In October of 2010, my family and I toured two colleges that I was interested in attending. The University of Mississippi (more commonly referred to as Ole Miss) was the second school that we visited. The moment that I stepped on their Oxford, Mississippi campus, I knew that this was the school for me.
I had the pleasure of living in Oxford, Mississippi for four years. Although I had a love-hate relationship with the town at the time, I will forever cherish the memories made here. If you have never been to Oxford, I am going to try to tell you about it; but to get the full experience you will have to visit.
Oxford was incorporated in 1837 and built on 50 acres of old Chickasaw land. Four years later, it was decided that Mississippi’s first public university would be built here. In fact, it had been named “Oxford” after Oxford, England incase it ever became a university town. The University of Mississippi opened its doors in 1848 and it remained Mississippi’s only higher learning institution for 23 years.
Oxford saw devastation during the Civil War and riots in 1962 when James Meredith became the first African-American student to attend Ole Miss. To this day, there are bullet holes in the Lyceum on campus from those protests. Oxford was the home of William Faulkner as well as John Grisham, Willie Morris, and Larry Brown, for a time. This small town in Mississippi is anything but when the Ole Miss Rebels play at home and has been called the “cultural mecca of the south” by Lucky Magazine.
The Square is the center of Oxford. Here you can find the City’s Courthouse, shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and the South’s oldest department store, Neilson’s. This is where visitors, locals, and students all congregate. My favorite shops on The Square are The Lilly Pad, Pink and Proper, Olive Juice, and JC Graphics because they have the best t-shirts in town. All of Oxford’s nightlife takes place on The Square with a plethora of bars to choose from. The Library is a parent’s favorite while students’ picks are Funky’s (Daiquiri bar) and Rafters.
Oxford’s best restaurants are found on The Square, too. My favorite is South Depot Taco Shop. You build your own tacos/quesadilla/nachos/salad with killer Mexican ingredients. South Depot has awesome margaritas too! Oxford Grillehouse is another one of my favorites for dinner. A visit is not complete until you have had their Boom Boom Shrimp. Oxford Grillehouse’s Sunday brunch features bottomless Mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar. Other noteworthy restaurants are Old Venice and Soulshine.
There are two main roads in Oxford that will take you wherever you need to go: University and Jackson Avenue. Navigating across town is that simple. Highway 6 and 7 can help you get around traffic at The Square, but beginners should stick to University and Jackson. Oxford also has a public transportation system called the OUT (Oxford-University Transit) Bus that is a great way to travel. For $1, adults can ride the OUT Bus around Oxford and it is free for Ole Miss students.
All of this goes out the window when Ole Miss has any big event going on. Driving in Oxford from Wednesday of a home Football game weekend until Sunday is pretty much impossible. The same holds true for Basketball game days, graduation, and the whole Spring semester due to Baseball games, parent’s weekends (for every Fraternity and Sorority), and Double Decker (Oxford’s yearly festival). Plus, days over the Summer when Ole Miss orientation takes place. Now that I have put all of that in writing, I am just going to say that traffic is a nightmare 45 of 52 weekends during the year. Good luck!
Ole Miss is the epitome of a Southern university. With deep-rooted traditions, top-tier tailgating, and incredibly involved students, Ole Miss is everything that a school should be. Students are passionate about their school and work to make it the best. Both Newsweek and The Princeton Review agree that Ole Miss has the “Most Beautiful Campus” in the country and Forbes Magazine has named it “A Best College Buy”. With over 100 majors and academic programs plus 250 clubs and organizations to choose from, there is something for everyone at Ole Miss. One “never graduates from Ole Miss”; this explains why their 120,000 alumni are so involved.
The Ole Miss Rebels SEC sports teams have done very well in recent years. You can hear the Hotty Toddy chant on campus at any given time. The support for the school’s sports teams is unwavering and the “I am an Ole Miss Rebel” campaign has instilled even more pride in both students and alumni. Every year, students participate in The Big Event where they complete local projects to give back to the Oxford, Mississippi community that they all call home. One cannot attend Ole Miss without becoming an Oxford local; they are intertwined.
After living in Oxford, Mississippi for four years, this town will always have a special place in my heart. Its tight-knit community models what a town should be and maintains a great relationship with its university. Traffic aside, Oxford is a wonderful town in Mississippi that is definitely worth a visit.
Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.
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