Founded by French explorers in 1714, four years before New Orleans, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent European settlement in Louisiana, and the Natchitoches Historic District includes some buildings that date back to the 18th century. The town also hosts the state’s oldest general store, founded in 1863, and it served as the setting for the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias.” Weekend visitors have plenty of options for accommodations, as Natchitoches is home to some of the best bed-and-breakfasts in the state.