Longwood Plantation Octagon House, an Antebellum Victorian Octagonal Mansion, Natchez, Mississippi. Image credit Dietmar Rauscher via Shutterstock

The Most Picturesque Small Towns in Mississippi

Trademark Southern hospitality, rich musical heritage, and delicious Cajun cuisine are some of the delights Mississippi is known for. While famous destinations draw the most visitors, the Magnolia State hosts cute little towns rarely mentioned in travel circles. Despite their low-key profile, they promise a fresh experience from busy highway destinations. A true getaway involves slowing down to the Southern pace amid natural scenery and local color away from congestion.

For curious travelers seeking to experience this authenticity through intimate exploration and cultural discoveries off beaten paths, Mississippi harbors gems worth venturing further to find. Discover scenic small towns in Mississippi that embody its appeal away from overhyped cities through picturesque trails, welcoming faces, and unique traditions.

Holly Springs

Little Tallahatchie River Bridge Holly Springs, Mississippi.
Little Tallahatchie River Bridge Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Rich Civil War history meets adorable Southern hospitality in this small Marshall County community. Hollys Springs' history dates back to 1836, when it was founded, and boasts a long-tenured heritage that intertwines with the Civil War. The Marshall County Historical Museum comprehensively documents this colorful past through over 40,000 artifacts. Several antebellum structures decorate the downtown skyline, highlighted by Rust-at-Airliewood. This historic building was initially constructed in 1858 and offers a glimpse into Victorian-era Holly Springs.

Outdoor recreation opportunities lure adventurers to the Wall Doxey State Park, a quaint oasis harboring nature trails, campsites, and a 60-acre spring-fed lake. This institution acts as a hub for picnickers, hikers, campers, and boaters. However, those who don't wish to venture deep into the wilderness opt for a low-key tee time at the Kirkwood National Golf Club.


Columbus, Mississippi: Birthplace of screenwriter Tennessee Williams.
Columbus, Mississippi: Birthplace of screenwriter Tennessee Williams. Image credit Chad Robertson Media via Shutterstock

Friendly faces and an air of Southern hospitality welcome newcomers to this charming village along the Tombigbee River. Columbus, the "Friendly City," lives up to its moniker, with various attractions tailored for tourists' comfort. The Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center is the perfect first stop for newcomers. This downtown facility presents a beautiful reception, providing tourists with vital information about all the top sites in Columbus. The Magnolia Motor Speedway ranks among the most sought-after venues. It draws locals and foreigners like a family-friendly spectacle on a dirt track pitting race car drivers against one another.

Meanwhile, Lake Lowndes State Park beckons adventurers to enjoy fun outdoor activities. Set on the lovely banks of Lake Lowndes, this cute oasis offers secluded picnic spaces that deliver stunning water views. It is also an excellent spot for water-fueled recreation like boating, kayaking, and canoeing.

Ocean Springs

The Chester M. McPhearson Pier in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
The Chester M. McPhearson Pier in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Image credit Fotoluminate LLC via Shutterstock

An escape to the coast always makes for a remarkable vacation experience, which is what you get when you visit this slice of seaside heaven in Jackson County. A stone's throw away from Biloxi, Ocean Springs has a more laid-back vibe and fewer bodies to bump into. Tourists enjoy secluded open spaces at the Davis Bayou Area, which forms part of the Gulf Island National Lakeshore. The tranquil atmosphere pairs well with lazy strolls along the shore to free your mind and unwind. An inviting atmosphere at the weekly Ocean Springs Fresh Market allows tourists to have meaningful interactions with locals while shopping for produce, seafood, and crafts.

Ocean Springs is home to a bustling arts community and celebrates the local arts and culture at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. This nationally recognized center exhibits a small yet magnificent collection of works by the famed Walter Anderson and his siblings.

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, stands out with a big clock and flag. Image credit Buttbongo via stock.adobe.com

One of the most scenic small towns in Mississippi, Bay St. Louis features on many Mississippi travel itineraries. This is a credit to its exciting mix of relaxed coastal scenery, bustling art scene, fascinating history, and pleasant shopping opportunities, culminating in a fun experience regardless of preferences. Bay St. Louis Historic L & N Train Depot provides background on the town by chronicling its transportation heritage in a historic structure from 1928. The lovely community also excites art enthusiasts with visual and performance art experiences at the Alice Moseley Fort Art Museum and Bay St. Louis Little Theater, respectively.

Bay St. Louis boasts a vibrant restaurant scene, with several eateries serving an assortment of flavors featuring various Southern dishes. The restaurant, Cuz's Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill, is famous for its Southern-style seafood with delicious soups and salads.


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

Natchez's charm comes from the fabulous display of antebellum architecture across its quaint historic district, injecting an aura of rustic magnetism into the neighborhood. The town boasts a rich history dating back millennia that shines through its landmark homes. These include Stanton Hall, built in the 1850s and sporting a blend of Antebellum and classical revival architectural styles. The same applies to the Rosalie Mansion and Gardens, which, despite originating from the 1820s, earns admirers for its delightful Greek Revival facade. Surrounding the mansion is a well-manicured garden inviting lazy strolls.

You can dig deeper into local history by touring the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. This open-air museum occupies about 128 acres and hosts prehistoric Native American mounds believed to date from 1200 CE. History aside, tourists also come to Natchez for the luscious Mexican dishes served at Fat Mama's Tamales.


Beaux Arts style Wilkinson County Courthouse designed by Texas architect James Riely Gordon in 1903 in Woodville, Mississippi.
Beaux Arts style Wilkinson County Courthouse designed by Texas architect James Riely Gordon in 1903 in Woodville, Mississippi. Image credit Nina Alizada via Shutterstock

Incorporated in 1811, Woodville is one of Mississippi's oldest towns. Its relaxed ambiance is enhanced by its small population, which leaves the streets relatively deserted, allowing tourists to explore them at a snail's pace. The Wilkinson County Museum preserves and interprets the town's long-standing past through a collection of curious archives and artifacts. However, guests can get a more realistic feel of bygone eras by visiting the Rosemont Plantation. This landmark of living history was built in 1814 and is featured on the National Register of Historic Places. This historic institution offers a vivid window into life at the time.

When not immersed in Woodville's past, you can explore the town's vast wilderness. Clark Creek Natural Area, with its 700 acres, is a fantastic gateway to the great outdoors. It is the ultimate playground for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting almost 50 gorgeous waterfalls and rare wildlife viewing opportunities.


Little Zion Church, Greenwood, Mississippi.
Little Zion Church, Greenwood, Mississippi. Image credit Jacque Manaugh via Shutterstock

About 96 miles removed from the capital, Jackson, this Leflore County locale is associated with the advent of the blues music genre. This town has a rich arts and cultural heritage, which it maintains through venues like the Greenwood Little Theater. With a legacy dating back to 1956, Mississippi's second-oldest-running theater continues to entertain audiences with live performances. Meanwhile, the Museum of the Mississippi Delta teaches a crucial part of local heritage by preserving the natural history and culture of the Mississippi Delta.

About two miles from the site, you will come across Fort Pemberton Memorial Park. This landmark site hosted a major military battle pitting the Confederate forces against the Union forces. After the historical adventure, remember to restock with a wholesome meal at Fan and Johnny's.

If you are planning to tour the Southern United States and want to experience the charming and welcoming communities the region is known for, spending time in these picturesque small towns in Mississippi should be on your itinerary. Visiting any of the destinations offers a relaxing and memorable way to uncover the natural character of the Magnolia State. With friendly faces, stunning architecture, and natural beauty, these towns invite leisurely wandering through historic districts and countryside roads. Dive into Southern hospitality, culture, and the slow pace of life untouched by busy tourism, and you will surely create lasting impressions from your journey through the rural South.

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