The perfect combination of small town charm and big city culture, Water Valley is one Mississippi destination that is without a doubt worth a visit. It’s a quintessential small southern town where everybody knows everybody, but it’s also a cultural melting pot thanks to a bustling Main Street, mouth-watering restaurants, historic homes, and an amazing art scene.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2012, Water Valley’s Main Street is lined with impressive eateries and art galleries that feature the works of everyone from local talents to national avant-garde artists.
Among the businesses on Main Street is the B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery. The popular grocery store and café is a one-stop-shop for locals. Offering everything from locally produced goods to organic products, B.T.C. really lives up to its promise of “a small town grocery with big city food.”
Remember that “small town feel” we mentioned? Well, it definitely comes to life at Turnage Drug Store. Operating in a historic building that dates back to the mid-1800s, Turnage Drug Store was opened by Wade Turnage in 1905 and has been in the Turnage family ever since. The fully-operational drug store also includes a gift shop and old-fashioned soda fountain.
Having attracted numerous artists over the years, Water Valley's art scene has grown to be quite impressive and now includes several incredible galleries. One such gallery, Yalo Studio, is located in a historic building that actually served as a barbershop since the late-1800s. Today, the small brick building showcases the work of talented artists from all over the world. Nearby Bozarts Gallery is also a must-see. The vibrant venue is known to host a plethora of wonderful art events in addition to serving as an exhibit space for local, regional, and national artists. The art scene is especially lively during the month of September when the city hosts its annual Water Valley Art Crawl. The free event attracts dozens of artists and musicians for an evening “crawl” through studios, galleries, and historic homes.
The small town has been named one of the best cities for beer lovers thanks to the Water Valley-based brewery, Yalobusha Brewing Company. Locally owned and operated, the brewery is known for producing beer made of only the finest and freshest ingredients. And you can see for yourself since the brewery offers visitors the chance to take tours and, of course, sample the products.
Water Valley is also a great place for music enthusiasts since the city is home to a record shop. Valley Vinyl, which is located in the same building as Yalobusha Brewing Company, promises to be “THE source for vintage vinyl records.”
When it comes to homes from yesteryear, Water Valley is somewhat of an historical gem. The city is filled with beautiful homes from the late-1800s to early-1900s, with some of the most prominent lining Panola, Kimmons, and Leland Streets.
Immersing yourself in history doesn’t end with Water Valley’s residences as the city is also home to the Casey Jones Railroad Museum, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since Water Valley has a past deep-seated in the railroad industry. The free-of-charge museum is located inside the Water Valley train depot, and houses the Bruce Gurner Collection of Railroad Memorabilia in addition to an array of railroad items, photographs, and documents.
Included in Food & Wine’s cross-country list of remarkable “little food towns,” the streets of Water Valley are dotted with several niche restaurants. Specifically named in Food & Wine’s list, the Crawdad Hole is a local seafood favorite that just so happens to be located inside an old gas station. And for those barbecue fans out there, D and D House of BBQ is a must. The well-known joint was also mentioned in Food & Wine’s list, and is known for serving the best pulled pork and smoked chicken wings around.
The economy of Water Valley relies heavily on the agricultural industry, and a result of that is Water Valley’s exceptional Farmer’s Market, which is open every Saturday morning during the summer. Held on the corner Main and Panola Streets, the Farmer’s Market attracts local growers, coffee brewers, and artisans, selling everything from fresh produce to hand-crafted furniture.
A charming town with a lot of character, a trip to Water Valley definitely won’t disappoint! Have you visited Water Valley? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.