Blessed with green forests, lowlands, gently rolling hills, and farmlands, the Mississippi Delta to the west, and the Gulf Coast to the south, Mississippi is the quintessential southern state. Not only is its geography varied and full of natural beauty, but its cities are, too. The southern state's large and mid-size cities are known for their rich cultures and unique histories, ranging from Civil War battlefields to music museums. Whether you want to take in the state's blues music legacy or try some tasty fried catfish, a regional delicacy, you can do it in these eight beautiful Mississippi cities.
If you want to visit just one city to experience all of the best the south has to offer, you cannot go wrong with charming Natchez. Located right on the Mississippi River directly across from Louisiana, Natchez is overflowing with culture and celebrates its rich Civil War, African American, and Native American histories. Nicknamed the "Antebellum Capital of the World," Natchez has no shortage of museums and historic sites, such as Fort Rosalie, the oldest permanent settlement on the lower Mississippi River.
During the spring and summer months, take in the sight and smell of magnolia and jasmine at one of the city's many parks. Enjoy a round or two of golf on a lush, green golf course, or take an adventurous kayak tour down the river. Immerse yourself in nature by taking a walk, run, or bike ride on the Natchez Parkway, which extends 444 miles to Nashville, Tennessee.
A little further up the Mississippi River, the city of Vicksburg is best known as being home to the Vicksburg National Military Park, a major Civil War battlefield. You can take in more of the city's deep south history at the Civil War Museum and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Take an introspective tour of the USS Cairo, a historic military ship.
If stepping outdoors to take in the city's natural beauty is more your thing, have a picnic lunch overlooking the Mississippi River at Riverfront Park. Hike along one of the city's many trails, which wind through miles of southern hardwood forest. Go boating on the river or on one of the surrounding lakes. After a relaxing day in nature, see if you can get lucky at one of the city's several casinos.
Although Johnny Cash's song "Jackson" may come to mind when you think of this quintessential southern city, there are many other things that make it well-known. Nicknamed "The City with Soul," Jackson is the capital of Mississippi. Explore the city's history at attractions and destinations such as the Freedom Trail, the Blues Trail, the Eudora Welty House, and Gardens, which celebrates the life of the famous writer, or the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
Explore the city's natural beauty at Mynelle Gardens, a botanical and wildlife haven, LeFleur's Bluff State Park, or the Jackson Zoo. When it comes to family-friendly attractions, you cannot go wrong at the LeFleur's Bluff Education and Tourism Complex, which is home to the state's largest playground, or the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
Bay St. Louis
Situated on the Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico in the southern region of the state, Bay St. Louis is less than 60 miles from New Orleans. The bayside city offers white, sandy beaches, several art galleries, and a collection of boutiques and antique shops downtown.
If you are feeling adventurous, take a ferry ride to nearby Ship Island, which is on the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The small island is home to Fort Massachusetts, a preserved brick fortification from the mid-1800s. You can also partake in one of the city's ghost, swamp, or history tours.
Situated in the Mississippi Delta region of the state, historic Greenville boasts the Annual Mississippi Delta Blues Festival each September. Get up close and personal with the city's history at the 1927 Flood Museum or tour the Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, as Muppet creator Jim Henson is a Greenville native.
Spend a few hours at the Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum and Outdoor Hall of Fame, or take a walk around Lake Ferguson, enjoying a view of the tow boats and other water activities. If you want to go camping, pitch a tent or park your RV at the Warfield Point Park and Campground, which overlooks the Mississippi River.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi offers all that you would expect from a bustling seaside southern city. Spend a few days or weeks in Biloxi, relaxing on the Mississippi Sound's white sand beaches, taking a shrimping trip, or viewing a famed Gulf Coast sunset from one of the many waterfront restaurants.
In addition to exploring the Gulf Islands National Seashore, visitors can also explore Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, and the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. Explore coastal Mississippi's natural beauty on one of the city's three piers.
Also situated on the Gulf Coast, scenic Ocean Springs offers visitors a quaint downtown full of boutiques, vintage and antique shops, and art galleries. The city also is also home to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and the Mary C O'Keafe Cultural Center of Arts and Education.
When it comes to exploring the outdoors, you can also start a Gulf Coast Island adventure from Ocean Springs, as well as rent a kayak and paddle through a bayou. Learn about local birds and wildlife at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, and take a hike along one of the city's many trails. If want to go camping, check out Gulf Island National Seashore Visitor Center and Campground.
Located in the Mississippi's Pine Belt region, Hattiesburg is also an excellent city to take in all the south has to offer. Not only is the city easy on the eyes due to its natural beauty, but it also offers a bustling music and art scene, a brewery, several historic sites, and plenty of outdoor attractions.
Start your exploration of the city at the African American Military History Museum, and take a tour and sample local brews at the Colludium Brewing Company. Immerse yourself in local wildlife by taking a hike through the De Soto National Forest, which winds through more than 500,000 acres of pine forest. If it is a water adventure you crave, rent a boat at nearby Black Creek Canoe Rental.
No matter what type of adventure you are looking for, you will have no problem finding it in one of Mississippi's most beautiful cities. You will have the opportunity to relax and recharge in a scenic park or state forest, as well as spend time exploring the state's vast cultural and historical offerings. Follow one of Mississippi's unique trails to immerse yourself in local blues or literary history, or take the time to pay your respects at one of the state's Civil War sites.