Mississippi’s capital city area has plenty of stories to tell. A history buff’s dream, the corridor from Jackson to the Mississippi River offers visitors historical landmarks, antebellum homes, Civil War battlefields and significant sites of the Civil Rights Movement. Foodie travelers will find cuisine to challenge traditional notions of Southern cooking and energize their taste buds.
Whether you’re coming to Jackson to celebrate Mississippi’s bicentennial or looking for a great getaway, here’s how to spend a few days taking in sights old and new in Mississippi’s Capital Region.
Day 1 – Vicksburg
Morning: Visit the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum on Washington Street to see where Coca-Cola was first bottled. Treat yourself to a Coke float and then check out the neighboring shops and art galleries.
Lunch: For casual white-tablecloth dining, Rusty’s Riverfront Grill offers diners seafood specials, steaks, po’ boys and sandwiches, while Solly’s Hot Tamales serves up the authentic Mississippi hot tamale experience.
Afternoon: With more than 1,340 monuments, markers and plaques, a 16-mile road tour, a 33-mile hiking trail system and the nation’s second-largest national cemetery, you can easily spend an entire afternoon or longer at Vicksburg National Military Park. The park recounts the pivotal campaign in 1863 during the Civil War, from the siege and defense to the surrender of Vicksburg.
Stay: Check in to Anchuca, Vicksburg’s oldest bed and breakfast. The Greek Revival mansion offers guests old-world charm with modern amenities in historic downtown Vicksburg.
Dinner: Café Anchuca serves up southern-style fine dining and mixes a perfect nightcap for hotel guests. Just a few blocks away, you can watch the sun set over the Mississippi River from the rooftop of 10 South Rooftop Bar and Grill.
Day 2 – Downtown Jackson
Morning: Take the short drive from Vicksburg to Jackson on I-20. Head downtown to visit the Old Capitol Museum, a national historic landmark, to see the restored Greek Revival style building which served as Mississippi’s statehouse from 1839 to 1903. Walk or drive to the “new” Mississippi State Capitol, now more than a century old, to view the current home of the Mississippi Legislature. The Capitol includes awe-inspiring monuments, intricate motifs and more than 11 types of marble.
Lunch: Tasty lunch options abound in the area. Local Greek favorite Keifer’s was featured as Chef Cat Cora’s favorite gyro on the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. For soul food, try Bully’s Restaurant, a 2016 recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics Award.
Afternoon: Spend the afternoon learning about African American history in Mississippi at the Smith Robertson Museum downtown, housed in the first public school built for African Americans in the city. Writer Richard Wright graduated from the school in 1925. Head a few blocks south to the Mississippi Museum of Art for a late afternoon stroll through the 1.2-acre art garden and peruse colorful exhibits of Mississippi artworks. The new Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, opening December 9, tell the true stories of how the state influenced a nation and the world.
Stay: The Hilton Garden Inn Jackson, formerly known as the King Edward Hotel, along with the new Westin Jackson, put you in walking distance of many downtown museums, restaurants and attractions. The boutique Fairview Inn offers luxurious accommodations in the storied Belhaven neighborhood.
Dinner: For dinner downtown, Parlor Market offers diners locally-sourced, Southern fusion cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. Dine like a true local and eat at the Mayflower or the Elite, Capitol Street culinary staples since 1935 and 1947, respectively. Downtown restaurants serving up Southern classics with live entertainment include Hal and Mal’s, Martin’s Restaurant and Bar and Ole Tavern on George Street. For late-night live music and cocktails, check out F. Jones Corner.
Day 3 – Fondren/Belhaven area Jackson
Morning: Head to Fondren favorites Cups or Sneaky Beans for your perfect cup of morning coffee. Grab breakfast there or at nearby La Brioche for authentic pain au chocolat and other European treats. Take your coffee to-go and walk around Fondren’s business district, taking in the many shops and art galleries. Then, drive to the historic Belhaven neighborhood to tour the Eudora Welty House and Garden, where the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist wrote nearly all of her novels and short stories.
Lunch: While you’re in the Belhaven area, try the wood-fired pizza at The Manship, a plate lunch at Lou’s Full Serv or a personal pizza at local favorite Pizza Shack. If you want to do lunch in Fondren, hit up The Pig and Pint for award-winning BBQ, Sal and Mookie’s for New York-style pizza, Roosters for stick-to-your-ribs burgers and Brent’s Drugs for classic diner fare, served at one of Jackson’s oldest drugstores.
Afternoon: Spend your afternoon at some of the area’s four museums. Kids of all ages will delight in more than 40,000 square feet of interactive exhibits at the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Nature-loving visitors will enjoy the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, complete with scenic nature trails leading to Mayes Lake. On the other side of Lakeland Drive, history buffs can take in the living museum of Mississippi’s agrarian past at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, while sports fans can celebrate the state’s many world-class athletes at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Dinner: Venture back to the Fondren area for some of Jackson’s best dining. Located in Duling Hall, a former Jackson elementary school, Babalu Tapas and Tacos features crowd-pleasing guacamole made tableside along with Latin-inspired small plates. At the opposite end of Duling Hall, oyster bar Saltine made Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants of 2015 list. Around the corner on State Street, award-winning Chef Derek Emerson at Walker’s Drive-In serves up steaks, seafood and Southern favorites using local ingredients.
Nightlife: Be sure to check the concert listings for Duling Hall. The one-of-a-kind venue inside a renovated school auditorium is not to be missed. For a nightcap, Fondren Public features more than 24 beers on tap, while CAET satisfies any wine connoisseur. For a speakeasy experience, walk to the back of a seemingly closed Brent’s Drugs where you will find a dimly lit, well-appointed craft cocktail bar, the Apothecary.