Visitors to Mississippi can find history, entertainment, food and fun

Mississippi offers travelers a wide range of options, including beautiful remote campsites, great places to canoe or kayak, and places to learn about the state’s history.

Below we feature some of the best places to visit in Mississippi.

Natchez: Historic Natchez is one of the best-preserved southern towns in the United States, with stately antebellum plantation homes set on the cliffs of the Mississippi River overlooking the rich, flat lands of the Louisiana Delta of the other side.

Places to visit:Escape to These 5 Great Places for Kayaking, Canoeing, and Camping

Hit the road for a quick trip

Legend has it that many of Natchez’s well-to-do plantation owners were from the North and had moved South to grow cotton. However, when war broke out, they sided with the North. Consequently, Union forces did not destroy many plantation houses in Natchez.

Many houses are now in private hands. Yet many of them remain open for visits. They include Monmouth (1818), Rosalie Mansion (1820), The William Johnson House (1840), Melrose (1842), Stanton Hall (1857), Longwood (1860), and many more are available for tours and possibly a night.

Natchez hosts spring and fall pilgrimages during which many private homes are open to the public.

Natchez has also become a bit of a Hollywood backlot in recent years with Hollywood film producer Tate Taylor, a native of Mississippi, filming films such as “Get On Back”, “The Help”, “Ma” and “Breaking News in Yuba County” in the city in recent years.

Vicksburg: Another historic Mississippi River town to visit is Vicksburg, which also has antebellum homes and beautiful views of the Mississippi River.

However, the historic town of 22,000 is probably best known for the Battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War, a turning point in the conflict.

Vicksburg National Military Park draws over 500,000 visitors to the city each year. The park itself is a beautiful place to see and can take at least half a day, if not all day. However, a self-guided car tour is easily done in an hour or two after stopping at the visitor center.

While in the park, run by the USS Cairo, a restored gunboat that prowled the Mississippi River during the war.

And there’s even more for history buffs. The Old Courthouse Museum is a great repository of information and entertaining for everyone.

Any day in Vicksburg should include a look at the pre-war homes. Some must-see homes are Anchuca, Cedar Grove, and Duff Green.

While in Vicksburg, visit the Church of the Holy Trinity, with 11 Tiffany stained glass windows, and Christ’s Episcopal Church are historic and beautiful, and both offer tours.

Indiana: This place is a gem in the Mississippi Delta, perfect for anyone looking to get away for the day. Located in Sunflower County, Indianola ticks all the boxes for shopping, dining, entertainment, live music, and sightseeing.

Every trip to Indianola should start with a visit to the BB King Museum and the Delta Interpretive Center.

King is recognized as Mississippi’s most famous blues musician. The museum tells the story of his humble upbringing to become the face of a musical movement that led to him being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The museum is in the middle of Indianola.

A new exhibit at the museum, which opened in 2008, showcases the last years of King’s life.

Club Ebony was once one of the most prominent African-American nightclubs in the South. It was built just after World War II by Indianola entrepreneur Johnny Jones. Under Jones and successive owners, the club has featured Ray Charles, Count Basie, BB King, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Albert King, Willie Clayton, Tina Turner, Howlin’ Wolf and many other legendary artists.

While it was forced to close earlier this year, the BB King Museum is in the process of remodeling and opening it after securing a grant from the state of Mississippi. Officials hope to have the monument operational again for a smooth opening in late July or early August, with a grand opening the first week of June 2023.

Laurel: The town recently rose to fame as the hometown of Ben and Erin Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town,” where the couple are doing home renovations.

However, Laurel is not only a great “hometown” but it is also a great place to visit.

The first stop for visitors to Laurel should be the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, 565 N. Fifth Ave., called Mississippi’s first art museum. It was founded in 1923 and designed by Rathbone DeBuys of New Orleans. It is located on tree-lined Fifth Avenue among turn-of-the-century homes, just one block from downtown Laurel.

The museum has an extensive collection of Native American baskets. It also features a selection of American art by Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt and John Singer Sargent. The museum receives 32,000 visitors a year.

Take the historic district walking tour as you leave the museum. The area is the largest untouched contiguous collection of turn-of-the-century craftsmen and bungalow-style dwellings.

All the information you need for the self-guided walking tour can be picked up at the museum.

If you like paddling in a canoe or kayak or just swimming in a nice cool creek, the Mississippi has plenty of options.

The creeks and rivers of the Mississippi provide opportunities to get away to nature.

bear creek: This popular spot is located in northeast Mississippi and winds its way through Tishomingo State Park into the rocky Appalachian foothills before heading into Alabama. At the park, visitors can rent canoes and take a 6.25 mile trip through the scenic and historic area.

Chunky River: In east-central Mississippi near the small town of Chunky, paddlers can enjoy the waters of the river, which flows southeast and joins the Okatibbee River to form the Chickasawhay River near Enterprise. The water is relatively clear and its gentle flow and population of large fish make it a popular destination for fly fishing. In the spring, paddlers are treated to blooming mountain laurels not commonly found in Mississippi.

Okatoma Creek: North of Hattiesburg, Okatoma Creek is a popular destination for paddlers and features something many Mississippi waterways do not have – Class 1 rapids. The rapids are manageable by almost anyone, including the children. Visitors may encounter otters, beavers, and possibly softshell turtles. A country store, showers and changing room are on site, as well as a primitive camping area with grills.

Black Stream: South of Hattiesburg is Mississippi’s only wild and scenic national river, flowing 40 miles through the De Soto National Forest. Its name comes from the dark water caused by the tannic acid of decaying vegetation. Unlike its murky waters, its white sandbars serve as playgrounds for paddlers and all-natural campsites. The cove has plenty of sandbars to stop and relax. Paddlers may also feel a sense of isolation and not meet another person as rentals are limited.

Wolf River: Traversing the west side of the Mississippi Coast and ending in Bay St. Louis, Wolf River offers another unique opportunity for paddling and camping. Paddlers may encounter bald eagles, ospreys, otters and cranes along the way. The pines and oaks along the river are typical of southern Mississippi. Those interested in stones should also be on the lookout as agate can be found along the river. Cooling off in the summer heat is no problem either. Several spring-fed cold water streams feed the river along the way.

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