Quick Weekend Trips From Lafayette, Part 1 :: Natchitoches

With three young kids, it is hard, and sometimes painful, to travel long distances. But it is never as painful as being stuck at your house for another weekend with nothing to do. As often as we can, we try to get out of town for a couple of days and take the kids on an adventure to somewhere that is within at least four hours of Lafayette. This past weekend we were lucky enough to stay at a family friends’ camp on Cane River just south of Natchitoches. Natchitoches is the cutest little town and the perfect weekend getaway that is only a tolerable, two hour drive from Lafayette. 

Places to Stay

There are several different routes you can take for lodging, but you surely cannot go wrong with any of these choices.

  1. Hotel – Church Street Inn and Chateau Saint Denis are two hotels that are located in the downtown area. Staying at one of these hotels will put you right in the middle of all that Natchitoches has to offer. 
  2. Bed and breakfast -There are also tons of bed and breakfasts in the area to choose from that will give you a more quaint and charming space to rest your head while visiting. Steel Magnolia House, need I say more … Just take your pick from any of the beautiful and historic homes around the city.
  3. House rental – Another option is to rent a house on the Cane River through a site like VRBO or Air BNB. Renting a house gives you more space, privacy, and also the option for boating; if that is your thing (hint hint … boating, or should I say fishing, is my husband’s thing). Renting a house allows you to move at a slower pace and just soak up the beautiful surroundings.

Things to do

There are endless possibilities to keep yourself busy and occupied in this part of the state.

  1. Fishing / Boating – See # 3 above. But honestly, both of these are possible on Cane River or in nearby Toledo Bend.
  2. Downtown -You can walk around downtown and shop at any of the clothing stores (I ended up there with only the tennis shoes on my feet and found a precious pair of mules at Brenda’s for only $35), gift shops, antique stores, or just enjoy a walk along the beautiful waterfront on Front Street. 
  3. Museums – National Fish Hatchery & Aquarium (small, free, & air conditioned), Alligator Park, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and the Natchitoches Old Courthouse Museum.
  4. History -There is no shortage of historic buildings and places to visit: Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site, Oakland Plantation, or the Cane River National Heritage Trail.
  5. Festival of Lights – During the holiday season, there is a spectacular light display in the downtown area. On select weekends there are also fireworks, music, and other attractions.

Places to Eat

  1. Downtown – If you are walking around the downtown area and looking for some food, there are plenty of places to choose from. Some popular choices are Mama’s or Papa’s (they just so happen to be owned by the same people and are right next door to each other), the Landing, or Lasyone’s (for some meat pies).  
  2. Waterfront – If you are looking for waterfront or outdoor dining, two popular choices would be Maglieaux’s on Cane River or Mariner’s on Sibley Lake.
  3. Cane River Commissary – If you end up touring Oakland Plantation, the Commissary is nearby and would be a safe bet for a good meal.
  4. Dives – You can also find more down home, comfort food like plate lunches at Almost Home or some of the best BBQ at Grayson’s BBQ (about a 20 minute ride to Clarence, La). If you go to Grayson’s, make sure you get extra rolls for the kids to snack on in the car on the ride back to Natchitoches.  
  5. Gas station – Seriously, the bakery is too good to pass up so I just had to include it!! On your way out of town, make sure you stop at the French Market Express to fill the car up with gas and your bellies with some delicious Cajun food and baked goods. Some of the best gingerbread cookies I have ever had! Also, maybe a souvenir or two before you get out of town.

Pack the kids and husband up and head down to Natchitoches for a quick, yet unforgettable, weekend escape.

Lauren James
Lauren is a native New Orleanian that was transplanted to Lafayette in 2008 by her husband of 11 years, Daniel. She has a B.S.N. from Louisiana State University – School of Nursing and a M.S.N. from the University of South Alabama. Her “paying gig” is as a Nurse Practitioner with a focus in Quality/Infection Prevention at a local hospital. Her other full-time gig is as keeper of her home and mom to William 7, Mary Kathryn 6, and Benjamine 2. Most of her days at home are spent picking up toys and socks off the floor so the family Bernese Mountain Dog, Tipper, does not demolish them. When she has a spare moment, she enjoys reading crime novels, playing board game with her kids, cooking and baking foods that are not on her diet, and finding any reason to celebrate by drinking her beloved champagne. To burn off a few calories and any leftover energy, the family enjoys walking or riding bikes on the shaded boulevard on which they live. Lauren has fallen in love with the people and city of Lafayette and is very proud to raise her family here and to now call it home.


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