If you are a fan of the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias, starring Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley McClaine, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Olympia Dukakis, then you owe yourself a road trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana.
That’s because the movie was shot in this central Louisiana town. But more importantly, it’s because Steel Magnolias is the true story of a real family from Natchitoches.
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Natchitoches Louisiana and Steel Magnolias
Natchitoches is the hometown of playwright Robert Harling. His sister, Susan, died from diabetic complications at a young age. The movie, a tribute to his mother and her friends, touched the hearts of millions. As a result, more than 30 years later, fans continue to find their way to Natchitoches to experience this rich southern community.
Steel Magnolias Movie Sites
The oldest city in Louisiana, Natchitoches’ downtown is a 33 square block historic district that showcases beautiful architecture, homes and locally-owned businesses. Many are on the self-guided walking tour of 17 of Steel Magnolia’s filming sites.
You’ll see the church where Shelby got married and the medical center where Shelby eventually died. The cemetery is another stop, and my favorite scene — when Olympia Dukakis suggested Sally Field get over her grief by punching Shirley McClaine. It is considered the oldest cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase.
The Cane River Lake and beautiful parklands surrounding it are among Natchitoches’ loveliest areas. Director Herbert Ross took advantage of that setting for the Easter egg hunt scene and other outdoor shots.
Many of the homes featured in the movie are private residences, but they are often opened for tour during the holiday homes tours and other special events. It’s the one time you can see inside Clairee or Truvy’s homes.
The first weekend in June is a Steel Magnolias girlfriends’ getaway, which features discounts on tours of the Steel Magnolia house. It is now a bed and breakfast inn. The weekend also includes mimosas, garden tours and beauty parlor services, along with a screening of the movie.
Pack your big brimmed hat, a can of hair spray and make it a day with the steel magnolias in your life.
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