Mississippi is an underrated Southern state. I came to be familiar with it when my daughter, Taylor, went to college at the University of Mississippi. I frequently visit the Magnolia State and always find fun and unique things to do while I am there. Mississippi may surprise you with its rich history, fabulous food, festivals for everything you can think of, and impressive SEC college football. This is one state that you do not want to miss! Here are my 5 favorite Mississippi cities to explore.
The capital of Mississippi, Jackson, is full of fun. Its impressive capitol building is great to photograph and the grounds are interesting to walk through. The architecture on these old buildings is impressive to say the least.
One of my favorite things to do while in town is to attend a Mississippi Braves baseball game. This upscale ballpark offers good food and lots of entertainment.
Foodies will enjoy the Fondren area of Jackson, a retro village with exquisite eateries and bakeries. Stop in Saltine Oyster Bar for fresh oysters and Brent’s Drugs for lip-smacking Southern dishes. For date night, visit the impressive Char Restaurant or BRAVO! for fabulous foods and impeccable service.
History buffs looking to seek out civil rights historic sites should visit Medger Evers and Eudora Welty’s homes. If you visit Jackson in the fall, the Mississippi State Fair is a must.
Oxford is touted as the “Cultural Mecca of the South“. It is home to the University of Mississippi, better known as Ole Miss, a school of Southern traditions with an heir of sophistication. The school was founded in 1848 and is one of the nation’s best public universities. The SEC Ole Miss Rebels are a favorite sports team in Mississippi. Famous alumni include Archie and Eli Manning, Michael Oher, Kate Jackson, and John Grisham.
The Square is the heart of town. Built around Oxford’s gorgeous white Courthouse, the Square is home to elegant boutiques, upscale and trendy restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. I love perusing through Square Books, one of the top ranked independent book stores in the nation. Another favorite is Nielson’s Department Store. Open for 175 years, Nielson’s is a popular locally owned, stand-alone department store. My favorite restaurants on the Square are South Depot, Soulshine, Bouré, and Oxford Grillehouse.
Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner lived in Oxford on a property called Rowan Oak. Tours of Rowan Oak are available and I definitely recommend taking one. The property is gorgeous and the landscape is adorned with moss-dripping live oaks and rowan trees. Faulkner’s house still contains pretty much everything as it was left, including penned manuscripts and his Nobel Prize. St. Peter’s Cemetery is home to Faulkner’s grave.
Greenwood is located in Mississippi’s Delta, a “neglected corner of America”. Although Greenwood is an economically depressed area and has an impoverished past, there are noteworthy reasons to visit.
The chic Alluvian Hotel is located in Greenwood. I hope to stay there some day; it looks perfect for a girls’ weekend getaway. Greenwood is known for its fine dining culinary scene with the noteworthy restaurants Giardina’s, Serio’s, and Crystal Grill.
Famous actor Morgan Freeman is from Greenwood; you may even see him pumping gas at a local station when he visits. Greenwood is a stop on the Mississippi Blues trail and a wonderful place to hear fantastic rhythm and blues.
Greenwood provided the backdrop for the DreamWorks Studios 2010 award winning movie, “The Help“, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain. Mississippi native Kathryn Stockett even wrote the bestselling novel, “The Help”. See the movie’s filming locations by taking a self-guided driving tour (Google map online here) around Greenwood and strolling the downtown streets of Church and Howard. Favorites include Celia Foote’s house, Hilly Holbrook’s house, and Avent & Clark Booksellers.
This Mississippi town is the birthplace of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock & Roll. Tupelo has done a nice job of making Elvis’s birthplace (a 2 room house) a museum of sorts with a great gift shop and media showcasing his most famous movies and concerts. It is a Mississippi historic landmark. The statue of “Elvis at 13” is my favorite part. I once let Elvis walk my dog. The picture was hilarious and Tupelo retweeted it, which thrilled me. Do not miss the Elvis Homecoming statue in the historic downtown part of Tupelo.
Ever considered driving the Natchez Trace Parkway? Tupelo is the headquarters of the 444 mile scenic byway (and top 10 National Park) that runs from Nashville to Natchez. Another popular attraction is the Tupelo Automobile Museum, housing the largest private car collection, valued around $6 million, east of the Mississippi.
Animal lovers will enjoy the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, featuring several buffalo and many exotic animals on this 200 acre property.
Known for the battle that changed the course of the American Civil War, Vicksburg honors Southern hospitality and is a really fun place to visit. Take a stroll down Washington Street to enjoy all of the local boutiques and restaurants. While you are there, stop in KJ’s River Town Grille for lunch. Gambling fans will prefer spending their time at Ameristar Casino or one of the other local casinos.
The waterfront is home to the Vicksburg Murals, depicting all the historic events in the town over the years. The photogenic murals and Old Depot Museum sit along the Mississippi River. The museum allows visitors to explore early railroad artifacts.
A stop to Vicksburg’s Walnut Hills is a must. This restaurant is bursting with Southern charm and the most friendly, respectful staff. Their homemade cakes (try the Strawberry Layer Cake) and pies attract visitors from across the United States and earn rave reviews from magazines and tourists. Walnut Hills also features a round table luncheon that showcases everyone’s favorite traditional Southern foods.
History buffs will love driving the 16 mile visitor loop at the Vicksburg Military Park. It is home to over 1300 monuments and war markers. This park is the perfect example of a military battlefield, with hills and crests that leave you able to envision the battle going on. The special tribute to Ulysses S. Grant is my favorite part and if you walk to the top of the hill it sits on, the views are terrific. There is no way that Vicksburg would not make my 5 favorite Mississippi cities with all of these offerings.
Are You Ready to Explore Mississippi?
I love history and seeing new places around the country, but I am also happy for the opportunity to familiarize Wherever I May Roam Blog’s readers with places they might enjoy but maybe had no idea existed. I hope you enjoyed learning about my 5 favorite Mississippi cities and that they peaked your curiosity. Mississippi is a wonderful place to visit alone or with the family; I can attest to that.