Help me plan my Mississippi vacation!
August 8, 2013 8:07 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I will be in Vicksburg, MS over Labor Day weekend. Neither of us are from anywhere close to the area, but we want to plan an awesome weekend of road trip and adventure. Help!

We like hiking and camping in beautiful areas, though we wouldn't mind more urban adventures. We have camping gear and a rental car. My initial thought was to camp in one of the national forests, like Homochitto and then go down an explore the Louisiana coast, but I am open to suggestions in any direction. So the question is:

What are some awesome sights within 5 hours of Vicksburg?
What is the hiking and camping like? More wilderness-y or more RV park style?
If you were going to drive along the Gulf coast, where would you go, what would you do and where would you stay?
We love food - we will travel for memorable meals! - any recommendations?

We've got four solid days to work with, from Friday to Monday, and this northern girl is really excited about the chance to experience some southern charm!
posted by oryelle to Travel & Transportation around Coffeeville, MS (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In your travels, try to hit a few joints on the Hot Tamale Trail.
posted by paulsc at 8:34 AM on August 8, 2013

Wait - are you already in Coffeeville, MS (your posted by sig)?

If not, Oxford is in the northern part of the state, and pretty darn different than most everything else in Mississippi. Square Books, Rowan Oak (Faulkner's residence), and the Square are never disappointing.

Strawberry Plains Audubon Center is a little further north, and the hummingbird migration is coming up around the same time you'll be in MS.

Ship Island is pretty neat, but I prefer the gulf coast of Alabama, which would be just under your 5 hour time limit.
posted by dukes909 at 8:47 AM on August 8, 2013

Response by poster: I have no idea how the Coffeeville tag showed up; I'm not anywhere close to Mississippi right now. I just know that I'll be in Vicksburg on August 29th. =)
posted by oryelle at 9:02 AM on August 8, 2013

Doe's Eat Place in Greenville--it's about an hour north.
Garden and Gun on Mississippi
posted by Ideefixe at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I mainly know about the MS Gulf Coast. If you drive down there, Ocean Springs is a neat little town to possibly stay. Mockingbird Cafe in Bay St. Louis is a coastal-hippie hangout with live music and homemade veggie burgers. You also need a poboy; try Pirate's Cove in Long Beach (roast beef) or Taranto's in North Gulfport (shrimp).

I liked Ship Island too, but it's 1 hour there and 1 hour back, and you have a choice of a 90 minute layover (barely enough time for anything) or a 4.5 hour layover. Labor Day weekend it will be very crowded.

The National Forests are probably a good bet, though not many amenities. Mississippi is mostly flat and piney, and hot in summer. Maybe best to just call Homochitto and De Soto and ask about tent camping.

Clark Creek is not too far from Vicksburg and has a waterfall.

I've tried to explore the Louisiana coast but I always get stuck in New Orleans.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:40 AM on August 8, 2013

If you're at all interested in Southern history, Natchez is about an hour and a half away and even when the big tour season is not on, there are some interesting homes and historical sites there. My experience is that the big house tours are, to put it kindly, a little focused on the experiences of the plantation owners, but there are also some commercial buildings that are worth seeing, plus there's an unfinished octagonal plantation home called Longwood that's really fascinating.

I mention this because there are very good restaurants in a few of the plantations for your dining pleasure, and that might make this a worthwhile day trip.
posted by immlass at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2013

Go see the Windsor Ruins!
posted by Bourbonesque at 12:09 PM on August 8, 2013

There is a free campground about 20 miles southeast of Vicksburg. It has restrooms, water available, and no other services. The sites are large and have trees and bushes between them. It is Rocky Springs Campground on the Natchez Trace Parkway. You will want to drive at least some on the parkway if you can, it starts just south of Nashville and goes to Natchez. There are a total of three free campgrounds on it, Rocky Springs is the southernmost. There are hiking trails available as well.

Definitely the Windsor Ruins! Also, the Vicksburg Civil War Battleground; and the Grand Gulf State Park (camping there also, around $20 night) with a museum and battleground. The courthouse museum in Vicksburg.

And for the very best fried chicken in the world (thats what the sign says) at the Old Country Store in Lorman on highway 61 south of Vicksburg on the way to Natchez... look up Mr. D on youtube.

We were National Park Volunteer for three winters in the area, and can provide a lot more information, memail us for more specifics ... I can't think of everything right now.
posted by batikrose at 1:36 PM on August 8, 2013

Check Roadfood.
The Eudora Welty house is open in Jackson.
posted by brujita at 2:33 PM on August 8, 2013

As a Greenvillian, I have to warn you -- Doe's is from another time. It's in a sketchy neighborhood, you walk right through a smoky kitchen from the '40s or so, it's BYOB, there's no dessert or sides, and there is simply nothing on the menu for anyone who doesn't eat meat, with the possible exception of the garlic bread. But even now that I'm a vegetarian, I will concede that that is one damn fine hot tamale. Visitors from all over the world go to Doe's when they're in Mississippi, for a reason.

If you are in the Greenville/Leland area, there's the Jim Henson Museum. He was one of ours!

Camping outside of Greenville -- Leroy Percy State Park comes to mind. It's hot, flat, wet, and lovely. There are alligators.

The other above suggestions are good. If you are shopping for souvenirs -- and we have a whole lot of gift shops, specializing in pecans and local snacks -- I recommend McCarty pottery, beautiful stuff which is pretty much only sold in the South.

There is good eating in Jackson, a neat planetarium, and some other cool things to see, but the traffic is absolutely terrible and the place is mostly charmless, aside from its oldest neighborhoods, so I wouldn't really advise Jackson as a destination in itself.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2013

Response by poster: These suggestions are great. We can't wait to start exploring. Thank you all so much!
posted by oryelle at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2013

I'm going to Greenville in three weeks to see the inlaws and came into AskMeFi to inquire about little known stuff to do in the area. And here I find very close to the same question posed and answered less than a month ago.

You guys are awesome. :)
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:17 AM on September 1, 2013

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