Home Cultural Exploration Mississippi: The Soul of the South

Mississippi: The Soul of the South

written by Penny Sadler
Mississippi the Soul of the South. Photo @JeffImpey photography


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.

some rights reserved Flickr creative commons, Jared 422_80

courtesy Jared on Flickr

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.

Beauvoir @PennySadler 2013

courtesy Godwin Group

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.

photo of Leo "Bud" Welch in Clarksdale, Mississippi by Jeff Williams

photo by Jeff Williams


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Terry at Overnight New York December 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I want to go there! Thanks for the peek at a state that’s always intrigued me.

Mary @ Green Global Travel November 17, 2013 at 11:56 am

I’ve never stopped in Mississippi before (only driven through) and look forward to taking in some of the culture. We’re going to plan a road trip to Mississippi this Spring for the Blues Festival.

Penny Sadler November 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Mary that sounds like so much fun. I know you’ll get some great stories out of it too!

Gabi (The Nomadic Family) November 17, 2013 at 3:07 am

Mississippi is such a beautiful place.I really want to visit there.

Kate November 16, 2013 at 11:43 pm

I’m curious about this part of the US.

Penny Sadler November 17, 2013 at 10:12 am

Me too.

Bethaney - Flashpacker Family November 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

I’m so keen for a big Deep South USA road trip! I find the whole area fascinating.

Penny Sadler November 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

Me too. Great for photos!

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas November 14, 2013 at 3:36 am

I’ve met so many Southerners in Spain, but I’ve not visited many places. Hoping you change that this summer, and MS looks great!

Val-This Way To Paradise November 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I had no idea the beaches would be so nice!! I love the blues…looks like a fun place…

Penny Sadler November 15, 2013 at 8:51 am

I know what you mean. I didn’t know either.

Jennifer November 11, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Well done, thorough post! While I have zero interest in some of the things like antebellum mansion tours, it seems there’s something for everyone in Mississippi.

Jennifer Miller November 11, 2013 at 8:58 pm

You know, Mississippi surprised me… I expected it to be a southern backwater… and it’s just not… at least not all of it! So many neat things to see here and tons of history!

Island traveler November 5, 2013 at 1:56 am

You got my drooling with white sands and clear blue waters. A beautiful place. Perhaps next Summer. Crossing my fingers. Have a wonderful day.

Penny Sadler November 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Mississippi would be great any time I think.

Mishele Newkirk-Smith November 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I grew up in Long Beach on the beach. I have fond memories of the Pass Mardi Gras parade. The coast has changed so much since Katrina. I miss all of the huge oak trees a long Hwy 90. Great article…brings me back home.

Penny Sadler November 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Hi Mishele,Nice to hear from a local. It’s a beautiful area and hopefully the trees will one day be back?

wanderingeducators November 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Looks like such an amazing place – we need to visit!

The Tin Man November 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Oh how we love the Mississippi Coast, most especially Biloxi and Gulfport. Before Katrina, we would go each year to judge the Mardi Gras Parade in Gulfport. Oh what fond memories we have. The people are ever so lovely.

Penny Sadler November 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm

They’ve done a great job of cleaning up the beaches. You would probably enjoy going back.


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