The cold winter months are the perfect time to visit the sunny Magnolia State. Whether you’re celebrating the holidays or just looking for a way to escape the cold, Mississippi has something for everyone. From prime hunting experiences, to a chance to enjoy scrumptious in-season oysters on the Gulf Coast, you are sure to be satisfied with your Mississippi winter experience. Here are our 15 favorite activities.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Mississippi has an estimated 1.75 million whitetail deer, making it a top stop for deer hunters. Whether you've never hunted before or you're an old pro, consider a guided hunt such as the ones offered by Tallahatchie Hunts. They track and manage their deer herds across 8,000 acres of farmland, forest, and swamp in Tallahatchie County, and their guides offer more than 50 years of hunting experience to help you bag a buck you'll be proud of.
Winter is the perfect time to grab a pair of skates and hit the ice at the Mid-South Ice House in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Book a birthday party or skate with Santa and the Ice House's very own polar bear, “Crush.” Or skip the skates and sit by the cozy fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy their free WiFi. Check for open public skate dates or make reservations!
Winter might seem like an unusual time for a beach vacation, but the off-season is the perfect time to visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Try the Inn at Ocean Springs for a cozy suite located in the heart of historic downtown Ocean Springs! You'll enjoy nearby shopping and local restaurants as you relax in this charming beachside community. Per NOAA averages, temperatures on the Gulf Coast are in the early 60s during January and February. You might not need to pack a swimsuit, but our mild weather is perfect for escaping snow shovels and window scrapers for a while.
Nothing says culture and class like a night at the opera. The Mississippi Opera Association has been offering quality productions since 1945, and each season runs annually from late fall into early spring. Even if you're not an opera aficionado, you'll love the grandiose drama, sets, and music. If it's your first time, Mississippi Opera's website offers tips to help you feel comfortable and enjoy your experience.
You can get fresh oysters year-round on the Gulf Coast but the Mississippi oyster season peaks in the cold winter months. Gulf oysters are known for being plump and rich with a mild, naturally salty flavor. Desporte & Sons Seafood is a Biloxi market prized by locals for their excellent selection. Whether you like your oysters raw, charbroiled, or fried, grab a sack and invite over some friends for a great meal.
The Children's Museum in Jackson is the perfect way to keep kids learning while they're out of school for Winter Break. Take them through the Literacy Garden, where specially-designed artwork and landscaping are designed to get kids interacting. And be sure to check the calendar for special holiday activities.
Visit Vicksburg's famous McRaven house, beautifully lit beginning in early December, for a one-hour walking tour of the home featuring classic Christmas stories. The first part of this historic home was built in 1797 and is still intact. Rumors of ghosts surround the property, so keep your eyes out for festive spirits during your tour!
This impressive light show is a relative new-comer, but thanks to its success so far it has become an annual event. Beachside meets Yuletide with jolly mermaids and dolphins frolicking among the Christmas trees. You can choose between walking through the display or taking a ride in a heated trolley. Take pictures at designated "Elfie Stations," ride the Ferris wheel, and enjoy hot chocolate, marshmallows, and other snacks.
This two-night event always sells out, so get your tickets early for the Holiday Choral Spectacular. Bring the whole family to enjoy your favorite holiday classics. This musical celebration is a collaboration between the University of Southern Mississippi Choirs, Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra, and local civic and high school choirs.
Natchez is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River, and the holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the history of this beautiful city. Each year, historic homes like The Towers open their doors to visitors. The Towers enhances their holiday decor with thousands of pieces of antique costume jewelry! You don't want to miss this one-of-a-kind Christmas display—USA Today named this one of the “Top 10 Most Unusual Christmas Displays” in the country.
If you love craft beer, this fest is for you. This annual celebration of craft beer takes place in January at the Biloxi Coast Coliseum. Attendees get their own commemorative mug and can sample over 150 different beers while enjoying live music and seminars such as “Cooking With Beer and Food Pairings.”
If you're looking for a New Year's party, check out the "Having a Ball" block party in downtown Columbus. Buy a wristband and enjoy live music, giveaways, and special offers from local businesses. The party starts at 8 p.m. but make sure you stay until the ball drops—at 10 feet wide by 10 feet tall and featuring over 100 lights, it's the biggest ball drop in the state!
Since 2008, runners have gathered in downtown Jackson each January to participate in the Mississippi Blues Marathon. A portion of the proceeds from this race go to the Blues Foundation, and the event is designed to showcase Mississippi's blues history. There's something for every skill level—you can run the full 26.2 miles or participate in a half-marathon, "Quarter Note" marathon, or five-person relay. There's even a one-mile fun run for kids.
Southern writers and filmmakers gather in Natchez each February for a festival celebrating our literary heritage. Attendees can participate in writing workshops and attend lectures on a variety of subjects such as character development and writing styles. You'll enjoy daily lunches and an opening night gala included in the price of your ticket.
There's no better way to celebrate the end of winter than with world-famous Mardi Gras. Parades on the Mississippi Coast are a little less crowded than their notorious New Orleans counterparts, but you won't miss any of the fun! Whether you're looking for a family-friendly parade, a glamorous ball, or late-night revelry, there's something for everyone. The party usually stretches from the Friday before Fat Tuesday until the very beginning of Ash Wednesday. Make sure to get a piece of king cake, a sugary bread known as the official dessert of Mardi Gras. If you get the piece with the plastic baby, you must buy the cake next year!