Nicknamed the Hospitality State, Mississippi offers heaping helpings of Southern hospitality and charm. Come see the birthplace of influential people, such as Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams. This one-of-a-kind state offers a wide variety for student groups, including museum tours, hands-on activities and outdoor adventures.

Enlightening Exhibits

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi is named after the famed Biloxi potter George Ohr. Student groups can tour the museum to view exhibits by Southern artists and see what has influenced them, such as events like Hurricane Katrina. Students can seeing how a pot is made from clay as a professional potter throws it on the wheel and then create their own pinch pots to take home.

GI Museum in Ocean Springs honors the sacrifices of American veterans. Students learn about military history through memorabilia such as letters home, uniforms and even candy bars from WWII. The museum hosts living history events, including reenactments, that highlight different wars.

Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica takes your students on a journey through the history of the blues. Students learn what blues music is, where it originated and how the sound spread around the world. The museum also touches on what was going on in America during the time the blues was created, so students can gain a better understanding of how the world around them shapes art and music. Also featured are contemporary musicians and how the blues has influenced their music.

The outside of the museum. Credit: Gateway to the Blues Museum

The outside of the museum. Credit: Gateway to the Blues Museum

Create Long-Lasting Memories

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport is a hands-on children’s museum that encourages students to explore their interests and use their imagination. Students can broadcast environmental news as a news desk anchorperson, operate a crane, drag the Gulf for shrimp, load bananas onto an 18-wheeler, touch a tornado and create a magnet sculpture. In the exhibit What It’s Like to Be Me, students gain insight into differences and disabilities as they take a walk in another child’s shoes. Tree House Village encourages students to use their imagination as they explore nature while playing in the trees.

Students playing veterinarian at animal hospital exhibit. Credit: Lynn Meadows Discovery Center

Students playing veterinarian at animal hospital exhibit. Credit: Lynn Meadows Discovery Center

Learn what goes into caring for animals at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. The institute, a rehabilitation center for dolphins, sea turtles, manatees and other marine animals, offers hands-on experiences that help students understand and appreciate the species of the Gulf. The Discovery Room allows students to encounter stingrays, horseshoe crabs, sea stars and other marine animals in touch pools. Students can also observe various types of fish, frogs and turtles in aquariums. In the new exhibit Animal Adventures, students watch as reptiles, tropical birds and dolphins put on an entertaining and educational show.

Explore your creative side at the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland. Here students learn the history behind various forms of crafting and then create their own projects to take home. Craft activities include soap carving, recycled art, ceramics, fiber art, wire sculptures, rug hooking, surface design, decoupage and seasonal crafts. Demos by skilled artisans introduce students to blacksmithing, glass bead making, woodturning, and cotton spinning and weaving.

making a pot at Mississippi Craft Center facebook

Creating pots to take home. Credit: Mississippi Craft Center

Uniquely Mississippi

Gulf Coast Gator Ranch and Airboat Swamp Tour in Moss Point showcases alligators and other native wildlife. Here you can see some of the oldest and biggest alligators while walking on protected walkways. Get up close and personal with the reptiles as you feed them. On the water, tour guides take you on a fast-paced educational boat ride where you observe swamp land animals in their natural habitat while learning about the area’s history.

Natchez Pilgrimage Tour takes your students on an adventure as they learn about Southern history and the town of Natchez through home tours, cotton plantation tours, reenactments and demonstrations by craftsmen. Descendants of families that built the town discuss their family history and what it was like to live in Natchez. There are carriage rides take groups on guided tours of the town.

Performing in the theater. Credit: Natchez Pilgrimage Tour

Performing in the theater. Credit: Natchez Pilgrimage Tour

Explore the Great Outdoors

Go hiking in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at Tishomingo State Park. Recent archaeological excavations found the presence of Paleo Indians dating back to 7000 B.C., a presence that can be seen through arts and crafts on display. Students can explore 13 miles of nature trails and take a walk on the swinging bridge over Bear Creek, observe over 600 species of flowering plants and explore old pioneer cabins.

swinging bridge tishomingo state park wikipedia

The swinging bridge in Tishomingo State Park. Credit: Wikipedia

Woodall Mountain, the highest natural point in Mississippi, offers views of the surrounding countryside. It is located just south of Iuka and is 807 feet high. A ride up the mountain provides a new look at nature as students see various types of trees, flowers and animals. Along the way there are multiple spots to park and take in the view.

Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs is a great place to learn about history and the impact nature has had on the town. The 3,000-acre center promotes an appreciation of wildlife diversity and inspires students to use what they learned about conservation at home. There are 15 miles of hiking trails, native gardens and wildflowers, ponds, a plant nursery and wildlife viewing area. The site provides lectures, education programs and events for students of all ages.

Mississippi provides students groups with an amazing variety of activities for student groups. If you have been to Mississippi and know of great opportunities, tell us about it below!

By Danielle Pruger