Mississippi Road Trip: 7 Fascinating Places to Visit in the Magnolia State

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Planning a Mississippi road trip? This itinerary covers the best stops in the Magnolia State – one of the most underrated states to visit.

The United States is made for road tripping. Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Blue Ridge Parkway are all adventures that travellers crave. But if you want to do something a little unusual, something I bet most of your friends haven’t done, then head to the Deep South for a Mississippi road trip.

Mississippi was where we started our 4-month USA road trip, and before we embarked on the journey, every single American friend and colleague told me that they’d never even been to Mississippi.

The only things I knew about Mississippi before we visited were that it’s hard to spell and that we used it as kids when counting in games of hide-and-seek (one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi).

After spending almost two weeks road tripping through Mississippi, we saw a state that is full of contrasts and is still struggling with a raw, complex history.

But we left this state with the blues streaming through our souls, memories of the sight of the mighty Mississippi River and the warmth of Southern people filling our hearts.

So, if you’re looking for one of the most soulful USA road trips, here are a few places to visit in Mississippi. Hopefully I can encourage you to visit a part of the U.S. you may not have considered before.

"Welcome to Mississippi" sign by the roadside, proclaiming Mississippi as the Birthplace of America's Music, with a clear blue sky and lush greenery in the background. The Visit Mississippi welcome sign that you'll see when you enter the state.

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Mississippi road trip itinerary

This itinerary has you flying into Memphis, Tennessee. It might sound odd for me to tell you to start a Mississippi road trip in Tennessee, but the Home of the Blues sits right on the border of Mississippi and it’s an easy city to fly to from most parts of the United States.

Head south to blues country and immerse yourself in the soulful music that defines this part of the country and that greatly influenced other musical genres including country and rock ‘n’ roll. Tunica, Clarksdale and Cleveland all have homages to this great music form – and plenty of bars to see it live.

Next up is Vicksburg, a key location during the American Civil War. The Vicksburg National Military Park is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the civil war.

Right on the mighty Mississippi River sits pretty Natchez, home to grand old houses and a horrific slave-trading history. From here, you can add a few days on the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway.

End your trip in Jackson, home to two fantastic museums that recognise civil rights struggles and the state’s origins.

We didn’t make it as far south as the beaches, but you could easily add a few days on after Jackson to explore the Gulf Coast and beach towns like Biloxi.

Alternatively, you can fly in to Jackson and start and end your trip there. Just switch this itinerary up to suit.

I’ve also got a road trip packing list to help you plan for your visit to Mississippi.

How many days in Mississippi?

You could do this Mississippi road trip in a week, but I reckon 10 days to two weeks is better. This state will get into your soul, and you’ll probably want to take it slow!

Mississippi travel guide

To follow this bucket list USA Mississippi road trip, fly into Memphis, Tennessee, and out of Jackson, Mississippi.


In Memphis, rent a car. This road trip follows highways, so you’ll just need something simple, no 4WD required. I like to compare prices, cars and availability online with DiscoverCars.

Along the way, there are plenty of unique and beautiful accommodations to stay in when you visit Mississippi. I’ve recommended lodgings throughout this article. You can use Booking.com to book most of them or look for vacation rentals if you’d like having the comforts of a kitchen and laundry.

Stop 1: Memphis, TN

A large guitar sign and a mural with the words "Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee" adorn the side of a brick building. One of the best things to do in Memphis is visit the famous Sun Studio.
Start your Mississippi road trip in Memphis, TN – it’s a city that’s easy to get to

Rent a car in Memphis and start your road trip straight away, or – better yet – spend a few days to discover the many Memphis museums that cover history, culture and music.

Hit up a few blues bars along Beale Street – get your ears and soul ready for all the blues music you’ll be hearing in Mississippi – and fill your belly with barbecue.

A few of the famous blues bars to add to your Memphis itinerary are Blues City Café, Blind Bear Speakeasy (downtown) and Rum Boogie Café Blues Hall.

Learn more about music at Sun Studio, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Blues Hall of Fame.

Enter the hallowed grounds of Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley. It’s now a very commercial space that’s always buzzing with Elvis fans but it has plenty of memorabilia including his records, clothes and planes.

The Civil Rights Museum is a must. Housed at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot on 4 April 1968, it’s a sobering and inspirational insight into civil rights struggles in the United States.

How long to stay in Memphis, TN

Plan to spend two to three days in Memphis – it’s a big city and there’s plenty to fill your days here.

Where to eat in Memphis

Where to stay in Memphis

The Peabody Hotel is venerable Memphis institution. Elvis signed his first contract here, and today it attracts crowds of people every day clamouring to see the cute resident ducks that bathe in the lobby fountain. While it may be a historic hotel, the rooms are modern and luxurious. Check availability and rates online | Read reviews

The Hotel Napoleon is in a great location, just a 5-minute walk to Beale Street (but away from the noise). The hotel is in a beautifully refurbished building. Check availability and rates online | Read reviews

If you’d prefer your own space and a kitchen and laundry while you’re in Memphis, this lovely 2-bedroom home in the Midtown neighbourhood is a good choice. Book online

Stop 2: Tunica, MS

A woman - the author of this article - and a dog seated on the steps of the Highway 61 Blues Visitor Center, with a rustic building backdrop featuring a large 'Gateway to the Blues' neon sign. The entrance to the Gateway to the Blues museum in Tunica, Mississippi.
The Gateway to the Blues Museum is one of the best things to do in Tunica, and a great introduction to blues music

After a few days exploring and eating your way through Memphis, jump on Highway 61 – also known as the Blues Highway – and head south for the 1-hour drive to Tunica.

Blues music is a uniquely American art form that was birthed in the Mississippi Delta, and the Mississippi Blues Trail is a journey through some of the most important people and points of interest in blues music.

There are more than 200 markers throughout the state, including the birthplace of B.B. King, Muddy Waters’ house and plenty of original juke joints.

If you’re not familiar with Mississippi Delta blues music, start at the Gateway to the Blues Museum in Robinsonville. From the outside, this museum looks small, but it’s jam packed with memorabilia and information about the history and evolution of blues music.

You can even step into a booth and record a blues song yourself – one of the most fun things to do in Mississippi for music-lovers!

How long to stay in Tunica, Mississippi

We only stopped in Tunica for a few hours on our way from Memphis to Clarksdale. You could do the same, spending a few hours here to explore the museum and have lunch, or stay overnight.

Where to eat in Tunica

  • Hollywood Café | This small café is the home of deep-fried dill pickles (they’re yum!) and was the filming location for Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” video clip
  • Blue and White Restaurant | Dine on traditional Southern dishes like Mississippi Catfish hoagie in this former gas station
Inside a bar named Hollywood, with a vintage feel, wooden bar stools, and walls adorned with framed photos and a large illuminated 'HOLLYWOOD' sign. Hollywood Cafe in Tunica, MS.
The Hollywood Cafe

Where to stay in Tunica

We didn’t stay overnight in Tunica, but the small town is known for its casino resorts. Two popular choices are the Horseshoe Tunica Casino & Hotel and the Gold Strike Casino Resort.

Stop 3: Clarksdale, MS

A dimly-lit blues club interior with a guitarist and drummer performing on stage, surrounded by walls covered in music memorabilia and neon signs. Clarksdale in Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues and you'll be able to catch live music most nights of the week. Live music at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Make sure to visit the Ground Zero Blues Club when you visit Clarksdale, MS

Clarksdale is one of the key stops on the Mississippi Blues Trail, and one of the best small towns to visit in Mississippi, in my opinion.

Many blues musicians, including Charley Patton and Ike Turner, have called Clarksdale home at one point or another, and there are flags on the street lamps highlighting famous current and former residents.

Clarksdale is small and friendly. On our first day there, in search of something to eat, the City Commissioner stopped us in the street and asked my husband and I where we were from (our Aussie accents must have given away that we weren’t locals!), even giving us each a Clarksdale pin.

In Clarksdale, plan to stop by the blues clubs to check out the local music scene. Ground Zero (co-owned by Morgan Freeman) and Red’s are great spots. The Shack Up Inn also has live music a few nights a week. The Delta Blues Alley Café can tell you who’s playing where on what night – and also has live music.

Visit the Delta Blues Museum to learn more about the history of blues. The museum is old and perhaps in need of some updating, but it’s packed with information, blues musicians’ guitars, handwritten lyrics and plenty of other gems.

Also stop for a photo at the Crossroads, where legendary guitarist Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil in return for musical success. The sign can be found at the junction of U.S. 61 and 49 – in the middle of two very busy roads, so be careful!

A unique guitar-shaped signpost for 'The Crossroads' at the intersection of Highway 49, against a cloudy sky, representing the legendary crossroads of blues folklore. The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS where Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil.
The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS where Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil

Consider taking a day trip to visit some nearby historical sites:

  • Indianola – home to the B.B. King Museum
  • Money – infamous as the small town where 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally lynched. There’s a marker (part of the Mississippi Freedom Trail) at the location of Bryant’s Grocery. The Emmett Till Interpretive Center in nearby Sumner is located in the courthouse where his murderers stood trial (and were subsequently acquitted despite mounds of evidence)
  • Tupelo – the birthplace of Elvis Presley, here you can see the humble shotgun home he grew up in and visit the Elvis Presley Museum, one of the top Mississippi attractions

How long to stay in Clarksdale, Mississippi

If you’re into blues music, you need to plan to stay in Clarksdale for at least two to three nights. This will give you a chance to check out all the different clubs. Make sure to time your trip around the middle of the week or the weekend to catch the best shows (the clubs are usually closed Monday and Tuesday nights).

Where to eat in Clarksdale

  • Stone Pony | Modern restaurant where we ate great pizzas
  • Abe’s Bar-B-Q | Great BBQ in a small diner that’s been open since 1949
  • Hick’s BBQ and Tamales | As the name says, this place serves up great BBQ and tamales
  • Hooker Grocer + Eatery | Serves breakfast and lunch along with a range of groceries

Where to stay in Clarksdale

For something really unique, book a few nights at the Shack Up Inn. Located on an old plantation, you can stay in refurbished grain bins or shotgun shacks. The whole place has a casual, homely vibe. We stayed here and loved it.

For our first two nights we stayed in Grain Bin C, which had a small kitchenette, two bedrooms, separate lounge room and bathroom. On our last night we moved to the Robert Clay shack, which was larger and had a full kitchen.

You don’t have to go far to hear music, as blues music is played here many nights throughout the week. There’s no food served here but you can order delivery from a few places in town. It’s dog friendly. Check availability and book online | Read reviews

The Clark House Inn is a beautiful old homestead that’s been in the one family for generations. In fact, my friend’s husband is a Clark! The house is set on two acres and each of the 8 rooms have a private bathroom. This is the ideal accommodation for those seeking a B&B stay while in Clarksdale. Check availability and book online | Read reviews

For something more modern, the stylish Lofts at the Five & Dime have kitchens and laundries. The building that the 6 lofts are located in is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check availability

A corrugated metal grain silo converted into a dwelling, with two people - the author and her husband - and a dog sitting on chairs outside, enjoying the expansive flat farmland surrounding them. Stay at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale Mississippi for unique accommodation like this former grain shed.
The Shack Up Inn is the coolest place to stay in Clarksdale, MS

Stop 4: Cleveland, MS

The Mississippi Music Bar interior, with a long wooden counter, stools, and walls covered with signatures, photographs of musicians, and blues-themed decorations. Inside the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.
Inside the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi

Mississippi is the home state of a ridiculous number of musicians. Britney Spears, Brandy, Diplo, Nate Dogg and LeAnn Rimes all hail from the Magnolia State, along with musical greats B.B. King, Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf.

We took a day trip from Clarksdale to Cleveland where we spent several hours exploring the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. We loved this huge museum, which started with a video showing some of the most memorable Grammy Awards performances. The museum is really interactive, with instruments to play, dance floors to bust some moves and plenty of touch screens that share even more information than what’s on the walls.

Also head out to Dockery Farms, believed to be the birthplace of blues music. Drop a donation into the box and then wander around the old cotton farm and gas station.

Exterior of Dockery Farms, established in 1895, with a large sign on a barn-like structure, surrounded by wide open grassy fields and clear skies. Dockery Farms is believed to be the birthplace of Delta blues music.
Dockery Farms is believed to be the birthplace of Delta blues music

How long to stay in Cleveland, Mississippi

I think a day would be plenty to explore this lovely little university town while on your Mississippi road trip. Alternatively, you can do what we did and visit it on a day trip from Clarksdale so you don’t have to pack up again.

Where to eat in Cleveland

  • The Warehouse | We grabbed lunch here, in a repurposed warehouse that serves sandwiches and Southern food
  • Hey Joe’s | Popular place dishing up American food

Where to stay in Cleveland

Stop 5: Vicksburg, MS

Row of historical cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park, with a monument and rolling hills in the background, under a cloudy sky.
One of the battery sites at the Vicksburg National Military Park

On our way through to Natchez, we stopped in Vicksburg to drive through the Vicksburg National Military Park. As Australians, we were not too familiar with the details of the American Civil War, and we learned a lot during our short time here.

The Vicksburg National Military Park preserves the site of the Battle of Vicksburg, a key clash during the Civil War. After a 47-day siege, the Union Army took control of more of the Mississippi River and cut off the Confederacy’s supply routes.

There’s a 16-mile self-driving tour through the park that stops at various battery locations, the Vicksburg National Cemetery and the USS Cairo Gunboat. This is one of the most popular things to do in Vicksburg.

Illinois Monument at Vicksburg National Military Park, featuring a grand domed structure with classical columns and a golden eagle on top, amidst green trees. There are many sights to see at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Vicksburg is also home to the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, where Coke was first bottled (thus getting into the hands of more people), and the Lower Mississippi River Museum. Both are worthwhile Mississippi tourist attractions to visit.

The Mississippi Blues Trail extends to Vicksburg as well, with the Blue Room, one of the South’s most storied night spots, along with other markers.

How long to stay in Vicksburg, Mississippi

I think a day is plenty to stay in Vicksburg, but if you’re interested in American Civil War history, I’m sure you could spend a whole day just touring the military park.

Where to eat in Vicksburg

We didn’t eat in Vicksburg, but here are some places that I had on my list.

Where to stay in Vicksburg

We drove through Vicksburg on our way to Natchez, so I can’t offer personal recommendations. These hotels in Vicksburg get good ratings online:

Bazsinksy House is lovely B&B that’s lose to the main tourist attractions in Vicksburg. The owner also cooks a great breakfast every morning. Check availability and rates online | Read reviews

The Baer House Inn is a B&B in an 1870s-era mansion. There’s daily breakfast, and most nights there’s a social gathering with wine and snacks. Each room is furnished with antiques. Check availability and rates online | Read reviews

Stop 6: Natchez, MS

A person - the author of this article - walking towards a stately white mansion with tall columns, black shutters, and a sprawling front porch, set against large trees and a lush green lawn. One of the antebellum homes in Natchez, MS.
Natchez is home to more than 600 well-preserved antebellum homes and churches

From Vicksburg, continue south to Natchez. You can either make the journey on Highway 61, or veer off to join a small portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs almost parallel with Highway 61 down to Natchez.

This will give you a taste for the gorgeous drive, which runs around 440 miles between Natchez to Nashville, Tennessee. It’s particularly beautiful in the fall, when the leaves turn red and gold.

Winding road flanked by lush green trees under a partly cloudy sky, capturing the serene drive through Mississippi's countryside. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a beautiful road between Natchez, MS and Nashville, TN.
A taste of the Natchez Trace Parkway through the car window

Natchez, with its strategic location on the Mississippi River, was once the capital of Mississippi. It was also home to the second largest slave market. There’s a marker at the former Forks of the Road Slave Market that commemorates the atrocities of this time.

Now, Natchez draws people for its well-preserved antebellum houses, with more than 600 homes dotted around the city. You can visit several of the homes which are open to the public, including Stanton Hall, Choctaw Hall Historic Home and Longwood Historic Home.

During the Natchez Pilgrimage, held for a few weeks each spring and fall, more private homes are opened to the public.

A close-up of a grand white mansion with a red roof, enveloped by mature trees and hanging Spanish moss, suggesting a sense of historical Southern elegance. One of the beautiful antebellum homes in Natchez, MS.

The Natchez National Historical Park consists of three buildings: Melrose, the William Johnson House and Fort Rosalie. The park preserves Natchez history and highlights the fact that, as the brochure says, “the Mississippi River brought success and prosperity to some, and enslavement and despair to others.”

You can visit Melrose and the William Johnson House, or have a picnic at Fort Rosalie. At Melrose, you can do a self-guided tour of the grounds and gardens. Unlike many other estates throughout the Deep South, the Natchez National Historical Park openly talks about the slave trade and the shocking conditions enslaved people lived in.

One of the highlights of a visit to Natchez is of course watching the sunset over the Mississippi River. Wander along Bluff Park to find the best view across the river.

A serene view of a wide river with a long, multi-arched bridge spanning across. The bridge's reflection is visible in the calm water, and trees line the riverbank. The views over the Mississippi River in Natchez are stunning, especially at sunset. Sunset over the Mississippi River.
Even on hazy days the sunsets over the Mississippi River are beautiful

How long to stay in Natchez, Mississippi

Depending on your interests, one to two days is enough time to explore Natchez.

Where to eat in Natchez

Where to stay in Natchez

The Monmouth Historic Inn is a beautiful old home that’s decorated in the style of the period. It’s on a huge block of land so there’s plenty of lush gardens to stroll through. It’s just outside of Natchez, a 5-minute drive. Check availability and book online | Read reviews

In downtown Natchez, the Guest House Historic Mansion has 16 rooms and a truly elegant Southern atmosphere. Breakfast is provided daily. Check availability and book online | Read reviews

Stop 7: Jackson, MS

Jackson was our last stop before we headed east into Alabama on our extended USA road trip.

The capital of the state is home to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

On our visit, we only had time for the Civil Rights Museum. Once again, similar to when we visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, I was shocked by what I read and saw, and I left feeling very emotional.

The museum hosts eight exhibits, the first being the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. You wind their way through the exhibits, passing through the central This Little Light of Mine exhibit, from where strains of the song filter throughout the whole museum.

This museum doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the treatment of African Americans. Some of the exhibits are graphic, like the story of Emmett Till and films of lynchings – but there are warnings so that you can choose whether to view them or not. This museum is one of the most important things to see in Mississippi.

Exhibit from the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum displaying a poignant history of racial segregation, with artefacts and signage from the era, including a section on lynching, illustrating the state's complex past. Inside the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
Inside the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Next door is the Museum of Mississippi History. While we didn’t have time to visit this museum, it’s apparently just as good as the Civil Rights Museum. It traces the history of the first people to live on what’s now known as Mississippi – including the Choctaw and Chickasaw peoples – to the present day.

Besides these two museums, there are plenty of things to do in Jackson. You can also tour the home (by appointment only) of murdered Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, now a National Historic Landmark. Evers was assassinated standing out the front of his home, and you can still see some of the bullet holes in the wall.

Finally, take a gander at the Mississippi State Capitol building. Designed in the Beaux Arts style, it has a 180-foot-high dome. There are guided tours each weekday. While a beautiful building, it was of course here that many of the Jim Crow laws were enshrined in the 50s and 60s.

End your Mississippi road trip here in Jackson. The Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) is 6 miles from downtown Jackson. You’ll return home with your head full of stories and history, your stomach full of Southern food, and your heart filled with soulful music.

How long to stay in Jackson, Mississippi

If you only have a week to do this Mississippi road trip, one to two days is enough time to explore Jackson.

Where to eat in Jackson

  • Crazy Cat Eat Up | I hear the Bis-Cat – a biscuit with fried catfish and slaw – is worth the calories
  • Pig & Pint | Fun and delicious elevated BBQ food

Where to stay in Jackson

If you do want to stay longer than a day in Jackson, some recommended hotels in Jackson are:

The Westin Jackson | This fairly new hotel is stylish with friendly staff. It’s dog-friendly if you’re doing this road trip with your furry friend. Check availability and book online | Read reviews

If it’s Southern charm you’re after, then the Fairview Inn won’t disappoint. This boutique hotel has 18 rooms and an on-site restaurant. Check availability and book online | Read reviews

Wrap up: Mississippi road trip itinerary

Mississippi really surprised me. It turned out to be one of the most interesting states we visited on our 4.5-month USA road trip.

Beautiful architecture, welcoming people, the musical soul of the state, absorbing museums – but also the atrocious history of this state make it a fascinating state that you need to visit to understand.

So, go road trip Mississippi to see it for yourself.

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Ready to plan your own Mississippi road trip? Let me know if you have any questions via the comments section below.

Related posts

Looking for more USA road trip ideas? You might like these articles!


  • Book flights to and around the USA online with Skyscanner. I like this site because it shows me which dates are cheaper.
  • Find a great hotel in the USA. Check prices on Booking.com and Expedia online.
  • Check out the huge range of day tours throughout the USA on GetYourGuide or Viator. There’s something for everyone.
  • A copy of the Lonely Planet guide to the USA will be handy.
  • One thing I always purchase is travel insurance! Travel Insurance Master allows you to compare across multiple policy providers, while SafetyWing is great for long-term travellers and digital nomads.


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I'm a travel junkie who started dreaming about seeing the world from a very young age. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. A former expat, I've lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and the United States. I share travel resources, tips and stories based on my personal experiences, and my goal is to make travel planning just that bit easier.

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