Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Mississippi!

Mississippi has brought us root beer, the blues and some of the great writers of American literature (William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Shelby Foote, to name a few). It gave birth to Elvis, Oprah, the Teddy Bear (inspired by a 1902 hunting trip in the state where Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a live one), and that staple of household cleansers, Pine Sol.

It's the site of several key Civil War skirmishes, some of the most breathtaking antebellum homes in the South- and awesome seafood!

Got a hankering to explore the Magnolia State? Check out 20 of the coolest things to see and do.

1. Elvis' Birthplace

Sure, everyone focuses on Graceland - but this tiny little shack is where it all began. It's since been expanded to include a small museum and the church where Elvis learned to love gospel music. (Tupelo)

2. The Windsor Ruins

For over a hundred and thirty years, the ruins of one of the grandest antebellum plantations stayed hidden in shadows. No more. Have a wander around the towering remaining columns and grounds, and drift back to a grander time. (Port Gibson area)

3. Longwood

Construction on this unusual plantation home was started right before the Civil War. Sadly for the owner, Northern workmen bailed on the project to join the Union army and left it unfinished. The only part that was livable was the basement. It's one of the quirkier remnants of that time. (Natchez)

4. Eudora Welty House & Garden

One of the South's most beloved writers moved into this house with her family when she was 16 - and remained there until her death. The surrounding gardens were another lifelong passion of hers. It's one of the most complete "literary houses" in the country. (Jackson)

5. Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center

This tiny town played a key role during the Civil War, and this fascinating museum sheds light on one of the lesser-known chapters in that conflict.

6. Vicksburg National Military Park

It's one of the most significant battle sites of the Civil War, one that ended in a long siege and the ultimate surrender of the city.

7. The U.S.S. Cairo Museum

As long as you're at Vicksburg National Military Park take in this amazing display of one of the Confederacy's ironclad ships that resides in the park. It was raised from its watery grave, and the artifacts retrieved are pretty amazing.

8. Mississippi Petrified Forest

Stroll past 36 million years of history in this unique attraction that features stone-hardened logs, fauna and more. Best part is, no need to outrun any dinosaurs. (Flora)

9. The Neshoba County Fair

Since 1889, the week-long fair has earned a reputation as "Mississippi's Giant House Party." No wonder thousands of folks from other parts of the country descend to check out the full spectrum of events.

10. Ship Island

About 11 miles off the coast of Gulfport/Biloxi is this serene white beach. Take a relaxing boat ride to get there, then relax even more in the clear blue waters of this barrier island.

11. The Delta Blues Museum

Clarksdale is considered the home where blues music began, and this fantastic facility showcases its rich history. A must-visit.

12. Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway

It's a gorgeous (and historic) scenic route that follows a Native American footpath. Because the speed limit is 50 mph (and no trucks are allowed), you can take your time and take in the sights.

13. Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge

At any time of year, it's a popular place for viewing everything from birds to alligators - but as the leaves change, the fall season takes it to another level. It's much quieter, giving you more chances to observe the state's wildlife. (Brooksville)

14. Biloxi Seafood Festival

Over a few days in September, you can indulge in amazing local seafood and enjoy great live music, local arts and crafts and more. It's been a tradition for over 30 years.

15. Historic Natchez Cemetery

Besides being tranquil and beautiful, there are so many interesting stories associated with those who are laid to rest here. The cemetery offers both a CD and a map that gives you the insights.

16. Rowan Oak

This glorious structure was built in 1844, but is most famous as the longtime home of acclaimed Southern writer, William Faulkner. You'll get a real sense of the many things that influenced this Nobel Prize-winning author. (Oxford)

17. Alice Moseley Folk Art & Antique Museum

Moseley is one of the more beloved folk artists in our country, and this wonderful museum showcases her work. Come check out the life and creative side of "Miss Alice" - and maybe pick up one of her colorful prints to warm up your own home. (Bay St. Louis)

18. B.B. King Museum

Riley "Blues Boy" King was among the leading lights of blues music in the world. This museum, based in his former hometown, highlights both his legacy, and the role of this indigenous music in our culture. (Indianola)

19. Tishomingo State Park

It's a popular place for fishing and hiking during the year, but the quiet winter months offer a special serene beauty. Take some time and explore this enchanting place once favored by the Native Americans (it's named for the leader of the Chickasaw nation). (Tishomingo)

20. The Jefferson Davis Home & Presidential Library

Beauvoir is the "retirement" home of the former president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. This is where he wrote his post-war memoir. The library is considered one of the finest collections of Civil War information anywhere. (Biloxi)

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