Last Updated on October 20, 2022
Mississippi is known as The Magnolia State and The Hospitality State. So you know there are bound to be some pleasant destinations, and plenty of nice hotels, B&Bs, and tourist spots to remind you of how kind Mississippians are!
Whether you’re a resident or vacationing here for the first time, you will find plenty of fun and interesting things to do, and we’re going to review the best suggestions in this article.
A Brief History of Mississippi
Indigenous people lived in Mississippi for thousands of years even before Native Americans came into the picture around the 1500s. Colonization came by way of the French, who later gave some territory to Spain and Britain. Europeans came by the 1800s and some of them brought African slaves to establish cotton plantations.
Mississippi became a state in 1817 and much of the next few decades saw the federal government pushing Native Americans westward, and planters bringing more in the way of slave labor.
After the Civil War, many freed black slaves became farm owners and by 1900, made up about two-thirds of all property owners in the Mississippi Delta area. African-Americans and their descendants later faced more difficulty during the years of segregation and some unjustly lost their land. This led to the Great Migration up north, which saw blacks become a minority population.
Some help later came from low-interest loans courtesy of FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s. This did help some black Mississippians to bounce back, and take on more political struggles throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
For many years there was a thriving agricultural industry in the state, though industrial technology from mega-farms in recent years has taken its toll on the economy.
Take in Some History Around Natchez
For a bit of history, start your Mississippi journey by seeing the Natchez Trace Parkway, which goes from Natchez all the way to Nashville, Tennessee. This route was once used by Mississippi Native Americans, and you can still see many prehistoric mounds, archeological sites, and other historical sites.
The town of Natchez also has many well-preserved antebellum homes, old mansions like Stanton Hall (The Belfast House), Nutt’s Folly, and the Rosalie Mansion.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum offers a glimpse into the people who changes history with sculptures and exhibits, as well as a Vicksburg National Military Park, which was a key city during the Civil War, and still has many old cannons and a U.S.S. Cairo gunboat.
Mississippi Must-See Culture
Elvis may have sung the blues, but he was actually born in Tupelo, MS. You can still visit the house and the church that helped influence his life and career.
The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is surprisingly large and besides plenty of fossil exhibits, also has a greenhouse, and an aquarium that holds 100,000 gallons of aquatic life.
The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies is an interactive museum that teaches visitors young and old all about oceanic life. The institute is also a rehabilitation center for dolphins, along with a dolphin encounter experience.
Meanwhile, the Jackson Zoo has over 250 animals from 150 species worldwide. You can see everything from a pygmy hippopotamus, to a Sumatran tiger, and rhinoceros.
Fun Under the Mississippi Sun
While at first Mississippi may seem similar to a Savannah, Georgia vacation – as in mostly culture and not as much entertainment – the real party is down south.
Head down to the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which starts in Cat Island in Mississippi and stretches all the way to Florida. There are some beaches here, marshes, maritime forests and a mainland area called the Davis Bayou. You can camp out, hike, picnic, or even go kayaking or snorkeling.
Take in Some History Along the Mississippi Delta
If you have a deep appreciation for the blues genre, you’re in the right state to learn about the history of Mississippi Delta Blues music. The Mississippi Delta refers to the northwest part of the state between two rivers – the Mississippi and Yazoo. The history here, while quite complex in terms of economy, politics, and agriculture, is largely remembered today for its contributions to blues music.
The delta area encompasses the city of Belzoni, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Greenville, Greenwood, Indianola, and Yazoo City.
The Mississippi Blues Trail goes through the delta and stretches to about 170 miles of history, some music museums, famous birthplaces, and some other cultural sites. Here you can find museums devoted to blues musicians like the B.B. King Museum, the Delta Blues Museum, the Jimmie Rodgers Museum, and the Grammy Museum of Mississippi.
Experience Mississippi Hospitality
The best reason to visit Mississippi is because of the eclectic mix of history, culture, music, science, and nature, and fun sporting activities. The state is one of the most beautiful to visit, and not just for the lovely scenic views, but for the generous spirit of the local residents. Why not come see what the hype is all about?