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State Spotlight: Mississippi

Courtesy Tupelo CVB

Graceful, stylish, energetic and innovative, Mississippi encapsulates the essence of the new South.

Blending a long historic legacy with a forward-thinking growth plan, Mississippi’s tourism industry accentuates the best elements of its past and its future. Travelers looking to relive the charm of the classical South will find many of their favorite places and faces throughout the state. And modern developments are writing a new chapter in the Mississippi story, introducing high-tech and high-concept attractions that will appeal to coming generations of tourists.

In Natchez, visitors can tour a variety of antebellum homes that have been immaculately preserved. Groups traveling in Tupelo will learn about Mississippi’s most celebrated son, Elvis Presley. And Tunica tourism officials have found a new way to position their destination as the gateway to the state’s famous Delta Blues region.

In Jackson, travelers find a sophisticated city with a contemporary arts scene. Greenwood attracts foodies with a variety of new culinary experiences. And a new science center on the Gulf Coast introduces visitors to the wonders of space exploration.

Elvis lives in Tupelo

The king of rock ’n’ roll was born in Tupelo, and today, the city still celebrates the life and success of Presley in a variety of ways.

At the Elvis Presley Birthplace Park, visitors can see the two-room house where Presley was born, the church he attended as a child, a chapel and a life-size statue of Presley at 13 years old. Administrators will finish an expansion of the on-site museum this summer, adding a theater, a special exhibit gallery and event spaces.

The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau is spearheading a project to unveil a life-size statue of Presley in the Fairpark District of town, located on the old fairground where Elvis performed concerts in the 1950s. The statue commemorates the 35th anniversary of Presley’s death.

Groups can discover more of the area’s music legacy during a trip on the Elvis Driving Trail or a walk on the downtown Elvis Guitar Trail, which features 14 guitar art installations.

Tunica’s Gateway to the Blues
Mississippi’s Delta region is synonymous with great blues music. In northern Mississippi, the city of Tunica has positioned itself as a stopping point for music lovers with a new Gateway to the Blues Visitors Center.

Placed alongside historic Highway 61, the visitors center has a historic feel of its own. The building originated as a train depot in Dundee, Miss., in 1895. Today, the building has been retrofitted with a blues-themed gift shop and a team of travel counselors.

Later this year, an adjoining Gateway to the Blues Museum will open at the visitors center. The 4,000-square-foot museum will showcase a collection of blues instruments and memorabilia once housed in the Blues and Legends Hall of Fame Museum inside the Horseshoe Casino Tunica. Exhibits inside the museum will tell the story of the musicians and communities that played instrumental roles in the development of the Delta blues.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.