The state of Mississippi owes its name to the Mississippi river, which is taken from the Chippewa word mici zibi, which means 'great river'. A major part of the state is covered with forests. Weather-wise, Mississippi enjoys hot summers and mild winters. The state also has a rich musical heritage, and is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Musicians from Mississippi have contributed to the development of blues music, the most notable among them being Jimmie Rodgers, a native of the state. Take a peek at some of the top tourist spots in Mississippi, which can be enjoyed with family and friends.
Major Attractions in Mississippi
Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum
This is situated in Tupelo, the birthplace of the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Visited by thousands of fans from all over the world, this site features the small shotgun cottage where Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935. There is also a museum which depicts how music shaped Elvis Presley's early life. A memorial chapel built by a close friend of Elvis Presley is now a popular place to listen to Presley's gospel music and is also a venue for weddings.
This is the former home of Nobel laureate, William Faulkner, located in Oxford. Built in the primitive Greek Revival architectural style, this majestic property is now owned and maintained by the University of Mississippi and serves as a museum. It is frequented by both writers and visitors and is a treasure trove of information on the life of William Faulkner.
Built in 1848, this cast iron lighthouse is famous because of its long history of female lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse has been declared a Mississippi Landmark by the Department of Archives and History. Damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was restored in 2010 and is now a popular tourist destination. The lighthouse is now represented on Mississippi's vehicle number plates with sunrise as the background.
Natchez Trace Parkway
Visit the town of Ridgeland to get a glimpse of Native American art or go to Tupelo to study the entire history at the Visitor Center. This is one of the best areas for outdoor recreation and hiking, and is filled with cypress swamps and beautiful cascades. A famous and important archaeological site is the Emerald Mound, built by Natchez people to be used as a ceremonial ground, and dating back to the pre-Columbian era.
This massive oak tree is 500 years old! It is found in Long Beach on the campus of University of Southern Mississippi. Towering tall at almost 60 feet, the branches of this tree form a canopy that provides shade over an area that measures a whopping 16,000 square feet! Legend has it that those meeting under the shade of this tree will endure a lasting friendship. A favorite among tourists, this mighty oak has stood testimony to several weddings held under its branches.
Flint Creek Water Park
This is specifically for travelers wanting to enjoy outdoor recreation. Both children and adults can enjoy swimming in the lakes, which also has age-appropriate water slides and plenty of opportunities for water sports. Fishing can also be enjoyed here, with the waters teeming with bass, catfish, and crappie. It has facilities for picnics and RV campsites. Visitors can hike and trek, and take a relaxing stroll down the nature trails.
Vicksburg National Military Park
It was built in the memory of the Battle of Vicksburg, one of the final sieges in the American Civil War. There are hundreds of trenches and thousands of historic monuments found along the 16-mile tour road that the park contains. Also featured are a couple of antebellum houses. Visit the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum to see the awe-inspiring ironclad warship that was hit by a torpedo and sunk in 1862, only to be restored in 1964.
Belzoni, Catfish Capital of the World
A small town in western Mississippi, this town claims to be the catfish capital of the world, producing the majority of farm-bred catfish in its aquaculture farms. The World Catfish Festival is held annually in this town, with activities like a catfish eating contest and a marathon. Adults and children can have a gala time enjoying the carnival-like atmosphere of the place.
Russell C. Davis Planetarium
A guaranteed hit with visitors, this planetarium in the capital city of Jackson is the gateway to learning all about the sky and the stars. It boasts of a massive hemispheric screen featuring sky shows that exhibit multimedia programs in astronomy. The planetarium also hosts laser light entertainment concerts. These shows, which feature musical genres like rock 'n' roll and classic rock make use of magnificent laser beams for a brilliant effect.
This one-of-a-kind restaurant in Natchez is shaped like a woman's skirt, made of bricks. The top features a smiling woman holding a tray in her hands. It is one of the best places to have delicious sandwiches, pies, and desserts. This friendly roadside eatery will definitely be a highlight of your Mississippi vacation!
This famous zoo is located in Hattiesburg and is home to a variety of animals, including zebras, jaguars, alligators, cockatoos, and turtles. It is alternatively known as Kamper Park Zoo. It's a great place to learn about different animals, and adults and children can get to be the zookeeper for a day, covered under the zoo's Education Center, which also has programs like animal encounters and train ride in the dark so visitors get to know animal behavior at night.
Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art
Dedicated to the ceramic artist George Ohr, this museum is also named after Annette O'Keefe, who donated money to complete the building of the museum. Located in Biloxi, the museum is a center for increasing cultural tourism. The museum has been recently redesigned in an unusual way, in keeping with the rather quirky pottery designs created by George Ohr, who is fondly nicknamed the Mad Potter of Biloxi.
Hurricane Katrina Memorial
Found in Biloxi, it is a memorial that is dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the devastating hurricane that ravaged the US Gulf Coast in 2005. Built at a height of 12 feet to depict the level of water that swept through the town that fateful day, it also features a glass showcase, which houses things collected after the destruction caused by the hurricane.
Mississippi Petrified Forest
It has the distinction of being the only petrified forest in the eastern part of the country just outside the town of Flora, and abounds in fossilized tree trunks that were formed millions of years ago. It is a quiet place to unwind, full of wildflowers and birds. There is a museum which is a treat for nature and history lovers alike with fossils of plant and animal life preserved in an intact state.
Located in Woodville, it is the family home of Jefferson Davis, who served as the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Visitors can tour the site and learn about the historical significance of the place through audio presentations.
B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
Dedicated to one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time, Riley B. King, the B.B. King Museum showcases the rich musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta, most notably the Delta blues. The museum, located in Indianola, the hometown of B.B. King, has several artifacts related to B.B. King's life; and features educational and interactive programs depicting the history and cultural heritage that led to the evolution of the Delta blues, serving as an inspiration to budding musicians.
Highway 61 Blues Museum
This famous museum in Leland is dedicated to Delta blues music, where the blues musicians originally hailed from. It has beautifully painted murals in honor of the musicians who contributed to the blues music in a big way.
This beautiful edifice belongs to the pre-Civil War period and is famous for its architectural style that has inspired other structures in the area. It was built on a steep bluff in Natchez.
Geyser Falls Water Theme Park
This theme park in Philadelphia features numerous water slides and is crowded during the summers. It also features restaurants and a beach club.
These beautiful flower gardens near Belzoni are visited by thousands from all over the country for their breathtaking array of roses, day lilies, crape myrtles, and azaleas, blooming around a big lake that is home to many species of ducks and swans.
So for a perfect holiday in the Deep South of the United States, Mississippi is the place to go. Be assured that you will have a relaxing and peaceful vacation, enjoy some beautiful historical and cultural sites, and taste authentic southern-style food. All these things combined with mild weather, friendly locals, and the economical rates will make sure that your Mississippi holidays are truly worth remembering.