12 Things to Do in Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo is a vibrant city in northeast Mississippi that offers visitors a unique blend of Southern charm, rich history, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures. Known as the “Birthplace of Elvis,” Tupelo is where the King of Rock and Roll was born in a small two-room house in 1935.

Beyond its connection to Elvis, the city has well-preserved historic districts like Downtown Tupelo with interesting architecture and several notable museums and attractions worth exploring.

Tupelo also serves as a gateway to the natural beauty of North Mississippi with a number of state parks, wildlife refuges, lakes, and other outdoor recreation areas located just a short drive from the city center. No matter your interests, you’re sure to find plenty of things to see and do in Tupelo. Read on for the top 12 attractions and activities in Tupelo that should be on your Mississippi bucket list!

1. Tour Elvis Presley’s Birthplace and Museum

No trip to Tupelo is complete without visiting Elvis Presley’s Birthplace, the humble two-room home where the music legend was born on January 8, 1935. The home has been faithfully restored to how it looked during Elvis’ early childhood years in the 1930s and 40s.

Take a guided tour to see furnishings and family memorabilia plus the famous walk-in outdoor privy where Gladys Presley apparently first realized her son had musical talent as he would sing old gospel tunes to himself there!

Across the lawn, the modern Elvis Presley Museum provides a more in-depth look at each era of the artist’s illustrious career featuring performance outfits, gold records, cars and more artifacts from his later life. Be sure to pose for a photo op on the newly installed memorial statue commemorating Elvis’ birth year in the center of the museum lobby before you leave.

2. Stroll Down Historic Downtown Tupelo

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Downtown Tupelo is the cultural heart of the city boasting charming public squares, interesting early 20th-century architecture and a number of boutique shops, galleries, restaurants and entertainment venues worth exploring.

Start your visit at the Tupelo Visitor’s Center to pick up a downtown walking tour map then take an enjoyable stroll from block-to-block while learning about key sites like City Hall, the historic Lyric Theater and various points of interest around each square.

Popular stops for shopping and dining downtown include establishments like Blue Canoe, Sweet Peppers Deli, the local Tupeelo Honey café and more all located around Main Street. Be sure to visit the Tupelo Hardware Company where Gladys Presley famously bought her son’s first guitar as a boy in 1945 too. The store still prominently displays a replica of Elvis’ first guitar in honor of that iconic purchase that changed music history.

3. Tour Tupelo’s Notable Historic Homes

In addition to Elvis’ boyhood residence, Tupelo has two other notable historic house museums; the Oren Dunn City Museum and the Frank Spain House. The Oren Dunn City Museum is a gorgeous, circa-1859 Colonial Revival-style mansion that provides an inside look into how Tupelo’s elite founders once lived during the post-Civil War era. Rooms display the Dunn family’s original furnishings from the 19th and early 20th centuries plus there is a permanent exhibit documenting Tupelo’s history from 1864-1920.

The Frank Spain House offers another glimpse into early 20th century life in Tupelo within the fully-restored former residence of a prominent local businessman. Dating back to 1910, the stately neoclassical home contains most of the Spain family’s original belongings and showcases middle-class life in the 1920-30s. Guests can view rooms decorated with authentic furnishings and fashions of the period.

Both homes offer periodic specialty tours plus host community events throughout the year. They make for interesting stops to further explore Tupelo’s bygone days.

4. Visit Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo

At Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, visitors can observe American bison herds roaming huge open pastures and also see exotic animal species from around the world. It makes for an especially fun outing for kids and families. As you drive through the park, stop to view massive buffalo up-close then head to the zoo area filled with monkeys, lions, bears, zebras, camels and many other animals.

Be sure to pet and feed the cuddly goats and deer in designated petting areas and catch one of the interactive animal shows at the amphitheater which could feature tropical birds, reptiles or other special critters.

The park and zoo host plenty of seasonal events too like Easter egg hunts, carousel rides and a lively “Boo at the Zoo” Halloween party. With rolling hills for picnicking and a large gift shop for souvenirs, it offers a full day of Western-themed family fun.

5. Learn about Tupelo’s Past at the Oren Dunn City Museum

Tupelo’s Oren Dunn City Museum located inside a 19th century Colonial Revival mansion gives visitors insight into the area’s cultural heritage and key events that shaped the region. Permanent exhibits chronicle Tupelo’s history from 1864 through 1920 using authentic artifacts, photos and displays focused on early settlers, the Civil War’s devastating impact locally plus other defining eras like construction of the railroad through town.

Rotating exhibits highlight specific topics related to Tupelo’s past too like education, commerce, church history plus early 20th century home and lifestyle trends. For example, an 19th century bedroom displayed with clothing, quilts, grooming products and furniture provides perspective into what daily home life was like back then for many Tupelo residents.

With lovely grounds and gardens surrounded by historic neighborhood streets, the Oren Dunn Museum makes for an enriching outing for learning about Tupelo’s formative years beyond just Elvis’ connection to the city.

6. Hike, Bike or Paddle at Tombigbee State Park

Nestled among the heavily forested hills above northeast Mississippi’s Tombigbee River, the nearly 7,000-acre Tombigbee State Park is a prime spot to enjoy hiking, biking, paddling, camping and all sorts of outdoor recreation.

From Tupelo, it’s just a quick 45-minute drive north. Miles of multi-use trails open to both cyclists and hikers wind throughout the park allowing you to spot great wildlife and soak up gorgeous scenery.

Paddling along the Tombigbee Waterway flowing on the park’s eastern border treats you to serene winding streams, small waterfalls and lovely sandstone bluffs dotted with pine trees. Rent kayaks and canoes in town or bring your own vessel to launch.

Don’t miss out on visiting the park’s popular kid-favorite landmark, the 52-foot long Whispering Cliffs wooden suspension bridge swaying high above the river too.

With nearly 200 campsites and cozy cabins available, consider staying overnight or even for an off-the-grid long weekend while experiencing everything this stunning state park has to offer.

7. Watch the Tupelo Elvis Festival’s Huge Parade

A huge, flashy affair attended by upwards of 20,000 fans annually, the Tupelo Elvis Festival is the city’s way to honor its most famous native son through celebrating the life and legacy of the iconic musician with contests, exhibits and special events.

Held over several days around Elvis’ mid-August birthday week, a highlight is always the celebratory Elvis Parade rolling through Downtown Tupelo featuring colorful floats, bands, vintage cars and plenty of performers donning Elvis style jumpsuits and pompadours.

Kids and visitors take home lots of candy and beads tossed from floats much like a Mardi Gras atmosphere. Hybrid vehicles decked out in Elvis tunes and imagery carry the festival royalty court while everyone cheers them on during the grand procession.

Live music continues into the evening with family-friendly shows around Fairpark headlined by talented Elvis tribute artists from all over the world plus past festival competition winners.

8. Marvel at Art, Antiques and Elvis Collectibles

In addition to Tupelo’s many museums and cultural sites, art lovers will appreciate the impressive collections showcased at two privately-owned local galleries open regular hours for guests to freely peruse.

The Booth Museum proudly displays an ever-rotating selection of 19th and 20th century American fine art plus French Post-Impressionist paintings within a gorgeous facility reminiscent of a historic small-town Southern opera house.

Fans admire fresh new pieces from renowned artists monthly with past works by Degas, Renoir, Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec passing through the Booth’s hallowed halls.

Just down the road lies Haynes Gallery exhibiting one wealthy individual’s eclectic personal collection ranging from British antiques, Chinese artifacts, Tiffany lamps, Steiff teddy bears, model trains, carved ivory tusks and an entire room dedicated to rare Elvis memorabilia.

This diverse art and antiquities museum offers visitors unusual things to discover as they wander the grand, whimsical rooms filled with thousands of objects collected over 50 years by proud owner Reverend Billye Sherrod.

9. Take in a Show at the Historic Lyric Theater

First opened in 1912 as a majestic vaudeville house, the Lyric Theater still hosts live entertainment over a century later though now functions primarily as Tupelo’s performing arts theater staging musical concerts, plays and hosting community events.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the restored landmark boasts stunning Beaux Arts style gilded architecture inside its 850-seat auditorium equipped with modern sound system and lighting capabilities.

Touring groups like the Russian Ballet Theatre or Atlanta Symphony routinely make stops at the acoustically excellent Lyric Theater during their seasons but you also may catch talented local choir ensembles, dance recitals and art school productions gracing the venue’s grand stage. In October 2022, it is slated to host world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Check the playbill for upcoming shows or even consider getting tickets if your Tupelo travels happen to coincide with Elvis Presley Birthplace City tradition — donning costumes then attending “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” midnight screening at the vintage Lyric around Halloween.

10. Shop for Antiques, Home Décor and Southern Goods

From upscale antiques stores and quaint gift boutiques to old-fashioned general stores packed with locally-made pantry items, Tupelo boasts no shortage of places to shop till you drop while in town. Most stores selling home furnishings, women and baby apparel, accessories, collectibles and other specialty retail exist in two primary locations — Downtown Tupelo along Main Street plus over on West Main in an area known as Furniture Market.

Top picks downtown include Blue Canoe, Sweet Peppers Deli and the Tupelo Honey General Store for artisan food products, kitchenware and Southern-themed gifts. Vintage Chic Treasures, Southern Accent and other well-curated antiques malls hold fabulous deals on anything from jewelry to mid-century modern furnishings.

Further west near the Tupelo Furniture Market historic district, explore massive multi-level stores like Timeless Collection, Southern Grace and Design Gallery packed wall-to-wall with every home décor item imaginable. Bring a big empty car if serious about shipping new fragile finds back home!

Whatever your tastes or budget, leave room in your luggage while passing through north Mississippi’s top shopping destination.

11. Catch a Concert by Tupelo’s Civic Orchestras

A impressive cultural mainstay for the city, Tupelo proudly hosts two distinct orchestral ensembles offering regular public concert series — the Tupelo Community Concert Association and Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.

Supported by strong municipal funding plus corporate sponsors and patrons since their respective inceptions during the 1960s/70s, both continue thriving allowing residents and visitors alike opportunities to enjoy classical and seasonal pop music shows right in town.

The Community Concert Association stages professional five-show seasons largely funded via affordable memberships granting access to reserved seating. Guest artists headlines each concert choosing setlists spotlighting beloved composers.

Catch crowd favorites like ABBA, Beatles or Motown tribute acts one night then a Mozart cello ensemble orHollywood movie scores performed on piano and violin the next show.

Meanwhile, the homegrown Tupelo Symphony Orchestra ensemble rehearses weekly, usually anchoring their own batches of concerts around traditional wintertime themes plus an outdoor “Symphony at Springfest” performance. Occasional youth recitals and visiting celebrity guests artist might supplement their musical offerings.

With acclaimed talent gracing local auditorium stages frequently, be sure to look up these civic orchestra schedules whether simply wanting an evening of relaxed entertainment or if passionate about the vibrant, living arts during travels through northeast Mississippi’s cultural hub.

12. Cheer on Tupelo’s Minor League Baseball Team

For high-spirited fun during warmer months from April through September, catch an action-packed game watching the Tupelo Honey Pups compete in the college wood bat “Sumrall League” playing home games at Tupelo’s Ballard Park.

Part of a 10-team circuit consisting of similar elite amateur collegiate squads based around northern Mississippi, passionate local fans know players names and statistics by heart coming out to support the scrappy small-town team.

Modeled after traditional minor league baseball complete with concessions, between-innings entertainment and a party deck area for groups, expect an exciting nine innings with the Honey Pups squad. Tickets are affordable with seats available as open general admission or reserved plus season pass packages.

Arrive early to tailgate, meet team mascot Honey Bear then settle in for what always becomes a tight ballgame no matter the opponent that night.

Don’t be surprised if the stadium public address announcer cues up “Jailhouse Rock” or “Hound Dog” over the loud speakers when a Pups hitter steps up to the plate either. Baseball and music go hand-in-hand here paying homage to Tupelo’s favorite hometown slugger, the king Elvis himself!


Whether you’re an Elvis fan making a pilgrimage to his humble beginnings at the Birthplace museum, a history buff eager to explore Tupelo’s landmark districts and attractions memorializing regional heritage, or an outdoors-lover looking for new scenic trails to conquer then places to freshly eat, drink and shop ‘til you drop when back around town — visiting Tupelo, Mississippi undoubtedly provides memorable adventures to suit any taste or budget.

From the annual excitement generated by the huge Elvis Festival drawing tens of thousands to its Summer parade and parties, to cheering the home team Honey Pups baseball squad on until the season’s final out, Tupelo invites its many guests into the community fold while upholding its reputation as a foremost cultural pillar within the state of Mississippi.

When people hear the city’s name, images of Elvis often still come to mind first sparking intrigue about his early days spent in the place fans affectionately dub “the Birthplace.” But as evident above, present-day Tupelo also flourishes as its own vibrant destination ready to charm visitors through historic neighborhoods and varied local arts plus serve as the ideal home base from which to explore everything naturally beautiful about North Mississippi’s forests, rivers and trails.

So come prepared to eat, play and stay awhile discovering your own personal favorite things out of the many incredible experiences awaiting you around Tupelo!

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