The history of Mississippi is as long as the state’s name. This beautiful land is frequently plagued with flooding because of the gorgeous river it is named after. Right now, the state is suffering from bad flooding rivaling the Great Flood of 1927. However, Mississippi is a state that gets back on its feet. Because of that, we wanted to share some great spots for you to visit once the state dries out again.
There are many fantastic museums and parks to visit. But, as always, we want to look at some places that are slightly off the beaten path.
Our first stop is Ship Island. Although this spot can be found in many, many guidebooks, it’s literally off the path. After an hourlong ferry ride, you will reach a gorgeous uninhabited island with little more than an old fort, a snack bar, showers, bathrooms and chairs and umbrella to rent. Reviewers urge people to bring sunscreen and say the walk from the ferry to the beach is quite a distance, so be prepared for that. If you are a fan of dolphins, you might see them on the ferry or even from the boardwalk along with stingrays. That alone may be worth the trip! The fort has guided tours for history buffs, led by knowledgeable park rangers. Get ferry tickets here.
Elvis Presley Birthplace
Thinking of Elvis, our minds immediately turn to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. But he didn’t spend his whole life there. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in a house that would be reposed by the bank only a couple of years later. Now, restored to the state it was when the musician was born, this is a site any music lover should visit. This historic site also contains a small museum along with the church he attended and an events center. The church was moved to be on the same location as the house. It was the first place he heard gospel music. His family left the town when he was thirteen, but he didn’t forget his childhood home, visiting for benefit concerts to help the town raise money. Big Elvis fans will love sitting on the porch swing outside this two-bedroom house. While the grounds are always open, the buildings are only available to tour Monday through Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 1-5. Learn more at the official site.
Simmons-Wright Company Store
If you are looking to step further back in time, past Elvis’ birth, go to the Simmons-Wright Company Store. The general store still looks and operates as it did in the late 1800s. Although, you can no longer pay your bill in cotton. It operated back in the days when, if your cotton couldn’t cover the price of your purchase, it went on your tab. This large, one room store feature knick-knacks, food, farming equipment and more. It is dimly lit by exposed bulbs hanging from the ceiling. One noticeable change is the attached café, designed to evoke the era. Learn more about the store at its official site.
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog
If Elvis isn’t your favorite musician, maybe a banjo-playing frog is more your speed. If so, take a trip to Leland, Jim Henson’s hometown. There you will find a museum dedicated to Jim and Kermit. The museum is small, located inside the two-room Chamber of Commerce. But it’s stuffed with Muppets and memorabilia. It was in this town that Jim Henson met his friend, and Kermit’s namesake, Kermit Scott. The original Kermit Muppet was given to the museum by Jim Henson’s wife, Jane. The museum is free for visitors. There is a play area for kids and a giant Kermit for photo ops. Learn more about the small museum here.
This untamed estate is where William Faulkner wrote many of his Southern Gothic masterpieces. The grounds have not fallen into their current overgrown state. In fact, they’re more tamed now than they were then. In his life, he kept them wild. His wife wanted to have the land manicured, but he said, “Only new money would ruin a garden like that.” Instead, he referred to it as his, “postage stamp of native soil… [where] the past is never dead. It isn’t even the past.” The house now belongs to the Univ. of Mississippi. Visitors can tour the home and see the outline for A Fable, written on the wall of his office. The house is furnished with time appropriate furniture and some of the family’s personal possessions. The tour is self-guided, and the house is open dawn ’til dusk, which seems very appropriate. After all, a sunny day might break the spell of seeing it how Faulkner saw it. Though the tour is self-guided, people are on hand to answer your questions. And, being self-guided, you can take it at your own pace to experience the place a soak it all in!
Those are our out of the way picks for a trip to Mississippi, where will you be heading?