Want to learn more about the history and culture of Louisiana? Here’s a guide on how to visit Natchitoches (and how to say it!) like a local.
Natchitoches has fewer than 20,000 people — enough for city status but not too many that you don’t still have that small town feel. Plus, if your next vacation is all about having an educational experience, Natchitoches’s history is perfect and up to the occasion with everything from Native American culture to Civil War history. Like to have your kids try new foods? Again, this town is a winner in every respect.
But before you arrive, if you really want to get around like a local, train everyone in your party how to properly pronounce this Native American city name: it’s like knack-a-tish, or knack-a-dish. It’s derived from a local native tribe, the Natchitoches, and they may have been so named after a word in their own native language: nashitosh.
Through history, the spelling has changed until its current Natchitoches, but the way it’s pronounced remains true to the way the original word, nashitosh, is pronounced. As long as you don’t pronounce it the way it looks, you’ll do just fine.
But why is knack-a-dish a place you’d want to visit?
Well, it could be the views of Cane River Lake from the beautiful Beau Jardin. It could be the rich culture and history or the eclectic and fun festivals held throughout the year. Or it could be something entirely different — whatever the case, visitors and locals alike find something particularly endearing about Natchitoches. Even Oprah Winfrey designated it the “Best Little Town in the United States” in 2002. And Beau Jardin played a starring role in the 1989 classic Steel Magnolias, too.
Beau Jardin is a public garden along Cane River Lake. It’s the perfect spot to catch a shady break from the day and bask amidst the glory of the landscaped views and the sounds of the varied waterfalls and other features — its name is translated from the French and means “beautiful garden”. After dark, the park is lit up beautifully. And with 24-hour/day access, it’s perfect for a midnight stroll or a quiet respite. Bring your sketchbook! It’s right in the heart of Natchitoches and offers easy access to the rest of the historic district.
Locals know the town as Louisiana’s Bed & Breakfast Capital. With good reason, too — there’s more than 30 different places you can hang your hat and be well-fed come morning.