Mississippi River bridge, at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

8 of the Most Charming Towns in Mississippi

The Magnolia State is home to some of the most amazing small towns with a rich history and friendly locals. Whether you want to sit beachside at Bay St. Louis or step back in time to the 1800s in Corinth, these hidden gems have so much to discover! If you time your stay right, you may even catch a reenactment or two. Each town has something new and exciting to see, from bustling art scenes, historic downtown districts, and stunning ocean, forest, and bayous. So, put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore the most charming Mississippi towns!


Historical buildings in downtown Canton, Mississippi.
Historical buildings in downtown Canton, Mississippi. Image credit: Kent Kanouse via Flickr.com.

Located north of Jackson, Canton is a delightful town with a rich history. Casually stroll through the Canton Museum of History to learn a little more about this amazing town and its fantastic architecture. As a popular filming location, you can also check out the Canton Movie Museum to admire real set pieces and props. The Trolio Hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a must-see when in town, especially at Christmas!

Stop by for the bi-annual Canton Flea Market held in May and October for amazing food, local crafts, art, and southern hospitality! Nature enthusiasts have to visit the Cypress Swamp just east of the downtown area. Hike the accessible trails through the lush, humid swamps for an easy afternoon just outside Bienville National Forest.


Prayer Garden of the St. Mary Basilica in Natchez, Mississippi.
Prayer Garden of the St. Mary Basilica in Natchez, Mississippi. Image credit Nina Alizada via Shutterstock

Situated on the Mississippi River, Natchez is a hidden gem of the South. With a rich history, stunning architecture, museums, and outdoor attractions, it’s a must-visit! The homes, historical sites, and commercial buildings are perfectly preserved and give the town its patented charm. Explore the breathtaking Rosalie Mansion and Gardens or Stanton Hall to transport back to the 1850s, Mississippi. History buffs have to admire Natchez National Historical Park which takes visitors on a tour of the city's rich history.

For a more laid-back afternoon, be sure to head to one of the many riverside parks in the area. Natchez State Park offers opportunities for visitors to hike, fish, and camp. For stunning views, there is no better spot than Bluff Park. It delivers amazing views of the Mississippi River, especially at sunset!

Bay St. Louis

The Hancock Bank of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on Main Street, stands out with a big clock and flag.
The Hancock Bank of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on Main Street. Image credit Buttbongo via stock.adobe.com

Looking for time on the beach? Situated on the Gulf Coast, Bay St. Louis is a beautiful beach town with much to see. Head to Historic Old Town in the heart of Bay St. Louis to peruse quaint local shops, cafes, and museums. While you are there, find the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum and the L & N Historic Train Depot.

The downtown area of Bay St. Louis is jumping, but its real claim to fame is its stunning beaches. Buccaneer State Park offers visitors a place to camp, fish, swim, and explore. It even has a waterpark for the kids! It’s the ideal spot to kick back and relax after a full day browsing the downtown area.


The Alcorn County Courthouse is located in Corinth, Mississippi.
The Alcorn County Courthouse is located in Corinth, Mississippi. Image credit Skye Marthaler - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Gather round, history buffs! If you love exploring a town steeped in history, look no further. Corinth was a pivotal town during the Civil War and is home to a few notable historical sites. Visitors love touring the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, which is part of the Shiloh National Military Park. Other notable sites include Battery Robinett and Corinth Contraband Camp.

The commercial buildings and homes outside of the downtown area are perfectly preserved and feel like walking into a postcard from the 1800s. Head to the Verandah-Curlee House, which housed military generals during the Civil War, such as Braxton Bragg, H.W. Halleck, and John B. Hood. The downtown area is also home to fun and lively festivals like the Slugburger Festival held every July, or the Corinth Coke Classic.


Downtown Oxford, Mississippi. Image credit Feng Cheng via Shutterstock
Downtown Oxford, Mississippi. Image credit Feng Cheng via Shutterstock

As the home to the University of Mississippi (aka Ole Miss), Oxford is the ideal blend of modern attractions against a backdrop of old-world charm. Head to the heart of Oxford, Historic Downtown Square, for a day of shopping at local shops and boutiques, and enjoy some of the best locally-made southern cooking! While you are there, make sure to check out the University of Mississippi Museum to admire their selections of Southern folk art and American fine art.

While the downtown scene is hopping, you don’t need to travel far for a little peace and relaxation. Take a short 20-minute drive north to scenic Sardis Lake for stunning lake views and fantastic scenery. You can fish, hike, swim, or just set up a relaxing picnic along the pristine waters.


Colorful exterior of a downtown bakery in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Downtown bakery in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock.com

Whether you love shopping, hiking, or exploring historical sites, Vicksburg has a little something for everyone. The Vicksburg National Military Park is a sacred site in Vicksburg, as it was the site of the Battle of Vicksburg. Here, you will find over 1,400 monuments that pay tribute to the Americans who died during the siege.

Historic Downtown Vicksburg is home to great shops, cafes, and stunning 19th-century architecture. Make sure to stop and pop into the Old Court House Museum while you are walking the downtown area. It’s an incredibly beautiful building that was built in 1860 and displays Civil War memorabilia and Native American artifacts.

Ocean Springs

Downtown Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Downtown Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Image credit Fotoluminate LLC via Shutterstock

Ocean Springs is a spunky beach town with a lot of charm and character. While the views of Biloxi Bay are spectacular, there is so much to do and see in its thriving downtown district! It has a jumping art scene, thanks to the annual Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, which draws artists and art enthusiasts from all over the United States! If you miss the festival, make sure to check out the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, which displays art of the Gulf Coast.

When you are ready to hit the water and beaches, Ocean Springs has many public beaches, parks, and charter services. Spend the day at Davis Bayou Area for a fun-filled afternoon of swimming, hiking, or just taking in the scenery. You can hike through the 2-mile Davis Bayou Trail, weaving coastal forests and bayous!


Laurel City Hall in Laurel, Mississippi.
Laurel City Hall in Laurel, Mississippi. Image credit Chad Robertson Media via Shutterstock

The town of Laurel is so rustic and charming that it’s the home to HGTV’s "Home Town," thanks to its friendly locals and stunning architecture. If you love art museums, you have to see the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. It’s the oldest art museum in the state and boasts an impressive collection of European and American art.

The downtown area of Laurel is quaint and rustic, with no shortage of things to do! Spend an afternoon browsing the local boutiques, shops, and antique dealers, then grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes! Set up a picnic at one of the local parks like Gardiner Park or Daphne Park, or just drive through town, taking in the sights of the beautifully restored century homes.

Discover the Charm of the Magnolia State

With coastal views, bayous, lush forests, and charming locals, these hidden gems are perfect for the whole family. Catch a festival (like the Slugburger Festival) in Corinth, or shop for treasures at the Canton Flea Market in Canton. Whether you want to take it easy on the beach or riverside or need a little excitement in your life, Mississippi has something for everyone. Each of these towns delivers a unique quirky charm, as well as amazing views, hiking trails, museums, and shopping. Plus, these communities have some of the best southern cooking in the United States! Gather the family, and check out the charming towns of Mississippi!

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