11 Places to See the Real Mississippi
It’s not an easy state to spell (remember "crooked letter, I, crooked letter I"), but it is an easy state to enjoy. Known for Blues music and a laid-back frame of mind, this Southern state offers culture at every corner, from historic homes to old juke joints. Enjoy the beauty of the Mississippi River, the mystery of the swamps and the history of its family plantations. (All photos courtesy of Visit Mississippi.)
By: Jennifer Frazier
Monkeying Around in Merigold
Mississippi and blues music go together like peanut butter and jelly. One without the other doesn’t quite make sense. One of the anchors of the blues scene here is Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, an authentic juke joint that fills a one-room house in the middle of a bunch of cotton fields located in unincorporated Bolivar County. Founded in 1961 by owner William Seaberry, it’s considered to be one of the last original juke joints around.
The Mighty Mississippi
Ranked as the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world, the grand Mississippi River runs through or along 10 states. The Mississippi is the chief river of the largest drainage system in North America, although, in truth, it flows entirely in the United States.
Down at the Swamp in Canton
Cancel your appointment to the beauty parlor if it’s on the calendar prior to visiting this place. Fact is, your fancy do will be done. Known for its mysterious setting, snappy gators (as well as turtles and frogs) and natural wonder (as well as humidity), the Cypress Swamp, located near the Natchez Trace Parkway, promises to mystify.
A Royal Birthplace in Tupelo
Elvis may have "left the building," but the good news is you can still see the modest shotgun home where The King was born. Strap on your blue suede shoes and visit this historic piece of music history, the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, where you can see his childhood church, home and an informative museum.
An Author’s Atmosphere in Oxford
If you’ve ever wondered where a Pulitzer-Prize winning novel was written, you can see it here. Get within arm’s reach of William Faulkner’s personal typewriter at his Rowan Oak, the estate, gardens and home where he and his family lived for more than 40 years. Originally built in 1844, it stands on over 29 acres of land just south of the Square in Oxford.
Pay your respects to those who fought for your freedom. That’s the motto behind the Mississippi Freedom Trail, the trail that runs through the heart of the Magnolia State, marking vital spots of the Civil Rights movement. The Trail recognizes everyone from Fannie Lou Hamer, who tried to register to vote while she was working on a Mississippi plantation, to Aaron Henry, a local NAACP president who led the early 1960s Clarksdale boycott campaign.
A Quirky Collection in Holly Springs
Back when Paul MacLeod owned and lived in this two-story home, it would have been perfect for an episode of Hoarders, Elvis edition. Crammed with King paraphernalia (including everything from life-sized cutouts to collectible figurines), he lived in this house, known as Graceland Too, and kept it open 24/7 to fans and visitors. MacLeod died in the summer of 2014, but the place remains open for Elvis fans to celebrate and unite.
Rock Around the Clock in Clarksdale
Put together a décor of mismatched chairs and fraying sofas, a Southern menu and blues music and this is what you get. The product of co-owners Morgan Freeman, attorney Bill Luckett, and Memphis entertainment executive Howard Stovall, Ground Zero Blues Club got its name from Clarksdale’s nickname as "Ground Zero" for the blues. Stay in one of the seven spots upstairs to experience the blues 24/7, or catch a show on any given night
A State of Ruin in Alcorn
When you visit the Windsor Ruins, you can feel history, whether it’s based on fact or legend. Some say Mark Twain watched the Mississippi River from the roof observatory here, while legends also tell this spot was used as a Union hospital during the Civil War. No matter the truth, it feels as the South’s own version of Stonehenge, with giant columns, stairs and balustrades. Much of this site burned during the Civil War, but what remains is worth seeing.
Behind the Mask in Cleveland
To some this might seem a wee bit creepy or even macabre, but to others, it’s art. Located in Ewing Hall at Delta State University, exact replicas of blues musicians' faces (created using damp gauze and plaster), the "Cast of Blues" is a collection if 55 exact, three-dimensional images of the facial structure of historic blues performers. This is one way to get "up close and personal" with the music.
A Path Worth Tracing
Learn about civil rights and the freedom Mississippi African Americans fought for by exploring the Natchez Trace Parkway, the 444-mile route that stretches from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Along the way, stop and pay respect at the slave cemetery at Mount Locust, which is home to one of the oldest structures in the state, dating back to 1780.