Gators, gambling, and the Gulf Coast are just a few attractions that make Mississippi more than fried food and swamp land. Here’s how to spend seven days in the Magnolia State.
Day One: Fly into Gulfport
Book a roundtrip flight to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT) and head north to Jackson, Mississippi, as soon as the plane lands. Jackson is a great base for exploring all that inland Mississippi has to offer. After checking into your accommodations, relax over some southern cooking at Lou’s Full-Serv, where you can order crawfish fondue and bourbon cake to kick-start your week in the deep south.
Day Two: Explore Jackson
Jackson is home to excellent museums such as the Mississippi Natural Science Museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Nearby is LeFleur’s Bluff State Park Mayes Lake along the Pearl River, which is an excellent location for a picnic and a day by the water to beat the summer heat. The park also sports an expansive playground and children’s museum to keep younger travelers occupied.
Day Three: Civil War History
Learn more about Mississippi’s role in the Civil War. Less than an hour north of Jackson is Vicksburg National Military Park, where visitors can tour a Civil War battleground, memorials, and exhibits. Approximately 90 minutes west of Jackson, at Windsor Ruins, are picturesque stone columns that have remained standing over 100 years in the aftermath of a large plantation fire in 1890.
Day Four: Biloxi
After spending your first three days in the middle of Mississippi, it’s time to drive south to the Gulf Shore. Biloxi is a hotspot for gambling and even houses a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. There is no shortage of restaurants in Biloxi, especially when it comes to fresh oysters and seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Across the street from the Hard Rock is the Hurricane Katrina Memorial to honor victims who lost their homes and lives in August 2005.
Day Five: Ferry to Ship Island
From Gulfport, visitors are able to take a convenient ferry ride to Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island, built in the 1800s and surrounded by beautiful white sand on the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Pack a lunch and plenty of sunscreen, and don’t forget to check the National Park Service website ahead of your ferry ride for any facility closures or safety notices that could throw a wrench in your plans.
Day Six: Airboat Swamp Tour
On your last full day in Mississippi, spend your day in the swamp by booking an airboat tour through Gulf Coast Gator Ranch. On Gulf Coast Gator Ranch tours, guests are guaranteed gator sightings and even have the opportunity to feed the gators if they dare. After your ride on a high-speed airboat through the swamp, take a walking tour around the ranch. To find out how to book a tour with Mississippi’s only airboat swamp tour operator, visit www.airboatswamptoursofmississippi.com.
Day Seven: Depart Gulfport-Biloxi
After returning your rental car to the not-so-crowded Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, settle in and have a snack at one of the few terminal restaurants available. If you’re looking for a gourmet meal prior to your flight home, be sure to find a breakfast or lunch spot in Biloxi or Gulfport before reaching the airport, where your only choices will be Arby’s, Gulf Coast Grill and Taproom, or a newsstand (although there’s never a bad time for Arby’s curly fries).