From those who enjoy history to people who love an incredible Sunday drive, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a sight for sore eyes. People have used this tree-lined pathway as a natural trail for travel and trade long before America’s existence.
Some considered it part of the wilderness of the ‘southwest’ before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and its trail saw vagabond travelers and highwaymen, mainly because of its remote location. But the Trace eventually opened up commerce with Natchez and New Orleans, and many towns soon sprang up along the path to Nashville.
Today’s Natchez Trace Parkway follows that original trail, hosting several outdoor adventures, historical attractions, and rustic towns.
What Is the Natchez Trace?
A forested trail used for centuries by the Native Americans, the Natchez Trace connects Nashville, Tennessee, with Natchez, Mississippi. It is about 440 miles long and follows natural locations like salt licks, rivers, and a geologic ridge, where people and animals would naturally travel.
Until the 1900s, people consistently used the Natchez Trace, as it connects the Tennessee, Mississippi, and Cumberland Rivers.
Once automobiles entered the picture, developers widened the Trace for cars and created inns for food and rest along the path. Travelers referred to these as “stands,” and several are marked today along the Natchez Trace Parkway, although few remain.
The Parkway is a paved 444-mile-long road that follows most of Trace’s original path. It falls under the National Park Service’s Scenic Parkway designations, protecting this historic trail and providing three campgrounds within its boundaries.
Where Does the Natchez Trace Begin and End?
Because it connects the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers, the Trace is never far from the water. Starting in Natchez, Mississippi, early travelers began their trek north and east to settlements where they could trade. They concluded their travel in Nashville, Tennessee.
How Long Does It Take to Drive the Whole Natchez Trace?
On the paved Natchez Trace Parkway, travelers could drive the entire length in a day if they chose not to stop or enjoy some of its activities or sights. There are historical markers, hiking and biking trails, and many attractions.
There’s no reason to skip eating the excellent fried chicken at the Old Country Store in Lorman, Mississippi. Natchez Trace travelers made that business famous!
It’s also worth noting that the speed limit along the Natchez Trace Parkway is 50 mph, so why not revel in a leisurely drive through this unique piece of American history?
Can You Drink Your Way Through the Natchez Trace?
With four family-owned wineries along the Trace, it would be easy to drink your way through your trek. But these succulent stops are all within an hour’s drive of Nashville, Tennessee, so you might find yourself teetotaling for the rest of your journey!
We suggest that you indulge while in and around Music City, then keep some other refreshments on hand as you explore the rest of Natchez Trace Parkway. There is much to do and see, and you won’t want to miss it.
These are the best local bars to visit while exploring the Great Smoky Mountains 🍻
Natchez Trace Wine Trail
This wine tour is conveniently close to Nashville rather than down the entire length of the Natchez Trace. The four wineries listed here are family-owned, and a visit to each will give you great insight into different grape selections as the Trace itself, as some of them are at historic Natchez Trace Stand locations.
Grinder’s Switch Winery
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Address: 2119 Hwy 50 West Loop, Centerville, TN 37033
Begun nearly a decade ago, Grinder’s Switch is on seven acres near the old Grinder’s Switch Stand along the Natchez Trace Trail. They have a second location in downtown Nashville and offer free tastings.
Their wines run from fruit-flavored varieties like blackberry and cherry to red and white muscadines and white Gewurztraminer wines.
Keg Springs Winery
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Address: 361 Keg Springs Road, Hampshire, TN 38461
Another Natchez Trace Stand was Keg Springs, and the winery now in the same area commemorates that history. Tastings here are free, as well, and they provide weekly entertainment.
They offer rieslings, cabernets, muscadines, and fruit wines like strawberry, peach, and blackberry.
Amber Falls Winery
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Address: 794 Ridgetop Road, Hampshire, TN 38461
Located on a ridge in the rolling Tennessee hills, Amber Falls has some award-winning wines. They range from cabernets to pinot grigios, syrahs, and rieslings.
Their specialty is a homemade creation called Cajunfest that complements any spicy meals. A second location is in Nashville.
Natchez Hills Vineyard
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Address: 109 Overhead Bridge Road, Hampshire, TN 38461
This boutique winery also serves as a wedding venue, with beautiful gardens in a cozy setting. They have a second location at The Hermitage, close to Nashville.
Tastings are $6 per glass, and the winery offers rieslings, sauvignon blanc, fruit wines, and a “dirty tea!”
What Is the Famous Street in Nashville With All the bars?
If you start (or finish) your Natchez Trail journey in Nashville, Tennessee, you should venture around town for the sightseeing and gastronomic indulgences. From a tour of the Mother Church of Country Music, or Ryman Auditorium, to the West End and Printer’s Row, numerous attractions make Nashville a vibrant city.
Get a taste of Nashville’s famous Hattie B’s hot chicken, or grab a bite to eat at Bluebird Cafe or Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge while listening to Country Music artists. Many of these renowned spots are on Lower Broadway, where bars, museums, and music collide. It’s aptly named the Honky Tonk Highway.
Is Drinking Your Way Through the Natchez Trace Worth It?
Drink, eat, walk, bike, or drive through the Natchez Trace whenever you find yourself in the area. It’s a scenic trip through history with plenty of activities.
Discover untold stories about the Lewis and Clark Expedition or follow country music history in Nashville, or head down to the Blues Trail in Mississippi. You can even enjoy a leisurely drive off the beaten path. But don’t miss this gem in America’s southern region.
Where is the first place you’ll visit on the Natchez Trace?
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