Have you been to Tupelo, Mississippi? If so, you know why Tupelo is becoming a traveling hot spot. If not, you might be surprised to learn that the King of Rock’n’Roll, Elvis Presley, was born there. Tupelo is the perfect weekend getaway destination for couples, girlfriends, families, and solo travelers. Whether you enjoy learning about history, eating good food, shopping, or learning more about The King, here are the best things to do in Tupelo, including where to stay, play, and eat.
What To Do In Tupelo
You’ll have several choices for fun things to do in Tupelo, such as drinking the best mead of your life, hand-feeding exotic animals from the comfort of your car, and learning about the life of young Elvis Presley, to name a few.
Queen’s Reward Meadery
Many of you may not be familiar with mead, so here is a warm and welcoming tasting room you can try some outstanding ones. Queen’s Reward Meadery produces small-batch meads from locally-sourced honey. It is Mississippi’s first meadery and has won several awards since its inception in 2018. Try a sampling, but be sure to taste the Delta Gold (riesling) and Scarlet Noir (red), my two favorites. Most of the meads run between 12 and 13% ABV. Queen’s Reward is a super fun place to visit and learn about, even if you aren’t a drinker.
The frozen slushes are amazing! They are so flavorful and go down smooth.
Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo
Ride through the fun Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, a 200-acre park that’s home to 300 exotic animals. Guests can purchase food for the animals at the entrance. We recommend this as you can feed water buffalo, bison, ponies, and x. It is incredible how trusting the animals are and come right up to your car. Photo ops are primo at this drive-through attraction. Other animals we saw were giraffe, camels, zebra, Highland cattle, Clydesdales, Longhorns, emu, and sheep.
The walk-through portion of the property is closed due to COVID.
Midnite Pottery is a local business that’s been in Tupelo for 20 years. You can take a pottery class, which I did, or shop the lovely handmade items in their gallery. Midnite Pottery has beautiful pieces such as decorative plates, cardinal adorned pieces, intricate crosses, and Mississippi ornaments. There are many seasonal items, as well.
For my class, we made a set of wind chimes. It was fun molding the clay, then decorating the discs how we wanted. They had a unique piece for my 2-year-old granddaughter to make. Scarlett’s hand and footprints were pushed in the clay to make a commemorative tray. What a thoughtful gift! Midnite Pottery has an artsy gallery that is warm and welcoming; classes are enjoyable.
Elvis Presley’s Birthplace
Perhaps the biggest draw in Tupelo is the world-famous Elvis Presley Birthplace. The ever-growing 15-acre attraction features a museum, movie in a beautiful purple theater, memorial gardens, reflection pond, and the two-room home Elvis Aaron Presley was born in. The church Elvis attended, the Assembly of God, where he was influenced by gospel music, was moved there, too.
My favorite part is the “Elvis at 13” statue, depicting a carefree Elvis before conquering the world. The statue sits amidst great timeline markers that show his achievements in life.
Do some shopping or just Elvis trail work at the Tupelo Hardware Company, circa 1926, where Gladys Presley bought her son’s first guitar for $7.75, and it wasn’t his first choice in gifts. A guitar signed by dozens of legends hangs on the wall of this cool little piece of history in Tupelo’s downtown. You might be surprised at the products to shop for, too. I walked away with a Red Rider tricycle for my granddaughter on my visit.
Fans can also check out the Elvis Guitar Trail along Main Street for great photo-ops.
Tupelo is a shopper’s paradise! From boutiques to outlet stores and antique shops, Tupelo has it all. Shop locally-owned stores in Downtown Tupelo and the Midtown Shopping District or shop a regional mall, The Mall at Barnes Crossing, featuring Old Navy, J. Jill, Belk, Carter’s, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
Another hot shopping option is the flagship Reed’s in downtown. This is a higher-end department store, one of the oldest in Mississippi (opened in 1905), with women and men’s clothing and shoes and a whole floor of kid’s clothing, toys, dancewear, and scout uniforms. You can also shop local at Caron Gallery, a store filled with treasures made by Mississippi artists.
Tupelo has some great outdoor spaces. Veterans and Ballard Parks are two of the favorites, with plenty of room for walking, hiking, and even fishing. Veterans Park even has a splash pad, disc golf, and a splendid Vietnam Memorial. Ballard has baseball games and other sports options, as well as picnic areas.
As if Elvis’ birthplace wasn’t unique enough, Tupelo is also a key component of the wondrous Natchez Trace. This 444-mile National Scenic Byway runs from Natchez, MS, to Nashville, TN. Soldiers, future presidents, American Indians, European settlers, and slave traders used this historic road. Today, the Natchez Trace sees mostly road trippers and history enthusiasts.
The parkway headquarters is in Tupelo and has a fantastic Visitor Center, also where you can get your National Park Passport stamped. The center has exhibits and displays for understanding the Natchez Trace. Natchez Trace features hiking trails, biking, camping, and confederate gravesites, too.
And a second unique offering is to continue driving and taking an educational experience on one of three Heritage Trails: Chickasaw, Civil War, or Civil Rights/African Americans. These trails offer a gateway to the people, places, and events that shaped Tupelo’s rich history.
Tupelo Visitors Center
The Tupelo Visitors Center is a great place to start your Tupelo adventures. You’ll find maps, literature, clean restrooms, as well as interactive exhibits and much about Tupelo’s most famous name—Elvis Presley. I found the timelines of Tupelo’s historical events most interesting, too.
Where To Stay
We love the convenience of the Holiday Inn & Suites Tupelo North, the premier lodging in town. The atrium-style lobby is gorgeous and features several intimate seating groups around the floor. A centralized bar is a great place to enjoy an after-work drink.
Rooms are stylishly decorated and have comfortable beds, along with a coffee and coffee maker, refrigerator, and free Wifi. Suites have over 150 square feet of space, plus microwaves and a living room of sorts. Enjoy a tasty breakfast from Grata Bar & Grille, the on-site restaurant, such as the vegetable omelet with home fries.
The Hilton Garden Inn is in the heart of Downtown Tupelo, within walking distance to many popular attractions and a short drive away from the rest. It offers complimentary WiFi and self-parking, a fitness center, an indoor pool, a convenience store, and an on-site restaurant. The Hilton Garden Inn rooms feature HDTVs, microwaves, and refrigerators.
Upgrade to a suite for a Garden Sleep System Bed and separate living area with a half bath.
Where To Eat
Tupelo has nearly 200 restaurants and some delicious choices for dining. Here is where we like to eat, from famous blueberry bread doughnut pudding to Detroit style gourmet pizzas.
For breakfast, have a great cup of fresh-roasted coffee and create your own biscuit sandwich Butterbean, an eye-catching stop with vividly painted murals. CRAVE is another coffee option and Tupelo’s dessert cafe. Go there for pastries, quiche, and homemade sweets, but know that the Skillet Cookie is their #1 item.
Fairpark Grill is a sophisticated restaurant serving chicken, seafood, steaks, and other classic dishes. Start your meal with the ooey-gooey Panko Crusted Fried Cheese. Blue Canoe is a Tupelo favorite with live music and over 100 beer choices. The Crack Dip Fries are (as you guessed it) addictive and Connie’s Blueberry Doughnut Bread Pudding is the perfect ending to a great meal.
Have your favorite BBQ and burger specialties at either Neon Pig Cafe or Mugshots. Neon Pig is in a strip mall and also has a mini-grocery inside. Thrillist claimed that the Smash Burger was the best burger in America. At Mugshots Grill & Bar, a Mississippi tradition, choose from 20 or more upscale burgers with creative ingredients.
Or, go Clay’s House of Pig found in a bait and tackle shop. The BBQ tater (or bbq period) is to die for, with so many items you stop counting. Another tasty choice is BBQ Bologna.
It is hard to beat Tupelo’s Pizza Vs. Tacos—Detroit style pie creations that make no sense but taste off the hook. Or, choose from kicked-up tacos, equally as popular in this festive and funky restaurant. If that doesn’t sound convincing, the meat plus three lunch at Romie’s Grocery is excellent. Romie’s has outdoor patio dining and live music.
You’ll find the epitome of Southern hospitality at Sweet Tea & Biscuits Cafe, a family-operated eatery serving homemade Southern favorites like chicken salad, pimento cheese, and fried green tomatoes. They have the best sweet tea around! Then, head over to PoPsy for a gourmet popsicle, raw juice, bubble tea, or smoothie bowl. Yum.
Read more about where to eat in Tupelo in this post.
When To Visit
- January: Elvis’ Birthday Celebration
- April and May: Blue Suede Cruise, Gum Tree Arts Festival
- June: Elvis Festival
- July, August, September: Down on Main Concert Series
- October: Celebration Village
Tupelo’s multi-purpose arena hosts events all year, including big-name concerts. Visit the BancorpSouth Arena website for a list of upcoming events.
Tupelo, Soak It In
We hope that this guide will help you find the best places in Tupelo to make the most of your visit. Tupelo is within a short driving distance of several major areas: Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; and Memphis, Tennessee. Spend a weekend in Tupelo and see what all this city has to offer!
Info: Tupelo is easily accessible by Interstate 22, Highway 45, and the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Our lodging, activities, and most food was comped by the Tupelo CVB. As always, opinions and reviews are unbiased and 100% mine.
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