Picture this: white sand beaches stretching for miles, abundant fresh seafood, Jack Nicklaus golf courses, elegant casinos and A-list entertainment, art and history museums, Civil War battlefields, and historic homes that tell a tale of a lifestyle long gone – but not forgotten…this is Mississippi.
For family fun and adventure, the Mississippi coast beckons. Visit Gulfport – Biloxi for kayaking, fishing, and barrier islands to explore. Or simply enjoy swimming and relaxing on some of the prettiest uncrowded beaches anywhere in the country.
The five barrier islands in the Gulf offer visitors a chance to explore a unique wilderness environment. Kayaking and leisurely exploration around each island sounds like a great way to spend a day to me.
Ship Island has the most historical interest, and its beaches have been rated some of the best in the world. Kids will enjoy historic Ft. Massachusetts, and there is easy access to the island via ferry. Ship Island receives the most tourism by far, and is not the place to go if you’re seeking solitude.
Biloxi – Gulfport is also where you will find resort hotels and casinos that rival any in the world. Casinos are more than gambling houses, they are live entertainment venues with world class acts, like Tony Bennet, Stone Temple Pilots, and Kenny G.
If you’re in Biloxi and cultural diversions are your thing, check out the Ohr – O’Keefe Museum of Art, dedicated to George Ohr, the “mad potter of Biloxi.” The campus consists of five buildings designed by Frank Gehry, and there are ongoing art and ceramics classes, as well as regular exhibits.
Also in Biloxi, don’t miss Beauvoir, once the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This house has withstood eighteen hurricanes! Christmas is a great time to include a visit to Beauvoir in your family vacation plans as there are lots of extra activities for the kids.
If you’re a real geek for Civil War history, then a trip to The National Military Park Battlefield in Vicksburg is a must! Everything I’ve read about it makes me want to pack up the car and go tomorrow. It’s the site of the Siege of Vicksburg, the defining battle of the Civil War, and to stand there, in history, is amazing. However, there’s plenty to do and one of the most interesting monuments is the Shirley House. It’s the only house that survived being burned by Confederate soldiers. The Shirley family hid inside the house for three days before being rescued. If those walls could talk!
In my mind, no visit to Mississippi would be complete without taking in some live music – and when I say live music, I mean blues. The Mississippi Delta is known as the home of the blues, and has given us greats like John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the blues – it’s known for a lineup of famous musicians most any night of the week. There are also festivals throughout the year, so pick one and start planning.
Anyone with a love of music has to appreciate that the blues is the root of all pop music as we know it. If you don’t believe it, go to Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi, where you will find the Mississippi Blues Archives, the only research facility in the country dedicated to the study of the blues.
From antebellum mansions to dazzling casinos from blues joints to historic battlefields, Mississippi is sure to delight and surprise.