I didn’t know what to first expect when I arrived in Mississippi, a whole new state in the Deep South that I was excited to explore.
What surprised me first was the warm hospitality, incredible music, delicious food and the unique culture that all took centre stage on my trip, and this is what makes Mississippi a special destination.
From Coastal Mississippi, driving up the Natchez Trace Parkway to Tupelo, or canoeing down the river Delta, the vast state has so much to offer and is a perfect destination for a road trip.
Mississippi left me wanting to come back for more. It’s a unique place, and I left with a new love of music; I discovered Delta Blues for the first time, and it is now a newfound love of mine.
Mississippi offers a variety of dining options that cater to even the most adventurous palates.
The farm-fresh produce found in the state’s fruitful land, as well as the fresh seafood that can be drawn from the Gulf, provide chefs with opportunities to showcase creativity and taste.
Authentic southern staples reign well in the state of Mississippi, so be sure to make the most out of it while you’re there.
To properly enjoy the unique style of music known as Delta Blues, I would highly recommend visiting one of the many late-night blues bars in the Delta region.
With makeship instruments created in Mississippi such as the diddly bow and the washboard, Delta Blues is storytelling at its finest and has to be experienced in a tin roof bar.
Don’t forget Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley which is a highlight amongst Mississippi’s musical history.
To sum it up, Mississippi has much to offer visitors who are interested in history, music, food and outdoor adventure activities.
Whether you’re exploring the Great River Road or visiting one of its many state parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the great state of Mississippi.
Include Mississippi in a road trip around the Deep South
This road trip around Mississippi is part of a larger road trip around the Deep South of the United States that I undertook together with Scott Tisson from Intrepid Escape.
The road trip that we did took us to the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee to cover the whole Deep South area.
I would recommend one week for the Mississippi section of the road trip, which will be the focus of this blog post.
Making the complete road trip along with the other states will take you around a month.
So you could just do this one-week suggestion, combine two states and do two weeks, or visit all four states in the Deep South in a month.
If you have more time, you can extend your trip to six weeks to give yourself more space and time in each state, but a good week in each state will be enough to cover everything mentioned in this article.
Start your road trip in Coastal Mississippi
You can easily reach Coastal Mississippi by driving from New Orleans, Louisiana along Highway 10 to Gulfport.
To kick start your adventure in Coastal Mississippi, head straight out onto the Gulf and book a private fishing trip with Ronnie from the FisherManGuide over at Shaggy’s Charter Docs, Mississippi’s Premier Charter Destination.
He has a great boat built perfectly for private charter fishing trips as well as lots of fishing knowledge from the area, and his cooler is always full and ready for a great day of fishing on the Gulf of Coastal Mississippi.
First, rock up to the bait boat to stock up (it’s a cool experience to witness a bait shop on a floating boat) and then head out to see what you can catch on the Gulf.
The best part of the trip is that you can cook what you catch at Shaggy’s Bar and Grill.
They will fillet your catch at the dock and serve it to you at the bar, how perfect is that! Managed to catch a lovely Red Snapper which went along well with the house salad.
Stay at the Grand Centennial Hotel at Centennial Plaza. For perfect access to Coastal Mississippi, park up your rental car and enjoy the local nightlife of the casinos and bars which can be found in the Gulfport area.
Wake up bright and early in the morning for a spot of Least Tern bird watching at the Least Tern Conservation spots, easily spotted by signposted nesting areas arranged by the Audubon Delta Society.
Here you can spot nesting Least Terns, a migrating bird that makes it down to Coastal Mississippi.
Head on over to Ridgeland and explore the Natchez Trace Parkway
Next on your road trip, drive up from Coastal Mississippi to Ridgeland, Mississippi.
Stay overnight at the Ridgeland, AC Hotel by Marriott, and then head to Sombra Mexican Kitchen for an amazing evening dining location that will not disappoint with its hearty portion sizes, so arrive hungry and ready for amazing Mexican cuisine.
In the morning, head out and explore the Natchez Trace by bicycle with Johnny Davis Bicycle Revolution Tours. The Natchez Trace is an incredible cycling route network that is a great way to enjoy the National Park.
Why not drive the scenic route up to Tupelo from Ridgeland along the Natchez Trace Parkway? Because this is a National Park, make sure to load up on fuel and supplies before you go, as there will be no service stations along the way.
Instead, you will enjoy the scenic roads with loads of wonderful stops along the way worth checking out such as the Tupelo Baldcypress swamp, Jeff Busby Park and the Reservoir Overlook, so bring a picnic and plan some time to make some stops and light walks along the way.
Check out Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Prestley
If you’re travelling around Mississippi, you can stop off in Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Prestley.
Stay at the newly opened Hotel Tupelo, with its stylish rooms and within easy walking distance to town.
Also worth checking out is the hotel bar and restaurant, Jobos, which serves some incredible local flavours inspired by Mississippi dishes with a Latin twist.
I happened to be visiting Tupelo during the Gumtree Art and Wine Festival.
Expect loads of live music performances by local music legends across a selection of different stages, as well as food and wine being served in various marquees. Great way to enjoy the local life in Tupelo.
Be sure to visit the Tupelo Hardware Co. store and learn the story of Elvis Presley’s first guitar.
Walking around Tupelo you can enjoy the large selection of different street art instalments scattered around the town, memorials created by local artists in tribute to Elvis.
In addition, there is an Elvis Prestley statue outside the town hall where he performed his Tupelo homecoming show.
Visit the Elvis Presley Birth Place and Museum in Tupelo. You can take a tour at the house he grew up in as well as the chapel he used to visit and sing in with his family. The museum is small but worth checking out to learn about his life in Tupelo.
Personally, given the option, I would visit Tupelo first to learn about Elvis’s early life before moving on to Graceland, which is a nice way to do it.
Lastly, close by is Johnnie’s Drive Inn, a popular hangout spot for Elvis in his youth. You can even dine in his favourite booth. Be sure to stop by for lunch and enjoy this classic diner experience.
Stop by at Clarksdale to learn about the Delta Blues
Clarksdale is most famously known for being the location of the crossroads (also known as the ‘Devil’s Crossroads’). This is where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil, leading to the birth of blues and rock’n’roll.
You can visit the exact spot, which is marked by a giant guitar sign along the highway; the location itself however is disputed but still worth a visit.
Clarksdale is full of Delta Blues history and is the beat of the city.
Stay at the Travelers Hotel, a former guest house for the railway workers back in the day that has been transformed into a self-service boutique hotel.
I loved staying there and enjoyed its self-service bar that had a cool rustic interior design to it.
Drop by Deak’s Mississippi Saxophones & Blues Emporium to check out his awesome music shop. If you’re lucky he might put on a harmonica performance for you to get your groove moving whilst you check out his awesome store.
Looking for a spot to eat in Clarksdale? Be sure to check out The Dutch Oven, serving up local favourites and great cocktails. Highly recommend the Shrimps and Grits here, a local classic!
If you’re in Clarksdale, be sure to head to The Ground Zero Blues Club for a rye whisky on the rocks. If you’re lucky, you may see a live performance from a local Delta Blues performer.
I managed to catch local legend Super Chikan who did his thing on the diddley bow. It was incredible and the atmosphere in this bar was electric.
Be sure not to miss it; it’s one of those rare hole-in-the-walls you can’t walk past without visiting.
Clarksdale is doing some amazing community work to bring the place back to life. Be sure to stop off for a coffee at the Meraki Roasting Co. which is a great community hub for the locals with wonderful coffee too. Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art is equally a good community spot to pass by and see what’s happening in town.
Bluesberry Cafe is also worth mentioning, especially if they’re doing a cookout on the porch with live music playing. Check to see if that spot is buzzing; it’s a popular local hangout.
Don’t end your road trip around Mississippi just yet!
Before you head North to Tennessee, if you can add a few more days from Clarksdale, why not go rafting around the River Delta with the Quapaw Canoe Company, they can adjust the trip to match your adventure preferences all the from the comfort of Clarksdale where they’re based.
If you’re looking for an amazing spot to eat BBQ and local Mississippi classic Dishes such as deep fried dill pickles, Delta Tamales and fried okra then head to the Airport Grocery in Cleveland, MS.
Two other notable sites worth visiting within proximity to Clarksdale are the Gateway to the Blues museum, which is located near Tunica, and the BB King Museum, which is also worth a visit to understand more about blues music and how it originated in Mississippi.
Thank you for reading my blog post about my road trip to Mississippi
Thank you for visiting my blog post and reading about my road trip around the state of Mississippi.
I hope you found all the information super useful towards your trip planning, and I wish you an amazing trip to Mississippi.
This trip was part of a bigger road trip around the Deep South. Be sure to visit the other blog posts covering Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee. Check out my guide to Tennessee to continue the adventure after Mississippi.
Wishing you a wonderful trip to Mississippi and the Deep South of the United States.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me, and I will be more than happy to help.
This article was done in collaboration with TTM and the State of Mississippi to promote road trips in the Deep South.