The campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

These Towns In Mississippi Come Alive In Spring

The state of Mississippi, best known for its rich Civil War heritage, blues music, and Southern charm, transforms into a tapestry of color in the spring. Everywhere you look, the hillsides are fresh with new life. Magnolia trees are ripe with white blooms. Purple-hued Dogwoods are scattered through lush green pine forests. Venture through any of the small towns scattered across the state, and it is not unusual to see the vibrant hues of azaleas, coneflowers, hydrangeas, and mountain laurels bursting with color. Uncover seven of the best small towns in Mississippi to visit in the spring.


The Lafayette County Courthouse on The Square in Oxford, MS
The Lafayette County Courthouse on The Square in Oxford, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

Oxford is famous for its picturesque landscapes and the beautiful University of Mississippi campus, adorned with blooming magnolias and azaleas in the spring. Visitors will enjoy strolling the grounds of Rowan Oaks, home of the great American author William Faulkner. The house and adjoining gardens are shaded by large live oak and magnolia trees, making them the perfect place to relax on a gentle spring day.

The Double Decker Arts Festival, held each April, celebrates local art, music, and food. Named after the town’s iconic red double-decker bus, the festival features live music, art vendors, and delicious Southern cuisine.

The downtown square is built around the historic Lafayette County Courthouse, filled with many local shops, boutiques, and restaurants. When you visit, you will want to eat at any of the fine restaurants owned and operated by James Beard-nominated chef John Currence. City Grocery, Boure', Snackbar, and Big Bad Breakfast are his establishments, and there isn't a bad meal in any of them.


Natchez, Mississippi
View of the historic Natchez Main Street with Convention Center in Natchez, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Nina Alizada /

Natchez is located along the Mississippi River, and it features stunning river views and a wealth of historic antebellum homes. With over 100 Southern antebellum homes, these iconic dwellings often feature floral gardens that add to the Southern charm. Longwood Mansion is the most unique home, but visitors will also enjoy exploring other sites such as Monmouth, Magnolia Hall, Stanton Hall, and Melrose, just to name a few. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Natchez Bluff Trail offers spectacular views of the river's edge, and a section of the trail passes by several beautiful Victorian homes on Clifton Ave.

The Natchez Spring Pilgrimage is a must-see event, offering tours of the town’s historic homes and gardens. The downtown district has a variety of antique stores, small boutiques, and restaurants. When you visit, book a table at Restaurant 1818, an exquisite fine-dining restaurant in the Monmouth Inn. For a more relaxed dining experience, you can choose from the Camp Restaurant, Roux 61 Seafood and Grill, or Magnolia Grill - all are excellent options.

Ocean Springs

The Chester M. McPhearson Pier in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
The Chester M. McPhearson Pier in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Fotoluminate LLC /

Ocean Springs is a coastal community on the Gulf, known for its pristine beaches and lively downtown. As you stroll the peaceful, tree-lined streets, take some time to explore the many local boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Whether wandering through an antique store like The Coastal Magpie, admiring beautiful masterpieces of art at The Pink Rooster, or simply reminiscing at Miners Doll and Toy Store, you'll find plenty of treasures in this special small town.

The Ocean Spring Arts Festival annually celebrates the town's love for art, gardening, and sustainable living. The community has become a culinary heaven, offering several fine dining options. One of the most popular choices is Vestige, a James Beard finalist for the best restaurant, serving a nightly five-course tasting menu. Making a reservation well in advance is recommended due to the restaurant's popularity and limited seating. Blue Dog Bistro is a more casual farm-to-table eatery that offers excellent food and flavor. No matter where you decide to dine, there isn't a bad restaurant in the community.


 Hattiesburg, Mississippi
The campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Stephen Reeves /

Hattiesburg is home to two universities: the University of Southern Mississippi and the privately funded William Carey. The community has a vibrant college town atmosphere and exudes warm hospitality. There are several parks and green spaces to explore. The Longleaf Trace is a long, wide, tree-lined trail perfect for biking through the natural Mississippi landscape. The lush green forests on both sides of the paved trail make for an enjoyable and relaxing excursion.

During the spring season, the community hosts several festivals, including the Crawfish Jam, Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival, and the Spring Art Walk—an annual event showcasing dozens of local artisans. Don't miss the Hattiesburg Zoo, a small, well-maintained venue featuring over 100 animal exhibits. The best restaurant in town is a small Thai eatery, Jutamas Thai Restaurant, a local favorite serving generous portions of delicious food. The Crescent City Grill is also an excellent choice, a New Orleans-inspired eatery located downtown.


Birthplace of American playwright and screenwriter Tennessee Williams.
The birthplace of American playwright and screenwriter Tennessee Williams in Columbus, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

Columbus, located on the eastern border of Mississippi, offers a rich blend of history, natural beauty, and community events. The town provided shelter to the wounded during the Civil War, which spared it from the destruction and desolation suffered by other areas. As a result, many of the town's grand mansions and stately buildings have survived. Each spring, Columbus comes alive with the blooming of azaleas and dogwoods, enhancing the historic Southern charm. As you soak in the beautifully preserved antebellum homes or stroll through the historic downtown area, take a moment to smell the sweet aroma of the white blooming Magnolias.

The Columbus Spring Pilgrimage takes place in April and offers historic home and garden tours. Participants can enjoy the experience of period costumes and reenactments. The Market Street Festival in May includes live music, arts and crafts, and local food vendors. If you're looking for a great dining experience, Harvey's is an excellent restaurant serving delicious food in a casual yet upscale atmosphere.


Laurel City Hall in Laurel, Mississippi
Laurel City Hall in Laurel, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Chad Robertson Media /

Laurel has become well-known for its revitalized downtown, beautiful oak-lined streets, and small-town atmosphere. The city is featured in the HGTV series "Home Town," hosted by local residents Ben and Erin Napier. As a result, the community has gained national recognition and has come to represent Southern charm. Its parks and gardens are with color in the spring, and peaceful neighborhoods with front porch swings make it an ideal retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Be prepared for a slower pace of life in this small town, which is just how the residents of Laurel want it.

The top restaurant in town is a tight race between The Loft, a lively steakhouse known for its smoky, flavorful beef, and Mimmo's Ristorante Pizzeria, which offers unexpected Old World Italian cuisine in the heart of Mississippi. Both restaurants are housed in historic buildings located in a thriving downtown area. Don't miss the chance to explore Laurel Mercantile and the Scotsman General Store, where you can shop for home goods and custom furniture created by local celebrities Ben and Erin Napier.


Davis-Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State University
Davis-Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville.Editorial credit: Stephen Reeves /

Starkville is well-known for its association with Mississippi State University. It has a lively atmosphere as a college town, especially on game days. The community strongly appreciates the arts, as evidenced by its beautiful public murals. The Nash Street Historic District is a well-preserved neighborhood featuring homes from the Great Depression era worth exploring. Additionally, the Cotton District, an old and colorful neighborhood adjacent to the MSU campus, is adorned with blooming trees and flowers in the spring.

The Starkville Spring Open House in March kicks off the season with local shopping and dining specials. The Cotton District Arts Festival highlights local artists, live music, and food vendors in April. If you visit, grab a bite at Harvey's or enjoy a craft beer at Bulldog Burger Company, a local hangout always bustling with a crowd. This town loves its Mississippi State Bulldogs, evidenced by the sound of cowbells ringing each time the home team scores.

Final Thoughts

These seven small towns in Mississippi each offer their own unique blend of natural beauty and lively spring festivals. Whether you're exploring the historic streets of Natchez, enjoying the coastal charm of Ocean Springs, or participating in the cultural events of Hattiesburg, a springtime visit to these towns will leave you enchanted by their Southern charm and vibrant community spirit.

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