10. Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
Elvis' flashy Graceland estate is probably the most well-known monument to the King of Rock n' Roll, but this humble birthplace home is the start of everything. They didn't live here long—the family moved out after a few years because they couldn't afford it—but the young Elvis spent the first 13 years of his life in and around the area. In addition to the home is a statue of the young Elvis, the church where the family worshipped, and a museum dedicated to the musician. There's also a trail marker for the Mississippi Blues Trail.
9. Po' Monkey's Lounge
Po' Monkey's Lounge is a sharecropper shanty in a cotton field in the middle of nowhere. It's also one of the last authentic juke joints left in the country. Juke joints were where farmers used to go to relax, drink, and listen to the music that eventually became the blues. Willie Seaberry has been running this place ever since the early 1950s, and he's still going—though the lounge is only open on Thursday nights. The juke is another stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
(image via Facebook)
8. Windsor Ruins
America may not have Greek ruins, but we do have Greek Revival ruins from the time in our history when the South ran around naming its children "Ulysses" and founding cities called "Troy" and "Parthenon." The antebellum Greek Revival mansion of Smith Daniell served as a home, then a Confederate Outpost, then a Union outpost. After the war, the story goes, a guest dropped cigarette ash into construction debris from a repair. The fire left only the concrete columns and the iron staircases, and only the columns remain today, surrounded by a grove of oaks like something stranded in time.
7. Brent's Drugs (by Day) / The Apothecary (by Night)
Brent's Drugs is an old-school soda fountain, the last of its kind in Jackson. You can get a burger and home fries, sure, but you can get even more classic fare like a pimento cheese sandwich. At night, the place becomes a different kind of old-school. The Apothecary, located at the back of the soda fountain, is somewhere between a bar and a speakeasy, serving up sazeracs and other classic cocktails, with a whiskey list that takes up two and a half pages on its menu.
6. Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway runs along the Old Natchez Trace, a path used by early European settlers, and before that, Native Americans, and before that, bison and deer who would graze along the ridgeline. Nowadays, it's an All-American road, maintained by the National Parks Service just like Route 66. The parkway runs near several historic sites, like Windsor Ruins, the Meriwether Lewis Museum, and the second-oldest American Indian ceremonial mound in the country.
5. Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art
The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum showcases a great deal of local art and history. It's named for George E. Ohr, the "Mad Potter of Biloxi," whose "mud babies" presaged abstract expressionism. There are also exhibits on Pleasant Reed, a freedman who saved enough as a carpenter to buy a house, and a center for African-American art. Even the five buildings, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, are an exhibit unto themselves.
(image via jessicastaffordcameron)
4. Downtown Ocean Springs
It's easy for people who grew up in small towns to take their charm for granted, and it's hard for people who didn't to understand what's so special about them. Ocean Springs is a great place to start—it's small, but it's picturesque, and it's vibrant. Think Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. From boutiques like Bayou Belle to restaurants like Anthony's Under the Oaks, Ocean Springs is bustling with small businesses that are worth discovering.
3. Eudora Welty House
For a state that gets short shrift, Mississippi has contributed more than its fair share to American literature. The Eudora Welty House & Garden is a standout literary landmark, though, in a state full of them. Welty lived in the home for nearly 80 years, and it was in this upstairs bedroom where the Pulitzer Prize winner did nearly all of her writing. The beautiful house is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been renovated recently, as Mississippi embraces its literary heritage.
2. The Library Lounge
The Library Lounge is part of the locally-owned, historic Fairview Inn. In addition to being a great cocktail lounge is a cozy setting (it really was the library of the inn back in 1908), it also features great events happening constantly—tastings every first Wednesday of the month, game nights on regular Wednesdays, trivia on Tuesdays, and a service industry night on Mondays.
(image via Facebook)
1. Medgar Evers House
Medgar Evers was a civil rights leader in Mississippi who organized boycotts, helped get new NAACP chapters going, and fought segregation in the state's public universities. His murder—and the miscarriage of justice that followed—drew national attention and intensified a civil rights movement that was already reaching a fever pitch. Today his home stands as a tribute to the man, and seeing how much of the house was laid out according to a safety-first mindset, it is a sobering experience.