365 nights of music, over 20 annual festivals and a museum celebrating Delta blues history make Clarksdale a music and history lover's dream.
Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum houses exhibits on the musical legacy that bluesmen have left for the world to enjoy. You'll also find the house of famous blues singer-songwriter and 'father of blues' Muddy Waters as it stood on Stovall Plantation.
Follow the Mississippi Blues Trail and you'll see markers for influential artists such as John Lee Hooker, Son House and Sam Cooke, as well as Riverside Hotel where blues singer Bessie Smith died and rock'n'roll pioneer Ike Turner lived.
Blues fans can also visit the 'Crossroads' guitar monument - a fabled spot at Highway 61 and 49 where Delta bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul in exchange for his infamous guitar talent.
Playwright Tennessee Williams lived in Clarksdale as a youth and later based characters on the experience. Visit the newly opened Tennessee Williams Rectory Museum or attend the annual festival celebrating him in October.
Consider a Quapaw Canoe Company voyage on the mighty Mississippi River or take a Delta Bohemian or Birdsong tour of historical sites. Clarksdale features a wide array of overnight accommodations - from a three-story Hampton Inn to the one-of-a-kind Shack Up Inn, from luxurious downtown lofts to a budget-friendly downtown hostel.
One of the last authentic Delta juke joints is Red's in Clarksdale. The hole-in-the-wall club is the real deal. It's just a small room, a few tables and a fridge full of beer. Red lights are strung around a low ceiling and live blues is played every weekend. The owner, Big Red, is a local legend and a tourist favourite.
As the only town in Mississippi with live blues every night of the year, Clarksdale is home to a multitude of venues, including Ground Zero Blues Club, co-owned by Morgan Freeman. Other popular venues include Bluesberry Cafe, Hambone Art & Music, Levon's Bar & Grill, New Roxy and Hopson Commissary.
Southern Fried Chicken with Mustard Slaw
For the chicken:
8 skinless chicken thighs
200g self-raising flour
large pinch of paprika
turmeric and cayenne pepper
8 tsp vegetable oil
For the mustard slaw:
½ small white cabbage sliced into matchsticks
2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
6 spring onions peeled trimmed and diced
2 tsp rapeseed oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp yoghurt
2 tbsp crème fraiche
2 tspn orange juice
2 tbsp toasted sunflower seed
Homemade Southern Lemonade
If you've ever wondered how to make your own lemonade, we have the perfect recipe, and next to southern sweet tea, a cool glass of lemonade is one of the most refreshing ways to cool off during the South's hot and humid summer months. Plus, just like sweet tea, the best lemonade is made using hot water.
You make lemonade with water, sugar, and freshly squeezed (be sure to use fresh lemons!) lemon juice. But don’t just put all of those ingredients in a pitcher and stir them up as sugar doesn't dissolve easily in cold water - no matter how hard you stir you will still be left with a layer of sugar at the bottom. So make a simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and very hot water and stir until the mixture is clear, then let it cool.
If you want an extra hit of lemon, add a pinch of fresh lemon zest to the syrup. You can also add a few sprigs of fresh herbs to the warm syrup if you have them in your garden (rosemary, basil, or mint all work well) and let it infuse until the mixture cools. Remove the herbs before using the syrup. Or, if you fancy making pink lemonade just stir in ¼ cup of pureed fresh or frozen strawberries for each 1 cup of simple syrup.
Once the homemade simple syrup has cooled, just combine it with your preferred ratio of cold water and fresh lemon juice. Some people love super-sweet lemonade, while others prefer it on the sharper side. To see how you like it, add the water gradually so you don't overdo it but the flavour needs to be concentrated so that when you pour the lemonade over ice, it won't become diluted and watery.
Grab a book (we’ve got some great Mississippi book recommendations), sit in the sunshine and enjoy!
Or if you fancy turning it into a cocktail, why not try a Spiked Arnold Palmer. A refreshing alcoholic beverage with a blend of iced tea and lemonade.
Classic Sweet Tea
There are a few trademark things people think of when they think of the South, like the friendly people with their Southern hospitality, the sunny weather and lovely sweet iced tea….very sweet. This classic Southern sweet tea recipe is very simple - just tea, sugar, water and lemon. There is simply not a more iconic Southern drink.
12 regular-size tea bags
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 distilled or bottled water
1/4 ice cubes
11/4 cups simple syrup (found on our lemonade recipe)
Place tea bags and baking soda in a large heatproof glass pitcher.
Bring water just to a boil in a saucepan or kettle and immediately pour over tea bags. Keep them submerged, cover and mash for 7 minutes. Remove tea bags without squeezing and discard them.
Add the ice and stir until it’s all melted. Stir in the simple syrup and serve over ice. Delicious!
Mississippi mud pie
For the base: 300g bourbon biscuits crushed, 75g butter melted
For the filling: 85g dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids, 85g butter, 2 free-range eggs, 85g muscovado sugar, 100ml double cream
For the fudge Sauce: 150g dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids, 150ml double cream, 3 tbsp golden syrup, 175g icing sugar