Ideas on what to see/do/eat in between New Orleans and Memphis?
July 5, 2007 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Any Mississippians/Louisianans care to tout the virtues and/or notable places and events of their homeland (or at least point me in the direction of a some good fried pickles?)

My girlfriend and I will be taking a (sort of) road trip from New Orleans to Memphis in mid-July and are looking for good places along the way to pull over and enjoy the local culture/cuisine.

We've made this trip once before and took Rte. 55 through Jackson the whole way. Because we were somewhat pressed for time, and hadn't really researched any points of interest prior to going, we ended up eating at a Shoney's for dinner and simply turning off the Interstate at random places to see what we could discover (which ended up being Sardis Lake & Dam, innumerable cotton fields, various 7-Elevens, and a quaint, yet pretty town called Duck Hill.)

We're looking to be a little more proactive this time around and I figured we'd follow the Mississippi River up as outlined here, and the aforementioned Route 55 on the return trip. Anyone know the difference in drive times between the two routes? Any must-see's/eats from people that are familiar with the area? I've gotten a few ideas from this previous thread which has been helpful, and was hoping some of you might have some ideas more specific to the two routes I mentioned. We'll have around a full day each for the drive up and return. I realize I haven't exactly been specific with regards to our areas of interest, but quite honestly, we're not all that picky other than to say we're looking for things with a local flare, and are not at all opposed to kitsch.

Lastly, and of utmost importance, is where to get good fried pickles? My girlfriend, a native Southerner, insists that I, a northern boy, must try this "delicacy." Quite frankly, just the thought of them makes my mouth water.
posted by Rewind to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh lawd, for sure stop at the Velvet Cream in Hernando MS (near the end of your journey, about 30 minutes south of Memphis). My granddaddy lives there, and this place has the most amazing old school ice cream/ frozen treats, and they have awesome fried dill pickles. Elvis is said to have eaten there.
posted by kimdog at 12:36 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: Metro Jackson resident all my life here.

Food-wise, along I-55...depends on what you're looking for. Right off 55, there are at least two very good restaurants. Julep is modern Southern - they're famous for their take on fried chicken with a sweet (honey?) glaze. (It was even mentioned in USA Today a year or so ago, and it's quite good.) A little bit south of Juelp, but still off 55 is BRAVO! a modern Italian place that is very good.

You mentioned fried pickles as one request. Two places to try them are Cock of the Walk on the Reservoir or one of the two Que Sera's (one is downtown, the other is off Lakeland) - both you can reach via I-55.

Activity wise, the Science Museum (guess what? Right off 55!) is cool to burn an hour or two and get some air condition. There's lot of art galleries and small museums downtown, but I don't know what you'd be keen on seeing. If you do make it downtown and want a filling lunch, Two Sisters has great fried chicken and the usual southern/soul food type food...go hungry though...

Let me know if this is a good start...I'll check back later for any more specific questions, or you can email me (profile).

Road-trip wise, I'd suggest Canton (again, keep on I-55) to walk around the square, but the way the heat has been lately....

Oxford is nice with lots of good food and stores/galleries.

Oh, some linkage:

Julep Restaurant

Bravo Restaurant

Natural Science Musuem

Visit Jackson
posted by fijiwriter at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: I grew up in Jackson, and Cock of the Walk and Que Sera are both pretty great.

Oxford's nice, too8212;my family moved up there around the time I started high school. If you do visit Oxford, be sure to check out Rowan Oak (William Faulkner's house), have a beer at the City Grocery, and ask a local to point you toward Taylor Grocery for some fine fried catfish. Also, if you take Hwy 7 north from Oxford, you'll see a sign for Betty Davis' on your left just after you cross the bridge into Marshall county. Make a stop there for some of the best barbecue I have ever eaten and then continue on to Holly Springs, where you can get on I-78 to take you to Memphis.
posted by jacob at 3:52 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: If you like Elvis, you really should take the time to go out of your way (a bit) to Holly Springs, where lives the singular Paul McLeod, a man who has devoted his life to all things Elvis and will, for $5 a person, give tours of his home any time day or night.

If you're going Oxford way, (a natural part of the trip if you hit Holly Springs, as pointed out above) jacob is entirely correct, the catfish served at Taylor Grocery (which is actually about a 10 minute drive south of Oxford, going straight down Old Taylor Rd. until it ends) is wonderful stuff. Although if you're not going that way, the catfish at Cock of the Walk on the reservoir in Jackson, MS is also excellent (their fried pickles, decent - and now I see that fijiwriter mentions them).

Morgan Freeman owns a juke joint somewhere in Clarksdale that I've heard good things about, but I haven't been to.

Something not even a lot of locals know (at least, I lived in the area for years before I'd heard about it), if you're interested in bonsai, Brussel's Bonsai in Olive Branch, MS, bills itself as "the largest importer and grower of fine bonsai in the United States", and apparently they have a new $3 million dollar facility, and they give tours of the nursery.

(I'm from Ocean Springs, went to school in Oxford, and my family now live in Jackson. If I think of anything else, I'll pop back in.)
posted by solotoro at 5:06 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: Also in Holly Springs...Graceland Too.

And you can get some fried pickles at Ajax, on the Oxford Square. Oxford is about 20 or 30 minutes east of I-55 off of Highway 6.
posted by gordie at 5:33 PM on July 5, 2007

Whoops. Or you could just listen to solotoro.
posted by gordie at 5:35 PM on July 5, 2007

Ah right, I guess I could have mentioned it by name. Oops.
posted by solotoro at 6:16 PM on July 5, 2007

Response by poster: Fantastic! You all have been very helpful thus far. Thank you!
posted by Rewind at 6:43 PM on July 5, 2007

Best answer: Don't forget to grab some tamales if you make it through the Delta, and try to stop at Doe's Eat Place if you can.

If you feel like ambling toward Starkville, Columbus or West Point (the locals call it the Golden Triangle), let me know - there are some good eats in that area. That seems a bit off your 55 route, but who knows what a roadtrip may bring...

In somewhat the opposite direction from the Golden Triangle is Greenwood area which is becoming a boutique destination, thanks to the Viking Range folks putting in The Alluvian, with a hotel, spa, restaurant, and what-have-you.
posted by fijiwriter at 7:40 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

off 55 is BRAVO! a modern Italian place that is very good.

BRAVO! is a chain...

Whatever you do, stay away from the boiled peanuts.
posted by AquaAmber at 7:57 AM on July 6, 2007

Seconding BRAVO! (and I didn't get the feeling it was a chain, from the website or the restaurant--I know there's a chain of Bravos, but I think they may be unrelated to the Jackson BRAVO!). The same people own a coffee/sandwich/salad place called Broad Street, just across I-55, which also has excellent food as well as free wireless.

If you go through Greenwood, there's a place that's called Veronica's Bakery during the day and the Blue Parrot Cafe at night. I've only been there for lunch, but the food was great, the people were friendly, and the space was pretty cool. They have live music at night.
posted by paleography at 8:43 AM on July 6, 2007

Bravo! is locally owned and operated, and has no connection with any chain restaurants. (Try the fried polenta as an appetizer, or fill up on a huge antipasto plate, if you end up there.)
posted by fijiwriter at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2007

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