From Mississippi Development Guide 2023

Experience the Mississippi Rhythm

From Elvis to country music, Mississippi pleases all tastes.

The Mississippi Country Music Trail was established in 2010 and continues to grow each year.
All photos courtesy of Travel South USA

Source: Mississippi Dept. of Agriculture & Commerce

he roots of Mississippi’s story run deep and cannot be centralized.

Almost 24 million people, carrying an economic impact of $7 billion statewide, chose to explore the wonders of Mississippi in 2023. Year by year the state’s tourism industry reflects a consistent increase in foot traffic throughout the Magnolia State. 

What’s the draw?

To put it simply, Mississippi knows how to offer an authentic Southern experience.

A Trip Through Time

Even if you have never set foot in Mississippi there is little doubt your life has been impacted by the historical events and artistry that began here. Curious visitors can experience the state’s legacy within the civil rights movement, music and literature as though each era were frozen in time.

Preservation initiatives have allowed the state to showcase its story through a number of cultural trails — including the Freedom Trail, Mississippi Blues Trail, Mississippi Country Music Trail and the Writers Trail — providing an immersive journey into the people and places the world remembers today.

River TubingFrom the Mississippi Hills to the Delta Region, visitors can enjoy a number of water-based activities.

Mississippi’s rich musical history has drawn millions to every corner of the state, known as the “Birthplace of America’s Music.” The legacy of blues, gospel, country and rock and roll remains engrained in the culture of everyday life. The artistic influence of homegrown talents such as B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley and Jimmy Buffett has transcended generations of new artists and music genres. With the likes of Leontyne Price, Mary Wilson, Faith Hill, Brandy Norwood and LeAnn Rimes to its credit, Mississippi knows how to produce an unforgettable star.

The Mississippi Blues Trail encompasses over 200 locations throughout the north, central and southern regions of the state. With an abundance of sites to explore, visitors can customize their own journeys throughout the state. These locations provide their own array of activities to enjoy as Blues Trail markers can be found outside of artist birthplaces, churches, recording studios, restaurants, blues clubs and city streets that showcase where Mississippi legends perfected their rhythm. 

This tour is a window into history but additionally offers its guests a taste of the blues and jazz scene that thrives today. Spots along the trail like the Ground Zero Blues Club (co-owned by Mississippi native Morgan Freeman), F. Jones Corner, the Blue Biscuit, the Blue Front Café and Bluesville Showcase Nightclub make it easy to end a day with live performances from local artists.

Country music fans on the other hand have their very own trail to explore. Having added markers for Pete Pyle and Jim Weatherly in 2023, the Mississippi Country Music Trail offers more than 30 locations in every region of the state. This music trail highlights the places that inspired a new age of country music, for example Johnny Cash’s “Starkville City Jail” or the Smith County Jamboree music venue founded by local musicians in 1972.

Mississippi’s Freedom Trail was established in 2011 and currently stands at 30 markers that commemorate the events that transpired in the state throughout the Civil Rights Movement. The wrongful death of 14-year-old Emmett Till, accused of harassing a white woman in Money, Mississippi, is said to have sparked the movement in 1955. Starting with Till’s marker at Bryant’s Grocery, visitors can move down the state to witness first-hand the locations that changed our nation’s history forever. 


A stop at the Lyceum Building on the University of Mississippi campus brings one back to where James Meredith was escorted past protesters by the Department of Justice to register as the university’s first African American student. Meanwhile, an entire day can be spent in capital city Jackson to see sites where civil rights activists pushed for justice. Aside from locations that marked a turning point in the state’s history, additionally, the Freedom Trail highlights vital racial justice activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Amzie Moore and Dr. Felix Henry Dunn.

Literary legends who called the state home, such as Ida B. Wells, Tennessee Williams and William Faulker, drew inspiration from their lives in Mississippi as a basis for their work. The Mississippi Writers Trail began in 2019, with its first marker for author and former Jackson State College professor Margaret Walker Alexander in Jackson, Mississippi. Since then, 13 new markers have been established with many more planned for the future. Visitors can experience the towns where these authors grew up or homes they resided in and see work housed in local museums.

Mississippi native and chef Nick Wallace represents a vital piece of the state’s Southern culinary expertise.

Each trail, whether mixed and matched or as a standalone tour, affords the opportunity to see every region of the state, opening the door for days to be spent at a variety of local attractions, restaurants, sporting events, outdoor activities.

For the Soul

Not everyone is a history buff, although it might be the most important aspect of Mississippi’s culinary culture today. Recipes and techniques passed down for decades have made the state a well-known spot for a hearty, flavorful Southern meal.

Otherwise known as soul food, Mississippi’s most popular dishes merge the tastes of authentic Southern, Creole and Cajun cuisine. Regardless of where your journey takes you in the state, you are guaranteed to find an array of homegrown restaurants serving up classics from fried chicken, crawfish, biscuits and fried catfish to gumbo and more. With the help of the certified Mississippi Barbeque Trail, food lovers have no issue eating their way from the Hills down to the Delta region.

When it comes to food and beverage options, farm-to-table is better and simply cannot be matched outside of the state. For lovers of unique drinks, the state has paved its way in the craft beer scene and is home to the award-winning Queen’s Reward Meadery, which creates artisanal wines from 100% locally sourced honey. Over the years a roster of breweries and distilleries have formed in every region. Mississippi brew makers are now cultivating a one-of-a-kind pint to accompany the state’s Southern cuisine. A collection of popular breweries, bars and pubs spots can be found through Sip Mississippi, providing a list of the ideal locations to discover a new favorite flavor.

Explore Outdoors

When it comes to great ways to get active, there are plenty of reasons to head outside. The state is home to 25 state parks, nine national parks and several local parks that provide diverse settings for solo or family-based activities like horseback riding, kayaking, hiking and fishing.

Tennessee Willams HomeThe Mississippi Writers Trail provides insight into the everyday lives of the state’s most notable authors, such as Tennessee Williams.

However you like to get around, trails like the 44-mile Longleaf Trace in Hattiesburg, the Appalachian Mountains 43.6-mile Tanglefoot Trail in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, or the 15.5-mile coastal Live Oaks Bike Trail are scenic ways to enjoy the state’s natural beauty. If a little more thrill is sought after by the crew, an abundance of wildlife has made the state a hot spot for hunting activity. Whether scouting deer on public or private preserves, exploring the Delta wetlands for duck or heading to the ranch for a chance at a hog or turkey, there is truly something for everyone.

Many of the parks found in the state offer camping, RV parking or an abundance of lodging options. So whether the preference is for an array of freshwater activities or to stay in proximity to some saltwater fun, Mississippi has the resources in place to make a day or week in the state a memorable one.

Visit Mississippi is the premier location to get started building the itinerary of your dreams. Pinpoint the outdoor recreation sites, food and beverage spots and cultural trails fit to impress at

Alexis Elmore
Associate Editor of Site Selection magazine

Alexis Elmore

Alexis Elmore joined Conway Data in 2022 as associate editor for Site Selection. A 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia, she studied journalism and communications before moving back to Atlanta to pursue her career. As an editor for Site Selection and contributor to Conway's Custom Content guides, she writes about economic development efforts and corporate growth happening around the globe.


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