Obviously you want to take out-of-town guests to popular attractions like the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Vicksburg National Military Park. These places are great and should be visited, but Mississippi has so much more to offer. From beautiful waterfalls to places where history comes to life, these 13 places may be a bit off the beaten path but will definitely wow your guests. It will be a visit they won’t forget.
1. The Windsor Ruins, Port Gibson
Built in the mid 1800s, the Windsor Plantation once encompassed a whopping 2,600 acres. The stunning mansion survived the Civil War practically unscathed; however, in 1890, a houseguest accidentally left a lit cigar on the balcony and the mansion burned to the ground, leaving behind only the columns, balustrades, and iron stairs. The Windsor Ruins are now available for touring year-round, free of charge.
2. Clark Creek Nature Area, Woodville
Considered one of Mississippi’s “most beautiful outdoor treasures,” the Clark Creek Nature Area encompasses more than 700 acres and features approximately 50 waterfalls, which range in size from 10’ to more than 30’ in height.
3. Sky Lake, Belzoni
Believed to have been occupied by Native Americans several thousand years ago, the area that is now Sky Lake is actually an abandoned channel of the Mississippi River. A part of Sky Lake’s history can be seen in the trees since the area is home to several ancient bald cypress. The trees, some more than a thousand years old, range in size with the biggest measuring 47 feet in circumference and 70 feet in height – one of the tallest in the state.
4. The Blues Trail
There’s no better place to learn about the blues than the Mississippi Blues Trail. The unforgettable journey includes numerous stops throughout the state as well as markers filled with interesting facts, guaranteeing to give visitors a new appreciation for America’s music.
5. Gulf Island National Seashore
Part of the National Parks Service, this national seashore features beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, islands, bayous, nature trails, and campgrounds. While most of the seashore is accessible only by boat, the Davis Bayou area can be accessed by automobile.
6. Cypress Swamp, Canton
Visitors will have the chance to walk above the water thanks to the boardwalks that have been added to this cypress swamp. The self-guided trail is approximately one-half mile, allowing plenty of time for an alligator sighting – which has been known to happen.
7. Natchez Under the Hill (Silver Street), Natchez
Once a hangout for local criminals, Natchez’s “Under the Hill” area now features restaurants, bars, and shops. The historic district is located on Silver Street and includes local favorites, such as the Under the Hill Saloon and the Magnolia Grill.
8. Mitchell Farms, Collins
In business since 1960, Mitchell Farms has expanded tremendously over the years and now includes an impressive 1,500 acres. In addition to pick-your-own tomatoes and peaches, the farm offers other fresh fruits and vegetables, peanuts, and tours of both the farm and the on-site historic cabin which is filled with memorabilia that has been collected throughout the years.
9. The Simmons-Wright General Store, Kewanee
Not much has changed at this general store since its opening in the late 1800s, which is why visiting patrons are guaranteed to feel as if they’ve been “transported back to a time long forgotten.” The property features a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, grist mill, and several old barns, making a stop by the Simmons-Wright General Store a truly unique experience.
10. Tupelo National Battlefield, Tupelo
An extremely bloody fight, the Battle of Tupelo greatly aided in ensuring that Major General William Sherman’s Georgia supply lines were protected. Sadly, this battle claimed thousands of lives of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Today, these brave men are commemorated at this battlefield, which features informative panels that explain the battle's significance. Brochures and other literature about the Battle of Tupelo can be obtained from the visitor center located along the Natchez Trace.
11. Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, and Winston Counties
Established in 1940, this 42,500-acre refuge attracts over 100,000 visitors annually. The refuge is home to a number of animals including the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Wildlife observation and photography are extremely popular at this refuge and just to make it a bit easier, several hiking trails and boardwalks are scattered throughout the property.
12. J.P. Coleman State Park, Iuka
With access to both a river and freshwater lake, J.P.Coleman State Park is a water enthusiast’s dream. The park itself overlooks the Tennessee River and allows for visitors to camp along its banks. Pickwick Lake, a 47,500-acre freshwater lake, is located within the park. The lake is perfect for all sorts of water activities, such as sailing, swimming, skiing, and fishing, and features a beautiful 50’ waterfall, Cooper Falls.
13. The McRaven Home, Vicksburg
McRaven is not only the most haunted house in Mississippi, it’s also somewhat of an architectural gem. Since the Vicksburg home was built in sections at different times, it features varying architectural styles, earning McRaven the nickname the “time capsule of the south.” Today, the impressive home offers both historical and haunted tours, making it a great attraction for people of all ages.
What are some other great underrated places in the state? Keep this list going by adding to it in the comments section below.