Swaying to the rhythm of the Delta Blues, hitting a perfect hole-in-one on a sunny golf course, trying your luck at a dockside casino or touring a grand antebellum mansion — it’s all waiting for you in Mississippi.
From the rolling northern hills to the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, Mississippi represents the best of the traditional and the contemporary, blending a romantic history with adventures in the making.
Mississippi is a focal point of American southern culture, preserving a rich legacy that includes music, performing and visual arts, literature, festivals and food. The blues were born in the Mississippi Delta. Country music can also be traced to roots in Mississippi through Meridian native Jimmie Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music.” Elvis Presley the undisputed King of Rock and Roll, was born in Tupelo. Fiction writers John Grisham, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Willie Morris and Richard Wright; playwrights Tennessee Williams and Beth Henley; and whimsical puppet master Jim Henson are all Mississippi natives.
Virtually every county and corner in Mississippi has a museum to preserve and celebrate our history, art, and culture. There’s a museum to appeal to every interest. They reflect the widespread interest in the culture of Mississippi and the traditions–from the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, to the art museums, including the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, to Rowan Oak(home of William Faulkner). Six not-to-miss are the ones that have earned lofty accreditation from the American Association of Museums. Accreditation recognizes overall standards and excellence. Three of those museums are under the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Those are Jackson’s Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson’s Manship House and Natchez’s Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.
Two other sites that make the accreditation grade are the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel and the University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford. Last is Jackson’s Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. All are open to the public, with no appointment required.
The United States Congress named Jackson, Mississippi, the permanent American home of the USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC). Considered the “Olympics of Dance,” the USA IBC attracts the world’s most talented dancers as it hosts the event every four years. The 2010 competition brought 100 competitors from 31 different countries. Over 27,000 tickets were sold to audience members from 40 states including Puerto Rico and 10 foreign countries. Total investment from the competition generated $10.2 million for the state, a 35% increase from the 2006 competition. The next USA IBC will be June 14 – 29, 2014.
The international recognition brought by the USA IBC to Mississippi has also translated into the attraction of other cultural events of the same caliber. The Palaces of St. Petersburg exhibition in 1996 showcased treasures from the imperial palace museums of St. Petersburg, Russia. More than 500,000 people visited the exhibit. The Splendors of Versailles was another one-time, one-city exhibition. Nearly 150 masterpieces from the world-famous chateau appeared exclusively in Jackson in 1998. In 2001, paintings and decorative arts from the world-famous Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain were exhibited in Jackson. In 2004 rare treasures from Dresden, Germany, were displayed in the Capital City.
Mississippi is home to one professional theater company and numerous college and community theaters. Touring Broadway productions bring events to many communities.
Public education in Mississippi is preparing students for the 21st century. Through implementation of the Education Reform Act of 1982, minimum statewide standards were set for mathematics, reading and writing. Mississippi students have now reached those standards and the Mississippi Department of Education has subsequently raised the minimum levels, setting even higher goals for Mississippi’s students to achieve. Information on online college programs – Affordable Colleges Online.
Eight highly respected public universities are located throughout Mississippi to offer degree-credit courses on the undergraduate and graduate levels. Together these universities offer training for professional careers in medicine, business, liberal arts, technical and science fields.
The statewide community college system has 15 public community and junior colleges represented by 36 centers to ensure that all Mississippians have access to the advantages of a college education. Programs at the community college level include academic, technical, vocational, adult basic education, adult continuing education, general education development, job training partnership and industry related courses.
Jackson, Mississippi, has established a reputation for high-quality, low-cost health care combining up-to-the-minute advances in medical technology with the personalized compassion of an old-fashioned country doctor.
The city’s potential as a regional medical referral center derives from the fact that 115 million people, nearly half the nation’s population, live within one day’s drive. Accessibility to the city is enhanced by its location at the crossroads of major interstate thoroughfares. The Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, linked with the nation’s major air hubs, brings the world to its door.
The North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Mississippi, is the largest non-metropolitan area hospital in the United States.
Mississippi has more than 3,000 doctors, 1,000 dentists, and 100 hospitals located throughout the state. The G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, located in Jackson, is one of only four regional Veterans Benefits Administration locations in the country. The first heart transplant, the first lung transplant and the first kidney autotransplant were all performed in Mississippi by Dr. James Hardy, a surgeon at Mississippi’s University Medical Center.
Golfers will rejoice when they approach the first tee of Old Waverly Golf Club and its beautiful residential community. Listed by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 greatest golf courses, it was the site of the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open. Mississippi’s perpetually mild climate makes the state a favorite among golfers, who can enjoy the game year round on more than 120 public and private courses. The state plays host to the Sanderson Farms Championship, which has been a part of the PGA TOUR since 1968. The proceeds from this event benefit the Children’s of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and other charities.
The Atlanta Braves’ AA farm club, the Mississippi Braves, attracts crowds to state-of-the-art Trustmark Field, completed in 2005.
National forests in Mississippi serve to protect and preserve a variety of wilderness terrains, encompassing over 1.5 million acres (6,070 km2). From the flat, black marshlands rich with wild game and breathtaking bluffs to cool, shaded bayous with sandy shores and primordial forests, the national forests offer a fertile atmosphere for new and fascinating adventures. These beautiful, scenic woodlands invite exploration by foot or boat and provide visitors with the opportunity to discover how the forests looked to early pioneer settlers.
The national parks located in Mississippi provide visitors with a wide range of truly unique experiences. The historic impact and dramatic panorama of the Vicksburg National Military Park weave a hypnotic spell over each visitor. In bold contrast, the Gulf Islands National Seashore combines the graceful, natural beauty of three picturesque islands situated off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The famed Natchez Trace Parkway offers unequaled opportunities to national park visitors for family fun and rediscovery of impressive events in America’s past.
Visit any of Mississippi’s 25 state parks and discover some of the best vacation spots in the world. Whether it’s winding your way down a nature trail or relaxing by an open fire, state parks are some of Mississippi’s best-kept secrets. Hundreds of primitive camp sites offer adventure in the wilderness, while vacation cabins combine rustic appeal with modern conveniences. Tennis, basketball, miniature golf, golf courses, and sports fields will keep even the most avid weekend athlete busy, while skiing, swimming, and boating will whet your appetite for aquatic fun. Each of the parks, including five historic parks, is open year round for your convenience.
Mississippi boasts more than a million acres of some of the best hunting in the entire country. Fifty-two state wildlife management areas and nine National Wildlife Refuges are open for public hunting. Hunters may choose from all types of game habitats–from marshy waterfowl havens to huge tracts of towering pines and hardwoods where silent deer and crafty turkeys make their home. Wildlife management and development practices are carried out in all of the areas. In addition, individual regulation sheets are available on each Wildlife Management Area, including special seasons and regulations.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks operates 18 prime fishing lakes across the state. These lakes offer outstanding fishing on more than 4,030 acres (16.3 km2) of picturesque waters. Fishermen can try their skills at hooking bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish in lakes that range from 55 – 882 acres (0.022 – 3.56 km2). For the saltwater angler, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers shark, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, redfish, speckled trout, flounder, shrimp, oysters and crabs.
Mississippi is host to annual freshwater and deep-sea fishing events that attract anglers from across the nation and foreign countries.