Along the Pearl River in the state of Mississippi, lies the capital city of Jackson. Considered part of the deep South, it's nicknamed the "City with Soul," boasting a rich historical background and deep artistic culture. From experiencing one-of-a-kind festivals, to learning how the area was shaped by major historical events, to enjoying classic Southern cuisine, you can't go wrong in taking a weekend getaway here.
What Is the Capital of Mississippi?
Jackson, Mississippi, is not only the state's capital, but also its largest and most populous city, with almost 200,000 Mississippians residing across 113.2 square miles. The big town lies in west-central Mississippi in Hinds County, about a 15-20 minute drive from Ridgeland, Clinton, or Madison, an hour to hour-and-a-half away from Yazoo City and Meridian, and two and a half hours away from Columbus. Lying just 180 miles North of New Orleans, you can stop by there while road tripping from St. Louis, or fly in from places such as New York or North Carolina.
Brief History of Jackson and Mississippi
The U.S. state of Mississippi's history is characterized by the movement of indigenous Native Americans in North America and the establishment of state government as European and American settlers paved their ways West. In 1792, French-Canadian trader Louis LeFleur was the first to settle in Jackson, and by 1820, the U.S. acquired the Mississippi territory from the Choctaw Nation (Native Americans that originally occupied Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana) by the ratification of the Treaty of Doak's Stand.
Jackson was named after General Andrew Jackson, who later became the seventh president of the United States, as a way to honor his victory at the Battle of New Orleans, during the War of 1812. As the city grew, the state legislature passed the first state law in the U.S. to allow women to own and run their own property. Nevertheless, the city didn't truly develop until after the American Civil War.
During the Civil War, the state capital became a strategic manufacturing center for the Confederacy. However, the Union disabled the military campaign that eventually led to the city of Vicksburg's significant capture, forcing Confederates North towards Canton. And as the Confederates continued to retreat, the Union eventually captured Jackson. After the Civil War, Mississippi continued to be one of the Southern states where legislators passed new amendments and practices that still prevented African-Americans from voting.
Mississippi, also known as the "Magnolia State," was the 20th state to join the U.S., named after the Mississippi River on the state's western border. And with all the historical change that happened on Jackson's land, there's so much to explore as the city's deep culture is full of diversity.
9 Reasons to Visit Jackson, Mississippi
1. Mississippi Museum of Art
If you're a museum buff, then Jackson is the perfect place to visit. There are 29 museums in the city that features all the area has to offer, extending from art to the Civil Rights movement to sports and to kids. This list of the city's museums includes the following and much more: Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Art, Agriculture & Forestry Museum, Children's Museum, Civil Rights Museum, Museum of Mississippi History, Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, and Smith Robertson Museum.
2. Lefleur's Bluff State Park
Set on 305 acres of land in the heart of Jackson, LeFleur's Bluff State Park provides a sweet oasis in an urban setting. You can camp, fish, or simply explore the all trails the park presents. RVs are allowed in the park, and there are also primitive camping spots. You can fish on Mayes Lake (a license is required), and there is also a nine-hole golf course within the park.
3. Old Mississippi State Capitol
Considered one of the most historic buildings in Mississippi, the Old Capitol Museum or Old State Capitol building was built in 1839, acting as the site of passing several significant legislations, including Mississippi's secession from the Union in 1861. A National Historic Landmark, the old state house has been restored to showcase its original beauty, and if the state capitol building itself wasn't enough, it's actually home to the Mississippi Hall of Fame, holding many historic artifacts and documents.
4. Eudora Welty House and Garden
Visit the house that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty lived in for nearly 80 years, from the time she was 16 years old until she died. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you can see the rooms where she wrote The Optimist's Daughter and her other famous works. You can also visit the garden she and her mother created together, a must-visit for literary fans from everywhere.
5. Russell C. Davis Planetarium
One of the largest planetariums in the country, the Russell C. Davis Planetarium is a delight for people of all ages. With new and modern digital technology, you can travel to the edge of the universe, engaging in rich educational content regarding astronomy and celestial navigation in the 60-foot diameter projection dome. Only 25 other planetariums in America equal or exceed this facility's size. Although it's undergoing renovations during the summer of 2021, you can expect it to be even more spectacular than before.
6. Brent's Drugs
Opening its doors in 1946, Brent's Drugs is an old-fashioned soda shop. Its menu consists of sandwiches, salads, and breakfast foods, but of course, the center of it all is the soda fountain menu. Try a classic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry shake, or be more adventurous and try the "cookie monster," a cookies and cream ice cream concoction with hot fudge, Oreo cookies, graham cracker crumbs, topped off with whipped cream and a cherry. With every bite, you'll take a step back in time.
7. Fondren District
The Fondren District is for art and music lovers. With eclectic boutiques, a happening live music venue, some of the best restaurants in the city, and even a Frank Lloyd Wright building, this may be the trendiest neighborhood in the city. Check out Duling Hall, a concert venue in a former elementary school auditorium, or head over to 306 Glenway Drive to see "Fountainhead," the house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for J. Willis Hughes in 1948.
8. Hal & Mal's
If you're looking for a memorable place to dine, then this venue is a must-visit. Taking a modern approach to the old-school party spirit, you can catch a big concert or a small, intimate show in one of the many parts of the place. You'll have a delectable menu to choose from as the restaurant serves Mexican-New Orleans infused foods, and you can embrace the same honky-tonk essence, just Mississippi-style with all the local art, music, and culture.
9. Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
Named after the Natchez Trace Trading Post located in Hohenwald, Tennessee (just less than three hours away from Memphis), this hiking trail is a whopping 444 miles long, running parallel to Natchez Trace Parkway's scenic motor road. Hailing all the way from Nashville, the trail goes through Natchez, Mississippi, which is about 90 miles southwest of Jackson. So if your road trip decides to take a little nature break, here's a good place to enjoy one the most historic places in the U.S.
?Have you ever explored the museums or cultural districts in Jackson, Mississippi? Share your adventures on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!
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