Whether you are chanting “Hotty Toddy” at an Ole Miss football game or sipping mimosas for a Sunday brunch in The Square, Oxford has so many things to love that you’re going to want to visit over and over again. I was lucky to visit when my daughter (and blog partner) attended the University of Mississippi, and watch the town go from good to great over the past few years. Here are only a few things to love about Oxford Mississippi, that you’ll want to check out.
1. Staying at the Graduate Oxford Mississippi
Why couldn’t the Graduate Oxford hotel have been open when my daughter was attending Ole Miss? I really missed out, but I did have the pleasure to stay there on a leisure visit to Oxford. The Graduate Oxford is a stylish and sophisticated property with savvy rooms, a preppy lobby, and fun and attractive restaurants.
You’ll find the Graduate Hotels in college towns, and the decor reflects the university’s best known traits. Even the room key cards are disguised from previous library book cards. I had Eli Manning’s card to open my room.
Inside the Oxford Graduate Hotel are rooms done up in dark colors and plaids, a wide array of fabrics and textures, and plenty of space to move around in.
Don’t miss the hotel amenities, and especially the delicious dining options. The Graduate Oxford has an uber cool rooftop terrace (The Coop) for sipping cocktails and catching up with friends and family.
At Cabin 82, a shabby chic eatery on the first floor, grab a biscuit sandwich and great cup of coffee.
2. Attending a Sporting Event
I remember my daughter sharing the Ole Miss saying when she started school there, “We may not win every game, but we’ve never lost a party”. Enough said. Tailgating at Ole Miss is like attending going to a soiree at a country club.
The red carpet is rolled out, fine china put to use, sterling silver polished, butlers in attendance, picture-perfect foods from premier catering services, and immaculate wardrobes pressed to perfection on game days in The Grove.
Many tailgaters secure their spots minutes after the allowable time to ensure a primo spot that will go from rags to riches before morning. You honestly have to see it to believe it.
But aside from the parties, Ole Miss has great teams: football, basketball, baseball, and girls softball. They are well attended and enjoyed by the whole family. The Walk of Champions is the perfect place to watch the Ole Miss Rebels make their way to the field during game days.
Colonel Reb (a white-bearded man with a cane and red coat), pictured below, was the school’s beloved mascot, but recently it has evolved to Tony the Landshark. Don your red, white, and blue and cheer on the oldest and flagship university in Mississippi.
3. Visiting Faulkner’s Home and Gravesite
Rowan Oak is not only the home to one of America’s most famous writers, but also a National Historic Landmark. The beautiful property is where the 1949 Nobel and 1954 Pulitzer Prize winner, William Faulkner, resided for more than 40 years.
Don’t be fooled, not one single rowan tree exists on the peaceful four-acre property, but there are plenty of cedars and hardwoods.
Visitors can tour Rowan Oak, the historic home, for a small donation and see where some of his most incredible pieces were created: The Reivers, A Fable, The Sound and the Fury, and As I Lay Dying.
Fun Fact: Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, also home to Sugaree’s who makes the most amazing made-from-scratch rainbow layered cakes ever.
4. Indulging in Fantastic Southern Cuisine
To say Oxford, Mississippi, is chock full of delicious places to eat would be an understatement. I swear you can’t get a bad meal in this town. While the restaurant scene is not limited to The Square, the hub around the Oxford Courthouse and epicenter of shopping, entertainment, and dining in town, the majority can be found on a walk around this impactful area.
Having eaten at the majority of Oxford’s really good restaurants, my favorites are Ajax Diner and Bouré. Ajax Diner has a side dish menu that will blow you away, and the fried catfish with two to three sides is probably the standing order for most who eat there.
My mouth waters thinking about how darned good the cheese grits, turnip greens, sweet potato casserole, green beans, and squash casserole are.
Lunch or dinner are excellent at Bouré, where you better hope you have a reservation because everybody in town wants a seat at this hotspot. Start with the spinach and artichoke dip if that sounds appealing, and then try the Pasta Jambalaya or the Lump Crab Cakes with amazing remoulade and cider slaw. Mmm, mmm, good.
My daughter would pick South Depot Taco Shop above all of them, my granddaughter, too, but I stick with the southern classics myself.
Here are our recommendations for Jackson’s great dining options.
For breakfast, Big Bad Breakfast (BBB) wins tons of awards and is highly adored, but for me it is just okay. Cathead biscuits are great any time of the day, but I prefer grabbing homemade pastries from Bottletree Bakery on Van Buren Ave. Look for the Cross Danish, a yummy combination of lemon cream cheese, icing, and blueberries.
Did You Know? Bouré and BBB are owned by the same restaurant group.
5. Shopping “The Square”
I mentioned “The Square”, but until you allow hours to make your way from store to store, check out the specialty apparel and Ole Miss gear firsthand, browse the incredible book selection from Square Books, and experience the oldest department store in the south, you haven’t done it right.
This economic hub will draw you in and keep you coming back for more—been there, done that. Neilson’s, dating back to 1839 (yes, almost 200 years old), is a treasure trove for fashions, shoes, and cosmetics, plus has a bridal registry.
Olive Juice Gifts is one of our go-to shops for gift items and holiday purchases, while Hinton & Hinton is excellent for everything your guy needs and wants.
Square Books is easily one of the best independent bookstores in the country, and has many book signings and meet & greets. They have three other bookstores a few steps away: Square Books Jr (children’s), Off Square Books (lifestyle, cookbooks, and gardening), and Rare Square Books (vintage, collectible, and first editions).
Another of my favorite stores at The Square is Amy Head Cosmetics, who also offers a makeover when you spend $75 on product. My daughter and I had one and loved the products and make-up artists.
A cool way to explore The Square and all of Oxford is by a historic double decker bus. Watch for opportunities on the Visit Oxford website.