Welcome to the Mississippi Travel Guide, where we invite you to embark on a journey through the rich history, vibrant music scene, and charming towns of the Magnolia State. From the turbulent days of the civil rights era to the birthplace of the Delta blues, Mississippi offers a unique blend of cultural experiences that are sure to captivate every traveler. Whether you’re interested in immersing yourself in the history of Natchez, getting lost in the soulful melodies of the Delta blues, or exploring the quaint town of Oxford, there’s something for everyone in Mississippi.
Mississippi has a complex and often tumultuous history that shaped its identity as a state. From Reconstruction onwards, it was known as a stronghold of segregation in the South. The state witnessed some of the most notorious incidents of the civil rights era, including the lynching of Emmett Till and the murders of activists during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the violence began to subside.
The legalization of gambling in the 1990s brought some economic stimulation to the state, with the casinos of Biloxi and Tunica generating significant revenue. However, Mississippi faced devastating natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the BP oil spill in 2010, which added to the challenges faced by its communities.
The Mississippi Delta, once an impenetrable wilderness, gave birth to a genre of music that would captivate the world – the Delta blues. In the early 1900s, W.C. Handy, a leader of a vaudeville orchestra, encountered a ragged black man playing a guitar in Tutwiler. This encounter marked the beginning of the Delta blues era, characterized by the interplay between words and music, with the guitar aiming to parallel and complement the singing.
Charley Patton, one of the seminal artists of the Delta blues, was known for his itinerant lifestyle, moving from plantation to plantation and captivating audiences with his wild showmanship. Another influential figure, Robert Johnson, was rumored to have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his extraordinary talent. The haunting melodies of Johnson’s songs, such as “Crossroads Blues” and “Me and the Devil Blues,” reflected the chilling emptiness of the Delta.
Located seventy miles south of Vicksburg, Natchez is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River. Its history dates back to the time of Native American tribes, French, British, and Spanish colonists. Unlike its rival Vicksburg, Natchez was spared significant damage during the Civil War, allowing its Greek Revival antebellum mansions to remain intact.
Explore the streets of Natchez, adorned with majestic oaks and white clapboard homes, and you’ll discover a town that exudes Southern charm. Take a horse and carriage tour downtown or visit one of the many beautifully preserved mansions open for tours. While you’re there, don’t miss Natchez Under-the-Hill, a small stretch of riverfront that was once notorious as the “Sodom of the Mississippi” but now offers bars, restaurants, and a riverboat casino.
Nestled in the heart of Mississippi, Oxford is a vibrant town that effortlessly blends rural charm with a vibrant cultural scene. With a population of 19,000 residents and 20,000 students, Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss. The town’s central square embodies small-town America, while its leafy streets exude a European air.
Stroll through the town’s central square and you’ll find Neilson’s, the oldest department store in the South, which has remained relatively unchanged since 1897. Explore the boutiques, indulge in a quick lunch, or relax on the peaceful balcony of Square Books while sipping espresso. Oxford’s rich history and cultural offerings make it a must-visit destination in Mississippi.
The Mississippi River, often referred to as the lifeblood of Mississippi, has played a significant role in shaping the state’s history and culture. Along its banks, you’ll find charming river towns, bustling ports, and a multitude of recreational activities.
Take a leisurely cruise along the river, immersing yourself in the picturesque landscapes and captivating river life. Visit towns like Vicksburg, known for its historic Civil War sites, or Greenville, where you can experience the vibrant blues scene at local juke joints. The Mississippi River offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.
Mississippi’s Gulf shoreline is a testament to the state’s resilience in the face of natural disasters. While the area suffered devastating destruction from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, efforts to rebuild have transformed the coast into a vibrant and thriving destination.
Visit the hulking casinos of Biloxi and Tunica, which were instrumental in stimulating the state’s economy after the legalization of gambling. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, indulge in fresh seafood, and explore the unique blend of cultures that converge along the Gulf shoreline. Mississippi’s coastal region is a testament to the strength and spirit of its communities.
For those seeking outdoor adventures, Mississippi offers a diverse range of natural wonders to explore. From sprawling national parks to scenic trails and waterways, the state is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
Head to the De Soto National Forest, where you can hike through towering pines, camp under the stars, or paddle along the blackwater streams. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, visit the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, home to one of the rarest bird species in North America.
Whether you’re an avid angler, a bird watcher, or simply a nature lover, Mississippi’s outdoor offerings are sure to delight.
No visit to Mississippi is complete without indulging in its rich culinary heritage. From soul food to seafood, the state’s cuisine is a reflection of its diverse cultural influences.
Sample mouthwatering dishes like fried catfish, shrimp and grits, and slow-cooked barbecue. Don’t forget to try some of the famous Mississippi Delta tamales, a unique twist on the traditional Mexican dish.
Immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of Mississippians as you savor the flavors of the state’s culinary traditions.
Before embarking on your Mississippi adventure, here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip:
Get ready to immerse yourself in the history, music, and charm of Mississippi. Whether you’re exploring the Delta blues, delving into the past in Natchez, or experiencing the vibrant cultural scene of Oxford, the Magnolia State offers a truly unique travel experience. Start planning your journey today and get ready to create unforgettable memories in Mississippi.
Mississippi experiences hot and humid summers and relatively mild winters, especially in the southern regions. The best time to visit is during the fall or spring when the weather is pleasant. However, be prepared for pollen allergies in the spring and the scorching heat in the summer. Winter weather can be unpredictable, with fluctuating temperatures.
When visiting Mississippi, having a car is essential for getting around, as public transit options are limited. Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) is the largest airport in the state, with smaller airports scattered throughout. Ride-share options are available in larger cities, but outside of those areas, transportation options may be limited. Biking is most feasible in college towns, while walking may require a vehicle in most areas.
When visiting Mississippi, it’s important to be prepared for the heat and humidity, especially during the summer months. Stay hydrated, download your route in advance, and check the weather forecast to plan accordingly. Don’t forget to try the amazing food available at some gas stations and respect the wildlife by not disturbing it. Always exercise caution and use common sense to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
When packing for your trip to Mississippi, consider bringing reliable shoes for walking and exploring the state. Sunscreen is a must, as the sun can be intense. An umbrella will come in handy for both shade and protection from unexpected showers. Stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle, and opt for lightweight linen clothing to stay cool during the summer months.
Here are some key facts and information about Mississippi:
Mississippi is known for offering affordable travel options compared to many other states. The cost of living in Mississippi is ranked as the lowest in the country. Accommodation prices can range from $75 to $150 per night for a 3-star hotel room, while rental car rates average around $35 per day. Dining out can be budget-friendly, with take-out meals for two costing between $15 and $30, and sit-down dinners ranging from $30 to $100. Enjoying a draft beer can cost anywhere from $4 to $10.