The Mississippi Hills are a great place to learn about Mississippi’s history. Here’s a road trip itinerary through 5 historic cities.
*This article was written by Jennifer Campbell*
Road Trip Through The Mississippi Hills
If Mississippi isn’t on your travel radar yet, it should be! My home state isn’t all magnolias and catfish, though we’re rather fond of both. Mississippi is the birthplace of The Blues, the home of countless authors, singers, entertainers, musicians, and other artists. I continue to learn more about my state and its people all the time. A road trip through the Mississippi Hills will take you through historic towns, to the original home of “The King”, down an ancient road, to battlefields, and more.
My husband and I grew up in the western Mississippi Hills, and now live in the eastern area. We consider just about all of North Mississippi “home.” So often, we take our hometowns, states, regions, or countries for granted. In an effort to combat this, we began to tour this area with the eyes of tourists. If you take a step back, you may see your own backyard with new eyes. If this doesn’t work, take a step into your local museum or library. You’re sure to learn something surprising!
Now that we’ve learned so much about the Mississippi Hills region, we want to share it with others. With this road trip across North Mississippi, you can see some of the best that our state has to offer!
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Tour Holly Springs, a Mississippi town in the Mississippi Hills known for its historic homes and buildings. The town square has been featured in movies because of its authentic from-a-bygone-era appearance. Modern stores may have moved into the buildings, but the exteriors seem untouched through the years.
The best time to visit the Holly Springs’ Civil War-era homes is during the annual Pilgrimage that takes place each Spring. With admission, visitors can visit an array of historic homes, churches, and other significant buildings around town. This includes the Ida B. Wells Museum, many with costumed docents revealing the stories of the structures, families, and even the furniture.
Visit the home of legendary author, William Faulkner, which was built in the 1840s. The home, known as Rowan Oak, is open for tours so visitors can get a glimpse into the life of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
The one feature that most visitors want to see is the outline of the novel The Fable, written on the study wall. Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds and explore the trail that leads to the University of Mississippi. Visitors can also visit the resting place of William Faulkner at St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Sit next to the statue of Faulkner on the Oxford Square for a great photo op. Also, check out historic Nielson’s Department Store nearby. It’s the oldest department store in the South. If you’d like a literary souvenir from Oxford, look no further than the iconic Square Books for your next great read.
The J.D. Williams Library at the University of Mississippi is home to an extensive Blues collection, works by William Faulkner, and more. At the Lyceum, a statue honors James Meredith, the first Black student at the university, who began paving the road to inclusivity in Oxford.
See where “The King” was born at Elvis Presley’s Birthplace. When you hear the name “Elvis,” what city do you think of? Most likely, it’s Memphis because that’s where his famous home, Graceland, is located. But, if you’re a fan of Elvis, rock ‘n’ roll, or music in general, you’ll want to consider a visit to Elvis’ original hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi.
At the complex known by locals simply as “The Birthplace,” visitors can visit the tiny, two-room shack that Elvis was born in. The grounds also include the church that Elvis attended, a chapel, a museum, iconic statues, and a reflecting pond.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace is a State of Mississippi Landmark and is also a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Visitors will find other historic markers in downtown Tupelo, along with several locations significant to the life of Elvis. This includes Johnnie’s Drive-In, Tupelo Hardware (where Elvis got his first guitar), and the Fairpark (where Elvis performed at his homecoming concert in 1956). Don’t miss the annual Tupelo Elvis Festival, a must-see for any true Elvis fan!
Shop locally on Tupelo’s historic Main Street, grab a dough burger at Johnnie’s Drive-In, and treat yourself with a milkshake from Dairy Kream to feel like you’ve taken a step back into yesteryear. To learn more history of the Tupelo and Lee County area, we recommend a stop at the Oren Dunn Museum. The Mississippi Hills Heritage and Cultural Center, located on Main Street, provides information about the Mississippi Hills area.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to know more about visiting Graceland, check out this Memphis guide!
The Natchez Trace
The Natchez Trace winds its way from Natchez, Mississippi all the way up to Nashville, Tennessee. This scenic road in the Mississippi Hills is maintained by the National Park Service and its visitor center is located in Tupelo.
The original Natchez Trace was formed by migrating wildlife, followed by Native Americans, and later traders, outlaws, explorers, and others. Native Americans created settlements on The Trace thousands of years ago. Now, visitors can visit the Chickasaw Village Site in Tupelo as well as the earthen Pharr Mounds nearby. Visitors can walk on the original path at areas marked as the “Old Trace.” One such area can be found at mile post 269.4.
Corinth is a great stop for history buffs. Learn about the significance of Corinth during the Civil War at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, a part of the National Park Service. Visit the Corinth Contraband Camp, the site where former enslaved people found refuge and began their own communities as free people in the Union-occupied town.
Stop by the oldest drug store (that’s been in continuous operation) in Mississippi, Borroum’s Drug Store, for a slugburger (a local specialty) and a milkshake. Learn about Corinth’s connection to Coca-Cola at the Corinth Coca-Cola Museum. It’s home to a large collection of Coke memorabilia. Also, find out even more about Corinth and its importance as a former railroad town at the Crossroads Museum housed in a historic train depot.
Pro Tip: If you’re a Civil War history buff, we also recommend you visit Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Final Thoughts On A Road Trip Through The Mississippi Hills
There’s so much more to see and learn in Mississippi! We encourage you to explore other regions of the state as well, such as the home of The Blues in the Mississippi Delta (and the birthplace of Kermit the Frog!) or the beautiful riverside city of Natchez (the state’s oldest municipality).
We continue to explore our home state, learning not just about its famous figures and historic buildings, but also about its sin of slavery and racism and how to move our state and its people forward in a positive, inclusive way. The past teaches us lessons, so by learning the history of an area, we can be better people, make better choices, and ensure that history does not repeat itself. Mississippi is called “The Hospitality State”, and we believe that hospitality should be genuine and extended to all.
About The Author: Jennifer Campbell is the founder of travel blog Just Chasing Rabbits. She lives in Mississippi with her husband/travel partner, Mark, and their fur babies. Jenni and Mark enjoy finding the world’s iconic, amazing, and unusual sites, sharing their stories, and inspiring other kids-at-heart to seek adventure. You can follow their adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.