Mississippi is hailed as the ‘birthplace of American music’, having spawned the sultry sounds of the blues out of hardship and poverty. Emerging from the Mississippi Delta, the area is home to the Dockery Plantation, where a group of blues musicians arose with their own distinctive new sound. It is also where Club Ebony was founded, the famed African American nightclub where the likes of James Brown, Ike Turner, Howlin’ Wolf and Bobby Rush performed. To learn more about the musical legacy, be sure to stop by the Delta Blues Museum or the B.B. King Museum, though nothing beats hearing it for yourself in a live setting – Morgan Freeman’s venue in Clarksdale, Ground Zero, is one of the top spots for blues in the state, with live shows throughout the week. You can also follow the Mississippi Blues Trail to see some of over 200 sites of musical significance, including the humble two-roomed shack where Elvis Presley was born, plus the only GRAMMY Museum outside Los Angeles.
Mississippi is laden in history. The treasured Natchez Trace Parkway started out as a pre-historic Native American trade route before being used by the Chocotaw and Chickasaw people, who left behind some of the oldest and largest Indian mounds in the country. The state territory was drawn in 1708 and became part of the Confederacy, though half a century later it became a major site of Civil War battles – Vicksburg is one of the most renowned, where a siege by Ulysses Grant turned fate in favour of the Union army. In Natchez, you can see the magnificent Antebellum plantations, featuring over 1,000 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, where many black workers laboured in the cotton fields along the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River. Unsurprisingly, the Civil Rights Movement was strong in Mississippi and you can learn more at the Old Capitol Museum, the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum or the home of Medgar Evers, the assassinated NAACP activist.
The varied terrain of Mississippi makes it perfect for outdoor activities. The picturesque Natchez Trace Parkway is lined with forests, farmland and creeks, where you can hike or cycle along the charming vistas. Of course, the great Mississippi River runs along the state on the border with Louisiana and Arkansas, while canoeing and kayaking can be found along the many lesser-known rivers and creeks. In Jackson, you will find LeFleur's Bluff State Park, where you can hike and enjoy the wildlife and peaceful scenery, while the Delta National Forest, set within the floodplain of the Mississippi River, is surrounded by lazy waters and wetlands and is a beautiful place to stop by if you are passing.
The Deep South is home to hearty comfort food and Mississippi is no different. Home-cooked flavours are at the centre of most meals and there are plenty of barbecue joints where you can tuck-in to some serious soul food; developed from traditions of the African slaves who worked on the plantations, these recipes have become part of a beloved southern cooking style. In the Delta, you will find plates heaped with catfish, though tamales are probably the favourite bite to eat – thought to have arrived in the region with Mexican migrant workers in the early 1900s, these corn wraps are usually filled with meat, cheese or beans and have entire restaurants dedicated to them. Along the coast, seafood is celebrated, with crab shacks, oyster houses and fine dining establishments to be tasted.
Arts & Literature
Music isn’t the only creative expression of Mississippi. Book-lovers may know the state through the eyes of the Southern literature authors who shaped their stories around this intriguing setting. The Nobel Prize-winning writer, William Faulkner, was born here, going on to pen works such as ‘The Sound and Fury’ and ‘As I Lay Dying’, along with the playwright, Tennessee Williams, of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ fame. Visit the Walter Anderson Museum to see the works of the celebrated artist who spent his life painting plants, animals and people of the Gulf Coast or the Mississippi Museum of Art to see more art of the state. The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Opera and Mississippi Ballet all host regular performances in the capital, too.
Fly into Atlanta International Airport with BA, Delta or Virgin Atlantic and pick up a hire car to drive on to Mississippi.
Approximately 9 and a half hours to Atlanta from London.
Approximately a 6-hour drive to Jackson, Mississippi.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
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Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.