Mississippi is full of so many amazing sites, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. Many sites are main tourist attractions and extremely well-known; others are hidden gems that only the locals know about. And that’s where this list comes in. From beautiful gardens to a ghost town, you’ve got to visit these 10 hidden gems at least once in your lifetime.
1. Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, Jackson
Agriculture plays a huge role in Mississippi, and there’s no better place to learn about that role than at this museum. The museum is open Monday – Saturday, from 9 am – 5 pm, and, with so much to see, you’ll definitely want to get there early. Aside from a ton of agricultural exhibits, the museum also has a nature trail, carousel and train rides, a train exhibit, and Small Town Mississippi, a life size replica of a rural town from the 1920s.
2. DSU Sculpture Garden, Cleveland
Located on the lawn of the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the DSU campus, this sculpture garden was the creation of painter Pam Matthews. Since its inception in 2000, the noteworthy collection has grown to include over 20 permanent pieces. Between new pieces being added every couple of years and the ever-changing exhibits, the diverse garden is truly a sight to see.
3. Blackland Prairie Trail, near Tupelo
The Blackland Prairie Trail is part of the Natchez Trace Parkway and is located just north of Tupelo. Open year-round, the trail traverses a river and beautiful fields of prairie flowers and offers access to interesting sites, such as the Chickasaw Village.
4. Chalk Mine, near Eastport
Courtesy of Michael-Jon Woodruff of Iuka MS
Estimated to be over 100 years old, this chalk mine is located just south of Eastport. The interior of the mine is about the size of a Wal-Mart and includes a series of complex tunnels. Although the site is not attended, locals have hiked to the mine and explored its interior for years now.
5. Old Country Store, Lorman
Housed in a building that is over 100 years old, a visit to Lorman’s Old Country Store is truly a unique experience. The still functioning general store includes a restaurant that has become known for serving “the best fried chicken in the south,” which is prepared by the singing cook, Mr. D.
6. Ghost Town of Rodney, Lorman
A deserted town filled with dilapidated buildings and remnants of what once was, Rodney is the very definition of a ghost town. Located about 30 miles northeast of Natchez, the small town was once destined for big things, but a series of unfortunate events completely changed the fate of Rodney, leaving behind an eerily quiet town that appears to be frozen in time.
7. Mynelle Gardens, Jackson
The perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Mynelle Gardens is a stunning property that includes colorful flowers, exotic plants, perennials, fish ponds, bridges, an island, and gazebos. Spending a day in the serene setting won’t break the bank either – admission is only $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.
8. St. Mary’s Chapel, Natchez
Tucked away in the woods near Natchez, sits this beautiful Gothic-style church known as St. Mary’s Chapel. Now almost hidden, the church was at one time a part of the Laurel Hill plantation. Sometime in the 1960s, the plantation’s main home burned down, leaving behind one of the most unique churches in the state. Although regular services have long been ceased at St. Mary’s Chapel, it was never deconsecrated, making it a popular wedding venue.
9. Great River Road State Park, Rosedale
Located on the Great River Road Historic Byway, this state park was officially closed in 2011 but has since been re-opened on a limited basis. Head to Great River Road State Park and spend the day checking out the Mississippi River from the park’s 75’ observation tower, fishing in Perry Martin Lake, or enjoying an outdoor lunch in the designated picnic area.
10. Mississippi River Basin Model, Jackson
Following two severe floods, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began researching ways to avoid future tragedies, which resulted in the construction of this model. The model took 26 years to complete, with the work being done by POWs since WWII was going on when construction began. Spanning 200 acres, it’s the largest small-scale model ever built. After only six years in use, the model was simply abandoned. Today, it’s deteriorated and overgrown but still an interesting site. See it for yourself by heading to Butts Park, which is located at 6180 McRaven Rd. in Jackson.