Steel Magnolias is one of the most recognized Southern movies. Based on the play by Robert Harling about true events, the story revolves around the women of Truvy’s Beauty Parlor. It stars Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts as the cast of strong-willed Southern women.
Writer Harling chose his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana as the place to turn his off-broadway play into a film. It was filmed over six months in the summer of 1988 and was later nominated for an Academy Award.
Visitors can tour many of the locations used in the film on the self-guided Steel Magnolias film tour. Please note that some places are private homes so don’t trespass. And if you haven’t seen the movie, there are spoilers ahead!
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Looking for more locations to visit? The Movie District has many of the homes and other places.
Steel Magnolias Landmarks in Natchitoches
Shelby’s Funeral takes place at the American Cemetery, which is on 2nd Street between Demeziere and the railroad tracks. It was established in 1737 with the Catholic Church of St. Francis, making it one of the oldest in the Louisiana Purchase. Many of the earliest Natchitoches families are buried here.
The flower-covered grassy lawn of the Cane riverfront is the site of the Easter egg hunt. Called Beau Jardin, it’s on the lower level of the 800 block of Washington Street. This area is also one of the best spots to participate in the Natchitoches Christmas Festival.
Purchased by Alex Lemee in 1849, the Lemee House served as Ouiser’s House in the film, right next door to the Steel Magnolias House. The building once operated as a branch of the Union Bank of New Orleans. Today, it’s an event facility operated by Melrose Plantation.
St. Augustine Church
Shelby’s wedding took place at St. Augustine Catholic Church, located in a small, rural community on the Cane River outside of Natchitoches. The church was founded by free people of color and is the final resting place for noted folk artist Clementine Hunter. Visitors can roam the cemetery or attend mass to get an inside look at the church.
Steel Magnolias House
The home where Shelby’s wedding reception took place was originally built as a store to serve the folks at the nearby fort. It was converted into a family residence and after the success of the movie, it became a bed and breakfast.
Susan Harling Robinson Memorial Park
Named for Harling’s sister, the inspiration for Shelby, the small park near the Steel Magnolias House has the “walk of fame” featuring the actresses from the film. Located at the corner of Cypress Avenue and Pine Street, there’s also information on Harling’s life.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Truvy’s church is actually Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 533 2nd Street downtown. The first service was held in 1839 and it was one of the first non-Catholic churches in town. Visitors can attend weekly services.
Other Steel Magnolias Landmarks to Visit
Some of the locations are further afield. The football game interviews are at the Field House of Northwestern State University, which also had a soundstage used in filming. Clairee and Ouiser went shopping at Super One at Dixie Plaza, a local grocery store. Shelby gave birth at the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center on Keyser Avenue, which is still a functioning hospital.
Truvy’s No. 2, the iconic hair salon, was at Blanchard Building on Front Street, but nothing from filming remains there. Mrs. Robeline’s boarding house, Annelle and Sammy’s House, Truvy’s house, Clairee’s house, and Shelby and Jackson’s houses are all private homes.
Where to Eat in Natchitoches
During their six months in town, the actors from Steel Magnolias became regulars at Natchitoches restaurants. Daryl Hannah loved Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant, a longtime local restaurant serving the classic Natchitoches meat pie.
Dolly loved Mariner’s Restaurant, first opened in 1983 and latter bought and remodeled in 2020. The seafood restaurant sits along Sibley Lake. Other favorites around town are Maglieaux’s and Merci Beaucoup.
Where to Stay in Natchitoches
If you’re on a Steel Magnolias pilgrimage, the best place to stay is the one used in the film, now called Steel Magnolias House Bed and Breakfast. You can stay in guest rooms named for the characters and enjoy a hearty Southern breakfast daily.
The Chaplin House Bed and Breakfast served as Aunt Fern’s home in the film. Chateau Saint Denis is another option, located in the heart of downtown with a fitness center and free parking.