Begin your Mississippi vacation! Make your own arrangements
for travel to the Fairview Inn, where we stay for one night and get our first
sampling of Southern hospitality. If you're flying in, you'll have the option
to meet VBT's complimentary shuttle upon your arrival at Jackson-Evers
International Airport. Shuttle reservations are not required as the shuttle
works on a “show and go” basis and will make its only departure from the
airport to the inn at 2 p.m. Shuttle reservations are not required and not
available. Meet the driver, who will be
holding a VBT sign, in the baggage claim area on the ground floor. There will also be a chauffeur in the third
lane as you exit the airport from the baggage claim area. They will also be holding a VBT sign. If you are scheduled to arrive at the
airport after 2 p.m. or if you are delayed, you must take a taxi at your own
expense. If you are driving to the tour, we recommend that you park your
vehicle at the Fairview Inn. You may return to the inn at the end of the tour
by way of the VBT van. If you are delayed or your travel plans change, please
contact the first inn; they will inform your VBT Trip Leaders.
At 3:30 p.m., meet your VBT Trip Leaders and the rest of the
group at the inn for a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a short
warm-up ride. The ride, through a primarily residential neighborhood of Jackson,
passes the Eudora Welty House, at 1119 Pinehurst. The world-famous author lived
and worked here, composing almost of her work in this very home from 1925 until
she passed in 2001.
At 5:00 p.m., get to know your fellow travelers during a
welcome reception and tour orientation. Southern hospitality continues with
dinner at a local restaurant.
Guests wishing to enjoy the spa at the Fairview Inn are
encouraged to make reservations in advance.
Day 2 - Rocky Springs / Vicksburg
This morning, after our first Southern breakfast, we'll
shuttle (approximately 60 minutes) to Dean's Stand on the Natchez Trace
Parkway. Here, we start our ride to the curious, eerie town of Rocky Springs
and then continue on the parkway to Port Gibson.
The Old Natchez Trace was a 500-mile footpath that ran
through the lands of Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, and it connected Natchez,
Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. Today's pastoral parkway loosely follows
the route of the old trace. It took 71 years to complete, is managed by the
National Park Service, and was designated an All-American Road by the U.S.
Department of Transportation. That means no commercial traffic is permitted,
and the speed is limited to 50 mph.
Rocky Springs was, for many years during the latter part of
the 18th and most of the 19th century, a thriving community on the Old Natchez
Trace. In 1878, the town was struck by yellow fever, and in the early 1900s the
boll weevil destroyed most of the cotton crop. Burdensome taxes, the town's
inaccessibility and almost 100 years of poor farm management and soil erosion
ultimately led to the town's demise. One by one, the citizens began to move
away. Finally, in the 1930s, the last store closed, and even the natural
springs for which the town was named began to dry up. One of its only
surviving, intact buildings is the Methodist Church.
Continuing on, we will arrive in Port Gibson, the town
declared “too beautiful to burn” by Ulysses S. Grant during his Siege of
Vicksburg. Once in Port Gibson, explore the historic town, or continue on to
visit Windsor Ruins. Windsor was built by Smith Coffee Daniel II just prior to
the start of the Civil War. He died tragically at the age of 34, just a few
weeks after the mansion was completed. Set on a plantation that originally
covered 2,600 acres, the four-story home had 25 rooms, 25 fireplaces and a
school and dairy at the basement level. Confederate troops used the roof
observatory to watch for Union advances. Windsor survived the war, thanks to
its use as a Union hospital. But irony lent a merciless hand in 1890, when this
magnificent home was lost to a fire brought on by a careless smoker. Today, all
that remains of Windsor are 23 of the original 29 columns, each 45 feet tall,
plus a piece of the balustrade that connected them.
After lunch in Port Gibson, we will shuttle to Vicksburg,
where we'll stay for two nights. Our accommodations are in two of the town's
finest historic mansions – Baer House Inn and Anchuca– both located in
Mississippi's Historic District, so you'll savor every moment no matter which
you call home. After settling in, we’ll
gather together at Anchuca for dinner.
Day 3 - Vicksburg Battlefield Loop
Wake up to another hearty Southern breakfast. You'll want to
allow plenty of time to enjoy it! Riding out from the inns, we cycle through
Vicksburg and the overlooks of the Mississippi, through Civil War battlefields
and into the Vicksburg National Military Park. We'll ride through the park,
stopping at the Visitor Center, where you might choose to watch a short
orientation film. Historian Harold Lee will join us in the park to bring
history alive, and we'll stop at select monuments for discussion.
Today's ride is perhaps the week's most challenging; the
park roads stretch over a series of rolling hills set above the Mississippi.
Naturally, you'll want to tour “the battlefield loop” at a pace that suits you,
stopping at the interpretive markers and monuments along the low-trafficked
park roads. This is where we enjoy a picnic lunch and learn more about the
decisive Siege of Vicksburg. Before leaving the park, be sure to visit the USS
Cairo Museum and the reassembled ironclad Union gunboat that was sunk by a
Cycling back to the inns, stop for a worthwhile visit to the
Old Courthouse Museum, housed in one of the city's most impressive antebellum
buildings. Its nine rooms are packed with artifacts donated by residents, and
each is marked with an interesting or even unusual story.
Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own in the town of Vicksburg.
Day 4 - Natchez Trace Parkway to Natchez
After breakfast, we'll shuttle to Port Gibson, where we'll
rejoin the Natchez Trace Parkway, heading south to Natchez. Along the way,
you'll have several opportunities to pause and take in some of the parkway's
vistas and historic sites. You might take a break along the way to stroll
through the hardwood pine forests around Bullen Creek. Enjoy a picnic lunch
prepared by your leaders at Coles Creek, and then linger awhile at Mount
Locust, Mississippi's first inn that served warm meals and a cozy bed to weary
travelers seeking a respite from their journey on the trace.
Next, pedal to Emerald Mound, built by ancestors of the
Natchez Indians. Designated a National Historic Landmark, Emerald Mound is one
of the largest mounds in North America, covering eight acres. The mound was
built by depositing earth along the sides of a natural hill, thus reshaping it
and creating an enormous artificial plateau. Emerald Mound was created and used
as a ceremonial center by the local residents during the Mississippian period
between 1250 and 1600. By the late 1600s, the Natchez had abandoned Emerald
Mound and established their capital at the Grand Village, some 12 miles to the
Continuing on, perhaps you'll stop to visit the Elizabeth
Female Academy, the state's first school for women. Then, ride into Natchez and
on to Monmouth Plantation, a National Historic Landmark that has received the
highest praise from the likes of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure
magazines. Upon arrival, retreat to the study for your favorite drink and a
lively start to the evening. We'll stay here for the next two nights, perhaps
indulging in a few games of croquet or strolls through the accommodation's
Tonight, horse-drawn carriages carry us through town, where
you'll find a number of excellent options for dinner on your own.
Day 5 - Antebellum Pilgrimage / Natchez
Natchez is known around the world for its Spring Pilgrimage,
held every year between the first week of March and the first week in April.
“Pilgrimage,” as it is now called, was started in the first half of the 20th
century by Katherine Grafton Miller. Known as “Play Mama” to her friends,
Miller convinced her fellow Garden Club members to open their homes to visitors
for several days so all could see “where the Old South still lives and where
shadowed highways and antebellum homes greet old and new friends.” These
pilgrims, many from the north, were personally driven from home to home and
regaled with tales told by ladies wearing hoop skirts and holding parasols. The
money brought in by these efforts allowed the homes to escape disrepair,
particularly during the days of the Great Depression. A well-publicized visit
by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt put the tradition on the map, and it continues
Eventually, Pilgrimage grew into a multi-week event,
occurring in the spring, and in the fall. However, many of these homes offer
guided visits year round and these visits have become Natchez' number-one draw,
an ongoing and vital venture that keeps the city thriving.
Today, we reenact the pilgrimage VBT style, cycling a scenic
route through Natchez, past magnolia and dogwood trees and taking in the best
of the town. We've included admission for you to tour a number of the finest
properties. Choose from guided tours of homes including Rosalie, known for its
rosewood furniture, Stanton Hall, owned by the Pilgrimage Garden club and the
ornate (yet unfinished), Longwood. And, of course, you'll ride to these
historic homes at your own pace. Should you feel parched, you may wish to stop
and enjoy a mint julep over lunch at the Carriage House Restaurant on Stanton
Hall's grounds. The Carriage House is the local's choice for fried chicken,
buttered biscuits and pecan pie.
For those seeking more mileage, pedal out to the Natchez
Trace Parkway and cycle as far as you would like before retracing your way to
On the last night of your trip to Mississippi enjoy a
memorable five-course candlelight dinner of contemporary Southern cuisine in
our inn's acclaimed dining room.
Day 6 - Depart for home
The tour concludes after breakfast. Join our complimentary
shuttle to either Jackson-Evers International Airport or to our first inn in
Jackson. The shuttle departs from Natchez at 9:30 a.m., arriving at the airport
around 12:00 noon, and at the inn at 12:30 pm. We suggest you schedule your
flight home no earlier than 1:30 p.m.