Downtown Vicksburg near the Yazoo Diversion Canal

8 Underappreciated Towns To Visit In Mississippi

Of the 50 US States, Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 35th most populous state in the American Southeast, having an impressive coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Although the Magnolia State as a whole is often overlooked by tourists visiting this part of the country, Mississippi entices vacationers with its diverse topography and multiple things to explore and enjoy. Whether it is the incredible natural surroundings, engrossing historical landmarks, plenty of recreation, colorful annual festivals, and quintessential Southern charm, the innumerable underappreciated Mississippi towns are worth adding to your itineraries.


 Fair Park in front of Tupelo City Hall in Tupelo, Mississippi
Fair Park in front of Tupelo City Hall in Tupelo, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

The administrative center of northeastern Mississippi’s Lee County, Tupelo, named after the uncountable local tupelo trees, is situated around 62 miles northeast of Columbus, roughly equidistant from Memphis, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama. Aside from being North Mississippi's industrial, commercial, and cultural center, the town affectionately connects with the state’s musical heritage as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, the famed American performer and the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Thousands of holidayers from all over the world flock to the town to tour its noteworthy sites of interest such as the Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum, the headquarters of the 444-mile-long Natchez Trace Parkway, the 10,000-seat multipurpose Cadence Bank Arena, Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo, Brices Cross Roads National Battlefields, Ballard Park, Oren Dunn City Museum, Vietnam Veterans Replica Wall Memorial, and the nearby Pharr Mounds. Every June, the Tupelo Elvis Festival is celebrated in honor of the town’s renowned native son with myriad concerts, running with The King 5k, the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition Showcase, and the Elvis Youth Competition.


Birthplace of American playwright and screenwriter Tennessee Williams.
Birthplace of American playwright and screenwriter Tennessee Williams. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

Lowndes County’s seat, Columbus, the chief town of the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area, is located along the Tombigbee River on the state’s eastern boundary, approximately sixty-three miles south of Tupelo. Besides being home to the Mississippi University for Women, this dynamic college town is a well-known tourist retreat aptly upholding its motto: “The Friendly City.” Travelers must tour the several painstakingly maintained antebellum structures during the annual spring pilgrimage, take a guided tour of the Tennessee Williams Home & Welcome Center, and stop by interesting attractions like the Lake Lowndes State Park, Columbus Arts Council, Columbus Propst Park, Friendship Cemetery, and Stennis East Bank Recreation Area. For breathtaking photo ops, spend quality time at the Columbus Riverwalk - a 4.4-mile-long walking/biking trail that begins at Main Street and meanders along the Tombigbee River.


Clinton, Mississippi
A.E. Wood Coliseum building at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Rosemarie Mosteller /

Initially founded as Mount Salus (“Mountain of Health”) in 1823 and later rechristened in honor of the American politician DeWitt Clinton, this quaint Hinds County town forms a part of the Jackson, MS Metropolitan Statistical Area. Clinton is acclaimed for being home to the lovely campus of Mississippi College - the nation’s second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college or university. The noteworthy buildings on the university campus, such as the historic Provine Chapel, Nelson Hall, A. E. Wood Coliseum, Alumni Hall, Aven Hall, etc., enchant students and tourists alike. Furthermore, scores of locally-owned shops, cafes, and boutiques fill the brick-lined streets of Clinton’s charming downtown. To learn more about the bygone days, history buffs must head to the Clinton Visitor Center and many other historic sites, while the town’s numerous parks and trails provide recreational opportunities for the adrenaline junkies.


The Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi
The Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Nina Alizada /

Cleveland, one of the two seats of government of western Mississippi’s Bolivar County, occupies the core of the Mississippi Delta region along Mississippi Highway 8, about 19 miles southeast of Rosedale and the Mississippi River. This 11,199-resident community, in addition to housing the Delta State University campus, is noted for its rich musical legacy, mostly for its link to prominent Blues musicians and the location of four Mississippi Blues Trail markers. The Bologna Performing Arts Center, Boo Ferriss Baseball Museum, Grammy Museum Mississippi, Maring & Sue King Railroad Museum, Ellis Theater, Amzie Moore House, Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum, Dockery Farms, and Railroad Heritage Museum are some impressive attractions. Annually, from mid-November to New Year, Cleveland’s pleasant downtown is converted into a mind-boggling Christmas wonderland during the 50 Nights of Lights celebration, which features a magnificent display of over 1,000,000 Christmas lights.


Historical Building in the Old Town of Vicksburg, Mississippi
Historical Building in the Old Town of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Vicksburg, called in honor of Newitt Vick - the Methodist Minister, sits atop a high bluff overlooking the junction of Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, approximately 44 miles west of Jackson. Vacationers touring this Warren County seat in the state’s western portion must not miss its remarkable sites of interest such as the Vicksburg National Military Park (also including the Pemberton’s Headquarters and the U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat & Museum), Old Depot Museum, Old Court House Museum, Gray & Blue Naval Museum, Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum & Interpretive Center, and other outstanding landmark properties like the Balfour House, McRaven House, Anchuca Mansion. Take a stroll through Vicksburg’s brick-paved downtown and browse the different boutiques, antique shops, casinos, art galleries like H.C. Porter Gallery & Attic Gallery, restaurants like The Tomato Place and Rusty’s River Front Grill, and the Riverfront murals by eminent artist Robert Dafford on Levee Street.

New Albany

Main Street in New Albany, Mississippi.
Main Street in New Albany, Mississippi. Image credit: Timberwolf62 via Wikimedia Commons.

Dubbed “The Fair and Friendly City,” this seat of government of Union County is located between the Tallahatchie River shores and gently sloping hills of Northern Mississippi. Primarily founded around a grist and sawmill site in 1840, the settlement served as a bustling river port and a regional agricultural and commercial mecca. Sightseers from all over the globe come to New Albany to discover the hometown of William Cuthbert Falkner - the Nobel Prize-winning American writer, as well as traverse its downtown area overflowing with locally-owned boutiques, art galleries, specialty shops, vintage stores, and top-class eateries where one can taste mouth-watering burgers, pimento cheese sandwiches, and fried chickens. Hike the 43.6-mile-long Tanglefoot Trail that makes its way through the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, take note of the various exhibits at the Union County Heritage Museum and Ingomar Indian Mounds, watch live performances at the Magnolia Civic Center & Cine Theatre, and enjoy a relaxing stroll along the Tallahatchie River at the Park Along the River & Mississippi Arboretum.

Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Fotoluminate LLC /

Ocean Springs is an adorable coastal town along the eastern banks of Biloxi Bay in southeastern Mississippi’s Jackson County, nearly 2 miles east of Biloxi. Lovingly called the “City of Discovery” and reputed as an all-embracing arts community, the live oak tree-lined streets of Ocean Springs’s inviting downtown comprise more than 200 independent shops, art galleries, cozy bed & breakfasts, artist studios, clothing boutiques, and traditional eateries offering delectable seafood. The town’s vibrant art scene is well observed at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Arts Center, Shearwater Pottery, and the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival - the state’s biggest fine arts festival that yearly lures over 120,000 art lovers. Additionally, drop by the L & N Depot Plaza housing the Ocean Springs Welcome Center, engage in water-based recreations at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and dip your toes in the fine white sands of Front Beach.

Bay St. Louis

Archway for Bay of St. Louis, Mississippi.
Archway for Bay of St. Louis, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Clayton Harrison /

One of the most underrated destinations in the Gulf Coast, Bay St. Louis occupies Hancock County’s southeastern portion on the western side of the Bay of St. Louis, exactly 58 miles northeast of New Orleans. This teeny seaside community captivates holidayers with its welcoming atmosphere, pristine white sand beaches, stupefying waterfront, old architecture, eccentric storefronts, and diverse cultures. Stroll through the Old Town area and peruse the local shops, art galleries, antique stores, beach boutiques, and diners like Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill and 200 North Beach Restaurant & Bar, where one can savor finger-licking Gulf seafood. When in town, the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum, Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast, Bay St. Louis Little Theater, Saint Rose de Lima Catholic Church, Bay St. Louis Creative Arts Center, and 100 Men Hall are not to be missed. On the second Saturday of every month, participate in a giant art walk complete with special events, native merchants, and live music, while outdoor lovers get to engage in an array of recreations at the adjacent Buccaneer State Park.

From Tupelo - the hometown of the King of Rock ‘n Roll to the coastal glamor of Bay St. Louis, the gorgeous towns in Mississippi are waiting to be discovered by history buffs, nature lovers, and all those who are in search of tranquil locales away from crowded metropolises. Boasting a perfect amalgamation of natural beauty, good old days, significant attractions, and rich cultural heritage, each of these underrated towns promises memorable experiences for every visitor who wants to spend the holidays with their dear ones in the Hospitality State.

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