What are the best things to see and do in Jackson?

Michael Ream

Jackson’s rich history adds to the city’s ideal sightseeing, This Southern city seems to have something for everyone — from rich historical sites to cultural centers. Here are the best things to see and do in Jackson:

1. Visit the downtown buildings. Begin with the Mississippi State Capitol, a granite and limestone Beaux Arts structure topped with a dome and a golden eagle. The nearby Old Capitol was where Mississippi seceded from the United States, and was one of the few buildings in town to survive the Union offensives during the Civil War. Today it is home to a museum of state history.
 
2. Stroll through the Mississippi Museum of Art. The state’s largest art museum has works in many media by many notable artists including Picasso, Miro, Chagall and Rembrandt, in addition to a number of pieces by native Mississippians. There’s also an excellent selection of folk art and outsider art.
 
3. Tour the Eudora Welty House. In a state known for its literary heritage, from Faulkner to John Grisham, this modest home across the street from Millsaps College is definitely worth a pilgrimage for fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Welty called the Tudor Revival-style house home for 76 years, until her death in 2001 at age 92.
 
4. Explore African American history. Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, housed in the former first public school for African American children in Jackson, has exhibits on various eras of African American life in Jackson and in the South, including the Great Migration. It’s adjacent to the Farish Street District, once a thriving African American business area. It has fallen into decline, but you can still chow down on some authentic soul food at Peaches Restaurant, in the shadow of the Alamo Theater, whose marquee dominates the street.
 
5. Head to the Governor’s Mansion. The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, built in Greek revival style, has tours with guides who will explain the history of each room. Behind the governor’s mansion is Smith Park, a public square and the only park that remains from Jackson’s original city plan.

  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    Where is the best shopping in Jackson?

    From high-end antiques in the Fondren District to outdoor gear in Highland Village, great shopping can be found in Jackson. The Fondren District is crowded with antique dealers and specialty shops in a tight grid of city blocks, making it an ideal spot for a stroll and window-shopping. Highland Village is an attractive shopping emporium anchored by Maison Weiss, Jackson’s longtime purveyor of women’s clothing and accessories, as well as Buffalo Peak Outfitters, which offers outdoor and adventure clothing.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the best things to do with kids in Jackson?

    Touring Jackson with kids can be a fun, educational experience. These five picks from Forbes Travel Guide editors are sure to keep kids entertained:
     
    1. Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. A reconstructed historical village, this “museum” has opportunities for kids to learn all about small-town life in 1920s Mississippi. Visit the blacksmith shop, cotton gin, veterinary office and sawmill while guides explain Mississippi’s long farming heritage.
     
    2. Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Located next door to the agricultural and forestry museum, this interactive facility gives kids the opportunity to hit a golf ball, kick a football or toss a baseball just like the sporting greats. There are also extensive displays dedicated to the many homegrown sports heroes.
     
    3. The Jackson Zoo. All sorts of animals romp at this zoo, including red pandas, chimpanzees and Sumatran tigers, among others. There is also a miniature train ride and a carousel featuring a slew of exotic species.
     
    4. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Sitting on the banks of the Pearl River in LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, this museum has lots to keep kids entertained, including an aquarium and greenhouse. Walk the trails that wind through the surrounding park.
     
    5. Russell C. Davis Planetarium. Located in the Downtown Cultural Arts District, the city’s planetarium features sky shows, laser light concerts and large-format educational films.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the best things to see and do in Jackson?

    Jackson’s rich history adds to the city’s ideal sightseeing, This Southern city seems to have something for everyone — from rich historical sites to cultural centers. Here are the best things to see and do in Jackson:

    1. Visit the downtown buildings. Begin with the Mississippi State Capitol, a granite and limestone Beaux Arts structure topped with a dome and a golden eagle. The nearby Old Capitol was where Mississippi seceded from the United States, and was one of the few buildings in town to survive the Union offensives during the Civil War. Today it is home to a museum of state history.
     
    2. Stroll through the Mississippi Museum of Art. The state’s largest art museum has works in many media by many notable artists including Picasso, Miro, Chagall and Rembrandt, in addition to a number of pieces by native Mississippians. There’s also an excellent selection of folk art and outsider art.
     
    3. Tour the Eudora Welty House. In a state known for its literary heritage, from Faulkner to John Grisham, this modest home across the street from Millsaps College is definitely worth a pilgrimage for fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Welty called the Tudor Revival-style house home for 76 years, until her death in 2001 at age 92.
     
    4. Explore African American history. Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, housed in the former first public school for African American children in Jackson, has exhibits on various eras of African American life in Jackson and in the South, including the Great Migration. It’s adjacent to the Farish Street District, once a thriving African American business area. It has fallen into decline, but you can still chow down on some authentic soul food at Peaches Restaurant, in the shadow of the Alamo Theater, whose marquee dominates the street.
     
    5. Head to the Governor’s Mansion. The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, built in Greek revival style, has tours with guides who will explain the history of each room. Behind the governor’s mansion is Smith Park, a public square and the only park that remains from Jackson’s original city plan.
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  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What is the best way to see Jackson in one day?

    You’ll be hard-pressed to fit all of Jackson’s museums and other attractions into a single day; it’s best to pick and choose based on your interests. Here are our top sites and experiences to check out if you only have a day in Jackson:
     
    Begin with a leisurely walking tour of downtown, including the Mississippi State Capitol, Old Capitol Museum, Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, Smith Park and City Hall. After a lunch at The Palette Café, check out the Agriculture and Forestry Museum, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame or Mississippi Art Museum. Spend a relaxing afternoon at the Ross Barnett Reservoir, where locals go for outdoor fun, including fishing, boating and water-skiing. Have dinner at Nick’s, and if you’re up for it, check out Jackson’s nightlife in one of its many live music clubs.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    Where is the best nightlife in Jackson?

    In a city known for the blues, there are no shortages of after-hours bars and clubs to keep you occupied until the sun comes up. Mississippi has produced more famous blues musicians (B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson) than any other state, and Jackson has a generous club scene showcasing this American musical forms. While the city doesn’t jump as much as it did in the blues’ heyday, you can still catch occasional performances in town by blues greats, as well as performances of rock, country and other music.
     
    Live music clubs in Jackson open and close with some frequency. Pick up an issue of the Jackson Free Press for a schedule of upcoming shows. Hal and Mal’s is a big brewpub and music venue in the center of the city that consistently has good acts. Burgers and Blues is primarily a restaurant, but it has live music as well, and Underground 119 is a swank basement lounge just steps from the Mississippi Governor’s mansion that showcases all kinds of music, including blues, jazz and bluegrass.
     
    Hardcore blues fans will want to make the trek to Bentonia, 20 miles northwest of Jackson and home to the Blue Front Café, a classic juke joint where cinderblock walls rattle with gritty, soulful sounds most weekends. It’s one of the last true jukes left, so get there before it’s gone.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the best Jackson food experiences?

    When you’re craving soulful comfort food, head for Jackson. This Mississippi city has must-taste dishes worth traveling for. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors chose a few of the best Jackson food experiences.
     
    The first is fried catfish. Frying up catfish may sound simple, but there’s complex technique involved and you’ll also want the freshest, most succulent Mississippi catfish if you’re going to indulge. We recommend testing out the southern treat at Bo-Don’s, Cock of the Walk or Country Fisherman.
     
    Southern barbecue is a must. The Jackson way to make barbecue involves slow-cooked meat over hickory wood. The result? It falls right off the bone. Pulled pork, country sausage and smoked chicken are tastiest at Chimneyville Smokehouse, Hickory Pit or Red Hot and Blue.
     
    When in the South, get a taste of authentic soul food — think fresh collard greens, cornbread and pig ears. Head down to Farish Street for the real deal — we recommend Peaches or Big Apple Inn, famous for their pig ear sandwiches.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What is the best thing to bring home from Jackson?

    To bring a little Jackson home with you, save room in your suitcase for the best local reading material. Mississippi is one of the more literary states in the nation, turning out famous authors including William Faulkner and John Grisham. Stock up on reading material at Lemuria Books. This bibliophile’s paradise is stocked to the ceiling with books in every conceivable genre, including an impressive selection of Mississippi authors. The staff can help you find whatever you’re looking for, as well as expose you to written works you may not know.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Michael Ream answered the question: Michael Ream

    What are the best neighborhoods to see historic Jackson?

    While much of Jackson’s historic buildings, including many fine antebellum homes, disappeared under successive waves of urban renewal, you can still get a sense of the city’s past in the Belhaven neighborhood, bounded by Riverside Drive, I–55, Fortification Street and North State Street. Cruise or walk along Poplar or Peachtree Streets to see some distinctive dwellings, which can also be seen on Carlisle and Fairview. At the center of the neighborhood sits Belhaven University and the Eudora Welty House, which is open for tours.
     
    Another interesting part of Jackson history can be seen at the 600 block of Pearl Street, where a plaque commemorates the site of the Subway Lounge. The legendary juke joint occupied the basement of a former hotel that was eventually razed, but not before it saw some truly memorable performances by legendary blues musicians. It is said that the ghosts of blues greats haunt the former locations of Ace Records, Trumpet Records and Speir Phonograph Company, all along Farish Street just outside of downtown Jackson.