Hear about driving the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi as you talk to amateur travel journalist and southerner Kristin Luna.
Kristin explains, “The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile federal parkway that runs from Tennessee through Alabama and ends in Natchez, Mississippi. My connection to this is that I’ve been a southerner looking for ways to travel safely when I’ve been stuck at home for the past few years. There was this iconic route that American Indians took centuries ago that I had never done. So my husband and I have started exploring by car in parts over the past three years. But it’s a journey that anyone can join, whether they’re willing to dedicate a week, ten days, or how long.”
We start in Nashville, Tennessee and then take a short drive to Leiper’s Fork near Franklin, Tennessee, where you can find the north end of the parkway. You can also find the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. Kristin recommends taking some time out to explore the Franklin area, including the Franklin Civil War War site.
The next place he recommends we get out of the way is Muscle Shoals. In a modest building in rural Alabama is a recording studio that artists love. “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” they recorded. He is also inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the nearby Hellen Keller and Father of the Blues WC Handy.
Tishomingo State Park is named after one of the last great local Chickasaw leaders. It’s a great spot to go out for a walk or enjoy the park’s swinging bridge.
Phar Indian Mound is one of the first Native American mounds you will find along the trail. These mounds are over 1800 years old. If you need to pick a series of mounds to explore, Kristin suggests Empire Mound towards the end of the trip.
Tupelo is Elvis’ birthplace and you can learn more about him and his music there. Learn more about local crafts at the Bill Waller Craft Center.
Kristin recommends the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Mississippi Art Museum when you visit Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. The Iron Horse Grill also hides a music museum upstairs. Join the nightlife at Duling Hall, the converted grammar school.
The drive ends in Natchez, located on the bluffs on the Mississippi River. Explore some of the antebellum plantations in the area that survived the Civil War.
There are many places to stop along the Natchez Trace Parkway. It’s not just a great ride, it’s also a piece of American History.
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Camels and Chocolate
Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
Helen Keller Birthplace
Weekend in Muscle Shoals Alabama
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Tishomingo State Park
Phar Indian Mound
How to Make Tupelo, Mississippi King-like (and King)
Ross Barnett Reservoir
Bill Waller Craft Center
Meet Jackson, Mississippi’s Capital and Liveliest City
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
Mississippi Art Museum
Iron Horse Grating
What to do in Natchez
Discover Natchez Trace
Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge
Meat and Three
Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway through the Tennessee Hills
Exploring Northern Mississippi: On the Natchez Trail from Tishomingo to Tupelo
From Tupelo to Jackson: Visit the Heartbeat of Mississippi
Jackson to Natchez: Riding Natchez Trace’s Last Feet
Travel to Silicon Valley, California – Episode 808
Paul Feist says:
Crickey! Don’t scare me like that! Starting a post with “After 17 years of podcasting…”. It usually ends with “I’m retiring”…. You’re the LAST TRUE TRAVEL Podcast! Everyone else has become “How to make money podcasting about travel and how to get free stuff as an influencer and digital nomad and twenty trendy words we’ll repeat over and over until your ears bleed”… Thank you for being consistently awesome!
The maternal side of the family was from this area and had many happy childhood hours here so I particularly enjoyed it! My favorite places were the San Jose flea market, Pachinko Palace, Lake Vasona and of course Great America.
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Amateur Traveler Trips