Both Mississippi’s capital and its largest city, Jackson is packed with interesting museums and age-old historic sites. While many of these relate to the state government, others instead look at subjects as varied as science and civil rights, art and agriculture.
Lying on the banks of the Pearl River, it has loads of lovely parks and gardens to explore alongside the artsy Fondren District. ‘The City with Soul’ also has innumerable bars and live music venues featuring blues, folk and jazz.
Thanks to its diverse cultural institutions and attractions, there are things to do in Jackson for all ages to enjoy. Plenty of fun events and festivals are also held in Jackson each year.
14. Mississippi Governor’s Mansion
Right in the center of the city, you can find the marvelous Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. One of the most important and impressive edifices in the capital, it boasts some gorgeous Greek Revival architecture.
The official residence of the state’s governor, it was erected in 1841 with a refined portico and grand columns adorning its exterior. Inside is just as elegant as its dozens of rooms are decorated with fine furnishings, period pieces and historical artifacts. On tours of the meticulously maintained property, you can learn all about the mansion and the various governors who have occupied it over the years.
Now recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the bright white building is one of downtown’s most eye-catching symbols and sights.
13. Mynelle Gardens
Home to lots of colorful plants, flowers, trees and shrubs, the Mynelle Gardens are a very peaceful and picturesque place to spend some time. Lovingly landscaped, its lush lawns and shady sections lie just ten minutes drive west of the center.
What started life over half a century ago as a simple garden has since developed into a botanical wonderland and wildlife sanctuary. Amidst all the azaleas and perennials, you can wander along leafy paths, spy statues and listen out for cheerful songbirds.
A wonderful spot at which to relax and unwind, the grounds also contain small ponds and charming bridges. Aside from taking in the stunning scenery and nature, you can also feed the turtles and fish or snap photos of the park.
12. Jackson Zoo
If you want to see even more animals, fish and amphibians, the delightful Jackson Zoo is definitely the place to go. Established in 1919, it now contains around 250 exotic animals from all around the world.
A favorite with families, it lies not far from the center in historic Livingston Park. Housed within its spacious enclosures and exhibits visitors can see everything from tigers and black bears to hippos, rhinos and leopards. As well as exploring its African Rainforest and Wilderness Mississippi areas, you can attend talks and watch live demonstrations.
The zoo also has a train ride, carousel and splash pad for young and old alike to enjoy. Snack stands and shops are scattered about, as are playgrounds and picnic areas.
11. LeFleur’s Bluff State Park
Despite being surrounded by the city, idyllic LeFleur’s Bluff State Park feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Home to striking landscapes, scenery and nature, it offers all kinds of fun outdoor activities.
Lying along the banks of the Pearl River, the pretty park sprawls across a huge part of north-central Jackson. Besides fields and forests, it encompasses lakes, meadows and swamps with campsites and sports facilities tucked away amidst them.
Winding their way here and there are terrific trails to hike along with fishing, boating and disc golf, all popular sports. In addition to its pristine fauna and flora, the state park hosts a couple of excellent museums and numerous playgrounds.
10. Mississippi Children’s Museum
A top attraction in Jackson for families with kids, the Mississippi Children’s Museum is set at the western end of the park. Within its colorful and creative building are plenty of engaging exhibits and hands-on activities for young ones to enjoy.
Founded in 2010, it focuses primarily on STEM subjects with some galleries also looking at health, literacy and history. Themed areas, art rooms, and even climbing walls, help children to learn through play, touch and discovery. Thanks to its exhaustive array of activities and exhibits, they can happily spend hours exploring the museum.
On top of all the exciting experiments and outdoor areas, some sections delve into Mississippi’s rich history, culture and heritage. With so much going for it, it’s almost impossible to get bored at this amazing museum.
9. Medgar Evers Home
Despite its rather non-descript appearance, the Medgar Evers Home is certainly well worth stopping by when in town. Now a historic house museum, it documents the life and legacy of the influential African-American Civil Rights lawyer.
Completed in 1956, the single-story ranch-style structure was the home of Medgar and Myrlie with civil rights meetings regularly taking place inside. As they advocated for school desegregation and investigated racially-motivated murders, the couple came under a lot of pressure and often received death threats. Tragically enough, Medgar was assassinated in 1963 by a white supremacist who shot him in his own home.
On tours of the small house, visitors now learn all about their heroic struggle for civil rights and the lasting legacy they left behind. A National Historic Landmark, it lies some fifteen minutes from the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum downtown.
8. Mississippi Petrified Forest
An incredible natural phenomenon, the Mississippi Petrified Forest is found towards the northern limits of Jackson. As well as fascinating formations and fossils, it has leafy nature trails and secluded campsites to enjoy.
Thought to have been formed some 36 million years ago, petrified stumps and logs now scatter the forest floor. While hiking about, you’ll see the large lichen-coated remains with informative plaques lining the route. Others are protected in its museum where ancient fossils, dinosaur footprints and even whale bones make up the rest of its collection.
One of the only forests of its kind in the Eastern United States, it certainly makes for a fantastic day out. A gem-mining area and gift shop are also located on-site.
7. Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Museum
If you want to learn yet more about the state’s woodlands, then make sure to stop by the Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Museum. At the huge living-history farm, visitors can learn about the impact of the two industries on the development of the Magnolia State.
The recreated rural town encompasses everything from a school and store to a sugarcane mill and blacksmith shop. These highlight how people used to live in the Roaring Twenties when the cotton trade was booming. Besides housing old artifacts and farm equipment, they contain educational dioramas and displays on the impactful era too.
The Heritage Center also looks at transport and trade relating to agriculture and forestry, while the lush Victory Garden focuses instead on sustainable farming.
6. Eudora Welty House and Garden
Now a National Historic Landmark, the attractive Eudora Welty House and Garden lies just south of Belhaven University. Remarkably well-preserved, the pretty property was the former residence of the well-regarded twentieth-century writer.
Built by her parents in 1925, the lovely Tudor Revival building was author Eudora Welty’s home for almost eighty years. On tours, guests can see her room, writing desk and book collection and all the photos and paintings adorning the walls. A short video, artifacts and exhibits shine a light on her life and novels as do the knowledgeable docents.
While its interior is very interesting to amble about, just as many come for its beautiful garden. Full of roses and azaleas, its landscaped lawns are the ideal place to unwind after some busy days spent sightseeing.
5. Mississippi Museum of Art
Packed with paintings and prints, ceramics and sculptures, the Mississippi Museum of Art really is a must for art lovers. The largest museum in the state, its sleek, modern building lies right in the heart of downtown.
Since being founded in 1978, its collection has grown considerably and now includes masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Jacob Lawrence and Georgia O’Keeffe among others. Wandering through its light and airy galleries really is a treat as intriguing art pieces and installations are displayed throughout. These span several centuries with works by Mississippian and other Southern artists also on show.
After having seen all its exhibitions, venture outside to explore its stupendous sculpture and flower garden. A cafe and gift shop are also on-site with the museum hosting countless community events, classes and festivals each year.
4. Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
As Jackson is synonymous with the fight for civil rights, no visit can be complete without checking out this magnificent modern museum. Only opened in 2017, it offers up an unflinching look at some of the state’s darkest moments in the struggle for social justice.
Very well laid out, its eight enormous galleries tackle tough subjects such as the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow and the Civil War. Artifacts, photos and exhibits all help highlight the innumerable obstacles African-Americans have endured while advocating for freedom and equality. Compelling video and audio displays only add to the museum’s powerful message.
At the end, visitors come away with a greater understanding of the struggles, sorrows and triumphs people have faced in the fight for civil rights.
3. Old Capitol Museum
Just a short distance away is one of the oldest and most impressive buildings in Mississippi: the Old Capitol Museum. Formerly the state capitol, the National Historic Landmark now contains a myriad of interesting artifacts and exhibits.
Set right in the city center, the sparkling white three-story structure stands out delightfully against its surroundings. Completed in 1840, it showcases some gorgeous Greek Revival architecture with a copper cupola topping its phenomenal portico and sturdy corinthian columns.
Until 1903, it acted as the state’s seat of government with tours now taking you around its cavernous interior. With a well-informed guide, you’ll see such striking sights as its restored rotunda, grand chambers and courtrooms. Fine portraits, woodwork and ornaments coat most of its rooms.
2. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
A firm favorite with families, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science boasts umpteen artifacts, aquaria and animal exhibits. Part of LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, it focuses not just on fauna and flora but the history and geology of the state’s natural landscapes too.
Founded in 1933, it occupies a massive modern building in the southwest corner of the park. Within its galleries, you can find informative displays and dioramas with fossils, dinosaur skeletons and fun play zones dotting its floors. While its huge aquarium network houses alligators, turtles and fish, the giant treehouses and walkways outside attract just as much attention.
Both educational and engaging, the museum takes you from prehistoric times right up to the present day. With a greenhouse, nature trails and exciting activities on offer; it is not to be missed when in Mississippi.
1. Mississippi State Capitol
Dominating the city’s skyline is the ginormous dome and glittering golden eagle of the Mississippi State Capitol. The seat of the state’s government since 1903, it exhibits some exquisite Beaux-Arts architecture.
Made out of Georgia granite and Indiana limestone, the large building looms over the green gardens and grounds around it. While its lofty dome and American bald eagle statue certainly steal the show, its fetching facade and colonnade are equally attractive.
On tours, guests can take in the fine features of its marble-clad interior with its remarkable rotunda the undoubted highlight. While strolling about, you’ll learn about its history and architecture, as well as important political events and influential figures related to the majestic capitol.