America is filled with Main Streets, and Mississippi is no exception. What is a Main Street exactly? More than a name, “Main Street” is a concept. These quaint areas offer shopping, entertainment, and dining in one location all while retaining that small-town vibe. And while these picturesque streets can be found in pretty much every town in Mississippi, these ten towns have Main Streets that you absolutely must visit.
Last year, the city of Vicksburg entered the “2016 Great American Main Street Awards” contest and placed in the top 10 – a huge honor, especially since most first time entrants do not place at all. Several factors contributed to the city winning the award, including the downtown vacancy rate decreasing from 65% to 5%, public and private investments totaling $150 million, and over 3,000 new jobs being created in the area.
Also earning a spot in the top ten of the “2016 Great American Main Street Awards” contest, Tupelo has worked hard to create a charming downtown area. The city-wide effort began several years ago when the city held a series of workshops to “encourage downtown building owners to look at their renovations from a design perspective.” The end result? A booming downtown area filled with one-of-a-kind local shops, such as The Main Attraction and Coffee Bar and The Neon Attic, restaurants, and festivals and events that include everything from holiday-themed parades to the annual Elvis Festival.
3. Water Valley
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.
Since being developed in 2004, the Woodville Main Street Association has been designated one of 53 Certified Mississippi Main Street Communities. Aside from several locally owned businesses, Woodville’s Main Street is the site of a number of annual activities, including, resident favorite, the Woodville Deer and Wildlife Festival.
In 2010, Columbus was named the winner of the “Great American Main Street Award.” The city’s Main Street was recognized again when, in 2012, Travel and Leisure included Columbus in their listing of “America’s Greatest Main Streets.” Among the small shops and restaurants that line the downtown area, is the home of Columbus-native and renowned writer Tennessee Williams, which was relocated to Main Street in the early 1990s and now serves as a welcome center.
The historic Oxford Square, or simply the “Square” as locals call it, is considered the “cultural and economic hub” of the city. Attracting locals and tourists alike, the Square is never lacking when it comes to things to see and do, offering everything from fabulous shopping to award-winning restaurants to renowned art galleries. Popular spots within the Square include the south’s oldest department store, Neilson’s, and one of the nation’s most renowned independent bookstores, Square Books.
Corinth may be most known as the home of the slugburger but it’s the town’s Main Street that caught the attention of Parade Magazine, which named Corinth one of the “Top 16 Main Streets in the United States.” Located in downtown Corinth, the charming Fillmore Street is lined with historic buildings that have been transformed into boutiques, art galleries, coffee houses, and eateries. Also located on the bustling street is the popular Generals’ Quarters Inn, a historic Victorian home that now serves as a bed and breakfast.
After becoming the first in the state to join the Mississippi Main Street Program in 1997, the city of Hernando has revamped more than 80% of its lovely town square – a much needed change since, at the time, the area was filled with abandoned storefronts and unattractive buildings. The effort didn’t go unnoticed, as in 2011 Hernando was included in Main Street America’s list of “Main Street Towns Chosen as Best Places to Live.” Since its transformation, Hernando’s downtown has grown tremendously, earning it the nickname “Mississippi’s best kept secret.”
9. Yazoo City
Lined with brightly-colored, restored buildings as well as historically-significant structures, Yazoo City’s Main Street is the perfect combination of new and old. The historic street is home to several notable art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Throughout the year, festivals bring both locals and tourists to Yazoo’s Main Street, creating a fun-filled atmosphere that is nothing short of amazing. Other popular spots in Yazoo’s downtown area include the eclectic Main Street Market and the one-of-a-kind Main Street Hotel.
10. Ocean Springs
A visit to Ocean Springs wouldn’t be complete without checking out Washington Avenue, which was a recipient of the “Great American Main Street Award.” The picturesque street is lined with galleries, boutiques, quaint shops, like Miner’s Doll and Toy Store, and one-of-a-kind eateries, such as the historic Lovelace Drug Store and Soda Fountain.