Mississippi is rich in distinctly unique American culture and features not only wonderful beaches and islands, but also is the birthplace of the delta blues and home to some delicious southern food. So whether you want to relax with sand in between your toes, road trip to historical landmarks, or listen to the true American music form, The Magnolia State will welcome you with classic southern hospitality.
1. Drive along the Mississippi Great River Road
Experience Mississippi River attractions, small towns, and historical properties as you road trip across Mississippi on one of the best scenic drives in America. The Great River Road runs the length of the United States following the winding Mississippi River, and if you're in the Magnolia State, you simply can't miss this drive.
2. See the cool cars and hear live music at the annual Cruisin' the Coast
View more than 7,000 classic and hot rod vehicles along one of the most scenic stretches of land in Mississippi: the Gulf Coast. Along with the classic cars, you can also enjoy the ocean breeze, music, an auto auction, and more at the annual Cruisin' the Coast festival.
3. Stop and smell the roses at the All American Rose Garden
Explore the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi and stroll through the accredited All American Rose Garden. The public garden features 32 separate beds of roses, each featuring their own hybrid of rose. Just don't plan on picking one—fines can be up to $500 per rose!
4. Visit the Eudora Welty House and Garden
Tour the home and gardens of the Mississippi-born Pulitzer prize-winning author, Eudora Welty. The prolific writer, known for her novel "The Optimist's Daughter" lived there for 76 years, from the time she was 16. You can still see a copy of her edited works on the tables and books scattered around the house.
Photo courtesy of Brent's Drugs
5. Have a burger and milkshake at Brent's Drugs
Swing by Brent's Drugs and enjoy some food in a 1950's style diner that has been serving the Jackson area for half a century. Complete with old decor and good southern cookin', you cannot go wrong with a meal at Brent's. The restaurant uses local products and is popular for its signature milkshakes.
6. Enjoy the art and architecture at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art
Built to promote the legacy of the famous and intensely creative Biloxi potter, George E. Ohr, the buildings of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art are pieces of art themselves. Inside, you may also enjoy beautiful and unique artwork from some of the southeast's most influential artists.
7. Play and learn at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
At the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, you and your kids can learn about the world and the local Gulf Coast area. There are hands-on exhibits allowing you to pull in shrimp at the port, learn about a 19th century Mississippi hotel, and even become an engineer on a train. Kids also love the complex climbing structure which allows them to climb from one floor to another, with ropes for parents' peace of mind.
8. See a debate at the Mississippi State Capitol
Tour the Mississippi State Capitol building with its 180-foot high dome and gorgeous Beaux Arts-style construction. If you come at the right time, you can even view a legislative session and watch senators and representatives take their stands on important state issues.
9. Fish the Gulf with a charter
Take to the open water on a charter boat captained by a local who knows where to find the best fishing spots for deep sea or inshore fishing. Fishermen can test their mettle and catch some of the more than 200 kinds of fish that call Mississippi waters home with a Biloxi fishing charter.
10. Shack up at the The Shack Up Inn
Located near the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson supposedly traded his soul to play the blues, the Shack Up Inn allows visitors that chance to stay in a historical sharecropper's shack. You can also enjoy live music and drinks while staying on the old plantation grounds.
11. Eat some shrimp at the Biloxi Blessing of the Fleet Festival
Following the ceremony of blessing the fleet of fishing vessels, the city of Biloxi takes part in a fun festival full of music and food. So, bring your appetite and chow down on some delicious Gulf Coast shrimp while you take part in this local tradition which is more than 80 years old.
12. Hear some live music at the Ground Zero Blues Club
Named for the cultural significance of Clarksdale to the blues, there's really no better place to listen to the American delta music than at Ground Zero Blues Club. The club specifically features local musicians who continue playing in the timeless musical traditions of the Mississippi blues.
13. Stay at the Cedar Grove Mansion Inn & Restaurant
Spend a night at one of the South's most elegant antebellum mansions and enjoy the fine southern hospitality, beautiful gardens, and delightful food from the elaborate restaurant and bar on site. Cedar Grove Mansion Inn & Restaurant is a southern gem that shouldn't be missed.
14. Check out some rides at the Mississippi State Fair
Enjoy Ferris wheels, rollers coasters, and other popular fair rides while listening to some blues musicians play away at the Mississippi State Fair. In between rides, be sure to grab a delicious southern style biscuit and other homemade specialties.
15. Indulge in some sweets at Deep South Pops
Serving up sweets using local Mississippi ingredients, Deep South Pops provides visitors and Jackson residents a chance to cool down during the southern heat and relax with some of the freshest ice pops, gelato, and coffee around.
Learn about the King's humble beginnings, his childhood, and his early music creations at his birthplace and childhood home. You can view murals, a statue, and a story wall featuring memories shared by his childhood friends. The Elvis Presley Museum contains even more memorabilia, including murals and audiovisual presentations.
17. Avoid ghosts at the Windsor Ruins
Port Gibson, MS
The Windsor Ruins are on the National Register of Historic Places and have a deep and spooky history. The original owner lived in the mansion for only a few days before dying of an infection caused by a mosquito bite. The house then found use as a Union hospital before being burned down by a careless visitor who dropped their lit cigar, leaving only the 23 standing columns. Ghost hunters frequent the grounds and visitors have claimed to see the ghost of a Union soldier walking around in broad daylight.
18. Walk across the swinging bridge at Tishomingo State Park
Step back in time by walking across the charming swinging bridge hanging over the crackling Bear Creek. The Tishomingo State Park is full of American history before European settlement and contains some excellent hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, and natural springs.
Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons cropped, brightened
19. Have lunch at Mammy's Cupboard
Built in 1940, Mammy's Cupboard has been attracting road trippers for years with its unique building, but has kept them coming with good homestyle cooking. Nearly everything is made from scratch and this unusual restaurant offers guests mouthwatering cuisine like blueberry lemonade, fresh bread, and meringue pie.
20. Learn about farming at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum
The South has long been known for its rich farming history. A walk through the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum lets you see not only the history of the various farm equipment and the roles of farmers, but also a history of the state itself.
21. Make a splash at Geyser Falls Water Theme Park
In the hot summer days in the South, there is not a more fun way to cool down than a visit to Geyser Falls Water Theme Park. Named one of the southeast's greatest family attractions, the park has a great mixture of intense slides, kids' entertainment, and relaxing areas for adults.
Hop on a ferry and visit Mississippi's finest beaches located on Ship Island. Eleven miles offshore, the island allows visitors to escape the traffic of the mainland, explore an old 19th-century fort and relax in the sun.
23. Pick up a souvenir at Shearwater Pottery
Ocean Springs, MS
Shearwater Pottery was started in 1928 by Peter Anderson. Today, Anderson's children continue to run the shop and even create the art: pottery, utilitarian ware, figurines, decorative tiles and other pottery pieces. Stop by and purchase a unique piece of artwork that is truly unique to Mississippi.
24. Visit the War Memorial Building
Honoring the many men and women of Mississippi who have died defending the country, the War Memorial Building is filled with tributes of each battle fought by Mississippians dating from 1768 to the Vietnam War.
By National Park Service Digital Image Archives [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons cropped, exposure
25. Walk along the Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Gulf Islands are full of history, camping spots, great fishing, and beautiful white sandy shores. Explore old forts, go for a swim in the ocean, or simply enjoy the tranquil environment of the beach.
26. Tour Rowan Oak
Visit Rowan Oak, the beautiful home of one of the world's most celebrated authors, William Faulkner. The famous Mississippi author imagined and penned some of his best stories at this secluded location, including "A Fable", which won him the Nobel Prize.
"Delta Blues Museum" by Joe Mazzola - http://www.flickr.com/photos/35017512@N05/3753257121/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons. cropped, contrast
27. Get some Mississippi music culture at the Delta Blues Museum
The Blues is a uniquely American art form and was created in the small towns of Mississippi. The Delta Blues Museum celebrates this art form and helps visitors find a deeper understanding of the history and meaning of this classic music.
28. Explore the Mississippi Crafts Center
At the Mississippi Crafts Center, you can view hundreds of homemade American crafts from a multitude of Mississippi artisans. The center strives to educate and display the works of a variety of craftsmen and women who create works specifically found in Mississippi and the southern region of America.
29. Learn about Jefferson Davis at the historic Beauvoir
Beauvoir was the final home and place of retirement of the confederate president, Jefferson Davis. A visit to the excellently preserved home allows you the chance to learn about the confederate president, view his library, and visit the confederate soldier cemetery located on the grounds.
30. Get your classic car fix at Tupelo Automobile Museum
Beginning with an 1886 Benz and ending with a 1994 Dodge Viper, the tour through the Tupelo Automobile Museum takes you through more than a century of vehicular history. On the premises is also a 1976 Lincoln given to the museum by none other than the Mississippi rock-n-roll singer Elvis Presley.
31. See the Mississippi Petrified Forest
The Mississippi Petrified Forest is believed to have formed 36 million years ago and is the only petrified forest in the eastern United States. The trails offer an area full of tranquility and beauty. There is also a museum on site full of fossilized wood, dinosaur footprints, and a cast of a prehistoric camel.
32. Take a tour of Stanton Hall
Stanton Hall is a beautiful Greek Revival style home which was named a National Historic Landmark. The home was constructed in 1859 and includes French-imported windows, marble mantels, Corinthian columns, and cast iron railings that all add to its impeccable charm. Daily tours are offered and afterwards you can stop by the Carriage House Restaurant, famous for fine southern food.
33. See the beautiful riverfront murals of Vicksburg
The riverfront murals of Vicksburg display the history of life on the Mississippi River and the state itself. Walk along the riverfront to view these numerous works of art displaying blues musicians, the founding of Vicksburg, and paddlewheel river boats.
34. Catch a show at MSU Riley Center
The MSU Riley Center is a fully-restored 1889 grand opera house theater which hosts a variety of performances including ballets, plays, and rock shows. No matter your preferences, the MSU Riley Center has live entertainment and educational opportunities that will suit everyone.
35. Pay your respects at the St. Mary Basilica
When in Mississippi, be sure to plan a trip to visit this architecturally-amazing church which was constructed in the mid-1800s, and was granted Basilica status by the Roman Catholic Church nearly 20 years ago. The St. Mary Basilica is a Gothic Revival style building. The interior displays beautiful paintings, stained glass, and impressive fixtures.
36. Chow down on some ribs at Goldie's Trail Bar-B-Que
The South is known for its rich, hearty food, and Goldie's Trail Bar-B-Que meets these southern standards. Since 1960, Goldie's Trail has been serving the city of Vicksburg and offers some of the best pit barbecue to be found.
37. Tour the Biloxi Lighthouse
A Mississippi Landmark, the Biloxi Lighthouse was constructed in 1848 and is an important part of Mississippi Gulf Coast history. A tour and climb to the top of the lighthouse offers a spectacular view of the surrounding coastline and the ocean.
There are very few things the people of Mississippi take more seriously than their college football. Make game day special by gathering your friends, drinking a few beers, and grilling at The Grove before heading into the stadium.
39. Go to the Neshoba County Fair
Beginning in the 19th century as a place for two-day agricultural and religious meetings, the Neshoba County Fair has grown into an eight-day festival involving music, great food, and amusement rides. Rent a cabin or bring your RV and you can enjoy a full week of entertainment and camaraderie.
40. Have some classic Southern barbecue at Abe's BBQ
Abe's BBQ has been serving the Delta area since 1924. Many celebrities have visited the restaurant to feast on its tangy sauce, which has never been emulated successfully and can only truly be found in this classic Clarksdale restaurant.
41. Win big at Island View Casino Resort
Enjoy the fun of casino games while staying directly on the beach. The Island View Casino Resort offers visitors a beautiful view of the coast and plenty of entertainment to keep you busy when you're not soaking up the sun or enjoying the nearby shopping.
Take a paddleboard into the Gulf and enjoy a few hours out on the beautiful water. Originating in Hawaii, stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, has grown extensively and has become a popular recreation for many. Wut Sup Standup Paddleboards & Rentals LLC is located directly on the beach and, in case you're new to the sport, even offers free lessons with rentals.
43. Get some history at the Old Capitol Museum
The Old Capitol Museum is Mississippi's most historic building, dating back to 1839, and was the location of many important legislative actions. Exhibits inside the building explain the roles of the governor, legislature, and the high court. The building itself is also one of the best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the United States.
44. See a rocket firsthand at INFINITY Science Center
The INFINITY Science Center is NASA's official visitor center for the Stennis Space Center. Take a look at an F-1 rocket engine up close, explore the surface of Mars in the immersion theater, and explore the life-sized model of the International Space Station's Destiny module.
45. Explore the gardens at the Monmouth Historic Inn
The interior of the Monmouth Historic Inn is magnificent and contains a number of antebellum-era furniture and decorations. However, the beautiful interior is incomparable to the surrounding 26 acres of gardens which are full of roses, magnolias, azaleas, and angel statues scattered amidst the natural beauty.
46. Stay at the Dunleith
Travel back in time to the 19th century in Natchez, Mississippi by spending a night at the Dunleith Mansion. Located on 40 acres of land, this Historical Landmark has 22 rooms, a relaxing environment, and even serves some delectable southern cuisine.
47. Camp on the Gulf
Listen to the waves hit the shore and the ocean breeze blow across the beach as you camp on the shores of the Gulf. Primitive camping is allowed in Petit Bois, Sand, Horn, East Ship Islands, and the National Park Service-owned portion of Cat Island. Or, you could stay at the Gulf Haven Campground, a fairly new RV resort located right on the beach.
48. Learn about Civil War history at the Vicksburg National Military Park
The siege of Vicksburg was an extremely crucial turning point in the Civil War. The Vicksburg National Military Park explores the history of this battle as well as the war itself. View the USS Cairo Gunboat Museum, read newspaper articles, and see the largest burial site of Civil War Union soldiers.
49. Celebrate spring at the Tunica Rivergate Festival
Listen to blues, rock, country, and bluegrass performers welcome the oncoming Spring at the Tunica Rivergate Festival. Grab some crayfish or other Mississippi cuisine, then sit back and relax as the music and warm sun washes over you at this colorful spring festival.
50. See the unfinished grandeur of Longwood
Construction on Longwood was abandoned during the Civil War, leaving this historic antebellum mansion frozen in time as carpenters simply dropped their tools and left, leaving carpentry and architecture half-finished. Only the first floor was entirely completed. The upper five floors of this 30,000 square foot mansion are an architectural phenomenon and truly a beautiful peek into the past.
How many of these things items have you checked off your Mississippi bucket list? Do you know any can't-miss attractions in Mississippi that didn't make our list? Tell us about it in the comments! Don't forget to like and share with your friends!