If you're visiting Raleigh, then you have to go to this farmers' market, with products straight from the farm! You can find fruit, vegetables, cheese, and meat, as well as handicrafts. It's worth getting there early in the morning. Amongst the stalls you'll find a cool stand that sells retro sodas, too!
Situated by the center of Raleigh St. it was constructed by Joel Lane in the mid-1780s, with additions added in the year 1826 by architect William Nichols State, which became the heart of one of the county's biggest plantation Wake. Currently, it still has original furniture and portraits of five generations of the family.
Vicksburg National Military Park is one of the best places to visit in Mississippi and a must for fans of history, nature, and American military history. The park was site of the Battle of Vicksburg in 1863 and remains today as one of the best-preserved Civil War battlefield sites in the South. The Battle of Vicksburg is one of the most important and well-known Civil War battles because the Union's victory essentially gave them control over the Mississippi River.
The park is full of trails, routes, and monuments like the Vicksburg National Cemetery, the Indian Mound, and the USS Cairo, a fully restored Civil War-era battleship. That's exactly what makes the Vicksburg site so special: the markers and guides really bring the place to life and the fact that there are also historic homes and even trenches from the battle still intact helps you get into the 19th-century mood.
Beyond learning about the battle's history and historical characters like General Sherman, Vicksburg National Military Park is also a great place to just spend the day enjoying nature. There are plenty of trail and even waterfalls you can explore, and the park's location along the Mississippi River makes it a prime place for bird-watchers.
The Jackson Zoo is located in Jackson, Mississippi and is one of the most consistently popular sights among both tourists and locals. The Zoo has over 800 animals on the premises, everything from cute prairie dogs to massive hippos and Sumatran tigers. Another plus is that it's relatively affordable, at least compared to other zoos around the country. The tickets are $9.25 for adults and $6.75 for kids so you can bring the little ones for a fun day with the animals without going broke in the process.
One of the most interesting parks of the zoo is the African Rainforest exhibit; there, you can see pygmy hippos (there's so small!), chimps, and all kinds of colorful birds. Then there's also an African Savannah part which features the usual zebras and the like and a small part dealing more with local wildlife from the Mississippi area.
If you're really looking for something special, they hold "slumber safaris" on Saturday nights where you can actually spend the night at the zoo (without the crowds, of course) and take a night tour, have a campfire, and see how the zoo actually works behind the scenes. Don't miss it!
Tupelo Buffalo Park is the largest zoo in Mississippi and a really unique place to see wild animals, both national and exotic, in a more or less wild setting. The park features a really wide variety of animals like lions, Bengal tigers, giraffes, kangaroos, and zebras, but the star of the park is the herd of American Bison which roam around the park grounds. They've created a sort of off-road bus that takes visitors to see the herd up close and in its element. While you're on the so-called "Buffalo Bus" they'll also take you by the giraffes and let you feed the long-necked beauties. Careful though, those long tongues tickle!
If you're looking for a more...low-key way to see the animals, there's also a nice trolley that circles the park and lets you see the buffalo as well. Finally, if you'd like to get the real old-west feeling, they have guided horseback rides throughout the entire park (as well as Pony rides for the little ones).
The admission is a an extremely-reasonable $11 for adults (there are senior discounts) and then the Buffalo Bus, Trolley, and horseback rides are small additional payments. The Buffalo Bus, for instance, is only $3.
Buccaneer State Park is one of the most popular and beautiful state parks along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and a great place to go camping, swimming, and hiking. In fact, one of the most attractive aspects of this park are the variety and number of campsites for both RV campers and tent campers. Some of them let you sleep only yards from the seashore!
One of the main reasons why Buccaneer State Park is so popular, however, is the Buccaneer Bay Waterpark, a large park full of wave pools, sun chairs, and water slides that's open during the summer for around $17 or so dollars for adults. The waterpark has a snack bar and a grill so you can have something to eat and spend the entire day cooling off and splashing around.
Finally, though much of the shoreline vegetation was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, there are still some nature trails that take you through cypress and magnolia groves. Oh, and the park couldn't be cheaper! The daily rate is less than one dollar and a bit more if you want to enter with your car! It's a great place to spend a summer day with your family cooling off, cooking out, and enjoy the beautiful Gulf Coast.
The Hattiesburg Zoo is a small, yet fun 12-acre zoo in the town of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The zoo grounds, which are beautiful by the way, have exhibits that mainly revolve around African grassland animals like antelope and zebras as well as South American animals monkeys, jaguars, and tropical birds. There are even tigers!
One of the best reasons to visit the Hattiesburg zoo are the Sumatran tigers. The zoo just got two new ones in early 2014 and they are stunning! They're young tiger and quite playful so it's sure to be a fun visit. What's cool about the Hattiesburg zoo is that, rather than fences and bars, there are sections where the barriers are made of glass so you can get up close to the animals. Getting face to face with some of the big cats is truly hair-raising.
Another nice aspect of the Hattiesburg Zoo is that it's focused on children and education (which isn't to say that adults can't have fun too!). There are animal classes for the little ones, special programs for kids, and even summer camps where they can come and learn more about the animals at the zoo. Oh, and it's cheap! Admission is only $5 for adults and $3 for kids. What else do you need?
Percy Quin State Park is a beautiful nature reserve around Lake Tangipahoa near the town of McComb in southern Mississippi. The order of the day at Percy Quin State Park is camping, golf, and watersports like jetskiing, fishing, and boating, though they've unfortunately drained the lake for renovations so you should check ahead to see if the lake is opened.
Really, the best thing to do at Percy Quin State Park is go camping. They have set-ups for RV campsites but the best part are the cabins they have in the woods near the lake. For less than a cheap hotel, you and your family can get a nice rustic cabin with beds, a place for a campfire, and all the electrical and plumbing amenities you'd want. We don't want to get toooooo rustic, after all!
The cabins they offer range from basic to delux with the price spanning $35 to $100/night, but keep in mind that you get an entire cabin to yourself! When you get a cabin, you also get access to swimming pools and the lake, so it's a little bonus. If you're looking to escape from the city into a world of pines, magnolias, and lakes in southern Mississippi, Percy Quin State Park is the place!
Gulf Islands National Seashore is a gorgeous coastal park in the barrier islands of southern Mississippi. It's really one of the most amazing places in the state: gorgeous white sand, palm trees, hidden and uninhabited islands, nature reserves, and 200-year-old Spanish forts. Like I said, it's one of the most amazing places in Mississippi and should be at the top of your list if you're visiting Mississippi (or the south in general) in the spring and summertime.
One thing you should defiantly check out are the boat rides to West Ship Island. West Ship Island is an uninhabited island off the coast and the beaches are just spectacular. White beaches, clear water, and home to Fort Massachusetts, a 19th-century fort whose ruins you can explore today. The best part is that it's usually not that crowded so you can have your own plot of sand and sun to yourself.
Finally, there are also several smaller islands like Cat Tip Island which are also uninhabited and require a boat to reach. They also offer camping. Can you imagine? Camping out on your own desert island off the Gulf Coast? Access to the park is only $3 and valid for up to a week.
The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is the largest and most popular museum in the state of Mississippi and a must-see attraction if you're passing through Jackson. Firstly, the museum is located in LeFleur's Bluff State Park, a gorgeous park with woodlands, trails, a lake, golf courses, and plenty of camping. If you're looking for a good ways to spend the day outdoors, a Saturday at the state park with a visit to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is a great option.
One of the unique things about the Mississippi Museum of Natural Sciences is that it's actually outdoors and IN NATURE. Sounds natural, but in my experience most science museums are indoors. This, of course, makes it all the more fun for the kids. You can hike along trails through the woods and wetlands and actually learn about the plants and animals that you're seeing!
There's also an aquarium area where you can go and pet some of the creatures. There is, of course, also an indoor part of the museum that has traditional science, biology, and geology-related exhibits. The admission is $6 for adults and $4 for kids, so you can spend the day enjoying the aquarium and trails and hiking the State Park without breaking your monthly budget.
The USS Cairo is a historic Civil War-era naval ship that's located on the ground of the equally-stunning Vicksburg National Military Park. If you love nature and military history, a day at Vicksburg should defiantly be on your bucket list and a visit to the USS Cairo is a must!
The USS Cairo is one of the famous "ironclad" gunboats of the 19th century. It was originally sunk during the battle of Vicksburg and laid at the bottom of the Mississippi river for over a century. The wreck was re-discovered in the 1950's and since then it was been excavated, fully resorted, and converted into a museum. At the park, you can walk around the actual rebuilt ship and see the cannons and then there's a museum inside that has plenty of artifacts like clothing, silverware, ammunition, and guns recovered from the wreckage.
The USS Cairo is one of the more important ships in American naval history and the fact that it has been restored and put on display at Vicksburg makes it possible for everyone to come and learn more about this important era in America's history.
Rowan Oak is the original home of the great American author William Faulkner, the genius behind As I Lay Dying and The Sound and The Fury. The mansion was built in the mid-1800's and restored by Faulkner himself in the 1930's. Today, it has been fully resorted and decorated with period furniture and the public can tour the site to learn a little bit more about one of our greatest writers.
A good way to visit is to begin at the Ole Miss campus, a historic attraction in its own right. From there, you can take a 15 or 20 minute walk through the woods before ending up and the beautiful walkway leading to Rowan Oak. There's no need to schedule a tour (unless you're a large group), but you can explore the gardens around the house and see some of Faulkner's personal effects on display in the interior. Don't miss the chance to check out his personal library!
A tour of the interior is $5 and it' honestly worth it as it' just en empty home without the guide to fill you in on the history and life of William Faulkner. If you just want to admire the home from the outside and explore the garden, the visit is free!
Deer Island is an uninhabited island and protected park off the southern coast of Biloxi, Mississippi. The island has been inhabited for hundreds of years by Native American civilizations and was even home to an amusement park in the early 20th century. These days, it's a beautiful natural preserve that's protected by the state of Mississippi.
Your best bet for a day at Deer Island is kayaking. There are kayak rental and tour companies, but it's not necessary if you're in good shape and have a map handy. There are few better ways to spend a spring morning than kayaking out in the morning, seeing the Gulf's dolphins breaking water, and having a picnic lunch on one of the island's virgin beaches.
Another good plan for Deer Island is to bring a tent along with your kayak and go camping. The island is literally right off the coast of Biloxi so it might be hard to get a super "in the middle of nowhere" feeling, but you'll be surrounded by white sand dunes, ferny palms, migrating birds, and the best sunset in the area.
The Delta Blues Museum is a 100% MUST for any fan of delta blues. The museum, located in Clarsksdale, Mississippi, has a one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts and memorabilia from legendary blues greats like Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, B.B. King, and Charlie Musslewhite.
The museum is located in a historic freight train depot and its primary aim is to educate and interest a new generation of music fans about the regional and national importance of the Delta Blues and Delta Blues artists. There is a permanent collection which has a variety of B.B. King's famous "Lucielle" guitars and the actual shack-house where Muddy Waters grew up just outside of Clarksdale. It's a really unique museum and a chance to learn about some our America's most important, yet least recognized artists (did you know, for example, that Big Mama Thronton wrote "Hound Dog" of Elvis Presley fame?).
Aside from its great collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibits like photography collections about famous Delta bluesmen and the blues in general. The museum is open from 9-5 and there's a pretty good gift shop where you can pick up some tunes to continue your roadtrip.
The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi is the largest museum in the state and has a collection featuring prominent American and European artists with a special emphasis on Southern and Mississippi-born artists. The museum also has an especially-notable collection of photography featuring works by some of the most important figures in 20th-century American photography.
The Mississippi Museum of Art's permanent collection of American works includes works by Georgia O'Keefe, Andy Warhol, and Mary Cassatt, an American painter who was one of the first in the new world to adopt and Impressionistic style of painting, and the European collection features greats like Rembrandt, Picasso, and Joan Miro.
As mentioned, the Mississippi Museum of Art puts a special emphasis on Mississippi born and bred artists and has a great collection of 19th century portraits, Native American artworks, and more contemporary regional artists. The best part is that the museum is absolutely free to the public so you can enjoy some of the best art in Mississippi without going over budget.
The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, Mississippi is an interactive activities center that's aimed at entertaining and educating children and families. However, it's no ordinary children's museum...the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center packs a variety of rides and play areas on the inside that's sure to keep your little ones entertained and maybe (just maybe) help them learn a little something in the process.
There's a massive climbing structure that reaches all the way to the roof of the museum, art studios, reading areas, and zones that recreate train depots, markets, historic hotels, and the gulf coast where children and play dress up and learn about different subjects. There's good fun to be had outdoors as well. There's a whole complex of interconnected treehouses and a small creek where kids can splash around and try their hand at building log cabins.
All in all, it's a great place to take your kids if you're looking for something a bit more thoughtful and inspiring than the movies or the mall. With all the costumes, exhibits, and play areas, they're sure to not want to leave!
The John C. Stennis Space Center is the largest NASA-run rocket testing area in the United States and it's located on the border of Louisiana and Mississippi. The testing grounds are still in use, but they've recently opened the INFINITY Science Center so the public can come and learn more about the space program, rockets, and have a look at the facilities.
One of the coolest parts of the visit is the Omega Flight Simulator, a massive, moving simulator with a huge HD screen that makes you feel like you'r rocketing through the atmosphere. Apparently, one astronaut said that it was a fairly true representation of what it feels like to ride a spaceship. If you're looking for something a bit more educational, you have the Science Express, an area that details the history of moderns scientific exploration and the NASA Space Program.
Outside the museum, you can see some real rocket engines and capsules from various missions. The admission to the INFINITY center is $10 for adults and $6 for children 4 to 17. If you're looking to d something a bit different in southern Mississippi, the Stennis Space Center is definitely the place!