While the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace are marvelous all year, I’ve timed my latest visit to coincide with peak fall foliage. No, the Trace isn’t New England, but the forests this National Scenic Byway passes through are majestic all the same, bursting in shades of burnt orange, claret, and saffron from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi.
To prep for the journey, I spent last night at the new Southall Farm & Inn, a 325-acre agritopia in the rolling hills outside Franklin, Tennessee. I could wax poetic about my luxe room or the Seed to Skin–powered facial at the spa, but the most memorable aspect of the property is its apiary program: There are an astounding 6.5 million bees on site, and this morning, after a tour, I enjoy a mango smoothie made with bee pollen and honey at the restaurant, Sojourner.
My route aims south, but at the start I backtrack 11 miles to take in the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, a double-arched wonder that traverses the poetically named Birdsong Hollow. From here, I cruise down the parkway for about an hour, then take a short break to stretch my legs at Fall Hollow Waterfall, a cascade flowing beneath a halo of autumnal color. Skirting the Meriwether Lewis National Monument, where the famed surveyor is buried, I keep on south for some exploring of my own. On some stretches of the road I feel as if I’m moving at the pace of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, but still, it’s less than an hour later that I’m crossing the state line into Alabama and stopping for lunch at Esther’s Eatery in Florence, where I gobble up the signature Ru, Too bowl, featuring Brussels sprouts, Moroccan-spiced carrots, and chicken salad.
I wait for a few minutes as a rainstorm blows through—likely knocking most of the remaining leaves from the trees—before getting back on the road to the Elvis Presley Birthplace, 90 minutes away in Tupelo, Mississippi. I take a tour of the musical landmark, which includes the relocated church where the young King learned to love gospel.
There’s more music at my dinner spot, Romie’s Grocery, where hometown duo Hannah+Karly belt out rock and country tunes while the crowd chows down on Southern fare. (More fried green tomatoes, please.) Soon, I’m off to indulge in my own musical dreams—literally—at the rock ’n’ roll–themed Hotel Tupelo downtown. As my head hits the pillow, I’m already working on the country-fried playlist for the drive home.
2024 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS
The Natchez Trace may not be the Autobahn when it comes to opportunities to open up the throttle, but that doesn’t make it any less pleasant a place to take a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS for a spin (especially if that Porsche is as red as the autumn foliage). From the sport seats to the PASM Sport suspension, everything is engineered to make for a remarkably smooth, relaxed ride. And, hey, when you do need to get up to speed, the 473-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter, flat-six engine will get you from zero to 60 in just 3.1 seconds. Let’s see Elvis’s Cadillac keep up with that.
From $158,200, porsche.com