The city of Jackson, Mississippi is full of hidden gems that even many people familiar with the South don’t know are here. Lovingly nicknamed the City with Soul, here are my favorite reasons to visit Jackson, MS plus tips to help you do it!
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Essential Travel Resources for 2021 & 2022
These are my favorite companies that I use on my travels.
Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.
For road trips and ground transportation, rent a car through Discover Cars.
Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide.
For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.
Get reliable travel insurance through World Nomads.
Note: We were guests of Visit Jackson, who I reached out to after deciding we wanted to see Jackson on our Big Southern USA Road Trip. As always, all opinions are my own.
Reasons to Visit Jackson, Mississippi
While there are many great places to visit in the Southern United States, there are still some true hidden gems! Jackson is one of these places that you need to go to before everyone else realizes what they’re missing!
There are many reasons that visitors fall in love with Jackson, Mississippi. From local bookstores to innovative museums to delicious dishes, there’s something here for everyone!
Here are my favorite reasons to visit Jackson, plus a few tips and tricks to help you plan your own Jackson weekend getaway!
Here we go! In no particular order…
To Explore the Beautiful Downtown Jackson
I love traveling to cities I’ve never been to before and exploring their downtown area. In downtown Jackson, you can see so much in just a few hours!
You’ll see historic buildings on North State Street, and important Jackson landmarks and murals spread around downtown Jackson, plus iconic signs and mid-century modern design at places like the former Sun-n-Sand Motel.
The Lamar Life Building (also known as the Standard Life Building) may only be the twelfth-highest building in Jackson, but the beautiful architecture of Jackson’s first skyscraper towers above the city.
There’s the Mississippi State Capitol Building to see, but it’s not the only state capitol building worth visiting. You can also stop by the free Old Capitol Museum, housed in the Greek Revival former Mississippi State Capitol.
You’ll also find more cafes, restaurants, government buildings, and of course, there’s the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.
To Dine in Foodie Heaven
Southern Cuisine is the calling card of the south (well that, and bbq!). Jackson is no exception to this rule, with lots of great eateries, cafes, and bars to choose from. You definitely won’t go hungry here!
One of the most famous restaurants in Jackson is Brent’s Drugs. Opened in a historic pharmacy, it’s the perfect brunch spot by day and the very cool Apothecary Cocktail Bar by night.
Other great restaurants in Jackson that will leave you salivating include The Manship, the Mayflower Cafe, Urban Foxes, Parlor Market, and Bravo!
To Tour the Fabulous Museums
Jackson’s museum scene is excellent. There’s something here for everyone, from the littlest of littles to the young only at heart. Featuring interactive exhibits, innovative teaching styles, and a wide variety of topics, here’s just a handful of the best museums in Jackson:
Mississippi Museum of Art
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
Museum of Mississippi History
The Mississippi Children’s Museum
Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum
Russell C Davis Planetarium
And this doesn’t include the city’s art galleries and cultural centers! Cultural travelers looking for a good time in Jackson will not leave disappointed.
To Dive into the South’s Literary Legacy
It’s no secret that the Deep South is home to some of the greatest works of American literature, and Jackson played a pivotal role in the lives of some of America’s most important authors.
You can see this history up close and personal one of the guided tours of the Eudora Welty House & Garden. This National Historic Landmark was added to the National Register of Historic Places after Welty’s death.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of The Optimist’s Daughter lived here for the majority of her life, starting when she was in her teens and into her nineties.
You can also see the house where Welty was born in 1909 across town!
You can see where Richard Wright, author of
Another important author from Jackson is Richard Wright, who penned Native Son along with countless other important works.
While he spent his writing years in New York, you can visit the school he attended as a boy. It’s been turned into the Smith Robertson Museum.
If you want to see what modern Jackson authors are up to, head to Lemuria Books. This real throw-back of a bookstore is one of the best places in town to shop for local authors alongside signed first editions.
To Learn About African-American History in Mississippi
The martyred Civil Rights Activist and Icon Medgar Evers is well known around the country, but there are many more stories and history to learn from Jackson’s past.
You can see the Medgar Evers Home, one of the National Parks in Mississippi. Officially named the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, the site is not currently open to the public but you can drive by to pay your respects.
You can learn about the history of Black Mississippians from the earliest days of chattal slavery in the state through the Civil Rights Movement and beyond at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
If you want to get out and learn about Black history in the city, you can walk down Farish Street and see the sites in the Farish Street Historic District as well as the nearby Old Greyhound Bus Station, where the Freedom Riders were arrested.
To Appreciate a Colorful World of Public Art
From Downtown Jackson to the Fondren District, the city is covered with beautiful public murals, statues, and graffiti. It’s practically everywhere!
Hidden gems are everywhere in Jackson, so you don’t have to worry about finding one for yourself! Some of my favorite murals in Jackson are in Fondren, while Midtown has amazing public sculptures.
Look for fun special events and other ways to get up close and personal in this world-class art city. All public art is listed on the Public Art in JXNMS map, which you can find online here
To Enjoy the Live Music Scene
The state of Mississippi has blessed the USA with some of our greatest musical treasures, and its capital city has a lot to boast about on that front.
Blues originated in Mississippi, and you’ll find some of the first recording studios along Farish Street.
This translates into a thriving live music scene today. You’ll find blue musicians and other genres almost every night of the week from Dulling Hall to Johnny T’s to Hal & Mal’s.
Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum is one of the state’s most famous music venues, with nearly sixty years of music history happening under its roof, including shows by Elvis Presley, the Allman Brothers, and the Jackson 5. Check to see who’s playing when you’re in town!
To Head Out on the Natchez Trace
If you like scenic drives, the Natchez Trace is one of the most famous scenic drives in the US. In this area, people typically start in the small town (small city?) of Natchez.
From Jackson, you can head either direction. You can enjoy a trip to Natchez and a bit of the trace as a day trip, or go the other way and do a full Jackson-to-Nashville road trip!
To Spend Time in the Beautiful Outdoors
If you want to get outside, there’s lots of options in Jackson! You can enjoy the nature trails of the magnificent LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, get up close and personal with some critters in (replicas of) their natural habitats at the The Jackson Zoo, or even drive out to the beautiful Mississippi Petrified Forest.
If you want to get a sliver of natural paradise in the city, check out the Birdhouse Gardens in Fondren, which features dozens of birdhouses!
To Get Your ‘Gram On
I fell in love with the architecture of the city, and if you love taking photos as much as I do, Jackson is a great place to visit! Just walking the streets on a self-guided photo walk here was a major source of inspiration for me.
You can see some of the best places to take pictures in Jackson, from murals to buildings to bookstores.
To Have a Relaxing and Unique Hotel Experience
What’s the best part of a weekend getaway? For me, it’s at least partly getting to stay somewhere fun and fabulous! Jackson has a few cool and unique hotels to choose from for your trip!
We stayed in the Homewood Suites by Hilton, which was modern and decorated with lovely touches from the city.
If you want to go in a different direction, there are a few beautiful historic hotels in Jackson. The Old Capitol Inn, the award-winning Fairview Inn, and the Hotel King Edward (now the Hilton Garden Inn), all boast historic charm!
To Learn about the Civil War
You can certainly learn a lot about the western theater of the Civil War with a daytrip to nearby Vicksburg National Military Park, but you can also learn a lot about the Civil War right in Jackson.
The Vicksburg Campaign went from Jackson to Vicksburg, and the Battle of Jackson was fought on May 14, 1863 in the city limits!
You can learn about the local history in the Mississippi Museum of History. There are also tourist attractions that deal with this time period, like the The Oakes Museum House, which is one of the few prewar homes to survive the burning of Jackson.
To Realize How Much You Don’t Know
If you have never been to Mississippi, what are you waiting for? Every single time I go somewhere new, I realize that everything I thought I knew about it was dead wrong. Come and see what it’s like for yourself. I promise you’ll fall in love with Jackson like I have!
Where to Stay in Jackson, MS
We stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton, which is located in Fondren, a really fun and colorful neighborhood that touts itself as Jackson’s Arts District.
Because it has this artistic vibe, the neighborhood is vibrant and full of some of the best hidden gems in Jackson.
We found Fondren to be the perfect base during our weekend in Jackson. Beyond the great street art and the wonderful food scene, there’s an ambiance in Fondren that I can’t quite put my finger on. It has a secret sauce that you don’t want to miss out on.
The Homewood Suites themselves were really lovely. The hotel is new, and you could feel the love poured into the decor. All the art has been inspired by the city (and a lot of it has been inspired by the neighborhood).
The rooms are large-yet-still-cozy. I would definitely stay here again.
Address: 2815 N State St, Jackson, MS 39216
How to Get to Jackson, Mississippi
We drove to Jackson as part of a big road trip around the South. Driving is the easiest way to get to Jackson since you will really want to have a car here during your trip. While you can get around without a car, we found having our own wheels made our stay here very easy.
If you want to drive to Jackson but don’t have your own wheels, I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels.
If you don’t want to drive to Jackson, you have other options.
You can fly into Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN). Flights here are relatively inexpensive, and the airport is serviced by American Airlines, among others.
Another option is to take the train! And if you are a Eudora Welty fan (which you will be by the time you leave!), you might find that traveling to Jackson by train is an exhilarating experience.
Jackson is on the “City of New Orleans” line, which goes from Chicago to New Orleans. You can be in Jackson in under four hours if you are coming from New Orleans, or in about four-and-a-half hours if you are coming from Memphis.
Other cities that are even closer to Jackson by train include Marks, Greenwood, Yazoo, Hazelhurst, Brookhaven, and McComb in Mississippi and Hammond in Louisiana.
Alternatively, you can reach JXN MS by bus. Keep in mind that Greyhound Bus trips can be excruciatingly long compared to the time it takes to travel by car, plane, or even train. Further, it may not be less expensive than driving (provided you have a car) or taking a train).
5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Mississippi
Whether you’re going on a Mississippi honeymoon or a family vacation, there are a few things that everyone will want to bring with them.
A local guidebook. It’s very difficult to find guidebooks once you are already on the ground. Pick up a copy of Lonely Planet Louisiana & the Deep South to help you plan ahead of time and keep with you once you’re here.
A camera. While it’s great to have a cell phone with you for quick pics, if you want to do more serious photography or take more videos, I find it nice to travel with a separate dedicated camera as well.
If I will be wrestling with my toddler on the trip, I’ll grab my Sony ZV-1, which is a powerful compact camera with great video capabilities as well. If it’s just me, I’ll take my Nikon (though if you’re buying a new camera I have my eye on this Sony).
A Backup Charging Bank. This is for your cell phone since you’ll be using it as a camera, GPS, and general travel genie. The mountains can drain your battery since it will take more power to continually check for signal where the signal gets spotty.
A Great Day Bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc).
My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for tourist destinations because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets plus RFID technology to keep your credit card digits safe.
It also transitions to a night bag more easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day.
A Pair of Comfortable Closed-Toed Walking Shoes. I use boots like these or like these. Pack hiking shoes if you’re planning on hiking. Otherwise, any closed-toed shoes will work. This itinerary is packed and you’ll be on your feet a lot. Make sure to take care of them!
More Mississippi Travel Resources
Heading to Mississippi? Here are all the Mississippi travel resources on my blog!
A guide to Mississippi’s National Parks.
Included in these Round-Ups
Guidebooks I Used to Plan My Trip Around the South
These are the travel guides that I used to plan my entire 5-week Southern USA road trip. I highly recommend each of them!
Lonely Planet Florida & the South’s Best Trips – this book was essential for me when I was trying to plan our road trip and understanding what was near each other and what absolutely not to miss.
Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events that Made the Movement – we did a lot of Civil Rights and Civil War historic sites on our trip, and if you’ll be doing any of this kind of travel, make sure to get this.
It was invaluable for finding off-the-beaten-path sites and can’t miss Black-owned historic businesses.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance
It’s especially important to get travel insurance whenever you are more than one hundred miles from home.