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Did You Know…?

  • Playwright Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier — in Mississippi.
  • Natchez is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River (1716).
  • The blues, a truly American music form, was born in the Mississippi Delta.
  • Mississippi has more African-Americans than any other state (36%).
  • The last heavyweight bare-knuckle boxing championship occurred in Richburg (1889); it lasted 75 rounds.

The South epitomized

Mississippi is the southern state one might conjure without having seen anything south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It has the full measure of antebellum homes and other historical sites associated with the Old South plus Civil War battlefields, including the important Vicksburg site.

Besides, as the name suggests, it has part of the eponymous river for a border, which translates into appealing river towns, riverboats and shoreside casinos. Finally, but not least, it is a southern state with a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico offering the de rigueur water-based recreation — and more casinos.

From border to border, travelers can visit one small town after another, each with its own brand of southern hospitality, moss-covered oaks, historic homes and battlefield sites — and beaches when the towns are on the Gulf.

Famous sons and daughters of Mississippi are remembered in such hometowns. They include literary stalwarts like William Faulkner and Eudora Welty; talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey, and music giants like B.B. King, Elvis Presley and Leontyne Price.

More than 100 blues singers and musicians got their start in the state’s Delta region. Celebrating that history, the Mississippi Blues Trail has 185 historical markers and interpretive sites throughout the state (and a few well beyond).

For those with at least a passing interest in history, Mississippi is an obvious place to troll through a few historic homes and sample a riverboat ride on the great river. Also, for Civil War buffs, the state’s sites include the Vicksburg and Shiloh battlefields.

As to the Gulf, Mississippi’s coastline was badly hurt by Hurricane Katrina, but it is no longer a stay-away zone. Area attractions — golf courses, casinos and outdoor recreational sites — are open, but the hurricane left its mark, visible in related memorials, artwork and commemorative events.

Mississippi is popular mostly with people from nearby states, with a sprinkling of visitors from the West and Midwest. This is a year-round vacation destination, thanks to temperate weather.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a bike trip along the river from New Orleans to Memphis on the Mississippi River Trail. There are several other route choices, and you can participate in bike rides with local bicycle clubs.
  • Rent a canoe or kayak, and paddle your way through the waters of the Black Creek Wilderness Trail or a number of other scenic water routes.
  • Do some hiking and rock climbing in the Tishomingo State Park in northeastern Mississippi. Plan a camping vacation, using facilities in state and national parks.
  • Attend Mardi Gras on the Gulf Coast or in Natchez.
  • Hear blues at clubs along Highway 61, called the Blues Highway.
  • If you have the brawn — and are willing to wear a kilt — compete in the Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival on the Gulf. The competitions include the hammer toss and caber throw (the latter essentially involves tossing around a telephone pole). If that idea leaves you winded, concentrate on the festival part: reenactments, arts and crafts, bagpipe players and the like.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Pack your gear, get a license and fish Mississippi’s lakes and rivers for bass, catfish and a number of other fish. Or, show up at the April World Catfish Festival in Belzoni.
  • Check out the Mississippi Blues Trail and plan a blues itinerary of your own.
  • Go horseback riding along the Shockaloe Horse Trail in the Bienville National Forest. There are several horse shows you can attend in the state, too.
  • Eat grits, aka polenta. Have a piece of homemade caramel cake.
  • Attend the midsummer Choctaw Indian Fair at the Choctaw Indian Reservation and see a demonstration of stickball, the oldest field game in America. The event features traditional tribal arts, crafts and dancing, plus modern elements like country and rock entertainers.
  • Attend the Delta Bear Affair Festival in Rolling Fork, and participate in nature-focused activities, including birding and equestrian trail rides. The fest celebrates a famous Teddy Roosevelt bear hunt (that led to the creation of the teddy bear) and supports restoration of the black bear to the Delta.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend Biloxi’s Shrimp Festival, which marks the opening of the shrimp fishing season. One feature of the May event is the blessing of the shrimp fleet.
  • Visit the world’s only cactus plantation in Edwards. See some of the 3,500 varieties cultivated at the site and buy a few samples to take home.
  • Time your trip to Natchez to coincide with the spring or fall pilgrimages, meaning tours that let you see the insides of historic homes and churches. The city has more antebellum structures (600) than any other American city. More than 1,000 of its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Buy fine crafts, created by Mississippi craftsmen, at the Mississippi Crafts Center at Ridgeland.
  • Visit the homes of the famous, such as Rowan Oak, the Oxford home of writer William Faulkner, and Rosemont, the boyhood home in historic Woodville of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
  • Drive Highway 90 to see dozens of trees, killed by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge, now transformed by a team of artists into works of art.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Visit Mississippi at