Mississippi is one of America’s oldest states and it has played a central role throughout history from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement. Today, this southern state may have left the spotlight, but it still holds deep roots in the nation’s cultural and historical identity.
Mississippi is well known for its rural stretches and beautiful delta region. Most of the state’s cities are small rural communities that glow with southern charm and stunning antebellum architecture, but the state is also home to a few larger metropolises where visitors can explore museums and historical landmarks.
St. Mary’s Basilica Cathedral
Also known as St. Mary’s Basilica, this Natchez catholic basilica church is one of the most beautiful architectural constructions in Mississippi. The cathedral dates to 1837 and it was the cathedral of the diocese of Mississippi until 1977. The cathedral’s beautiful interior features the Gothic Revival style characteristic of southern churches.
Another popular Natchez attraction is historic Longwood, also known as Nutt’s Folly, an antebellum mansion. The mansion is unique for its architectural design, being the largest octagonal house in the country and featuring a byzantine onion-shaped dome. The interior of the mansion is ornately decorated on the first floor and unfinished on the second floor, making for a remarkable contrast, with only nine of the 32 originally planned rooms complete.
Biloxi Visitors Center
This seaside town is known for its historical buildings and it is famous as a setting for many southern novels and films. The Biloxi Visitors Center offers a wealth of information about visitor amenities in Biloxi. The visitor’s center houses nearly a dozen multi-media exhibits that tell the story of Biloxi.
Some of the popular attractions in Biloxi include the Biloxi Lighthouse, both the Old Biloxi Cemetery and the National Cemetery, the old train depot, several sculptures and landmarks, and the Mississippi Blue and Country Trail which is a trail featuring historical markers related to Blues Music.
Vicksburg National Military Park
In memoriam of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, the Vicksburg National Military Park located in the city of the same name is a popular attraction. The park contains several reconstructed forts and trenches to help visitors imagine and appreciate the 47-day battle that took place on the site, eventually giving the United States control of the Mississippi River. The park features 1,325 historical monuments, 20 miles of trenches and other structures, two antebellum homes, canons, a restored gunboat, and the site where General Grant attempted to build a canal to bypass Confederate troops.
Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
The state’s largest museum, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1933. Today the museum features a variety of habitat exhibits, aquariums, and nature trails for visitors to explore the flora and fauna of Mississippi. The museum’s entire collection amounts to more than a million specimens, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, invertebrates, mammals, plants, and fossils.
Top Things to Do in Mississippi
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore offers recreation opportunities and preserves natural and historic resources along the Gulf of Mexico barrier islands of Mississippi. The protected regions include mainland areas and parts of seven islands. The Mississippi seashore features natural beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, islands accessible only by boat, bayous, nature trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. The Davis Bayou Area is the only portion of the National Seashore in Mississippi that is accessible by automobile.
Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Track Parkway preserves sections of the Old Natchez Trail which extends from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, passing through Jackson and Tupelo. The trail was originally formed by animals passing from pasture to pasture and later by Native Americans following the “traces” of game along the trail. Some of the highlights along the several hundred mile route are Emerald Mound, the abandoned town of Rocky Springs, Bynum Mounds, Pharr Mounds, and the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center.
Casinos of Tunica
The city of Tunica, or more precisely just outside the city in Robinsonville, is home to nine casinos, jointly referred to as Tunica Resorts they include Bally’s Tunica, Hollywood Casino Tunica, Fitzgerald’s Casino & Hotel Tunica, Resorts Casino Tunica, Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s Tunica, Horseshoe Casino Hotel Gold Strike Casino Resort, Tunica Roadhouse Casino & Hotel. The casinos are ranked as the third highest casino-gambling destination in the country.
Tupelo National Battlefield
In Tupelo visitors can spend some time learning about the Civil War and the Battle of Tupelo which took place in July of 1864. The battlefield is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors to the Tupelo National Battlefield can view a one-acre memorial site where the battle which resulted in 2,000 causalities took place, and view informational panels which explain the significance of the battle.
Blues Highway Mississippi
The famous stretch of highway U.S. Route 61, often called the Great River Road, is referred to as the Blues Highway when it passes from the north through several southern states. In Mississippi, the highway passes through delta country which was where Blues Music has its roots. At the junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale visitors will find a famous “Crossroads” sign. The Blues Highway is a cultural icon of the area and surrounding cities feature souvenirs, stores, and other products related to the theme.
Things to Do in Mississippi
While some might overlook Mississippi, visitors to this unique state will find that there is much mystery to be uncovered in this state that has become an American legend. Mississippi is home to rich culture and history that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. From the relics of Civil War monuments, to the vibrant blues culture.