Explore Hidden Gems of Mississippi

Mississippi may be new to many out there, but it has been a second home for me since the beginning. Both my parents hail from this state in the deep south so much of my extended family reside in the area. As a kid, we’d take trips every summer to see my grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and enjoy great southern hospitality. So I’ve had the unique benefit of experiencing some of the best hidden gems of Mississippi.

The memories are filled with days getting into trouble with my cousins, eating my grandmas’ best homemade dishes and hearing about the hardships of the old days. As life got busier and our family grew, my travels to the “old country” became less and less. Until about 8 years ago, when we started reviving the trek back to the Jackson, MS area. It’s funny how having kids changes your perspective and it certainly did that for me. There is a lot that has changed about the city and the surrounding area.

The state of Mississippi has struggled for decades to raise its economic condition, but things are slowly on the upswing. While agribusiness is still the number one industry, manufacturing is growing with the arrival of a major Nissan car assembly plant in 2003. This led to move jobs and other businesses to enter that is setting a firmer foundation for growth especially around the Jackson metropolitan area.

This is all helping the Jackson area become a good, low cost vacation spot for families traveling through the south. In my opinion, if you don’t have family already living in the area, I wouldn’t expect you to spend a week’s vacation there. But the city of Jackson and its surrounding area has more than enough to fill your calendar for a couple days. Here is a look at some top attractions and a potential travel itinerary:

Natural Hidden Gems of Mississippi

Barnett Reservoir

The Ross R Barnett Reservoir is 32 miles of natural beauty offering scenic views by car, foot or boat. It is a 33,000 acre lake home to numerous types of vegetation and wildlife including alligators. We were lucky enough to visit on a near 70 degree day in late December with full sun. The numerous outlook stations give families plenty of room to roam or sit and enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch.

Our next stop was venturing through the Cypress Swamp at milepost 122 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The scene wasn’t as vibrant since we were there during the winter, but still awesome to see the spindly bases of the cypress and walk across the swamp bridges.

2 Days of Family Fun

Based upon our travels, here is a sample travel itinerary with estimate expenses to spark ideas for your trip to Mississippi:

Day 1

Hidden Gem of Mississippi

Ross Barnett Reservoir 2+ hours/$0 pp

Mississippi Ag & Forestry Museum (1-2 hours)/$5-$6 pp

Day 2

Mississippi Petrified Forest (1-2 hours)/$6-$7 pp

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (1-2 hours)/$6-$10 pp

Mississippi Museum of Art (1-2 hours)/$0 pp

This itinerary is only a short list of main attractions, but provides a starting point for a great time in Mississippi. Here is the estimate cost rundown for this 2 day visit:

  • Lodging rates: $125-$200 per night
  • Food: $150-$250 per day (up to 6 family members)
  • Entertainment: $100-$150 per day

This equals $750-$1,000 for a family of 6 for two days of exploring the hidden gems of Mississippi. This is a great value to experience southern hospitality at its best!

Check out our Traveling Large Means Lodging Large post for tips on choosing the right accommodations.

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