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Mississippi offers travelers a diverse array of options, including beautiful remote camping sites, great places to canoe or kayak, and places to take in the state’s history.
Below we present some of the best places to visit in Mississippi.
Natchez: Historic Natchez is one of the most well-preserved Southern cities in the United States, with stately antebellum plantation homes located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River overlooking the rich, flat Louisiana Delta land on the other side.
Places to visit:Get away from it all at these 5 great places to kayak, canoe and camp
Hit the road for a quick trip
Legend has it that many of Natchez’s well-to-do plantation owners were from the North who had moved to the South to grow cotton. However, when the war broke out, they sided with the North. Therefore, Union Forces did not destroy many of the plantation homes in Natchez.
Many of the homes today are in private hands. Still, many of them remain open for tours. They include Monmouth (1818), Rosalie Mansion (1820), The William Johnson House (1840), Melrose (1842), Stanton Hall (1857), Longwood (1860), and many others are available for tours and possibly an overnight stay.
Natchez hosts spring and fall pilgrimages during which many privately owned homes are open to the public.
Natchez also has become somewhat of a Hollywood backlot in recent years with Hollywood film producer Tate Taylor, a Mississippi native, filming such movies as “Get On Back,” “The Help,” “Ma” and “Breaking News in Yuba County” in the city in recent years.
Vicksburg: Another historic Mississippi River city to visit is Vicksburg which also has some antebellum homes and beautiful views of the Mississippi River.
However, the historic town of 22,000 is likely best known for the Civil War’s Battle of Vicksburg, a turning point in the conflict.
The Vicksburg National Military Park brings more than 500,000 visitors to the city annually. The park itself is a beautiful place to see and can take at least a half-day, if not the entire day. However, a self-guided driving tour is easily attained in an hour or two after stopping at the Visitor’s Center.
While in the park, run by the USS Cairo, a restored gunboat that prowled the Mississippi River during the war.
And there is even more for the history buff. The Old Courthouse Museum is an excellent repository for information and is entertaining for anyone.
Any day in Vicksburg should include a look at the antebellum homes. Some must-see homes are Anchuca, Cedar Grove, and Duff Green.
While in Vicksburg, visit the Church of the Holy Trinity, with 11 Tiffany stained-glass windows, and Christ Episcopal Church are historic and beautiful, and both offer tours.
Indianola: This place is a gem in the Mississippi Delta, perfect for anyone looking to get away for the day. Located in Sunflower County, Indianola checks all the boxes for shopping, dining, entertainment, live music, and sightseeing.
Every trip to Indianola should begin by visiting the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.
King is recognized as the most famous Blues musician from Mississippi. The museum tells the story of his modest upbringing to become the face of a music movement that led to him being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The museum sits in the middle of Indianola.
A new museum exhibit, which opened in 2008, showcases the final years of King’s life.
Club Ebony was once one of the South’s most important African American nightclubs. It was built just after World War II by Indianola entrepreneur Johnny Jones. Under Jones and successive owners, the club showcased Ray Charles, Count Basie, B. B. King, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Albert King, Willie Clayton, Tina Turner, Howlin’ Wolf, and many other legendary acts.
While it was forced to close earlier this year, the B.B. King Museum is in the process of remodeling and opening it after getting a grant from the state of Mississippi. Officials hope the landmark is back up and running for a soft opening by late July or early August, with a grand opening the first week of June 2023.
Laurel: The city has most recently come to fame as the hometown of Ben and Erin Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town” series, where the couple does home renovations.
However, Laurel is not only a great “Home Town,” but it also is a great place to visit.
The first stop for visitors to Laurel should be the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, 565 N. Fifth Ave., called Mississippi’s first art museum. It was founded in 1923 and designed by Rathbone DeBuys of New Orleans. It is located on the tree-lined Fifth Avenue, among the turn-of-the-century houses just one block from the center of Laurel.
The museum has an extensive collection of Native American baskets. It also has a selection of American art by Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt, and John Singer Sargent. The museum receives 32,000 visitors a year.
Take the Historic District Walking Tour when you leave the museum. The area is the most extensive in-tact contiguous collection of turn-of-the-century craftsman & bungalow-style housing.
All the information you need for the self-guided walking tour can be picked up at the museum.
If you enjoy paddling in a canoe or a kayak or just like swimming in a nice cool creek, Mississippi has plenty of options.
Bear Creek: This popular spot is located in Northeast Mississippi and winds through Tishomingo State Park in the rocky foothills of the Appalachian Mountains before making its way into Alabama. At the park, visitors can rent canoes and take a 6.25-mile trip through the scenic and historic area.
Chunky River: In East Central Mississippi near the tiny town of Chunky, paddlers can enjoy the river waters, which flows southeast and joins the Okatibbee River to form the Chickasawhay River near Enterprise. The water is relatively clear and its gentle flow and population of gamefish make it a hot destination for fly fishing. In spring, paddlers are treated to blooming mountain laurels not commonly found inMississippi.
Okatoma Creek: North of Hattiesburg, Okatoma Creek is a popular destination for paddlers and features something many streams in Mississippi don’t have — Class 1 rapids. The rapids are manageable by almost anyone, including children. Visitors may encounter otters, beavers, and possibly soft-shelled turtles. A country store, showers, and changing area are onsite, and a primitive camping area with grills.
Black Creek: Located south of Hattiesburg is Mississippi’s only National Wild and Scenic River, flowing 40 miles through the De Soto National Forest. Its name comes from the dark water caused by tannic acid from decaying vegetation. In contrast to its dark water are its white sandbars, which serve as playgrounds for paddlers and all-natural campsites. The creek has plenty of sandbars to stop and relax on. Paddlers can also feel a sense of seclusion and may not encounter another person because rentals are limited.
Wolf River: Flowing through the western side of the Mississippi Coast and ending at Bay St. Louis, Wolf River offers another unique opportunity to paddle and camp. Paddlers may encounter bald eagles, osprey, otters, and cranes along the way. Pine and oak trees along the river are typical of south Mississippi. People interested in stones should also be on the lookout because agate can be found along the river. Cooling off in the heat of summer isn’t a problem, either. Several spring-fed, cold-water creeks feed the river along the way.