Mississippi is known for its music and food, but the state also offers student-friendly attractions ranging from art museums to alligators. Whether students are dipping their toes in the ocean or filling up on freshly caught shrimp, Mississippi offers something for everyone.
B. B. King Museum
Indianola’s B. B. King Museum offers students the chance to discover the life and legacy of the man whose music played a key role in the development of the blues. Students will trace King’s life from his childhood in the Mississippi Delta to his fame as a legendary musician. Thousands of rare artifacts and award-winning films tell the story of the blues, while group tours and educational programs honor B. B. King’s community outreach work.
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the history of Biloxi and the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi.” George Ohr was a talented artist and early leader of the Modernist movement. He sported a two-foot-long mustache and referred to his creations as “mud babies.” Frank Gehry’s modern architectural design helps to reflect the museum’s mission to celebrate the innovative and creative spirit of its namesake.
Tupelo Automobile Museum
Students will marvel at the size of Tupelo Automobile Museum. With over 150 rare and collectible cars on display, its collection is valued at more than $64 million. It includes cars driven by celebrities like Elvis Presley, famous movie cars and vehicles that are so rare they’ve never been driven. The collection is displayed chronologically to illustrate more than 100 years of progress and innovation. Students can even see the restoration process at the public viewing areas in the restoration bays.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates one of the most significant battles in the Civil War. At the visitor center, students can learn about the lives of Vicksburg citizens who took refuge in caves during the fighting and the struggles of soldiers living and fighting in the trenches. There are exhibits about wartime hospitals and field officers’ tents, as well as historical monuments and cannon displays throughout the park. Students can get involved with Junior Ranger programs or educational trading card games. They can explore the U.S.S. Cairo Museum to get an up-close look at a restored Civil War gunboat and learn about the fight for control of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
Located near Cleveland, Dockery Farms is known as the birthplace of the blues. Students can learn about the history of American music and discover the life and legacy of great American musicians such as Henry Sloan, Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf and Honeyboy Edwards. Exhibits help them trace the impact of the Mississippi Delta blues from B. B. King to Led Zeppelin and the White Stripes. The foundation that offers guided tours of the farm is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Mississippi Delta, and it works to educate visitors about the value of music and agriculture. Students won’t want to miss the audio exhibit where they can listen to Charley Patton singing while they walk through history.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Beginning just east of Biloxi, Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches 160 miles across Florida and Mississippi. Guided tours take students on educational adventures through diverse ecosystems, barrier islands, salt marshes and historic forts. Students will love playing in the white sand or snorkeling in the emerald green waters at America’s largest national seashore.
Gulf Coast Gator Ranch
Gulf Coast Gator Ranch calls the town of Moss Point “Home, Sweet Swamp.” On a ranch tour, students can see alligators from protected walkways and hand-feed the animals. High-speed airboat tours allow students to view pristinely preserved wilderness and wild animals. Students will love seeing alligators and rare birds while flying through isolated swamps and marshlands on the border of Grand Bay Estuary.
Biloxi Shrimping Trip
Biloxi Shrimping Trip offers 70-minute educational tours aboard the Sailfish where students will learn about marine life and the shrimping history of Biloxi. While sailing, the members of the crew drop trawls along the bottom of Mississippi Sound to catch shrimp, crab, stingray and squid. The captain presents the catch of the day to visitors and explains how the shrimp get from the sea to the plate. Students will love spending time on the water and experiencing the delicacies Mississippi is known for.
With locations in both Ocean Springs and Gulfport, The Shed is a Mississippi original known for its barbecue and blues. Founded by a fun-loving family, the hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint was built from strange, scavenged materials, and unique items cover the walls and parking lot. Live music is featured every Friday and Saturday and paired with “100% Old School, Sweet Southern, Down-home BBQ.”
By Sara Stokes