From battlefields to barbeque, small towns in Mississippi exude the flavor of the South. You’ll find communities that celebrate everything from sewing circles to football under the Friday night lights.
With locations from the coast to the uplands, these settlements hold tight to their history and the people who have created them, providing visitors with the unique charm of the Deep South. Let’s look at seven of our favorites.
What Is Mississippi Best Known For?
Endeared to many as the “hospitality state,” Mississippi has long been a place to escape for a Gulf Shores vacation. The inland Natchez Trace Parkway follows an old Native American trail more than 400 miles, running from the southern part of the state up to Nashville, Tenn.
Blues has a home throughout the state, now celebrated with the BB King Museum and Mississippi Blues Trail. As a central player in the Civil Rights Movement, the entire state hosts the Freedom Trail.
7 Best Small Towns in Mississippi
We’ve put together a list of communities across the state that have repeatedly enticed visitors to explore. Let’s look at a selection of seven of the most intriguing small towns in Mississippi.
1. Bay St. Louis, Miss.
If beaches, sunsets, and a little nightlife sound like your perfect getaway, Bay St. Louis should rise to the top of your list. USA Today called it one of the Best Coastal Small Towns in America in 2020. It lives up to the moniker with white sand beaches and casino action when you tire of the sun. Bay St. Louis sits right on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Gulfport.
Traveler’s Tip: If you enjoy Gulf Coast towns, head east and spend a weekend outdoors in Fairhope, Alabama.
2. Holly Springs, Miss.
Next on our list is Holly Springs. Originally settled by the Chickasaw Indians, Holly Springs sits in the northern region of Mississippi, close to the Tennessee border. Today, many historical antebellum mansions await for you to see during the city’s annual homes tour. The Mississippi Blues Trail runs right through this laid-back community. You can also check out the Audubon Sanctuary three miles north of town to see the annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration.
3. New Albany, Miss.
As the birthplace of author William Faulkner, New Albany has developed into one of Mississippi’s most diverse small towns. Its location on the Tallahatchie River commemorates the spot where two Chickasaw Native American trails converged.
New Albany’s popular river festival, arboretum, and vibrant shopping district all attest to the community’s growth. Additionally, the 44 miles of hiking and biking paths known as the Tanglefoot Trail combine with a new disc golf course and waterpark to provide lots of outdoor adventure. The Wolf Howl Animal Preserve and the Ingomar Indian Mounds are two of the most visited attractions in this cozy settlement. And, since this town is located just an hour south of Memphis, Tenn, it’s not too far for a day trip.
4. Port Gibson, Miss.
The Claiborne County Courthouse dominates this very small community along the Mississippi River, located in the southwestern region. Port Gibson was part of the original Louisiana Purchase in 1803, but the French colonized it in 1729. The town is known mainly for its many Civil War sites.
Visitors exploring the Natchez Trace will find Port Gibson along its boundaries. It’s a town full of live oaks, magnolias, and several antebellum homes. Similarly to Holly Springs, the Mississippi Blues Trail runs straight through the town. History buffs will enjoy the Grand Gulf Military Park in this community that Ulysses S. Grant found “too beautiful to burn down” during the Civil War.
5. Cleveland, Miss.
With 18 markers from the Blues Trail, this little delta town is the perfect location for the Grammy Museum Mississippi. Live music thrives here, with performance venues from historic gasoline stations to juke joints and museums. And don’t overlook the fact that The Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, got her start singing in St. Peter’s Rock M.B. Church in Cleveland. The community sits just 19 miles east of the Mississippi in the northwestern section of the state.
6. Corinth, Miss.
Along with its designation as Mississippi’s gateway city, Corinth is a keeper of history. From historic churches and neighborhoods to the Civil War Interpretive Center, this town has a rich collection of the past, present, and future. Go shopping, hike the local trails, play a round of golf, or enjoy the Corinth Symphony.
7. Ocean Springs, Miss.
Dabble in the colorful offerings of Ocean Springs, where artist colony meets beach vibes. Starting life as a French settlement in 1699, this community by the sea has great art galleries, museums, and fine dining.
Grab a ferry boat and spend a day on the quiet beaches of Ship Island in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, or search for sandhill cranes at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. Adventurers will want to explore Davis Bayou and snorkel in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to spot a great variety of fish.
A visit to any of these small towns in Mississippi is certain to elicit comfort, familiarity, and satisfaction. Discover historical locations and revel in the sounds of the Mississippi Delta, then enjoy lip-smacking good soul food and fresh seafood. Have you ever visited Mississippi? Where did you go?