Like a King (and The King)
Ross Barnett Reservoir
The Bill Waller Craft Center
Meet Jackson, Mississippi’s Capital and Most Vibrant City
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
Mississippi Museum of Art
The Iron Horse Grill
What to do in Natchez
Explore the Natchez Trace
Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge
Meat and Three
Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway through the Hills of Tennessee
Exploring North Mississippi: Tishomingo to Tupelo on the Natchez Trace
From Tupelo to Jackson: Visit the Heartbeat of Mississippi
From Jackson to Natchez: Driving the Final Leg of the Natchez Trace
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