(UPDATED JULY 2022) 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. A few of my favorites are learning about Elvis Presley’s boyhood adventures, hand-feeding exotic animals, feasting on outstanding Southern cuisine, and drinking the best mead ever.
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 fun place to visit and learn about, even if you aren’t a drinker.
The frozen slushes are amazingly flavorful and go down smooth.
Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo
Ride through the fun Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, a 200-acre park, 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, and ponies. 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 giraffes, camels, zebra, Highland cattle, Clydesdales, Longhorns, emu, and sheep.
Midnite Pottery has been a local business in Tupelo for 20 years. As I did, you can take a pottery class 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 by pushing her hand and footprints into 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’s Birthplace. The ever-growing 15-acre attraction features a museum, a movie in a beautiful purple theater, memorial gardens, a 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, which wasn’t his first choice in gifts. A guitar signed by dozens of legends hangs on the wall of this nifty little piece of history in Tupelo’s downtown. You might be surprised at the products to shop for, too. On my visit, I walked away with a Red Rider tricycle for my granddaughter.
Fans can also check out the Elvis Guitar Trail along Main Street for great photo ops.
Downtown Tupelo Shopping
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 at a regional mall, The Mall at Barnes Crossing, featuring Old Navy, J. Jill, Belk, Carter’s, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
Another hot downtown shopping option is the flagship Reed’s, a higher-end department store and one of the oldest in Mississippi, opened in 1905. Reed’s has a great selection of women’s and men’s clothing, 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 has a splash pad, disc golf, and a splendid Vietnam Memorial. Ballard has baseball games, other sports options, and picnic areas.
Unique Tupelo Offerings
As if Elvis’ birthplace wasn’t unique enough, Tupelo is also a vital 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, where you can get your National Park Passport stamped. The center has exhibits and displays for understanding the Natchez Trace. Natchez Trace also features hiking trails, biking, camping, and confederate gravesites.
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.
Where To Stay in Tupelo
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, a coffee and coffee maker, a refrigerator, and free Wi-Fi. Suites have over 150 square feet of space, as well as microwaves and a living room. 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.
Pro Tp: Upgrade to a suite for a Garden Sleep System Bed and separate living area with a half bath.
Where To Eat in Tupelo
CRAVE is an excellent place to go for pastries, quiche, and homemade sweets, but know that the Skillet Cookie is their #1 item and voted Best Dessert in Mississippi in the past.
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.
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.
Tupelo, Soak It In
We hope this guide will help you find the best places in Tupelo to make the most of your visit. Tupelo is within a short 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 offers!
Fun Fact: 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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