11 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Mississippi

Jul 22, 2021

After the Civil War, millions of Southerners made their way north and West in search of new homes and better opportunities. What they found was freedom, a new, bright future and, in the words of Lewis and Clark, an "imperishable part of the globe that can never be desolated." In addition to a unique history, the state has interesting natural attractions, welcoming cities, and a landscape that is home to cities and landscapes ranging from the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast to the dry cacti and natural canyons of the South.

One of the world's most unspoiled regions, Mississippi is a major destination in its own right. Every year it hosts events such as the Delta Film Festival and the popular "World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest" (a.k.a. the Barbecue State Fair) and several major music festivals, including Blues Music Awards and the International Blues Challenge. So, too, is it a major crossroads in American history: the Mississippi River is the main east-west corridor between the West and the Northeast, and from the Great Plains to the Pacific.

Whether you are searching for the traditional small towns of the Deep South, or you want to sample a range of both urban and rural attractions in one place, this book will introduce you to the Mississippi. Plan your visit using the list of the top attractions in Mississippi.

Vicksburg National Military Park

Photo of Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park: en.wikipedia.org

Mississippi River is a gateway to a spectacular national park, Vicksburg National Military Park, set on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Along the road to the park, ruffling the river's current, are these historic Civil War sites. The first, on Hwy. 61, is the Hernando de Soto Expedition Museum, which was the site of the 17th century epic story. The park is where De Soto's army first paused and loaded up on food in June 1541. On Hwy. 61 to St. Louis, where travelers get off the riverboat ferry, are the D'anna Barker Dredge and the Drayton Hall. After the Mississippi River is dredged, visitors can tour the huge iron-hulled Dredge Ship Drayton Hall, the largest working Civil War-era boat ever built, used to transport sand to build the foundation of the levees around Vicksburg, then to build the Confederacy's levees during the siege of Vicksburg. The park has received a facelift, with a re-landscaping and paths recently constructed. Additionally, the museum has been rebuilt, and tours are offered in a restored replica of a nineteenth-century riverboat.

Vicksburg

Photo of Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg, Mississippi: en.wikipedia.org

Vicksburg is located in the Mississippi Delta, an area of flat, rolling countryside. It began as a riverfront town and grew with the Mississippi River, which was expanded across the United States during the 19th century. The Mississippi River Delta is home to more than 700 lagoons. Not all are equally attractive to tourists; many are saltwater lagoons that can be dangerous for swimming and diving. Most notable are Lake Providence and Butler Swamp, although both are much better for birdwatching than for boating or diving. The area is a delta in the process of being flooded, and erosion from the Mississippi has left the land below high and flat. The city is an unplanned, post-earthquake reconstruction, which continues with the number of building projects under way.

Jackson Square

Photo of Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi: en.wikipedia.org

Jackson Square, the square on which the U.S. capital's oldest home, the 1836 Greek Revival mansion now housing the Mississippi State Museum, stands, is the city's principal square. Its rich architectural history, being the town's central gathering place since the 1800s, has made Jackson the oldest major square in the United States. The square was the centerpiece of Jackson's first celebrations when it was the capital of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, and became the focal point of the battle to overthrow "King" Jackson in 1836 and again in 1845, and the scene of the surrender of U.S. General Thomas Hindman at the end of the Civil War. Today, Jackson Square is bustling with public life, from jovial street performers and food trucks to a self-regulating city militia in period costume that is also a monument to the city's colorful past.

Tupelo

Photo of Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi: en.wikipedia.org

Tupelo was founded in 1779 and today is the home of the Mississippi Blues Trail, one of the top tourist attractions in the USA. Visitors can appreciate the great architecture of this small and quiet town on the Mississippi River through walking tours led by troupes of jazz musicians and aficionados of the Blues and their culture. As a UNESCO-recognized Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the 1826 Mississippi River Bridge is a major piece of America's transportation history. The grounds of the river bridge also includes a Blues Music Center and the John Herron Art Institute. The latter contains a fascinating collection of contemporary art and features occasional guided tours.

New Iberia

Photo of New Iberia, Louisiana
New Iberia, Louisiana: en.wikipedia.org

In Mississippi, the fascinating history of the plantation system can be visited at New Iberia. Its courthouse, built in 1816, is the oldest continually used courthouse in the US, and the house of E. M. Booth, one of the country's first planter philanthropists, can be visited. New Iberia is also known as the "Black Arts Capital of the South," for the multilayered influences that have been reflected in its art, music, and entertainment. The Old Square in New Iberia is the original town square and site of the plantation home of New Iberia's founder, Henri de Bouligny. The bayou at the square was first used by the French for agriculture and fishing. It later became the nation's first Great River Canal, known as the Iberville Canal.

The Mississippi River

Photo of Mississippi River
Mississippi River: en.wikipedia.org

The Mississippi River is the longest in the world and is both celebrated and celebrated for its powerful, winding flow through many parts of the United States, dividing many different regions. The Mississippi marks an important geographical boundary between the two largest states of the United States, as well as between the southeast and the mid-west. Nearly all of the Mississippi River, its tributaries and its border with Louisiana are navigable by ship and inland rivers are used for barges and canoes. Water levels of the river can vary greatly, as such in the winter the river can often freeze over and the traffic of barges is reduced. Thrusting through all this are the endless forests and towns of the Midwest. In the end it reaches the gulf coast of Florida where it is eventually joined by the Atlantic Ocean, splitting apart into various branches that continue down through the state of Louisiana.

Mississippi River Museum

Photo of Mississippi River System
Mississippi River System: en.wikipedia.org

The Mississippi River Museum is the only museum in the United States devoted to the history of the Mississippi. It is currently the only Mississippi River Museum in the country, housing more than 2,000 artifacts, 400 of which are on display at any given time. The exhibits cover different topics, including the formation of the Mississippi River, the history of its waterways, industries of the past and its conservation today, along with the biographies of Native American and pioneer cultures. An ongoing 20-minute, special-effects-and-sound show titled, "River Stories," tells the story of Mississippi, while a short films screen throughout the day. Other highlights include an early 20th century river steamboat. Built in 1921, it was used to carry cargo and passengers on the Mississippi River until 1966. After that time, it became a part of a multi-media show. Tours of the museum can be booked. Call the museum at (800) 864-0899 or visit their website.

Petrified Forest National Park

Photo of Mississippi Petrified Forest
Mississippi Petrified Forest: en.wikipedia.org

Petrified Forest is the largest outdoor fossil exhibit in the U.S. Like its name implies, the ancient wood remains of Petrified Forest National Park in northern Arizona are preserved in rock crystal. The fossilized plant remains have accumulated to create unusual bluish, multilayered layers of limestone. The formation is part of an eroding sandstone in the Badlands region that was buried by lava and limestone. The ancient petrified forest was formed in a desert environment, which has left the stone unusually well-preserved. Much of the national park lies on a Bureau of Land Management land in neighboring Utah. Several roadside displays explain the geologic events that created Petrified Forest. These include the tuff rings or lenses that formed after ash was deposited and the dolerite, a hard, volcanic rock that formed as the ash subsided. On the Park's South Rim Drive, a three-mile paved loop road winds past the fossilized wood, many of which have been moved and set on display in an immaculate grassy meadow. Signs at each stop along the drive provide information about the plants and animals that thrived on the landscape 3.6 million years ago.

Grand Canyon National Park

Photo of Providence Canyon State Park
Providence Canyon State Park: en.wikipedia.org

Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. This awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site is simply awe-inspiring. Just to get to it, you need to travel through vast stretches of the United States, starting from Utah and ending in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. Among the few things to see at the national park are the dramatic twin color-changing red rock formations, steep-sided mesas, canyon walls, and the broad depths of the canyon, and the unbelievable mazes of fascinating geologic formations carved in sandstones and granite.

Boston Harbor

Photo of Columbia Point, Boston
Columbia Point, Boston: en.wikipedia.org

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston offers a fine set of paintings, but the best view in Boston comes from the waterfront at the Museum of Fine Arts. From the third level of the Museum of Fine Arts, one can gaze down the Charles River and enjoy a splendid view of Boston's skyline. In addition to the elegant vistas, the Museum of Fine Arts contains more than 20,000 art objects in its permanent collection. For the best view of the Boston skyline, head to downtown Boston, which is served by several trains from the city center. Or to enjoy the best view of Boston's beautiful skyline, board the Silver Fleet, a tour boat that travels around the harbor.

Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C.

Photo of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.: en.wikipedia.org

Known as "The House of Lincoln," Ford's Theatre is the first and only theatre in America to be devoted solely to the memory of a president. The site where Lincoln died at the hands of John Wilkes Booth is located across the street and is open to visitors for free. Across the road from Ford's is the National Mall with its collection of monuments, memorials, and museums, including the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air and Space Museum. Also located nearby is the Holocaust Museum and Gallery, the Thomas Jefferson Building and the Hirshhorn Museum. The nearby Warner Theatre offers Broadway shows in the concert hall configuration.