Recent travels afforded me a day in Starkville, MS, located in the eastern part of the state. I brought my five-year-old granddaughter along for the ride, and we had a fabulous time. Stark Vegas, as it’s often referred to, is a Mississippi college town with a great, walkable downtown and lots of growth and fun for the whole family.
Start with a Tasty Breakfast
Having never visited a Jack’s, Scarlett (my grand) and I decided to try the southern biscuits. Well, I splurged on the Breakfast Deluxe, which sampled all the breakfast favorites—scrambled eggs, grits, hash browns, biscuits, breakfast meat, and gravy. I felt like a local dining inside; the staff could not have been more welcoming and hospitable.
Scarlett loved the fluffy pancakes.
Visit a Stellar National Park Refuge
Brooksville is about twenty minutes out of town. I am a huge fan of National Park anything, and this town had a National Park Refuge property. As soon as we drove in, we passed a gorgeous lake with plenty of shore birds, bare-branch trees, and fishermen.
We continued to the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, a 48,000-acre wild preserve and an important site for migratory bird stopovers in the southeastern United States. Inside offers educational activities, while out back is a viewing platform at the back. From there, we had a front-row seat for a perfectly serene landscape.
We drove a bit more and saw eagles, hawks, and woodpeckers. I was shocked at how many there were. We would have taken a short hike but were warned about hunters. We skipped it since we weren’t wearing appropriate reflective clothing and it was hunting season. Good call by the staff.
Enjoy Lunch from Starkville’s Most Famous Restaurant
Harvey’s is a Starkville icon, and we couldn’t have a day one day in Starkville without trying it out. The day we were there was super busy, so we sat at a table in the bar area. We had an attentive server and enjoyed the ambiance.
Harvey’s is posh and stylish but has a relaxing vibe. I ordered the Prime Rib Sandwich, while Miss Scarlett chose fries only. We started our meal with the Broccoli Bites appetizer, which was really delicious and named Best Appetizer in Mississippi Magazine.
Visit a Presidential Library
Something unique about Starkville, MS, is its beautiful campus, home to Mississippi State, has a multi-purpose library that will knock your socks off. The Grant Presidential Library and the Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana share one floor of the massive Mitchell Memorial Library building. It just takes a few minutes to peruse the Lincoln memorabilia, but it is a noteworthy collection.
We visited Starkville for the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, a treasure trove. Remember that he was president from 1869 to 1877, so the fact that anything survives that much time is impressive. There were plenty of state-of-the-art displays and exhibits to get my Grant fix and learn more about this time in our nation’s history and his presidency.
Then, we popped into the Charles H. Templeton Sr. Music Museum, a collection of instruments, perhaps some of the oldest and rarest in the state or country. I enjoyed listening to the phonographs and player pianos, both sharing upbeat music. The docent also played a clavichord for us. Scarlett was curious; it was definitely something she had never witnessed.
Last but not least, stop by the room dedicated to famous alumni John Grisham, with some of his books, awards, and screenplays.
Explore Mississippi State Campus
The next stop is the Mississippi State Campus. A stroll through this beautiful campus is a must when in town. Start at the historic Drill Field, a large oval lawn surrounded by distinct buildings and a popular area for students to relax and play. Explore the numerous buildings on campus, including the Library, Memorial Hall, and Chapel of Memories.
The campus has a lot of famous landmarks, including the famous Junction, the ground zero for football tailgating!
A surprise find at the Mississippi State campus is the Cheese Shoppe (MAFES Sales Store), which offers locally manufactured Edam cheese (using fresh milk from MSU’s dairy herds), cured meats, and unique artisanal products. They also sell refrigerated items, wines, and olives.
If you don’t know what to get, the staff is very knowledgeable and happy to give you their recommendations.
Do Some Shopping
Downtown Starkville is a darling place to park your car and hit the streets for a few hours. We enjoyed shopping at L.A. Green Starkville, Dunkington Art & Jewelry, and George-Mary’s. You’ll find a good selection of books at the local bookstore, Book Mart & Cafe. They even have lesser-known children’s titles, toys, knick-knacks, cards, Mississippi State clothing and logo items, and more.
They also have a cute little snack shack in the back. Take your time to wander and explore the town’s different shops and admire the beautiful architecture.
Starkville’s Intriguing Murals
You’ll find some excellent artistic murals around Starkville. You might want to seek out Cotton District Street Mural, Cotton District Office Mural, Indian Heritage, Cadence Celebrates Starkville, and Greetings from Starkville. Pictured below are a few of my favorites.
Have A Perfect Cup of Joe
Take a load off to enjoy a palate-pleasing snack and delicious coffee drink from 929 Coffee Bar. Scarlett loved the homemade muffins while I leaned toward the dirty, iced matcha. This shop uses coffee from Counter Culture Coffee of Durham, North Carolina, a really righteous brand, and serves beer.
Another great coffee shop to check out is Strange Brew, which has a massive list of drinks. For something unique, try the King Cake frappe or Capt’n Crunch latte. If you are hungry, try their food options, including bagels, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches. Peek at their branded merch, offering some things you probably can’t live without.
Other Strange Brews exist in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Conclude Your Day with a Quick Dinner
We were exhausted after driving to town from Jackson for our one day in Starkville, MS, so we chose a quick-serve meal for dinner and had a car picnic. Slim Chickens was the place we chose, and we were not disappointed with our buffalo chicken mac bowl and the kids’ tender meal. We sat in the parking lot and soaked up the scenery and the 5:00 traffic rush while we ate.
We would have loved to have eaten at the Taste Italian Kitchen Restaurant if we hadn’t been so tired.
Overnight at a Wonderful Hotel
Scarlett and I concluded our excellent day in Starkville with an overnight at the beautiful Courtyard by Marriott Starkville MSU at The Mill Conference Center. She had never stayed at this hotel brand and was a fan from the moment she checked out every inch of the hotel.
Our room was spacious and comfortable, with two queen beds, high-end bedding, an attractive mural, and complimentary Wifi and parking. The lobby is aesthetically pleasing, while the outdoor patio pool and whirlpool are selling features of this lovely property.
Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner from The Bistro, which is in the lobby.
A Full and Fun Day
Starkville, MS, is an excellent destination for roadtrippers and travelers. As you can see, even with just one day in town, you can experience many of the city’s best things to see and do. From exploring the historic downtown district and Mississippi State Campus to visiting a unique cheese shop and natural wildlife refuge, Starkville has a lot to offer.
Thanks to Visit Starkville for hosting my overnight accommodations. Aa always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.