The capital city of Jackson, Mississippi has played an important role in American history, with a number of events from the Civil Rights Movement. It’s tied to the music industry with Malaco Records and is surrounded by colleges, including Tougaloo College, Millsaps College, Belhaven University, and Jackson State University. It’s also appeared onscreen a number of times, most notably in The Help. Nearby Clinton is best associated with My Dog Skip and Mississippi Burning.
What to Do
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum– This powerful museum documents the Civil Rights Movement with a focus on the state’s role from the slave trade to modern times. Give yourself at least three hours to read the panels, watch the films, and take it all in. 222 North Street
Museum of Mississippi History– On the same campus is this museum that covers the rest of the state’s history. Exhibits cover Native American and colonial history, the influence of its musicians and writers, and agriculture. 222 North Street
Tougaloo College– The stunning campus of the historically black college is a stop along the Civil Rights trail where a number of leaders spoke to crowds. While there, visit the campus art museum, which has rotating exhibits of student and professional work. The school also operates the Medgar Evers home, the preserved home of the slain Civil Rights leader, open by appointment. 500 W County Line Rd, Tougaloo
Eudora Welty House and Garden– Visit the home of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Jackson native. She lived in the home for over 70 years and it has become a museum that includes thousands of her items, including her furniture, souvenirs from her travels, her typewriter, and personal library. Tours are by appointment but the visitor’s center has a full-time museum. 1109 Pinehurst Street
Mississippi Museum of Art– The largest museum in the state is in Jackson and covers all forms of art connected to the state. With over 4,000 works, much of the art is by Mississippi artists, but not all. Highlights include portraits of Civil Rights leaders and an Andy Warhol print of Elvis Presley. 380 South Lamar Street
International Museum of Muslim Cultures– The only museum of its kind in the United States, this small but impressive museum connects Islam to the state, starting with the Muslim slaves that were brought to work on Mississippi plantations. There’s also a section comparing the call to prayer with slave spiritual songs. 201 E Pascagoula Street
Mississippi Sports Hall-Fame– Another favorite museum honors the state’s famous athletes, including Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, and Dizzy Dean, with a special focus on baseball. Inductees are added to the hall annually. 1152 Lakeland Drive
Cathead Distillery– In a state that has been slow going in the craft booze industry, Cathead is now one of the region’s most recognized names for vodka and gin. Their distillery offers tours and tastings and also has games and entertainment. 422 South Farish Street
For even more attractions in Jackson, check out the Visit Jackson website.
Where to Eat
Bully’s Restaurant– Recognized by the Southern Foodways Alliance and the James Beard Foundation, Bully’s serves classic soul food daily, including catfish, chitlins, oxtails, and turkey wings with seasonal vegetables. Expect to wait at lunchtime! 3118 Livingston Road, (601) 362-0484
Big Apple Inn– A similarly awarded restaurant is this no frills restaurant, not inn, that is known for its pig ear sandwiches. The entire menu is affordable, including smoked bologna and hot tamales. 509 North Farish Street, (601) 354-9371
The Iron Horse Grill– Built as a 1906 steakhouse, the building suffered two fires before being restored. It’s now a restaurant, live music venue, and museum devoted to the many musicians from Mississippi. They serve fajitas and burgers as well as cocktails. 320 West Pearl Street, (601) 398-0151
Deep South Pops– Cool off with dairy-based and fruit-based popsicles in unique flavors that change regularly. They also serve pop floats, craft coffee, draft beer, and pastries. 1800 N State Street, (601) 398-2174
Parlor Market– Set in an 1898 grocery store, this popular restaurant focuses on what’s local and seasonal. Menu highlights include crawfish mac and cheese, the PBLT, and blue plate specials. 115 West Capitol Street, (601) 360-0090
Mayflower Cafe– Another old school eatery is Mayflower Cafe, a Greek-inspired restaurant that dates back to 1935. Said to be the originator of Comeback Sauce, the menu includes steak, seafood, and Southern favorites. 123 West Capitol Street, (601) 355-4122
Fine & Dandy– The impeccably designed space puts their spin on classics like ribs and steak tartare. They also have craft cocktails, burgers, salads, and grown-up shakes. 100 District Boulevard East, (601) 202-5050
Walker’s Drive In– Don’t let the name fool you at this upscale restaurant in a casual setting. Open for lunch and dinner, highlights include salads, steaks. and seafood. 3016 N State Street, (601) 982-2633
CAET– Small plates, craft cocktails, and an extensive wine list are on offer at this neighborhood wine bar, located next to Walker’s. Heartier entrees are also available. It’s great for a pre-dinner drink. 100 North State Street, Suite 102, (601) 321-9169
Babalu Tapas & Tacos – Jackson– Now a regional chain, this upscale taco spot started in Jackson. Grab a seasonal margarita and an order of guacamole to share with friends, made tableside. Tapas, tacos, and tortas are also on the menu. 622 Duling Avenue, (601) 366-5757
Where to Stay
Set in the historic King Edward building downtown, the Hilton Garden Inn Jackson Downtown is well located near the city’s attractions. It has unique details for its space, but has the same amenities you’d expect from the brand, including a restaurant and free WiFi. The WESTIN HOTEL is a sleek property within walking distance of the museums and convention center. They have their own spa, restaurant, gym, and indoor pool. Similarly, the 276-room Hilton Jackson has all the bells and whistles found at the chain like the courtyard pool, restaurant, and complimentary airport shuttle. For something smaller, the Old Capitol Inn is a boutique property in a 1950s YWCA building. It has a stunning rooftop garden and includes complimentary breakfast daily. The Fairview Inn has a cozy atmosphere in a historic home with uniquely furnished rooms and suites as well as a spa and restaurant. Staying with Airbnb is another option and allows you to explore neighborhoods like Fondren.
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Most travelers will arrive at the small, but well serviced Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, which is a 20 minute drive from downtown. Amtrak is another option, which arrives daily on the City of New Orleans route from Chicago at the downtown Union Station Transportation Center. Greyhound buses depart and arrive from the same station.
Lyft and Uber both operate in Jackson, but you may want to rent a car if you plan on visiting other Mississippi destinations in one trip. Local buses, called Jatran, also run from Union Station and cost around $1.50 per trip.
My stay in Jackson was hosted by Visit Jackson and Travel South USA.