When it comes to fascinating attractions, Mississippi is definitely not lacking. The Natchez Trace Parkway, antebellum homes, and historic battlefields are without a doubt among the state’s top-rated sites, but what about lesser-known, off-the-beaten path attractions? Well, the state has those too. From a mill that’s been in business for over two centuries to a museum that is too strange for words, these 10 one-of-a-kind Mississippi attractions should definitely be added to your bucket list.
1. Sciples Mill, near DeKalb
In business since the late-1700s, Sciples Mill is one of only a few water-powered grist mills in the nation that still operates for profit. During the week, the mill produces items such as grits, flour, and corn meal, which is sold on site and can even be purchased when the mill is closed thanks to an “honor box.” On Saturday nights, crowds gather at the Water Mill Opry, an old store across the street from the mill that is known for live music, dancing, and potluck meals.
2. Mississippi River Basin Model, Jackson
Encompassing 200 acres, the Mississippi River Basin model is the largest small-scale model ever built. The project took from 1943 to 1966 to complete, and since resources were limited at the time due WWII, Italian and German POW’s were made to help build the model. Located in Buddy Butts Park, the model is somewhat covered by overgrowth but still accessible.
3. Tire Man, Bruce
This larger than life creation, known as Tire Man, is visible from Highway 9 in Bruce. Although his origin and purpose are unclear, one thing’s for sure – the Tire Man is definitely a sight to be seen. Get directions
4. Devil’s Crossroads, Clarksdale
Most people are familiar with the tale that tells of legendary blues musician Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent but many are unaware that you can actually visit the location of the famous exchange. Marked by three giant guitars, the notorious crossroads are located at the intersection of Highways 61 and 49.
5. Ghost Town of Rodney, Lorman
By the mid-1800s, Rodney was a bustling port city rivaling Natchez and Vicksburg. Steadily growing, Rodney reached 4,000 residents by 1860 and included banks, wagon makers, tinsmiths, barbers, doctors, dentists, general stores, hotels, saloons, pastry shops, the state’s first opera house, schools, churches, and two newspapers. The city was even slated to be the state’s capital. Tragedy struck Rodney in 1869 when a huge fire engulfed a majority of the town. The following year, the Mississippi River changed course, which was devastating for the former port city, ultimately resulting in Rodney’s demise.
6. Tallahatchie Flats, Greenwood
A true Delta experience, the Tallahatchie Flats consist of six perfectly preserved examples of the small rural homes that once filled this region of the state. These types of homes are significant because they are exactly the kind in which a number of blues musicians resided and spent time cultivating their craft. Today, visitors to the flats can enjoy an interpretive tour and experience all the aspects of a working plantation.
7. Mississippi Sanatorium Museum, Magee
If you’re looking for something unique, this museum definitely fits the bill. Although the Sanatorium has been closed since 1976, many of the facility’s original structures are still standing. One such structure has been transformed into a museum in the hopes of giving visitors an insight into significance of the institution.
8. Lunar Lander at the John C. Stennis Space Center, near Bay St. Louis
Once used by Apollo astronauts as a trainer for a mission to the moon, this 30’ tall Lunar Lander is now on display at the Stennis Space Center’s launch pad. The base of the structure features Astronaut Fred Haise’s boot prints and autograph, making this piece of history that much more fascinating.
9. USS Cairo, Vicksburg
In 1977, the gunboat USS Cairo was transported to the Vicksburg National Military Park and partially reconstructed. It was at that time numerous artifacts were recovered from the gunboat, including weapons, munitions, naval stores, and personal gear of the soldiers who served on board. The USS Cairo and all the artifacts recovered from it are still on display at the Vicksburg National Military Park.
10. World’s Largest Cedar Bucket, Oxford
Standing seven feet tall with the ability to hold 1,500 gallons of water, this Oxford landmark earned the title of “world’s largest” when an even larger cedar bucket in Tennessee was destroyed. As of 2011, Tennessee has reclaimed the title but, nonetheless, this huge bucket is still quite the sight.
On or off the list, what are your favorite off-the-beaten-path attractions in Mississippi?