As someone who has lived in Natchitoches their entire life, I know how dull this town can seem at first. Any small town requires creativity when finding ways to occupy time; with a little research, students can find Natchitoches offers more than what first meets the eye.
I have compiled a list of tips on how to make the most of your time at NSU that I hope inspires you to get out of your dorm and explore the Natchitoches community.
Put down the ramen noodles, kids, because many restaurants in Natchitoches offer discounts if you present a valid NSU student ID.
Every Monday night, The Cove located inside Mariner’s hosts 50-cent wing night. If you aren’t in the mood for wings, Front Street Marketplace has a Monday night special, too: all you can eat spaghetti! Every Tuesday night, Papa’s hosts “Big C Night,” offering the popular “Big C Burger” at a discounted price. If you’re over 21, Maglieaux’s offers bottomless mimosas every Sunday.
Restaurants aren’t the only businesses that offer discounts, though. Students can receive a discount at Parkway Cinema 6 on Keyser Avenue and at several clothing stores, including Lux Clothing & Accessories. Also, because the Recreation Complex on Highway 1 is owned by NSU, students get in free with a student ID.
A good rule of thumb is to always ask businesses if they offer a student discount. It may not seem like much at the time, but one or two dollars off can really add up over time and make a difference for the broke college kid.
Natchitoches offers many options for when you want to get outdoors and stretch your legs. Beau Jardin — which translates to “beautiful garden” — is pretty self-explanatory. This spot is perfect for relaxing by the water, having a picnic or reading a book under the foliage.
The rest of the riverbank, although currently under construction, is also an attractive spot. For students who enjoy nature walks, Chaplin Lake offers a walking trail on the east side of campus with benches and several places for setting up hammocks or towels to relax.
If you’re an animal-lover, you can volunteer at the Natchitoches Humane Society to walk a dog, which is really a win-win situation. Who doesn’t love dogs? I’m guessing only people without souls.
Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in Louisiana, so it’s no surprise that the town offers plenty for history buffs. Fort St. Jean Baptiste, located on Jefferson Street, includes a replication of the original fort site and artifacts from the period. Drive a few miles past the movie theater on Keyser Avenue and you will find three plantation houses: Oakland, Magnolia and Melrose. Each spring, Melrose Plantation hosts the Arts and Crafts Festival offering house tours and vendors.
Speaking of festivals, Natchitoches is home to several, including the Meat Pie Festival, Christmas Festival, Jazz Festival and Dark Woods, to name a few. No matter what time of year, it’s pretty much guaranteed there is a festival in town.
Natchitoches also offers a “Steel Magnolias” tour showing sightseers each location related to the famous 1989 movie.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is home to interactive media and highlights the history of sports in our state.
Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile is the oldest general store in Louisiana. Stepping inside will make anyone feel like they’ve stepped into an episode of “Little House on the Prairie.”
Unknown to many students, Natchitoches has an aquarium, bowling alley, art gallery and skating rink. One of my personal favorite places in town is the parish library on Second Street; I love to read, but even students who don’t can come here for some quiet time. In my opinion, it’s a lot cozier than Watson Library on campus.
Believe it or not, it’s also possible to find night-life activities in Natchitoches. Pioneer Pub and Maglieaux’s both offer a laid-back environment perfect for enjoying the company of good friends and, on some nights, live music: Thursday for the pub and Saturday for Maglieaux’s. For people wanting more of a club feel, The Press Box is great for dancing or playing pool.
If all else fails, it’s totally possible to make your own fun as well! Sometimes relaxing at home with close friends, pizza and a few movies on Netflix is the best way to go. No matter which option you choose, fun can be found in Natchitoches. The town may be small, but its heart is huge.