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Literary in Mississippi

“I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.” — Nobel Prize Winner, William Faulkner

William Faulkner is just one of the many literary giants whose love of literature began with a love for Mississippi. You can stroll upon his native soil at his home, Rowan Oaks, in Oxford and learn about his family roots. See the Mississippi that Tennessee Williams described as “the beauty spot of creation, a dark, wide spacious land that you can breathe in” by visiting his childhood home in Columbus. Then visit Eudora Welty’s home and gardens in the state capitol, Jackson, which are still just as they were when she would step out the door. These writers have given birth to a new generation of Mississippi literary heritage; from the master of legal thrillers, John Grisham, to the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner Donna Tartt and Natasha Trethewey, Poet Laureate of the United States in 2012. If you love literature, Mississippi’s literary heritage and the native soil invite you to explore the inspiration behind some of the world’s greatest writing. Follow the Southern Literary Trail through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to visit the places that influenced well-known 20th century writers.

Mississippi Book Festival

Plans for the first Mississippi Book Festival, taking place in Jackson on 22nd August, are well underway and organisers have confirmed that this year’s festival line-up includes John Grisham, Greg Iles, Bill Ferris and Ellen Gilchrist – who are among more than 70 authors participating.

Holly Lange, Executive Director of the Mississippi Book Festival, said, “We are thrilled that John Grisham will be joining a great group of Mississippi authors in Mississippi’s inaugural Book Festival.  He has taken an active interest in the success of this event and plans on appearing at the festival throughout the day.  Because Mississippi is so rich with writers, we have assembled authors from a wide range of subjects that will appeal to every Mississippian.”

The Book Festival includes authors signing their books and covering topics such as history, short stories, poetry, civil rights, romance, sports & outdoors, children’s stories, biography, literary fiction, southern popular fiction, comics and the civil war.

The festival will conclude with a panel that includes Greg Iles, an early supporter of the event, whose new book, The Bone Tree, has received national critical acclaim.

John Evans, owner of Lemuria Books in Jackson, said “Mississippi’s literary contributions have enhanced our state and national culture. Our great writers are household names; many of their stories are our stories. But before great writers put pen to paper, they were first great readers.”

More information is available at msbookfestival.com.

The Mississippi Culinary Trail

Mississippi is considered a foodie’s paradise and we can tell you a million reasons why! The Mississippi Culinary Trail showcases the state’s true flavour. Each of the five regions has its own delicacies like hot tamales, slug burgers and comeback sauce. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a road trip junkie who has been through a million times – pull up a chair, put a napkin in your lap and get ready for an unrivalled eating experience.

The Culinary Trail itineraries, work their way around the state highlighting each region’s restaurants, cooks and food traditions that highlight Mississippi’s distinctive cuisine.

THE DELTA – Juke Joints, Hot Tamales & Mississippi Catfish

You don’t forget your first descent into the Delta. Whether you take the back roads from Hernando on Highway 304 or Highway 61 from Memphis: one minute your car winds through the tree-dotted landscapes of the hills and the next it levels out into flat farmland as far as the eye can see. As diverse as the crops that grow here and the music that made it famous, the Mississippi Delta is a melting pot of cultures – from African to Italian to Asian – the people here make this part of the state different from any other. And in no place is the Delta’s diversity more apparent than in its restaurants. Each dish is a prime example of how delicious histories fuse together for the ultimate culinary experience.

One such example is the hot tamale, called so because of its orangey-red colour and spicy taste. Its origins began around the turn of the 20th century when migrant Hispanic labourers worked in the cotton fields during autumn cotton picking season alongside African-American hired hands. A cornmeal mixture called "masa" encased the meat inside, keeping it insulated. This ensured a warm lunch for hungry workers at lunchtime. There is also a Tamale Trail through Mississippi, read more about it here.

THE CAPITAL-RIVER – Soul Food, Super burgers and Comeback Sauce

Mississippi’s Capital-River Region is a delicious blend of old and new.  From a mighty river and antebellum mansions to glittering downtowns with exciting nightlife, the restaurants here boast menus featuring soul food, authentic ethnic dishes and modern culinary delights.  Personalities like Cool Al and places called Fat Mama’s are why the eclectic heritage of Mississippi is one of its most celebrated treats. It’s the tastiest history lesson you’ve ever had.

THE PINESChoctaws, Catfish Alley and Family Cafés

The small towns of the Pines make for big flavours.  With barbecue and bakeries, cheese and cheesecakes, the tastes of this region take their influences from their earthy Native American heritage as well as the vital railroad lines that brought lumber, cotton and other goods into the area. Family-owned restaurants are a staple of this region and when you can stroll down a street known as “Catfish Alley,” you know you’ll find good cookin’!

This region acquired its name because of the prevalence of the Longleaf Pine Tree. The densely populated wooded bluffs and National Forests make for scenic driving. Outdoorsmen love this area because of the easy access to wilderness camping and hunting on what is considered some of the most beautiful terrain in the state. At one time cotton was king in this region, too, but it was predominately the railroad lines exporting lumber from saw mills that helped industrialise the area.
 

THE HILLS – Grills, Groceries & Drive-Ins

The characters in Southern fiction gather around tables laden with platters of their favourite dishes – platters of fried green tomatoes, pots of collard greens with a skillet of cornbread, slabs of barbecue pork ribs and slugburgers. Literary references are direct inspiration from the first-hand eating experience of lovingly crafted home-cooked meals. Even today, a meal in the Mississippi Hills doesn't just feed the body it ministers to your soul. 

THE COAST – Shrimp, Blowflies & Purple Parrots

Naturally, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has a different feel to it than the rest of the state, but it remains undeniably “Mississippi.”  The Coast offers the tourist a little of everything:  golf, gambling, art, architecture and, of course, great food. Years ago, immigrants from all over the world came to the region in search of employment in the seafood industry: Croatian, Vietnamese and French.  This delicious blend of cultures has seasoned the cuisine here with a flavour you won’t find anywhere else.

If you want fresh seafood, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has the menu to satisfy your craving.

Did you know Mississippi is home to:

  • Fried pickles

  • Championship Barbecue

  • Barq’s Root Beer

  • Comeback dressing

  • Viking Range Corporation & Cooking Schools

  • Catfish: Mississippi is one of the world’s biggest producers!

  • Hoover Sauce

  • Koolickles

  • Cheese Straws

  • Southern Pecan Beer

  • Dixon’s Pork Skins

  • Sweet Tea

For any further information on this Trail, please do get in touch with our team.

The Mississippi Blues Trail

The Mississippi Blues Trail tells stories throughout the state using words and images of bluesmen and women, and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed – and continue to exist – influenced their music. The markers run from city streets to cotton fields, train depots to cemeteries, and clubs to churches. With so much to share and it's all just down the Mississippi Blues Trail.

To view a current list of all the markers and the region they are featured click here. You can also follow the Mississippi Blues Trail on Facebook to keep up to date with all the latest news.

Mississippi Country Music Trail

Country music is a direct descendent of the Blues – a music form that was born in Mississippi. To commemorate this important part of Mississippi's rich heritage, the Mississippi Country Music Trail was created.

Explore the high notes in the history of country music with the likes of Jimmie Rodgers (the "Father of Country Music" himself), Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, Jerry Clower, Faith Hill, Paul Overstreet and a great many others.

Click here for information on stops along the Mississippi Country Music Trail.

Here are our Top Ten Culinary Treats so you can eat your way around Mississippi

The Square – Oxford, Mississippi


Nowhere is there a higher concentration of award-winning restaurants than around the historic Courthouse Square in Oxford, Mississippi. Home to James Beard Award winners Chef John Currence and food author John T. Edge (not to mention Nobel Prizewinner William Faulkner), restaurants like Southern gourmet mecca City Grocery, Oprah Winfrey's favourite apple pie at Bottletree Bakery and Ajax Diner's down-home favourites keep "The Square" the culinary and cultural centre of the town.

Johnnie's Drive-In – Tupelo, Mississippi


Opening its doors in 1945, this small drive-in restuarant was a favourite of Tupelo's most famous son Elvis Presley. Here, you can sit in the same booth as the boy who would be "King" when he enjoyed burgers and milkshakes with his friends after school.

Ground Zero Blues Club – Clarksdale, Mississippi


Ground Zero Blues Club is a restaurant by day and a real-deal juke joint by night. Owned by Academy Award-winning actor and Clarksdale resident Morgan Freeman, Ground Zero is situated in a 100-year-old cotton grading warehouse on Blues Alley just steps from the Delta Blues Museum.

Does Eat Place – Greenville, Mississippi

You won't find any white tablecloths at Doe's Eat Place in Greenville – just the finest filet mignon, ribeye, T-bone and Porterhouse steaks anywhere in the South, not to mention homemade French fries and broiled shrimp swimming in garlic butter. And this James Beard Award-winning restaurant doesn't serve liquor, so feel free to bring your own wine or whiskey in a brown paper bag, just like the locals do!

Viking Cooking School – Greenwood, Mississippi


World famous Viking ranges are made just right down the road from the Viking Cooking School, a gleaming facility where local chefs teach "students" how to prepare cuisines from their backyard and all over the world. Classes like Delta Dinner and Blues, Chicago Steakhouse and Parisian Dinner Party make up the curriculum here. And if class runs late, the boutique-style Alluvian Hotel is right across the street, where you don't want to miss their daily Southern buffet breakfast.

Mayflower Cafe – Jackson, Mississippi

Recently featured in the film version of The Help, the Mayflower Cafe is the dream and livelihood of two Greek families in the Jackson area, who opened the cafe in 1935. A local favourite for steak and seafood entrees, The Mayflower is also famous for its "comeback sauce", a distinctive dipping sauce and salad dressing indigenous to the Jackson area. Mississippians put comeback sauce on everything from salads to fried green tomatoes to crackers.

Walnut Hills – Vicksburg, Mississippi


Don't be afraid to sit next to a stranger at Walnut Hills! Housed in an 1860's gallery house in Vicksburg's Historic District, the restaurant is known for their fried chicken and fresh garden vegetables served in round-table style.

Mammy's Cupboard – Natchez, Mississippi


Many consider this unique restaurant a national treasure and you won't find another like it anywhere in the world. The entire restaurant likes beneath the "skirt" of a forty foot tall woman! Not only famous for its unique architecture, Mammy's Cupboard's menu features Southern favourites like corn bread, sweet tea and homestyle vegetables. Don't leave without trying the banana caramel pie!

Mary Mahoney's – Biloxi, Mississippi

Established in 1964, Mississippi coastal legend Mary Mahoney's Old French House proudly serves seafood fresh from the waters of the nearby Gulf of Mexico. The restaurant has hosted American Presidents, dignitaries and celebrities and is also mentioned in two John Grisham novels – Runaway Jury and The Partner. But just as famous as its past visitors is its bread pudding with rum sauce, the perfect finish to a delectable dinner.

The Shed – Ocean Springs, Mississippi

The Shed is "100% 'old school' sweet Southern, down-home barbecue". It's been featured on the Food Network and several national programs and regulary wins awards in the Memphis in May World Barbecue Championship and the National BBQ Association Convention. Come for the food, but stay for the live music you'll find each weekend.


Museums for Children in Mississippi

Every museum needs a tree house. The Lynn Meadows Discovery Centre in Gulfport, Mississippi, sports three, tucked in among the limbs of live oaks that shade an outside play are. Climb in ad the imagination takes flight.

The museum is designed to entertain and educate children ages 10 or younger. Inside, role-playing opportunities encourage youngsters to change hats for different activities. A kid-sized model shrimp boat calls for a captain’s hat, and teatime in a bed and breakfast setting definitely requires a fancy dress hat. Putting on sombreros, children board a make-believe plane to Mexico. In other areas, science takes over, as young hands turn a crank to create electricity or push a button to form a miniature tornado in a tube.

Most museums offer something that touches a child’s curiosity, inspires the imagination and turns learning into an adventure. In, Mississippi you don’t have to look far to find them.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson has something for every member of the family. Who doesn’t get a kick out of watching a diver feed the fish in the aquarium or shiver at the sight of alligators in “The Swamp”?

The museum’s Discovery Room is designed especially for preschoolers, which activities that include story time and play with puppets. Outdoors, in a 300-acre natural area, more than two miles of walking trails lead past wetland ponds, wooded bluffs and native plantings. Each visit to the museum brings some new experience, especially when there’s a special exhibit. This summer it’s Megalodo: Largest Shark That Ever Lived.

Jackson offers other places that target specific interest. Budding astronomers or astronauts will love the sky shows at David Planetarium and the laser light concerts are simply amazing. Take your history buff to the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum / National Agricultural Aviation Museum to check out the farmstead, the sugarcane mill and the blacksmiths shop. Before leaving, sample the old-fashioned candy sticks and Moon Pies in the General Store.

Youngsters with their eye on a sports career will enjoy the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. In one area, you can be the broadcaster in the press box, calling the plays for a famous moment in Mississippi sports. Everyone, including adults, gravitates to The Participatory Room – with virtual technology, you can check out your pitching speed, tee up on a championship golf course or take a penalty kick in a soccer game.

Trains fascinate all ages. Museums dedicated to their history exhibit models, memorabilia and sometimes even an old locomotive or a red caboose. Some of Mississippi’s best are the Historic Train Depot and Museum in Canton, the Historic Corinth Depot and Crossroads Museum in Corinth and the McComb Railroad Museum in McComb.

The lure of the Mississippi River lures families to the Tunica RiverPark, which chronicles the river’s history and life along its banks. It has aquariums and walking trails through a 130-acre riverside forest. One of the highlights is getting out on the river itself aboard the Tunica Queen. And while the RiverPark Museum doesn’t have a treehouse, it does have an observation deck with a sweeping view of the Mississippi River.

 

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