Experiences

6 Ways to Visit Like a Local in Mississippi

Mississippi boasts a wealth of well-known historic, cultural, and natural wonders. There is certainly something for everyone to experience while exploring classic architecture in Natchez or walking in the steps of music royalty in the birthplaces of Elvis Presley or B.B. King. As travelers make their way through the state, however, they’ll also find a host of impressive landmarks and family adventures that epitomize the quality-of-life locals enjoy daily. Here are just a few of the ways to enjoy the Magnolia State like a bonafide Mississippian.

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

Laurel | Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

In Laurel, discover one of the finest collections of art in the region. The diverse exhibits range from 19th and 20th Century European and American works to 18th and19th Century Japanese woodblock prints. Along with the abundance of paintings and sculptures, visitors to the museum can explore exhibitions featuring Native American basketry and British Georgian silver. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art also offers art classes and a walking tour of the Laurel Historic District. Additionally, it doubles as an event venue. The museum’s event calendar is updated regularly so you can plan your visit – or visits – around the events that appeal to you most.

Ship Island

Coast | Ship Island

Not all of Mississippi’s best beaches are on the Gulf Coast itself. Ship Island, one of Mississippi’s barrier islands that protect the natural landscape along the Gulf shore, is actually about 12 miles offshore. Ship Island is popular destination for both beach lovers and history buffs. It includes concessions, picnic pavilions, beautiful beaches, and even showers for those who prefer to leave the sand at the beach. A 19th Century brick fort built to defend the Mississippi coast and its commerce lanes in times of war, Fort Massachusetts, remains on the island, partially restored and open for guided tours. Ship Island is only accessible by boat, and excursions are seasonal. Visitors can purchase tickets to spend a day on the island through Ship Island Excursions.

Old Courthouse Museum – Vicksburg

Vicksburg | Old Court House Museum

Vicksburg is one of Mississippi’s most historically significant cities and one of the largest along the Mississippi River. Today, the Old Courthouse Museum, constructed in 1858, is one of several museums in Vicksburg dedicated to the city’s rich history. The original Vicksburg landmark was replaced by a new building in 1939. After nearly being torn down, the Old Courthouse eventually was converted into a museum in 1948. Exhibits are dedicated to everything from the region’s early history, including pre-Columbian artifacts, to one of the largest collections of Civil War memorabilia in the South.

Natchez Under the Hill

Natchez | Under-the-Hill

Natchez is a quaint community steeped in history, with its bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River and a remarkable selection of restaurants, events, and elaborate architecture at every turn. But 19th Century Natchez had a wild side along the banks of the river where boats would come to dock. This once-rowdy area known as Natchez Under-the-Hill was described at the time as “the most licentious spot on the Mississippi River.” The seedy establishments that once lined the streets in this part of the city have long been replaced by a more family-friendly atmosphere, and Natchez Under-the-Hill is now enjoyed by locals and visitors of all ages.

Fondren District in Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson | Fondren District

This Jackson neighborhood is one of the City with Soul’s hippest, most creative areas. With its eclectic architecture, music venues, notable art galleries, and incredible restaurants, Fondren is a destination for urban living. Locals can be found on the first Thursday of the month at Fondren Live, a neighborhood block party open to all along Fondren’s four walkable blocks. The event features live music and, of course, an amazing shopping experience. Visitors will find unbeatable food and drinks and great company at restaurants like The Pig & Pint, which serves up mouthwatering barbecue in a laid-back setting, and Highball Lanes, which, in addition to being a restaurant specializing in contemporary cuisine, is a 10-lane bowling alley! Year round, music lovers can catch the latest acts traveling through the city at Duling Hall, a 1920s-era elementary school-turned-music and events venue.  

Hattiesburg Zoo

Hattiesburg | Hattiesburg Zoo

At the Hattiesburg Zoo, guests can get up close and personal with some its most beloved residents. Participate in the daily giraffe feeding, enjoy a walkabout with an Australian wallaby, or have a one-on-one experience with a sloth. There are over 100 species living at the zoo, and guests are encouraged to spend a day exploring the various habitats and learning about unique wildlife that inhabit the world. In the summer months, families can cool off at the splash pad and rent a cabana to relax in the shade. It’s truly a full-service family experience.

Contact Visit Mississippi for More Travel Tips

No matter what part of the state you choose to visit, you’re sure to find a home-away-from-home full of local fun and learning experiences. So get busy adding activities and lodging to our trip planner so you can customize your ideal “local” getaway! Not sure where to start? Download our tour guide or contact Visit Mississippi to get started today.