The Student Road Trip
DAY 1 TUNICA TO CLARKSDALE 37 miles
A great way to start your tour in Tunica is by taking a scenic cruise of the mighty Mississippi River on the Tunica Queen, a replica of a 19th century riverboat. Tour Tunica RiverPark, which showcases the rich history of the river and features a four-story outdoor observation deck overlooking the Mississippi River, aquariums with native aquatic life and a 130- acre riverside forest with walking trail. Then, head south to Clarksdale for some real Delta blues. This is where the blues was turned into an art form by Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and other talented Delta musicians. Clarksdale Station and Blues Alley, the renovated railroad depot that houses the Delta Blues Museum, showcases original instruments, recordings and art. Take a look at Muddy Waters’ cabin, and purchase a blues CD. Local musicians and singers work one-on-one to keep the blues alive by teaching area youth and adults the instrument of their choice. After a jam session, tour Clarksdale alongside the Sunflower River. Explore the neighborhood that was the boyhood playground of Tennessee Williams and visit Tennessee Williams Park for a refreshing break or picnic. (Arrangements can be made through Clarksdale/Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce.)
DAY 2 CLARKSDALE TO MOUND BAYOU 27 miles
MOUND BAYOU TO CLEVELAND 10 miles
Total - 37 miles
Former slaves founded Mound Bayou, and in its heyday, it was the pinnacle of African American culture. Visit historical sites such as one of the only African American-owned banks in Mississippi and the Taborian Hospital building. Next, you’ll come to Cleveland and nearby Dockery Plantation, a historic site some believe to be the birthplace of the blues. Legend has it that Robert Johnson, who was living on a nearby plantation, was told in order to meet his fate he should take his guitar to a crossroad near the Dockery Plantation at midnight. Go to this spot and hear the story of how he traded his soul for his musical talent. Today this event is commemorated in Clarksdale at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 61 and 49. Enjoy tales from this era with a Southern-style picnic under the shade of an oak tree at the plantation. (Make arrangements through the Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce.) Afterwards, shop in Cleveland’s Historic Cotton Row District. Stop in for an ice cream treat or coffee and dessert at one of the many local restaurants. Experience a true “Delta Night” with live blues music and spicy barbecue or at a session at Delta State University’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning.
DAY 3 CLEVELAND TO ROSEDALE 20 miles
ROSEDALE TO GREENVILLE 35 miles
GREENVILLE TO LELAND 8 miles
LELAND TO GREENWOOD 45 miles
Total - 108 miles
In Rosedale, at the Great River Road State Park, learn about the Mississippi River and its many cultural, economic and agricultural contributions to the world. Head south on Mississippi Highway 1, the Great River Road, to Winterville Mounds Museum and explore Mississippi’s Native American heritage, artifacts,and one of the largest Indian mound groups in the Mississippi River Valley. In Greenville, the state’s largest city on the River, stop at the River Road Queen Welcome Center on U.S. Highway 82 West. This replica of an 1800s paddle wheel riverboat offers excellent photo opportunities. This afternoon, travel to Leland to see the museum celebrating Jim Henson’s Delta boyhood and the creation of Kermit the Frog. Or, experience more blues legends through exhibits at the Highway 61 Blues Museum in downtown Leland. Indianola is home of blues great B.B. King and catfish pâté, an unusual Delta delicacy invented at a local restaurant. The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, chronicles this legendary bluesman's storied career and is a world-class museum and learning center. Continue into Greenwood, home to America’s second-largest cotton exchange, for dinner and overnight.
DAY 4 GREENWOOD TO YAZOO CITY 53 miles
YAZOO CITY TO CANTON 32 miles
CANTON TO JACKSON 22 miles
Total - 107 miles
Take time to visit Cottonlandia Museum where exhibits document the land and the people of the Delta from the Ice Age through today. Or, visit the Blues Heritage Museum & Gallery, honoring the life and legend of the great bluesman, Robert Johnson. On your way to Yazoo City, notice the fields of rectangular ponds growing Mississippi farm-raised catfish. Depending on the time of year, you may also see the oceans of white in the Delta’s acres of cotton. In Yazoo City, tour native son Willie Morris’ stomping grounds and some his favorite sites highlighted in his writings, such as My Dog Skip
and Good Old Boy
. Hollywood has made Canton the “Movie Capital of Mississippi.” The Canton Movie Museum at Wohner’s Corner offers a look at props and sets from several productions filmed in Canton, including My Dog Skip
, A Time To Kill
and The Ponder Heart
. Arrive in Jackson, Mississippi’s capital city, in time to enjoy one of the city’s unique restaurants.
DAY 5 JACKSON
A visit to Jackson would not be complete without a visit to the Governor’s Mansion, where, in 1863, Union General William T. Sherman hosted a victory dinner following the surrender of Vicksburg. Don’t miss the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum with its historical exhibits and reproduction of a 1920s community with a church, gas station and general store.