With gracious architecture, a perfectly preserved old town, charismatic locals and a superb natural setting, Jefferson is the kind of town tourist boards dream about. Once the largest inland river port in the USA, pre–Civil War Jefferson was a mini New Orleans: the stomping grounds of a wild bunch of gamblers, riverboat men and madams. Since then, Jefferson has calmed down considerably.
The town is relatively small, but don't even think of stopping for just an afternoon. The old streets (first laid out in 1842) beg to be strolled, with a requisite stop at one of the soda fountains, of course. Then there are the antique shops to browse, historic homes to tour, ghosts to hunt... Make sure you take a boat ride on the Big Cypress Bayou, part of Caddo Lake. Jefferson's a seductive Southern belle with a checkered past – don't be surprised if you fall under her spell.