Mississippi is filled with a ton of amazing small towns. Unfortunately, many of them get overlooked. And that’s a real shame because, oftentimes, these towns have a lot to offer. So the next time you’re feeling up for an in-state road trip, consider paying a visit one of these 10 underrated towns that are definitely worthy of a second look.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. New Albany
Located in northern Mississippi, New Albany features a charming downtown that’s filled with several great shops, especially when it comes to antiques. The downtown area is also home to Sugaree’s Bakery, which according to Taste of the South magazine, serves some of the best pie in the South. Referred to as "the gateway to the Tanglefoot Trail," New Albany is also the starting point of one of the state’s longest Rails to Trails paths, but the fun doesn’t stop there as the city is home to a wolf preserve, museum, coffee roasting tours, Indian mounds, and a number of seasonal festivals and events, which includes everything from art to music. The charming town truly does have something for everyone.
Tucked away in the southwest corner of the state, Woodville is by far one of Mississippi’s best kept secrets. The small town is loaded with history and even more charm; not to mention it’s home to one of the best outdoor recreation areas in Mississippi – the Clark Creek Nature Area. After spending some time exploring the 700-acre nature area, visitors to Woodville can tour Jefferson Davis’ former home, Rosemont, check out the African American Museum, or simply drive around and admire historic architecture, which includes several quaint churches from yesteryear as well as the Wilkinson County Courthouse.
3. Water Valley
When it comes to small towns, it doesn’t get much better than Water Valley. The tiny town, which is home to less than 4,000 residents, offers plenty of charm, but that’s not all you’ll find. Despite its small size, Water Valley has an impressive arts scene, which includes several galleries. The fare is just as impressive. BTC Grocery, one of the town’s most popular eateries, has been featured in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Turnage Drug Store, which has been in business for over a century, is another must-visit in Water Valley. The charming shop features an authentic soda fountain and a variety of hard-to-find items, like old-fashioned candy sticks. Other points of interest include the Casey Jones Museum and Watermelon Carnival (held in August).
Despite its tiny size, Iuka has a lot to offer. Not only is the small town is home to J.P. Coleman State Park and Mineral Springs Park, it isn’t far from the renowned Tishomingo State Park. Like most small towns, Iuka boasts a delightful downtown, which is includes a variety of shops, eateries, and the "world’s only apron museum."
5. Rolling Fork
Located deep in the Mississippi Delta, there’s much more to this rural town than the corn, cotton, and soybean fields that surround it. Rolling Fork is loaded with history that ranges from the Civil War to the Blues. Experience some of that history firsthand by touring Mont Helena, which dates back to 1896. Sitting high atop a ceremonial Indian mound, this stunning Colonial Revival-style home is hard to miss. The nearby Onward Store is another must-visit. The still-functioning general store has been serving locals and hunters since 1913. In recent years it has grown to include a restaurant that serves a variety of southern favorites, from homemade pig skins to fried chicken. Truly a unique experience, the store is filled with old photos and artifacts. There’s also a variety of merchandise, which includes plenty of bear-themed items since the store is built at the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous bear hunt. (You know; the one that resulted in the creation of the Teddy Bear).
Located along the Natchez Trace, Raymond dates back to the 1800s. Visitors to the quaint town can visit the historic square, the Hinds County Courthouse, numerous preserved antebellum buildings, a Confederate cemetery, and Raymond Military Park, the site of the Battle of Raymond. Consider taking scenic Highway 18, from Port Gibson to Raymond. The scenic route is under 50 miles and is made up of small, charming towns and picturesque sites. Port Gibson’s historic Trace Cinema and the Raymond courthouse are among the popular points of interest on this scenic path.
A small town in Neshoba County, Philadelphia offers the perfect mix of charm and history. The town is home to one of the state’s longest operating general stores – Williams Brothers. Known as "Williamsville" by locals, the charming store has been in business since 1907. Peruse the merchandise and you’ll find everything from groceries to boots. And if you want a true Williamsville experience, be sure to try the bacon, which is sliced right in front of you, and the hoop cheese. History buffs will want to pay a visit to the Nanih Waiya mound. The period of construction of the mound remains a mystery to this day; however, one thing is for certain, the site plays a central role in the Choctaw tribe’s origin legends. One story in particular tells of the mound giving birth to the tribe as they emerged from the underworld.
Brimming with history, small town charm, and natural beauty, Columbus definitely lives up to its slogan – "the city that has it all." The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway runs right through the town; get your fill of waterfront views at Riverwalk Park or Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center. Be sure to check out Columbus’ Main Street – it was named one of the "50 Best Small Town Main Streets in America." The city is also home to an impressive historic district, which has one of the largest collections of antebellum homes in the state, coming in second only to Natchez.
With a motto like, "Step into the good life," how could Louisville not be a great place? The charming town in Winston County features a booming downtown filled with a variety of shops and restaurants. Lake Tiak-O’Khata is another highlight of the small town. The lakefront resort includes several cabins, a restaurant, and beach. While in Louisville, dining at Mary Lou’s Biscuit Bar is a must. The hidden gem serves "down home country breakfasts," which include amazing homemade biscuits.
This small town, which has less than 2,000 residents, is located just south of Starkville. A nature lover’s dream come true, Brooksville is home to the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. The 42,500-acre recreation area includes tons of trails, making it easy to explore. A visit to Ole Country Bakery is a must while in Brooksville. The small town bakery has been in business for decades and offers everything from homemade bread to deli sandwiches.
Ever visited any of these towns? Have another underrated town to add to this list? Tell us in the comments section!