12 Things to Do in Jackson, Mississippi

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Jackson, the capital and most populous city of Mississippi, has a vibrant history and culture just waiting to be explored. From museums and historic sites that highlight the city’s role in the Civil Rights Movement to family-friendly attractions, delicious southern cuisine, and great outdoor spaces, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Jackson.

This article highlights 12 of the top things to do in Jackson, including several attractions that provide the opportunity to learn about the state’s history and the leaders who played an influential role in the Civil Rights Movement, like the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Medgar Evers Home Museum.

Several suggestions celebrate some of Jackson’s cultural offerings, like the Mississippi Museum of Art, and highlight the city’s parks, which offer opportunities for outdoor recreation and events like the Mississippi State Fair. There’s also plenty for families, from the Mississippi Children’s Museum to the Mississippi Braves baseball games. No matter what brings you to Mississippi’s capital city, this guide will help you make the most of your time there.

1.Learn about the Civil Rights Movement at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

As the state capital and the site of significant moments during the Civil Rights Movement, Jackson offers several opportunities to learn about this pivotal time in the state’s history.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 2017, helps explain Mississippi’s role in the national civil rights movement through seven immersive galleries. Visitors can see the restored Greyhound bus where Freedom Riders were attacked in 1961, sit at a lunch counter like Civil Rights activists, and step inside the jail cell where figures like Martin Luther King were detained.

Interactive displays share stories of lesser-known local leaders and events while also documenting Mississippi’s continuing efforts toward racial reconciliation and increased understanding.

2.Tour the Medgar Evers Home Museum


While visiting the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, make time to also visit the Medgar Evers Home Museum, the former residence of prominent civil rights activist Medgar Evers and his family. On June 12, 1963, Evers was assassinated outside his home by a white supremacist.

That same house has now been restored and converted into a museum in his honor, featuring memorabilia from Evers’ life and career. The exhibits provide details on Evers’ background as well as his efforts to end segregation and promote voting rights as the state’s first NAACP field officer.

The museum shed light on a pivotal figure in the state’s civil rights history while also memorializing his life and sacrifice, all in the very place those historic events occurred.

3.Explore Mississippi History at the Museum of Mississippi History


In addition to the state’s civil rights history, visitors can also learn more about Mississippi’s culture and past at the Museum of Mississippi History. Located near the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum as part of a larger state history complex, this museum uses contemporary interactive exhibits to highlight the state’s art, music, literature, politics, inventions, sports accomplishments, and more.

Visitors can listen to blues music, learn about the state’s greatest athletes, see artifacts from Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, and more.

Whether you want to discover the diverse stories behind everyday objects or dive into the events that shaped the state’s complicated past, this museum provides wider historical context and a deeper look at Mississippi life.

4.Check Out a Concert, Festival, or Fair at Smith Wills Stadium


In addition to museums, Jackson offers several opportunities for visitors to experience local culture, food, music, and community at various events held within the city’s outdoor venues.

Smith Wills Stadium, formerly known as Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, has been the site of football games, rodeos, music festivals, the Mississippi State Fair, and other community happenings since it opened in 1950. Located near the Mississippi Fairgrounds Complex, this stadium continues hosting rodeos, music festivals like the Mississippi Mudbug Festival, county fairs, and various entertainment events year-round.

Before heading to Jackson, see what unique festivals or shows might be happening during your visit at this historic stadium venue nestled right in the heart of the city.

5.View Iconic Art at the Mississippi Museum of Art


As the largest art museum in the state, the Mississippi Museum of Art features impressive permanent collections and special exhibitions that celebrate the region’s visual arts heritage and creativity.

The museum focuses on works by Mississippi artists or related to the state’s culture, including pieces addressing folk traditions, the Civil Rights Movement, Southern imagery, and the Mississippi River.

Visitors can find paintings, sculptures, photography, quilts, and more by acclaimed Mississippi natives like Walter Anderson and William Dunlap along with other well-known American artists.

The museum also organizes events, classes, and educational programs for both children and adults, making it a hub for art appreciation in downtown Jackson. Schedule a visit here to immerse yourself in artistic depictions of Mississippi’s culture and communities.

6.Tour Historic Sites like the Old Mississippi State Capitol


History buffs will also appreciate a chance to visit some of Jackson’s preserved historic sites, like the Old Mississippi State Capitol, now a National Historic Landmark.

This Greek Revival-style building opened in 1840 as the statehouse for Mississippi’s government before the capital moved to its current location. Inside, visitors can view the old Supreme Court chamber and Senate chamber along with historic photographs and exhibits.

The self-guided tour shares stories of events that happened within its halls, from radical Reconstruction-era legislatures to the “Mississippi Burning” trial aftermath in the 1960s. Walking through this meticulously restored building provides a powerful glimpse into the past as well as a lesson on the state’s history.

7.Stroll through Smith Park


Jackson is home to several spacious parks that offer lovely scenery and recreational activities for visiting families. Smith Park in particular is considered one of Jackson’s most beautiful green spaces, featuring gorgeous landscaping, walkable paths, a sparkling lake, and plenty of benches, bridges, and gazebos for resting and enjoying the views.

Visitors can stretch their legs on the Audubon Mississippi Trail loop, which winds through forests and meadows surrounding the lake. Pack a lunch or snack and spend an afternoon exploring the lush grounds, watching for local waterfowl, or simply relaxing in nature within the city limits.

With restaurants and museums nearby as well, Smith Park makes for an ideal break during a day of sightseeing in downtown Jackson.

8.Experience Hands-On Learning at the Mississippi Children’s Museum


Jackson offers several educational and entertaining attractions for families and kids, like the Mississippi Children’s Museum. This interactive museum presents dynamic learning opportunities designed specifically with children’s developmental stages in mind.

Permanent exhibits like “Mississippi Explorer” let kids role play various professions around a giant map of the state, while “Expression Station” encourages experimenting with artistic media like animation, photography, and sculpture.

Other rotating exhibits teach early STEM concepts, highlight inventions by Mississippi natives, and celebrate elements of Mississippi culture, nature, and industry like catfish farming. Designed for children 10 and under, this museum inspires learning through hands-on play, making it a wonderful destination for curious young minds.

9.Catch a Baseball Game with the Mississippi Braves


For a fun evening of family entertainment, consider catching a minor league baseball game with the Mississippi Braves at the Trustmark Park. Affiliated with the MLB’s Atlanta Braves franchise, this AA team features competitive baseball games along with in-stadium entertainment, popular giveaways, special events, fireworks nights, and opportunities to meet players.

Trustmark Park also offers amenitites like a kids’ zone, party decks for group outings, and concessions selling southern ballpark staples like barbecue sandwiches and fried catfish. Watch future major league stars take the field while enjoying a taste of America’s favorite pastime with the home team in downtown Jackson.

Whether you’re a lifelong baseball lover orsimply looking for an exciting event on your Jackson itinerary, a Mississippi Braves game promises crowd-pleasing fun for the whole group.

10.Tour Fondren, Jackson’s Arts District


Visitors can experience Jackson’s artistic side by spending an afternoon exploring the lively Fondren neighborhood. Centered along North State Street in downtown, this vibrant district offers patrons locally owned boutiques, art galleries, studios, restaurants, music venues, and cultural sites showcasing artisans and creators from Mississippi and beyond.

Stop into shops like Mississippi Goods or email protected] featuring gifts and goods handmade in the state, or browse the colorful creations at email protected] Gallery from Mississippi painters. Many studios host classes in painting, pottery, and more for a chance to unleash your own creativity.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, grab lunch from popular spots like Saltine or Babalu before continuing down the street to take in more original art and innovative retail. With its independent spirit and bohemian vibe, Fondren offers a window into Jackson’s thriving creative community.

11.Sample Authentic Southern Cooking


No trip to Mississippi would be complete without digging into some quintessential southern cooking, and Jackson offers plenty of options to delight the taste buds.

Restaurants like Walker’s Drive-In have been serving up barbecue, burgers, fried chicken, and old-fashioned ice cream for over 65 years, while staples like the Mayflower Cafe plate up the chicken and dumplings, fried green tomatoes, catfish, and stuffed peppers that locals crave. Be sure to save room for decadent desserts too, like Mississippi Mud Pie loaded with chocolate and marshmallows.

For a true farm-to-table experience at the Strawberry Patch, chefs cook seasonal entrees using fresh ingredients grown steps away at their garden farm. From the blue plate lunch specials to the down-home soul food buffets, diving mouthfirst into Jackson’s culinary scene offers visitors a satisfying sample of Mississippi’s most beloved regional fare.

Conclusion


With its profound history, cultural attractions, natural beauty, and endless opportunities for family fun, Mississippi’s capital has far more to offer visitors than many realize. This guide only scratches the surface of the countless sites to see, flavors to savor, and experiences waiting in Jackson.

Whether you want to honor the giants of the Civil Rights Movement, celebrate Mississippi’s rich artistic traditions, or simply enjoy southern charm and hospitality at its finest, this city provides the perfect destination for an engaging getaway.

So next time you find yourself in central Mississippi, linger awhile and discover the heart of the Magnolia State beats a little louder in its dynamic capital of Jackson.

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