There’s a lot to see and do in the Magnolia State. Popular attractions, like Elvis’ birthplace and the Natchez Trace, are definitely worth a visit but they’re not all Mississippi has to offer. In fact, there’s a ton of lesser-known attractions that are just as incredible as their more famous counterparts. Want some proof? Here are 13 of the greatest destinations in Mississippi that most residents overlook.
1. Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo
Since opening as a cattle ranch in the 70s, this Tupelo attraction has grown to include over 200 acres and nearly 300 animals. And the best way to see all those animals is a guided tour, which will get you up close and personal with buffalo, camels, zebras, giraffes, and more. There’s also a petting zoo, pony rides, and numerous exhibits. The park is located at 2272 N Coley Rd., Tupelo, MS 38801.
2. St. Mary Basilica
Natchez is synonymous with antebellum mansions. However, the stately homes aren’t the only historic structures in the town worth a visit – and this stunning basilica is proof. Built in 1842, it’s the oldest Catholic building still in use in Mississippi. Now a Natchez landmark, the interior has been fully restored and is "stunning in its artistry and color." St. Mary Basilica, which is open daily for tours, is located at 105 S Union St., Natchez, MS 39121.
3. Possum Walk
The perfect combination of nature and history, the Possum Walk Trail guides visitors through the deserted communities of Possum Walk and Logtown. And with the recent addition of tram tours, navigating the trail is that much easier. The 45-minute tour, which is available Monday – Saturday, covers an area of six miles and educates guests on the communities that once were. The trail begins at 1 Discovery Circle, Bay St Louis, MS 39529.
4. Tanglefoot Trail
Once a railroad, the Tanglefoot Trail has since been converted thanks to the state’s Rails to Trails program. The 43.6-mile trail will take you on a one-of-a-kind journey through fields, forests, meadows and wetlands, navigating the same paths as the Chickasaw Indians and Meriwether Lewis. Get more info on the route
5. Sky Lake Wildlife Management Area
This Belzoni wildlife management area is home to several ancient bald cypress trees – one of which measures 47’ in circumference and 70’ in height, making it the tallest in the state. Take in all Sky Lake has to offer via a 1700’ boardwalk or a 2.6-mile paddling trail, both of which navigate the ancient forest. Sky Lake is located at 1692 Townsend Lake Rd., Belzoni, MS 39038.
6. Palestine Gardens
In 1960, Reverend Walter H. Jackson decided to bring the Bible to life. Just how did he do it? By building a completely accurate scale model of the Holy Land, of course. Utterly unique, the attraction is a must-see, and the best part? There’s no admission charge. Visit Palestine Gardens at 201 Palestine Garden Rd., Lucedale, MS 39452.
7. Dunn’s Falls Water Park
The main feature of this picturesque park is the 65’ waterfall, for which it’s named. Aside from the waterfall, the grounds also include a historic grist mill that’s open for touring and worth exploring as well as a few hiking trails and scenic picnic area. Visit Dunn’s Falls Water Park at 6890 Dunns Falls Rd. # A, Enterprise, MS 39330.
8. Shady Acres Village
Tucked away in the small town of Seminary, Shady Acres Village is as charming as it sounds. The "oasis of hospitality" includes a restaurant, which is a stop on the Mississippi BBQ Trail, as well as a bakery, gift shop, general store, and gardening center. Visit Shady Acres Village at 624 US 49, Seminary, MS 39479.
9. Square Books
Occupying three buildings, two floors, and over 10,000 square feet of space, Square Books is like something from a literary dream! All three of the buildings are within 100’ of each other in Oxford’s historic town square, making it easy to go from one to the other. The book store hosts about 150 author events, readings, talks, and signings annually, making it a great visit year-round.
10. The Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum
In addition to a variety of exhibits, displays, and train rides, this museum houses the largest Lego display in the state. Perfect for all ages, it’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., and is free to visit (but donations are accepted). The museum is located at 504 Pass Rd., Gulfport, MS 39507.
11. Old Courthouse Museum
Step back in time with a visit to this museum, which is brimming with artifacts and exhibits. In addition to a ton of antebellum and Civil War-era artifacts, the museum highlights different aspects of the state’s history. Look around and you’ll find exhibits on Native Americans, riverboats, and more. Visit the museum at 1008 Cherry St., Vicksburg, MS 39183.
12. Borroum’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain
As one of the country’s oldest ice cream shops, a visit to Borroum’s is sure to bring up some feelings of nostalgia. In business since the 1800s, the charming retro soda fountain serves up all the classics, including old fashioned malts and great burgers. The Corinth landmark is located at 604 E Waldron St., Corinth, MS 38834.
13. Antique Maison Ulman
Thanks to this charming Bay St. Louis tea room, you can enjoy a real high tea experience, regardless of your age. Even better, the whimsical tea room is situated in the middle of an antique mall, so you can also do a little shopping. Visit Antique Maison Ulman at 317 Ulman Ave., Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520.
So, have you been to any of the places mentioned above? Did we forget your favorite destination? Tell us in the comments section.