From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Both Mississippi’s capital city and its most populous, Jackson has featured prominently in the economic, civil rights, and cultural history of the United States. Plus, it’s simply a great place to discover! Here are our favorite things to see, do, eat, and explore in Jackson, Mississippi.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Although Jackson itself is a dense urban center, there are plenty of incredible green spaces and wildernesses in the area to explore. Here are some of the best state and national parks and preserves in the Jackson, MS area.
Along with its plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities, thanks in part to its lush greenery and a 15-acre spring-fed lake stocked with bass and bream, Golden Memorial State Park is also a history buff’s delight, offering the chance to explore a one-room schoolhouse from the Civil War era which has been preserved onsite. The park also features picnic tables, grill sites, and playgrounds as well as pull-thru campsites with electric hookups.
Featuring not just one but two sprawling lakes — 45-acre English Lake and 14-acre Odum Lake — Holmes County State Park is a scenic location for a fishing or boating trip as well as landside activities. Centrally located along the highway that bisects north and south Mississippi, this park is characterized by dense southern hardwood forests as well as a variety of local wild and birdlife, making it a popular spot for outdoor lovers of all stripes.
A vast and wild green space surrounding a truly epic 550-acre body of water, Lake Lincoln State Park is open year-round for fishing, swimming, boating, jet skiing, and terrestrial activities like hiking, picnicking, volleyball and more. Its forests are constituted by dogwood, magnolia, pine, hardwood, and loblolly trees, and there’s also a popular onsite disc golf course.
If you’re looking for something close to home, you can’t do much better than LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, which is located within the actual city limits of Jackson. Along with its acres of outdoor space perfect for a variety of recreational activities, this park is also home to a nine-hole golf course and is the location of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Campsites are also available for those looking for a quick vacation you won’t have to drive very far at all to get to.
Tucked as it is between the cities of Jackson and Meridian, Roosevelt State Park is a popular getaway option for a wide variety of Mississippians — and there’s certainly no shortage of things to do once you arrive. Fishing and boating in the lake is popular, especially since it’s stocked with bass, crappie, bream, and catfish, and there is also a network of hiking and biking trails as well as an onsite disc golf course.
Mississippi may not be known for its undulating hills and majestic mountains, but it’s still an incredible place to hike. Here are some of the best spots for hiking in and around Jackson, Mississippi — no matter your fitness or interest level.
Short, sweet, and accessible to those using wheelchairs or pushing strollers, the Barnett Reservoir Botanical Garden Trail runs a grand total of just over half a mile in length, and is paved. The path meanders along a river and through forest cover to display beautiful examples of local wildflowers and other flora, as well as the occasional wildlife spotting opportunity. Well-behaved dogs are also welcome, but must remain on leash for the duration of the hike.
At just over a mile in length and seeing only about 50 feet in elevation gain, the Flowood Park Trail is a great option local to Jackson that works well for beginning hikers as well as those with more experience under their belts who are simply looking for a quick and easy way to get outside and get some exercise. The trail passes along watersides, over raised wooden boardwalks, and under the cover of characteristic Mississippi forest canopies.
Running just over two miles altogether and seeing about 160 feet in elevation gain, the Civil War Hill Trail (Blue) is in the easy-to-moderately challenging category and offers the perfect combination of outdoor time and historical significance. Meander through these forests that have seen so much of our nation’s past, and enjoy adding your own story to the greater narrative.
It might have a slightly funny name, but the Buddy Butts Park Loop offers an opportunity for more serious outdoor adventurers: spanning five miles and seeing about 200 feet in elevation gain, this is a moderately strenuous hike that’s sure to get your blood flowing. Offering a comprehensive overlook of the park of its same name, this trail is known as a great place to spot wildflowers, lots of local birds, and even see the occasional deer jumping across the path.
For those after a more serious challenge, check out the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail: Yockanookany Segment. Although technically a smaller part of a much larger trail system, this segment alone measures more than 15 miles out-and-back and sees over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, so it makes sense that it’s frequented by horseback riders as often as hikers. (It’s nice to have someone else do all that literal legwork!) With its river views and beautiful examples of local flora, this trail is well worth the considerable effort it takes to complete it.
One of the best pastimes in a place with a dining culture as rich as it is in Jackson is to simply eat — and there are so many amazing places to do so! Here are just a few of our favorite restaurants in Jackson, whether you’re craving Italian, Mexican, sushi, or, of course, good ol’ southern cooking.
Serving seasonal cuisine inspired by all things southern, Lou’s Full-Serv is a bastion in the Jackson community, and it’s earned its reputation for greatness. Offering elevated versions of classics like fried green tomatoes and short ribs, this spot combines comfort and style in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. (Plus, there’s a full bar tended by inventive cocktail crafters!)
We’ll be frank: it’s hard to find good Asian food south of the Mason-Dixon line. But Thai Time Thai and Sushi Restaurant breaks down that stereotype, offering a delicious range of pan-Asian favorites to satisfy everyone in your dining party. From hot fried noodle and stir-fry dishes to classic, special, and even deep-fried sushi rolls, there really is something here for every appetite, whether you’re eating in or taking your meal to go.
Sometimes, nothing satisfies quite like Italian — and Bravo! Italian Restaurant and Bar is one of the very best Tuscan, Old World eatery options in town. Known for its vibrant and buzzing atmosphere as well as its handcrafted, fresh, and authentic menu choices, this place is perfect for family dining, boisterous nights out with friends, and date night alike. There’s also a vegan menu for plant-based diners!
If you’re looking for the best Mexican restaurant this side of the border, head to Jacksone’s La Cazuela, a neighborhood cantina that serves up a relaxing, oasis atmosphere alongside its spicy and satisfying fare. From a vast menu of gourmet tacos to dips, enchiladas, and even burgers, this place offers a wide enough selection of eats to put a smile on even the pickiest faces. You’ll also want to save room for postres, or desserts — along with fried ice cream, churros and sopapillas are on the menu!
Craving something a little different? Keifer’s Restaurant is Jackson’s at-home getaway to the Mediterranean, serving up gyros and falafel as well as dolmas, artichoke hearts, and all the other good stuff that makes this style of eating both delicious and healthful. At the end of your meal, make way for a plate of delicious, flaky, home-made baklava — and rejoice for all of the great vegetarian options available on the menu!
From family friendly historical adventures to modern-day nightlife and everything in between, here are our top picks as far as what to see and do in Jackson.
Bringing the kids along for the adventure? Good! Here are just a few of the can’t-miss opportunities for family fun in town.
The largest museum of any type in the state of Mississippi, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is a must-visit both for families who already have young scientists in their midst and those with kiddos who haven’t quite been bitten by the science bug yet. This comprehensive experience helps visitors of all ages learn about the vast and fascinating world around us, and why there’s so much to be excited about.
Originally opened over a century ago in 1919, the Jackson Zoo is more than just a great place for wild family fun — it’s also an organization committed to the preservation of, and education about, endangered species and ecosystems around the world. Displaying approximately 250 animals representing more than 115 species, this zoo is intimate but offers plenty of fascinating animal diversity to get familiar with.
If you have kids, you already know it’s all about what they can get their hands on. The Mississippi Children’s Museum, per its own tagline, takes fun seriously — and that translates to a collection of educational yet entertaining exhibits that get kids engaged with their own two hands. The museum also hosts tons of great events around different topics suited to the whole family.
There’s no shortage of to-dos when Mississippi’s bright daytime sun is shining… but what about after hours? Try these!
Technically located in the neighboring community of Brandon, Fannin Lanes is well worth the trip for those on the hunt for a family friendly nightlife opportunity. More than just a bowling alley, this place also offers a full sports bar and eatery, the ability to host parties and gatherings, and more.
Finding a place to get a drink is no big deal. Finding a place to get a classic-yet-elevated, handcrafted cocktail, on the other hand, can be a bit of a chore… which is why we’re directing you to The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs. One of the best speakeasy-style bars in the city, one thing’s for sure: this place has something that’ll cure what ails you!
While you certainly could run yourself out of money getting familiar with Jackson, you don’t have to. Here are some of the best affordable things to do in town. In fact, many of them are downright free!
Although it’s not the way the majority of us experience our lives anymore, the development of agriculture and forestry helped pave the way for the complex, industrial society we live in today… and at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson, you get a front-row seat on the action to learn exactly how it all got started. Generally admission tickets cost just $5 for adults and less for children and seniors, and the museum also regularly hosts fun events like Easter egg hunts.
The most historic building in town, the structure that today contains the Old Capitol Museum was originally built back in 1839, and has bore witness to some of the most important moments in Mississippi’s history. Today, you can experience the legacy yourself by visiting the old capitol and taking the self-guided tour absolutely free of charge. Can’t beat a deal like that!
A world-class art museum displaying everything from pre-Columbian art to modern-day pieces crafted by living artists, the Mississippi Museum of Art is a treasure trove with more than 5,000 artworks on display in all. There’s also a sprawling outdoor art garden measuring more than an acre in size, all of which is to say: it’s definitely worth your while!
Sometimes, there’s nothing for it — you just need a little bit of “me” time. If that’s how you’re feeling lately, we highly recommend a trip to one of the following great day spas and salons in Jackson.
An urban resort that will transport you to a faraway (and far more relaxed) place in your body and mind, the Soul Spa offers massage in a wide range of modalities as well as body treatments, facial skincare, nail care treatments and more. There are also a variety of packages available to help ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
If you’re looking for a salon that expressly knows how to style and care for Black and multi-cultural hair with its rich textures, Tony & Tina’s Salon and Spa has you covered in Jackson. Free consultations are available and custom services are rendered at affordable prices in a friendly atmosphere.
Fitness does more than change the way your body looks — it changes the way your heart and mind feel. Here are some of the very best gyms and yoga studios for those in need of a sweat sesh in Jackson.
Sometimes, you need more than just a gym: you need a community of motivated and like-minded people to help you get in gear and stay there. At Fondren Fitness, that’s exactly what you’ll find as professional trainers guide you through a series of workouts designed to engage yountire body and help you achieve the goals you set. They also offer nutritional counseling services.
Yoga is about the mind as much as the body, and at StudiOm Yoga, the creative and empathetic staff knows that. Offering a wide range of both challenging and relaxing yoga practices as well as Pilates, tai chi, and belly dancing, this is a place that will get your whole spirit and self engaged and energized.
While there’s clearly no shortage of fun to be had in Jackson itself, there are some other incredible destinations within an easy day’s drive to check out! Here are our favorite picks for day trips and weekend getaways in and around Jackson.
Even if you don’t yet know what it means to miss New Orleans, you will after you visit. Totter down Bourbon Street, enjoy a beignet or some jambalaya, and make a whole weekend of it — there’s way too much to see to just turn around and go home as soon as you arrive.
A unique opportunity to get familiar with why its residents call it “sweet home,” Mobile, Alabama is a Gulf coast city with a lot of personality. It’s also well known for its thriving foodie scene and the oldest running Mardi Gras in America. You’ll love it!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Jackson that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Jackson? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.