If you’re planning a visit to a thriving state capital in the heart of the South, you’ll want to check out this list of great things to do in Jackson, Mississippi. “The City with Soul” is home to a prominent live music scene, with eclectic jazz, blues, and folk performances abundant.
The city was named after General Andrew Jackson in 1821. Jackson went on to be elected as the seventh President of the United States. The city may have its roots in American Civil War History, but the genuine hospitality, gourmet food, and vibrant sightseeing make visiting this city a memorable experience today. The trip you take can become one for your personal history book with many memorable things to do in Jackson, Mississippi.
A city with such historic charm and regal features has several different types of accommodations for you to consider when traveling. When selecting things to do in Jackson, Mississippi, you’ll want to ensure the location you decide upon is a high priority, along with the quality of the accommodations. Below is my favorite when staying in Jackson.
Things To Do In Jackson Mississippi: Where To Stay
The Fairview Inn
Cozy in-room fireplaces and whirlpool tubs will whisk you away to a relaxing stay at the historic Fairview Inn. There are 18 types of luxury guestrooms and suites at this unique bed and breakfast. Room rates start at $219 per night and include complimentary Internet access, full Southern a la carte breakfast, and much more.
On the property you’ll find delicious gourmet meals and handcrafted cocktails. 1908 Provisions, a refined casual restaurant specializing in farm-to-table, authentic Southern-inspire cuisine, has something on the menu for everyone.
The Library Lounge, a cocktail bar complete with a full collection of Civil War era literature, is open until 1am on weekends and midnight during the week. Peruse the menu of signature beverages or have the bartender prepare your favorite to enjoy the ambiance of this handsome, cozy lounge. This lounge is a popular hangout on the weekends for locals in the area and a great place to enjoy a bite to eat or a cocktail while enjoying conversation. When I was here I tried one of their cocktails made with egg whites and it was insanely delicious. In addition, I tried both the raw and baked oysters. Loved them both, especially the bakes ones with BACON!!
I had the pleasure of staying in a Spanish Suite at the Fairview Inn. The room features a majestic four-poster queen bed as well as a separate sitting area that had wonderful sunlight through the day. The fireplace was such a welcoming, historic touch that you don’t find in many guestrooms. In addition, the room had a whirlpool spa in the ever so spacious bathroom.
One of my favorite features of the Inn was the guest kitchen. It is essentially this gorgeous kitchen is a “minibar” for guests offering beverages, a large variety of coffees, tea andhot chocolate, an honor bar, and fruits, cookies and a cake of some sort. There is also a fridge to store food of your own.
Fun facts: Matthew McConaughey once stayed in the Inn when he was shooting a movie locally AND the movie ‘The Help’ had a party at the Inn.
Things To Do In Jackson Mississippi: Activities
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
This fixture is a must-see among things to do in Jackson, Mississippi. Beginning with the end of the Civil War and culminating with U.S. history in the 1970s, there are many emotional exhibits chronicling stories of slavery, photographs relieving trauma, lynching, and much more. The murders of Emmitt Till and Medgar Evers are memorialized in a somber tone, and you’ll even see mug shots of the original Freedom Riders depicted here.
This is a colorful museum depicting many important stories. Mississippi does an extraordinary job ensuring future generations will not forget what happened in the state’s history, impacting the national culture and civil rights we have today.
State Capitol and Old Capitol Museum
Built in 1839 and featuring regal Greek Revival architecture, the State Capitol building has been home to many important pieces of legislation, including where Mississippi made the decision to formally secede from the Union in 1861. Today, visitors can observe local Mississippi Senate and House sessions live from the public viewing gallery when they occur.
Today, it also sits as a National Historic Landmark, and has been beautifully restored to include the interactive Old Capitol Museum, worthy atop the list of things to do in Jackson, Mississippi. Guided tours are available for visitors to learn more about the exhibits, architecture, and rich political history.
Spa Day at Soul Spa Jackson
Whether it is 50 minutes or a full day, one of the best things to do in Jackson Mississippi is to wind down. I went to the spa pretty soon after my arrival into the city and it was perfect. One of the best massages I have ever had too!
I went with the 50 minute Soulful massage. My therapist tailored the massage to my needs. When I met with her she asked about areas that I wanted work done on or to avoid and delivered the perfect 50 minutes of relaxation. Self care is healthcare!
Mississippi Museum of Art
The art here focuses on local Mississippi art, with colorful expression yet an eclectic mix of classical, contemporary, and modern art styles. The museum also offers specially designed interactive exhibits for children to express themselves through art exercises.
There is a large section focusing on the Civil Rights movement in the South. Additionally, you’ll find extensive exhibitions depicting the cultural impact of Native Americans in this region, who have a strong history in Mississippi. Photography and sculpture work is also included throughout the museum.
Volunteers are often available to provide guided tours of the Museum, if you desired additional insights into the exhibits displayed. There’s even a relaxing patio, terrace, and café on the Art Museum property. Spend a day taking in the state’s fine art and you’ll see why this museum is a truly remarkable thing to do in Jackson, Mississippi.
When you are looking for things to do in Jackson Mississippi, don’t forget about the street art. There are several murals throughout the city to see in various sizes. My favorite piece was the ‘Jackson’ mural.
Spend a lovely day strolling along the largest green space in the city and you’ll find a surprisingly enjoyable thing to do in Jackson, Mississippi. Sprawling 22 acres in the city, this cemetery was founded in 1823. Its design includes wisterias, magnolia trees, and other beautiful landscape features. The cemetery was once permitted a burial space to all residents, and since the late 1800s poor burial records have been maintained, so there are many unknown souls in the cemetery. Don’t let this deter you from discovering the intriguing nature of this special burial place.
Visit Highland Village
While Highland Village is great for the locals in terms of grocery shopping and events. It is even better for visiting guests because it is a one stop shop for elevated fashion, incredible food and plenty of courtyard space to spread out and enjoy the area.
You’ll find everything from award winning dessert at Char, to hand crafted Popsicles at Deep South Pops, health and beauty shops, kids clothing, apparel for men and women, wine, a bank, Whole Foods, and so much more.
My personal favorite stop at Highland Village and a must on your list of things to do in Jackson Mississippi is to stop at Char for their pecan caramel butter crunch. It will change your life. Thank me later!
Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
Find your way through LeFleur’s Bluff State Park to this special feature on wild specimen collections, educational exhibits, and natural habitats showcasing a different type of Mississippi’s history. You’ll find a 100,000-gallon aquarium showcasing over 200 species of native aquatic life.
There’s a sprawling fossil collection, wetland flora, turtles, alligators, deer, and more. The Discovery Room tree houses are designed for kids to enjoy, and there’s much throughout the entire interactive experience for all to be fascinated with, making this one of the top things to do in Jackson, Mississippi.
Hal and Mal’s for Live Music and Drinks
One simply doesn’t visit Jackson and not go to Hal and Mal’s right? This is a great local spot for drinks and live music.
Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
Traveling with a sports fan to Jackson? If this venue isn’t on the top of their list of things to do in Jackson, Mississippi, it soon will be.
Two legendary football players have carved their way into prestigious royalty when it comes to Mississippi pride in its athletic prowess. With both having relatively recent careers in the NFL, they might even be household names where you come from. Jerry Rice, the leading scorer and receiver in NFL history, as well as Brett Favre, the leading passer in NFL history, both hail from Mississippi. You’ll find these stars commemorated in this extensive museum, as well as numerous NBA titles, World Series championships, Olympic gold medals, and much more athletics memorabilia.
Cathead is the first and oldest distillery in the entire state of Mississippi, and located in Jackson! Fun fact, Mississippi was the very last state to repeal prohibition and Cathead Distillery lit the first legal still in the state. The distillery offers daily tours that last about 30 minutes.
Currently the distillery offers various flavors of vodka, gin, bourbon, and chicory liqueur.
While I was visiting, Cathead was doing a craw fish boil with a live band and drinks aplenty. It sounded like this was a common event for good weather. It was a great place for families, pets and a good time for all.
An eclectic, vibrant art scene is integral to any city, and Jackson is alive and well thanks to the thriving Fondren District. With music and visual arts present throughout the space, you’ll find small town boutiques and 20+ locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and bars. The Fondren District is an eclectic neighborhood with so much to do.
There is extensive history for the Fondren family, who first bought nearly 500 acres of land in Jackson, MS in 1845. It was once known as the ‘Sylum District, short for the Mississippi Lunatic Asylum that was once in close proximity. Today, it still has a poignant, quirky vibe with eclectic vendors, artists, performances, food tastings, and more. Originally the neighborhood boundaries went through several iterations of development since that time, but today stands as the official “Downtown Fondren Historic District”.
Book signings, specialty beer dinners, trivia nights, acoustic performances, cupping demonstrations, exercise classes, and barter markets all take place in the Fondren District. You can even take guitar lessons at Fondren Guitars, a local musician-owned shop. As it is considered the birthplace of blues music, this is a truly authentic activity to consider when visiting, and another fun thing to do in Jackson, Mississippi.
Fun fact: Brent’s Drugs filmed scenes from ‘The Help’ here – Skeeter meets up with Hilly and her friends sitting at a restaurant table inside.
4th Avenue Party
NO ONE gets the party going like 4th Avenue! When I showed up here I thought I was just going for drinks and light bites, what I found was the place to be in Jackson! Filled to the brim with beautiful people, gracious staff, delicious food, and all the good music. Treat yourself and order a bottle for your table, it comes complete with the beautiful girls who work there and fireworks!
For food – do NOT miss the cheeseboard with alligator sausage and the chicken and waffles. The chicken wings were some of the best wings I have ever had anywhere.
I would highly recommend inquiring about a table if you are looking for a seat during your visit as they were capped at capacity when I left around 11:30pm on a Saturday.
Eat To Your Hearts Content!
One thing Jackson Mississippi does very well is food! One minute you could be at The Pig and Pint eating meat twinkies or brisket nachos on a bed of pork rinds, to homemade pasta at Parlor Market, a craw fish boil, ahi poke nachos, a meatloaf panini, you name it.
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Disclaimer: This post is written in collaboration with the Visit Jackson Tourism Board. As always, opinions are entirely my own.