Mississippi Eccentricities You Have to See
Thrill-seekers, oddballs, curious roadtrippers-are you looking for something out of the ordinary? Something off the beaten path? A unique glimpse at the roadside wonders of America? When your average tourist attraction just won’t do it for you, look no further than Mississippi. The winding trails and bluesy highways of this great state are studded with rare gems, so we’ve rounded up a few favorites to help you create the ultimate eccentric road trip.
The apron: a seemingly humble accessory with room in its pockets for a wealth of pop culture. Iuka’s Apron Museum is packed with thousands of hand-sewn aprons from the Civil War up to the present day. You’ll find styles from vintage to Star Wars and aprons made of all kinds of surprising materials. The owner, Carolyn Terry, is a treasure trove of knowledge-her passion for this everyday object is contagious!
It’s easy to find your Zen in the art of bonsai, where each tiny tree is intricate enough to represent the universe. At Brussel’s Bonsai Nursery, the largest in the United States, you can stroll row after row of perfect and elaborate trees in a massive, state-of-the-art greenhouse. With both simple and stunningly elaborate designs on display, you can lose yourself in an afternoon of peace and tranquility.
The Teddy Bear origin story is famous: on a hunting trip, Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub, and thus the cuddly stuffed toy was born. But did you know that trip took place in Sharkey County, Mississippi? One artist memorialized this fact in the form of a 12-foot-tall wooden sculpture, carved, impressively, by chainsaw. A trip to this adorable monument of a teddy-bearing a striking resemblance to Mr. Roosevelt-promises a great story of your own.
On scenic Highway 90, keep a weather eye out for a series of trees carved into sculptures. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed swathes of old oaks and cypresses, artists descended to revive them in art. The “Angel Tree” in Bay St. Louis stands out, having saved three people and their dog that August of 2005 as a refuge in the storm. Now, transformed with magnificent wings, it stands with three others in Bay St. Louis as a symbol of recovery and resilience.
Deep in the hills of Madison County lies an ancient wonder, 36 million years in the making. Time almost seems to echo here, humming underneath the birdsong and the fragrance of honeysuckle and pine. Wander through this forest-one of only two petrified forests in the entire country-and marvel at the old stone logs, preserved and waiting for generations to come and enjoy. This is truly a magical place.
The hills and hollers of the South famously produce great artists, including the visionary puppeteer Jim Henson. It was Henson’s childhood playing in the creeks of Leland, they say, that helped inspire him to create Kermit the Frog. These days, the Leland Chamber of Commerce houses its own Muppet Museum, chock full of memorabilia, merchandise, and Muppet curiosities. “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green,” but it is easy to have a great time here in Leland.
For 130 years, the bare columns of a long-burned mansion have captured the attention of eccentric adventurers everywhere. The Windsor Mansion played host to myriad visitors, including, legend has it, Mark Twain himself. But since its demise by lit cigar, all that remains is a bizarre and eerie stand of columns that seem to defy time and gravity-and, some say, house the ghosts of Union soldiers.
Pocket Museum: Visitors to Hattiesburg are invited to peer into the window of the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum, a miniature world unto itself located in an inconspicuous alley in the heart of the city. This ever-changing museum was created as a way to bring art to people during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and today, it continues to attract guests wanting a glimpse of the latest tiny exhibit.
You’ll find a grave surrounded in chain links tucked into the peaceful Glenwood Cemetery where storytellers recount the legend of the Witch of Yazoo-a death, a curse, and a devastating fire. To this day, groundskeepers try to keep the chain links around the grave intact, though often they find them broken. Come hear the story and decide the truth for yourself, if you dare.
So… is your curiosity piqued? Get out there and discover all the weird and wonderful sights in Mississippi on your next trip. Explore VisitMississippi.org to start planning today.