Discover America’s Music Roots in Mississippi
DAY 1 • MEMPHIS – TUPELO
Once you cross the state line into the Birthplace of America’s Music, make your way to Tupelo where you can explore the hometown of the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Start the day at the all-encompassing Elvis Presley Center, which includes the humble, two-room house where Elvis was born, Elvis Presley Park and the Elvis Presley Museum and Memorial Chapel.
Take a short drive downtown to visit the hardware store where Elvis’ mother Gladys purchased his first guitar. Stand where Elvis stood when he first held it. A couple of blocks down Main Street is the Fairpark District where you can find the larger than life statue of Elvis based on his 1956 Homecoming Concert at the Tupelo Fairgrounds. The statue offers a wonderful photo opportunity to commemorate your Tupelo trip.
DAY 2 • TUPELO – OXFORD – CLARKSDALE
Less than an hour from Tupelo lies Oxford, a charming college town immortalized in the writings of William Faulkner.
Begin your day with a stroll around the town square, where you can peruse literature at the quaint local bookstore, Square Books, or the musical offerings at the End of All Music record store. Renowned for its culinary offerings, the square has numerous restaurants to choose from.
Before you leave the square, don’t forget to grab a photo with Faulkner – the town has a bronze statue of the world-famous author on a bench in front of City Hall. You can then walk south of the square and tour his home, Rowan Oak. Originally built in 1844 and sitting on more than 29 acres of land, this is where the great literary mind wrote a few of his masterpieces – there is even an outline of his novel, A Fable, scribbled on the study wall.
From Rowan Oak, hop on University Avenue and head towards the University of Mississippi campus, known as “Ole Miss.” Tour the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, a research center for Southern Music, literature and folklore, then visit the University of Mississippi Blues Archive, the only research facility in the country dedicated to the study of the blues. The archive houses artifacts, photographs, recordings and the personal collections of blues legend and Mississippi native, B.B. King.
Depart Oxford and head east towards Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta region, where the blues was born.
DAY 3 • CLARKSDALE – CLEVELAND – INDIANOLA – GREENWOOD – YAZOO CITY – JACKSON
Once home to blues greats like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, W.C. Handy, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf, Clarksdale is a mecca for modern day fans. Head for the Delta Blues Museum where you can learn more about these musicians’ beginnings and careers. The museum also houses the actual cabin which served as Muddy Waters’ home as a child.
While in downtown Clarksdale, check out Ground Zero Blues Club, a restaurant and club dedicated to showcasing the best of today’s Delta blues musicians. Ground Zero features live blues acts Wednesday through Saturday nights. Depart for your next Delta destination, Cleveland.
En route to Cleveland, visit Dockery Farms, a historic plantation listed as the possible birthplace of the blues. Seemingly trapped in time, Dockery Farms offers visitors an authentic look at a full functioning late 19th century farm operation.
From farm to city, make your way into Cleveland proper and check out the state-of-the-art GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. Similar to its sister Museum — the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE — this Mississippi museum is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music while casting a spotlight on the deep musical roots of Mississippi. Visitors can engage in a Mississippi-centric display introducing them to the impact of Mississippi’s songwriters, producers and musicians in the traditional and modern music landscape.
DAY 4 • INDIANOLA – GREENWOOD – JACKSON – MERIDIAN
Tour the Highway 61 Blues Museum to learn even more about the Mississippi Delta Blues. Visit the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola where the life and music of the renowned musician is shared along with the rich cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.
Next, follow Highway 82 to Greenwood, home to eight markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Tour Greenwood’s Blues Heritage Gallery, dedicated to Robert Johnson, the renowned “King of the Delta Blues.” Continue through the Delta to Yazoo City and learn about Bentonia Blues and the Skip James connection.
Press on to downtown Jackson and enjoy blues, rock and country music at one of the local clubs. Local favorite Hal & Mal’s is a premier music venue for acts of all genres which also serves Gulf Coast seafood, poboys, burgers and more. Iron Horse Grill is another favorite for those looking for dinner and live music. Also downtown is F. Jones Corner on historic Farish Street, Martin’s and Ole Tavern on George Street, all offering live music and bar fare.
Next stop is Meridian, home of the recently opened, state-of-the-art Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Experience, a 60,000-square-foot facility dedicated to the state’s musicians, actors, writers and other creative artists. The MAX showcases the roots of Mississippi’s most famous contributors to the arts with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. From Tupelo’s Elvis, to Indianola’s B. B. King, to Pascagoula’s Jimmy Buffett, to Meridian’s own “King of Country Music” Jimmie Rodgers, the stories and works of every artist from every region of the state can be explored at the MAX.
Depart Mississippi with fond memories in your mind and new tunes in your heart.