Are you looking for some great educational places to visit in the state of Mississippi?
We know that homeschool families are often adventurous and love the opportunity to learn from the world around them. A road trip is the perfect way to do just that! To help you get the most out of your travels, we are searching for the must-see educational spots in each state so that we can share them with you!
One of my favorite things about Mississippi is that it has so many diverse pockets of rich history. In fact, history is very much a part of everyday life in this corner of the Deep South. There is so much natural beauty, preserved antiquity, and cultural richness to experience in Mississippi. Here are some of the most interesting places to visit on a road trip through the Magnolia State.
It is positively imperative to visit the town of Natchez, Mississippi, when touring this southern state. Natchez is situated above the Mississippi River and has been home to many different cultures though – perhaps most famously- to some of the wealthiest cotton planters in the South prior to the Civil War. More than any other city, Natchez offers a rare glimpse into the world of the antebellum South, featuring over 600 pre-Civil War establishments. Visitors can go on official tours of many of the antebellum establishments in Natchez and listen to amazing stories about the lives of the owners- and often the slaves – who resided there. Below are some of my favorite tour-guided homes (and other unique sights) to check out in Natchez, MS.
This beautiful, Greek-revival style home covers an entire block in the middle of the city of Natchez. It was restored , and is maintained, by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. Tours are given on a daily basis. However, visitors who tour during the Fall or Spring Pilgrimage will also get the treat of seeing their tour guides in authentic, antebellum attire! The carriage house next to Stanton Hall also serves a delicious lunch spread, featuring endangered Southern classics such as tomato aspic.
This is a very romantic home and property. Rosalie Mansion has incredible grounds, gardens, and a beautiful view of the Mississippi River. It is known to residents of Natchez as “Our Lady on the Bluff.” It rests on grounds that were originally settled by the French who named the settlement “Rosalie” after a French countess. There is a also a very interesting love story and a good deal of family history connected to the home. Visitors can learn not only about antebellum culture but also about family life in times-gone-by from photographs and paintings on the walls. In fact, many of the furniture and items in the house are original to the families who lived there—a very rare find, indeed! Tours are offered daily.
This is easily my favorite mansion to visit in Natchez because it offers a rare moment-in-time look at the effect the Civil War had on the extravagant lifestyles of the wealthy cotton planters of the South. Longwood Mansion is an incredible sight to behold: massive, octagonal, and unfinished. This estate was mid-construction when the Civil War completely halted its progress. Visitors can tour the bottom floor (which ultimately became the family’s residence) and the unfinished upper floors. It’s a haunting and thought-provoking sight.
Long before Natchez was a Southern city or a French settlement, it was home to the Natchez Indians. This people is thought to have inhabited the area from around 500 – 1700 AD. Visitors to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians have a chance to gain a little bit of insight into how the Natchez Indians lived by visiting the site of one of their villages, touring the museum, or attending the special student day they host each year with authentic crafts, dancing, and storytelling.
While the large estates of wealthy cotton owners are a breathtaking sight to behold, there are two sides to the story that they tell. In many situations, far less is known about the African slaves who were brought to Natchez, the lives they lived, and the role that they played in the city’s heritage and culture. The Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture is an important stop to make in Natchez to learn about many of the untold stories and important individuals in Natchez (and Southern) history.
In Port Gibson, Mississippi, you can visit the ruins of what was once an almost 3,000-acre plantation. Interestingly enough, The Windsor Estate escaped burning in the Civil War (it served as a Union Hospital) but later caught fire during a house party. The columns and iron stairways still stand, making this a haunting sight. There is no fee to walk around the former estate.
No tour of any state is complete without a visit to its capital. Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi, features several interesting historical exhibits and places to learn about some of the events and people that make this state unique.
This incredible interactive museum is jam packed with fun learning opportunities for every age (and adults too)! Children who visit have opportunities to expend physical energy while also learning about art, music, biology, physics, farming, and Mississippi history. There are indoor as well as outdoor activities. It’s truly an amazing experience!
Right next to the Creative Children’s Museum is the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, where visitors can learn about different animals and their habitats. The museum also features a large outdoor area and park with hiking and nature trails. The current special exhibit at this museum (through January 2020) is all about dinosaurs. It features 13 realistic-looking animatronic dinosaurs for visitors to see and interact with.
Mississippi is known for some of the creative talent it has produced. Internationally beloved author, Eudora Welty, is one of the gems of Jackson history. In Jackson, you can visit The Eudora Welty House and Museum to learn more about this author’s life and work as well as Mississippi art and culture in general. Welty made the decision to donate her home to the state of Mississippi, so it retains much of its original furnishings and objects, making it one of the most intact literary museums in the country.
Jackson, MS, was the center of much conflict during the Civil Rights Movement. The city’s Civil Rights Museum features interactive exhibits and galleries to engage and educate visitors. Together, the exhibits at this museum tell the story of this important national event in a moving and personal way.
In Jackson you can view the “Boyd House” and property, one of the oldest standing structures in Jackson and one of the few to survive burning in the Civil War. The museum and property is also a site of ongoing archaeological work to learn more about antebellum farmlife in Mississippi. Visitors can view many of the artifacts and fossils that have been discovered there.
Rowan Oak was the home of William Faulker for 40 years. The estate features a gorgeous 29-acre property and historic mansion. It is free to visit the grounds, and a tour of the house is available for only $5. Visiting this estate is a wonderful glimpse of Mississippi history and offers insight into the author’s life.
If you are already in Oxford, MS then you have to check out Square Books. Three separate structures make up this legendary pit stop: Square Books, Square Books Jr., and Off the Square Books. This trio of bookstores will make any book lover happy.
Though there aren’t many official guided tours in Jones County, Mississippi, its unique role in the Civil War makes it worth a stop! Under the leadership of Newt Knight, this county actually seceded from Confederacy and refused to fight for either side of the war, forming the “Free State of Jones.” If you do a little research about the story, or have seen the 2016 movie, The Free State of Jones, you can find that some of the same locations mentioned are still functional parts of the town: The Hotel Alice is still an important part of downtown, and the Deason House (on the registry of one of the most haunted places in America) is actually located on the high school campus. Bonus: If you watch Hometown on HGTV, you will be happy to know that Laurel, MS, is also part of Jones County.
Biloxi and Ocean Springs (separated only by a bridge) make up an area on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that is definitely worth a visit. If you love the coast, you can explore the beaches and unique ecosystem of the Mississippi Gulf in this area. There are also some interesting history hikes that begin here, as well as a vibrant arts culture.
Located in the idyllic setting of downtown Ocean Springs, the Walter Anderson Museum is a beautiful tribute to the work of American artist Walter Anderson. The museum also features rotating collections by contemporary artists and offers numerous creativity-related events from musical performances to storytelling and art classes.
Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965), “Blue Crabs,” c. 1955, Watercolor on Paper, Permanent Collection, Gift of the Friends of Walter Anderson
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art is another wonderful place to observe some thought-provoking art, architecture, and sculpture of the Mississippi Gulf Coast! The ceramics studio offers numerous events and classes for visitors to try.
In a book on the subject, historian James Cobb described the Mississippi Delta as “the most southern place on earth.” “The Delta” is comprised of flat lands, following the shape of the Mississippi River. It is the home of Blues music. When driving through the Delta, much of the landscape and scenery will speak for itself, as the land is very much a piece of preserved history. However, here are some specific stops to make when in the Mississippi Delta.
Blues music is a major part of Southern (and American) culture. This museum is a hub for all things Blues. It offers a glimpse into the origin of this style of music. Their website (link above) also offers information about places in the Delta to go hear authentic live Blues music.
While in the small town of Leland, be sure to stop in to the Jim Henson Exhibit AKA “The Birthplace of Kermit the Frog.” Jim Henson’s Muppets are a fun and influential piece of American culture, and this small museum pays a heartfelt tribute to Kermit et al, as well as Henson, who grew up in this part of the Mississippi Delta.
This military park is a must for anyone with any interest in the Civil War. One thing I also like about it is that it is accessible to anyone. Visitors have the option to walk or complete the driving tour around the 1,800 acres that was once the site of the infamous 47 day battle. There are numerous memorials, works of art, plaques and, of course, graves to tell the story of the events which occurred in this area.
This free museum is also in Vicksburg. Visitors can learn all about the Mississsippi River and the impact it has had, and continues to have, on the land and people around it.
These are just a few of our favorite educational places in the state of Mississippi! We love how many historical sites this state has to offer as well as its rich, creative culture! If you are traveling through Mississippi on a homeschool road trip, be sure to let us know which of these places you visit and what you think!
Do you have any suggestions for must-see educational places in Mississippi? Drop a comment and let us know!