Mississippi has been on our list of states to visit for ages, and we finally made it a couple weeks ago! Wondering what to do in Jackson MS? We've got you covered from food to sights, kid-friendly stuff, trendy hot spots and things off the beaten path.
This was the first BIG trip that we've taken in a long time! There's a reason we intentionally chose what to do in Jackson MS for our topic and brand partner after a lengthy time of solitude as a family. Jackson's approach to public health absolutely put us at ease. You can view detailed travel safety information on their website. The area currently has a public mask mandate, tons of wide open spaces to explore, and polite people who kindly kept their distance.
Jackson MS Food is Oh-So-Droolworthy
First stop: food. We were absolutely famished after our journey from Boise to JXN Medgar Evers International Airport by way of Dallas. We opted for an upscale sit-down place to kick things off right.
Char is a steakhouse known for their incredible brunches and… well, amazing steak! Our family went surf-and-turf style, pairing melt-in-your-mouth filets with no-filler crab cakes and salmon. Make sure to save room for their famous house-made pecan pie or pecan caramel butter crunch.
If you're looking to keep things casual, right across the way in the same complex as Char is an informal eatery called Aplos. They magically manage to mesh together Lebanese, Italian and Greek influence with kid-friendly burgers, fries and pizza. Mega bonus points for distanced, outdoor seating options. We got a little bit of everything, taking leftovers back to the hotel for snacking.
Pro tip: pizza joints make an amazing first AND last stop for dining during family travel experiences, because it travels well. If you order a little extra, you'll have an easy plane snack or a quick bite back at the hotel room in case you decide you need a break from dining out for every single meal.
That said, in Jackson MS, you really SHOULD dine out always. If you ask any random resident “what to do in Jackson MS,” their top three responses will most likely involve restaurants. The food is SO good. I probably gained five pounds during this trip, and it was absolutely worth the numerous sad, sad salads and smoothies I had to have to make up for it back at home.
Also in Highland Village along with Char and Aplos, you'll find macarons and gelato at La Brioche, incredible espresso at Coffee Prose, and edible cookie dough at Street Dough. Pace yourself, guys!
The hotel we stayed at was the Residence Inn by Marriott at the District at Eastover (say that ten times fast!). We love Residence Inns for their spacious rooms, helpful amenities and always-convenient locations.
This Residence Inn location was right within a popular complex that has tons of trendy shops and eateries including the adorable Fine & Dandy, a grandma-chic spot that pairs dainty china with oh-so-sweet treats like milkshakes and ‘birfday cake.'
We visited on tiny burger Tuesday for a slammin' deal on small bites. At this point, I was ready for some fresh greens, and their Catfish Lettuce Wraps TOTALLY hit the spot. Order yourself a Pimm's cup if you're looking for some European flair and a tummy-taming drink to go with ALL that food.
Just outside, the District Green offers open space for the kids to let loose against a backdrop of beautiful fountains – and occasional live music.
For breakfast one morning, make sure to carve out a visit to Urban Foxes. This charming old home-turned-pastry-shop features handcrafted pies, scones, cookies and coffee! The entire house has fun, funky seating and various meeting rooms throughout, so you can gather in your own cozy space with your family. We took a spot in what looks like it was once the living room, lounging around amidst adorable antique furniture.
If you're more into hot breakfast fare like steak and eggs, you CAN'T miss Brent's Drugs! This classic diner spot serves up soda fountain favorites and southern hospitality in historic Fondren. Its walls are adorned with all sorts of quirky town history, and this spot also played the iconic lunch counter in the movie “The Help.”
Also in the Fondren district, Pig & Pint offers BIG portions of award-winning barbecue and local craft beer along with totally creative renditions of classic favorites like BBQ Nachos, Smoked Tuna Dip, Pepsi Wings, Comeback Coleslaw and more.
This place hit especially high marks with us: Nate spent half the night talking off the owner's ear and trying to uncover all his saucy secrets. Coming from a barbecue-loving family with multiple household smokers and rather high standards, that's lofty praise! This place also gets mega props from me for their awesome to-go specials and scenic, comfortable outdoor seating. If we lived nearby, I daresay this would be a weekly stop for us.
Before hopping on the plane on our last day, we circled right back to pizza time as per our travel tradition! Sal & Mookies was HOPPIN, and with good reason. This was one of the very best pizzas our family has ever had – which is saying a lot. I love that they offer gluten-free crust, wine, ice cream and takeaway treats right on-site.
If it works with your schedule, you should also set aside time to grab a drink and some live music at Iron Horse Grill. Built as the Armour Steakhouse in 1906, the Iron Horse Grill mysteriously burned down – twice – and it's a really fun spot to explore! If you do get a chance to spend some time there, hop on upstairs
Other amazing dining options in Jackson MS include Campbell's Craft Donuts, Newk's, Nandy's Candy and Saltine.
Museums in Jackson MS
After living in California for so long, I've long thought that San Diego had one of the best museum scenes in the world at Balboa Park. Aside from that, our family has seen museums from D.C. to London to NYC, so we don't tend to get our hopes up too high. Then we searched for “what to do in Jackson MS” and saw rave upon rave upon rave about their food. We weren't honestly anticipating about any sort of earth-shattering museum experience.
And we were totally wrong. The museums of Jackson absolutely rocked our socks!
First up, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science was one of the best museum experiences our nature-and-science-loving family has ever had. Conservation Educator Corey Wright gave us a hands-on tour involving an alligator creature feature, turtle time and more. He patiently answered my kids' (fifty gajillion!) questions and left them with a creative seek-and-find activity when our time with him was up.
This museum's extensive hall of creature displays reminded me of the exhibits in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. We're a bit of a museum nut, so we've been to LOTS of these around the country. I believe it's one of the best ways to get a feel for any given region's wildlife.
If you've watched “Night at the Museum” and wondered how YOU can get up-close and personal with perfectly preserved – and occasionally live – specimens – natural science museums are what you should search for in your area. Be warned that with such a vast area of focus, sometimes these museum struggle to balance valuable scientific information against delightful sights for kids without overwhelming them.
Mississippi absolutely hit the mark.
With brains all full of science facts, hop right across the street to the Mississippi Children's Museum to let loose and take in some more (super-stealth) learning opportunities! Little ones can explore from the Delta to the Coast in a hands-on area featuring the biodiversity of Mississippi's many regions. They can also discover various career possibilities in the state through role-play exhibits, learn about body systems, become enchanted by literacy and more.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History are in the same complex, and a visit to one is incomplete without a visit to the other. Start on the history side for a broad look at exactly how Mississippi came to be, and a birds-eye view of its place in history as well as detailed displays that tell important stories about the multi-faceted history of this state.
Then, with that contextual understanding, head over to the civil rights side for an immersive experience that showcases – in vivid detail – the past struggles and ongoing efforts to further equality. As much as we've tried to explain the history of black lives to our children through movies, books and conversation, I believe this was the first time they really understood what that means on a human level.
It was astonishing to see pillars upon pillars listing names lost to atrocious deaths, as well as rooms upon rooms showcasing important historical contributions that black people have made. Graphic areas are well-marked so I could steer the littlest kids elsewhere, and the experience culminated in a beautiful piece of art with a hopeful message.
I don't often say this, but it's one of those things you have to see to truly understand.
The Mississippi Ag & Forestry Museum features permanent indoor exhibits as well as a living history farm, a crossroads town and a forest study area. The boys were enamored with everything from the baby chicks at the entrance to the well-preserved planes and and railroad display. You know we're ALL about that small farm life, and this was a great way to see how it's done on a larger scale.
With much of Mississippi's history centered around cotton production, we got to see numerous tools that were put to work in the fields as well as in-depth coverage of how technology – and humanity – has advanced with time. This was a good space to see how wealth and poverty converged amidst the changing spaces between railroads, automobiles, and social and professional developments.
After gaining extensive knowledge of Mississippi history including civil rights at our earlier museums, the Ag Museum's outdoor displays helped bring it to life. The 39 acres here contrast blacksmith shops, sawmills and grist mills against fueling stations, early printing presses and schools for a literal walk through history's transformation.
Oh, and if you don't feel like walking that far – there's a super fun train!
Outdoor Activities in Jackson MS
We spent an entire afternoon wandering around Le Fleur's Bluff, looking at new-to-us wildlife and fall foliage. The weather was perfect, the setting was charming, and I'm honestly just not sure how else to describe this all-American backdrop.
If we ever come through Mississippi with our RV, it'll be parked right here during all our local explorations. When we do roll back through, I also want to check out the McClain Safari to the northeast of Jackson!
We like to hit as many capitols as possible as a family (and yes, this is the pose we do every single time). The Mississippi State Capitol was a fun one to cross of our bucket list. If you have time, head on in for a self-guided tour of the beautiful stairs, ornate tile and stained-glass windows inside.
If you're into historic sites, you'll also love Eudora Welty House and the Mississippi Governor's Mansion. Both of these can be found on a lot of essential activity lists when looking for what to do in Jackson MS.
Another excellent outdoor activity in Jackson is the art garden at the MS Museum of art, complete with an outdoor exhibit and green space for kids to get out the wiggles.
Off-the-beaten-path Stuff in Jackson MS
Wondering what to do in Jackson MS if beautiful backdrops are your main priority? If you like to ‘do it for the gram' (it's okay, we're eagerly raising our hands right along with ya) then don't miss the multitude of Jackson murals! You can find a full map of every single mural in the city curated by the Visit Jackson team on Google Maps.
Last but not least, we wanted to experience just a bit more small business flair before hopping on a plane back home. Our final stop in Jackson MS was Offbeat, a culture store that sells records, comics, designer toys and apparel. The owner – Phillip “DJ Young Venom” Rollins – started this spot as a way to serve a diverse crowd with an eye on the styles and culture of the past. He showcases minority art and makes a point to source many items locally.
Did we cover your favorite thing? Do you have other ideas of what to do in Jackson MS? Shoot us a line if we missed anything!