The Mississippi Delta makes for a great weekend getaway. Named for the floodplains between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, the region is where American music was born from the songs of sharecroppers.
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Today, there are blue markers on Highway 61 that denote significant music history. Rent a car in Memphis, preferably something classic like a pink Cadillac, and drive south, stopping at the area’s famous juke joints and hot tamale stands. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can also book a Mississippi Delta day trip from Memphis.
Each town has its own attraction, but some have more traditional “things to do” than others. I’ve also included places to eat and stay where applicable, focusing on the area’s musical ties. Smaller towns like Rolling Fork and Belzoni haven’t been included, but are worth exploring.
The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of The Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg.
– David Cohn, Where I Was Born and Raised
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What to Do in Memphis
Visit the music venues of Beale Street and see where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the National Civil Rights Museum. Learn about other important music landmarks on the Mojo Music History 90-Minute Bus Tour.
Where to Eat in Memphis
Memphis is known for its dry-rub barbecue and there’s no shortage of places to try them. Charlie Vergos Rendezvous is one of the more famous establishments, but so are Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q and Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, both located outside of Memphis proper. Central BBQ is another great option and a local favorite.
The Beauty Shop is Priscilla Presley’s former beauty shop with dishes like pork chops with pickled peaches and bacon-wrapped steak frites.
Hog & Hominy combines flavors from the South and Italy. They serve wood-fired pizzas as well as pasta dishes like biscuit gnocchi and their own take on Canadian poutine.
Where to Stay in Memphis
Tunica was named for a Native American tribe, which lived in this area. Until the 1990s, it was the poorest part of the nation but the rise of the gaming industry changed it all. But there’s much more to see and do than the inside of the casinos.
What to Do in Tunica
Start your journey at the Gateway to the Blues Museum, located in a historic train depot. It provides visitors with the history of the blues and its impact on the region. Enjoy interactive displays that let you create your own blues song and exhibits featuring famous musicians’ instruments.
Tunica County River Park has miles of walking trails along the Mississippi and also has its own museum devoted to the wildlife of the area.
Tunica Museum covers the county’s rise from Native American settlement to the present. Exhibits feature artifacts like dugout canoes and mementos from now-closed casinos.
Where to Eat in Tunica
Blue & White Restaurant is an old gas station that serves up doughnuts the size of your head along with Southern favorites like biscuits and gravy.
Jack Binion’s is one of many restaurants within the Horseshoe Casino, featuring the brand’s classic steakhouse fare with stylish red interior design.
Where to Stay in Tunica
Tunica’s casinos have some five-star hotels attached to them, so no need to worry about finding a great place to stay. GoldStrike Casino Resort is a part of the MGM family and has top-notch service and amenities.
Clarksdale was originally a Choctaw and Chickasaw settlement. Today it is known as “ground zero for the blues” and has some of the most well-known juke joints in the region. Visit during one of the festivals for the full experience.
What to Do in Clarksdale
Visit the Delta Blues Museum to learn about the town’s blues history and see exhibits on important artists from the area. One of the most impressive items on display is the cabin where Muddy Waters lived on Stovall Plantation.
Ground Zero Blues Club is owned in part by actor Morgan Freeman. This legendary club is covered in graffiti from visitors and has some of the best Delta tamales you’ll find on the trail.
Quapaw Canoe Company navigates the Mighty Mississippi and other nearby waterways in canoes for day or overnight trips. They also have outposts in Vicksburg and Helena, Arkansas.
Delta Bohemian Tours brings visitors to important Blues Trail landmarks in Clarksdale and beyond, hosted by a resident of the area in a Jeep.
Where to Eat in Clarksdale
The must-eat dish is Delta hot tamales, so be sure to stop by Ground Zero or Abe’s BBQ. Hick’s Famous Hot Tamales is another favorite outside of town for its hot tamales and catfish.
Hooker Grocer is another favorite, named for a blues musician and set in a former commissary. It has burgers, pasta, and weekly meat and three feasts.
Where to Stay in Clarksdale
Delta Bohemian Guesthouse is a funky inn where each room has a different design. Chateau Debris is another eclectic option in the area with themed rooms, an onsite art gallery, a full kitchen, and a cozy front porch.
Travelers Hotel is set in a historic building with stylish rooms, Malin + Goetz toiletries, a bar, and daily coffee. Auberge Hostel is the first hostel in Mississippi, with a second location in New Orleans.
Blues Hound Flat, The Hooker Hotel, and The Squeeze Box are self-serviced apartments above the main street in Clarksdale. The Lofts at the Five & Dime and the Sunflower Lofts are residential-style apartments for rent.
Greenwood is a small town that was the site of a number of protests during the Civil Rights Movement and where B.B. King performed his first live broadcast. It has since served as a backdrop for movies like The Help and is home to Viking ranges.
What to Do in Greenwood
Viking Cooking School is one of the top things to do in the town where the stovetop company is based. The classes book up weeks in advance. The Museum of the Mississippi Delta, providing information on the region’s ecosystem and history.
Detour to the north to the town of Money see the historic maker at Bryant’s Grocery, where Emmett Till was accused of whistling at a white woman. Just down the street is blues legend Robert Johnson’s grave.
Where to Eat in Greenwood
Lusco’s is an old-school Italian eatery with private curtained booths that previously had a speakeasy. Giardina’s Restaurant at The Alluvian has also been open since the 1930s and has steaks and pasta.
Where to Stay in Greenwood
The Alluvian is the boutique hotel created by the Viking team, with its own spa, yoga studio, and restaurant. There are 45 rooms and suites with plush linens and local artwork. There are also chain hotels in Greenwood like the Hampton Inn.
Tallahatchie Flats, on the other hand, is renovated shacks steeped in blues history. Each of the flats is decorated differently with rustic quilts and artwork.
Indianola is a former Choctaw village that is now known as the home of legendary musician B.B. King. In 1891, it was home to Minnie M. Cox, the first black female postmaster in the country.
What to Do in Indianola
Perhaps the most significant stop in Indianola is the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. It discusses the history of the late musician and the Mississippi he grew up in as well as displays featuring his instruments. There’s also an Indianola walking tour as well as Club Ebony, a famous music venue.
Where to Eat in Indianola
The Crown Restaurant is a favorite, featuring a shop as well as Southern dining. The Blue Biscuit is another crowd-pleaser, located across the street from the BB King Museum, with a more casual atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Indianola
Established in 1719 by French settlers, Vicksburg was once the home of the Natchez people. After an attack on the port in the Civil War, the city was the site of the Confederate surrender to Ulysses S. Grant in 1863.
What to Do in Vicksburg
Vicksburg National Military Park pays tribute to the fallen soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, a must-see for history buffs. Included in this National Park Service-run facility is the U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat and Museum and the Vicksburg National Cemetery.
The Old Court House Museum has artifacts from the Civil War. The Vicksburg Civil War Museum provides an honest look at the conflict that literally tore Vicksburg apart. A number of historic homes also offer tours throughout the year as well as scenic drives and ghost tours.
Where to Eat in Vicksburg
For more upscale dining, try 10 South, a rooftop bar, or their sister restaurant ROCA Restaurant & Bar. Goldie’s Trail Bar-B-Que has pit-style pork featured in countless publications. The Tomato Place is a roadside stand known for its BLT sandwiches.
Walnut Hills Restaurant provides an old-school experience in a historic home with famous fried chicken. Anchuca is a restaurant and inn with shrimp and grits. Locals flock to Beechwood Restaurant and Lounge for steaks and live music.
Key City Brewing is the city’s only brewery, with house-made beers, sandwiches, and wood-fired pizzas. The best spot for brunch is Relish Bistro, which has rotating specials and is open for dinner. Or grab Czech pastries from Bohemia Cafe and Bakery.
Where to Stay in Vicksburg
Named for President Grover Cleveland, Cleveland was founded in 1869. It served as an important stop on the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railroad.
What to Do in Cleveland
Start your trip at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning for the history of the region and an exhibit featuring life masks of dozens of blues performers.
Hazel & Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden is located on the campus of Delta State University and features unique art pieces. Learn about a former Red Sox player from the region at the “Boo” Ferris Baseball Museum, also on the Delta State University campus.
Dockery Farms was a cotton farm where a number of blues performers worked. The Grammy Museum honors the significance of the music of artists in the region in modern American music. Get your GRAMMY Museum Mississippi General Admission before you go.
Where to Eat in Cleveland
Where to Stay in Cleveland
Cotton House Hotel is the region’s first boutique hotel and is a part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio collection. Stylish rooms feature record players, cozy bathrobes, and top-of-the-line toiletries. Read our review.
Greenville was home to the Natchez people before the arrival of Europeans. It was established in 1824 in honor of Nathanael Greene.
What to Do in Greenville
Birthplace of Kermit The Frog Museum in neighboring Leland is a museum devoted to Jim Henson, a native, and his most famous creation. It has one of his Kermit the Frog puppets, photos of his life, and Muppets artifacts.
The area also has its own museum to the blues, the Highway 61 Blues Museum in neighboring Leland. The Winterville Mounds date back to the early days when the Native Americans inhabited the area now known as Greenville.
Cypress Preserve is a nature preserve devoted to the majestic trees. There are 16 acres of trails, including elevated boardwalks to spot wildlife.
Where to Eat in Greenville
Doe’s Eat Place is one of the most famous restaurants in the Delta, known for its hot tamales and steaks the size of your head. Guests enter through the kitchen.
Downtown Grille is in the heart of Greenville and has a diverse menu of dishes like steaks, hot chicken, and lamb kabobs along with wine, beer, and cocktails.
Fratesi’s in Leland is a roadside gas station that has been family-owned since the 1940s. It’s a great spot to grab a breakfast sandwich or their famous olive po boy.
Where to Stay in Greenville
The Lofts at 517 are set above downtown shops in a former Sears building with full kitchens and living rooms. Nearby rentals include the rustic Cabin on the Bogue along with the Bayou Road Guesthouse.
Camping is also available at Warfield Point Park, a riverfront park that offers ATV trails and disc golf courses.
Known as one of the first places where blues was played, Yazoo City was first incorporated as a town, then known as Manchester , in 1830. It’s named for the river and Native American tribe.
What to Do in Yazoo City
Sam Olden Historical Museum features the history of the town and surrounding area, including displays featuring fossils, information on Casey Jones, and famous Yazoo City residents.
Where to Eat in Yazoo City
Where to Stay in Yazoo City
The Main Street Hotel is the only local hotel in town, spread across the upper levels of four of the downtown storefronts. They have themed rooms and balcony access.
My trip through the Mississippi Blues Trail was organized and sponsored by Visit the Delta and Visit Mississippi. Plan your own trip to the Mississippi Blues Trail on their website.