1. Cleveland, 2. Oxford, 3. Bay St. Louis, 4. New Albany, 5. Corinth, 6. Ocean Springs, 7. Vicksburg, 8. Natchez, 9. Canton, 10. Carthage. Mississippi has a lot to offer, from the city's thriving nightlife and urban excitement to the state's numerous historic attractions, landmarks, and cultural sites. You can go on adventures like touring an ironclad warship, discovering science with the kids through immersive exhibits, and learning about Mississippians' musical achievements. Let's discover the most amazing small towns in Mississippi now.
Cleveland is known as one of Mississippi’s best small towns, with low crime, low taxes, and a high quality of life. The city punches above its weight in terms of cultural, social, and educational opportunities for its residents as one of the South’s most charming college towns (home to Delta State University). Cleveland, Mississippi, has a plethora of cultural and heritage sites where you can learn about the region. The Grammy Museum Mississippi will feature interactive exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia dedicated to the legendary awards show, while the Martin and Sue King Railway Museum will feature a detailed model train display as well as exhibits about the railway industry’s history.
A visit to the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum will teach you everything you need to know about the role of Chinese immigrants in American history. With a beautiful and well-kept downtown full of independent boutiques, jewelry stores, galleries, antique shops, cafes, and restaurants, you and your companions could easily spend an entire day there. Along with the downtown, Delta State University adds a university-town vibe to the area, making Cleveland one of Mississippi’s best college towns as well as one of Mississippi’s best retirement towns.
Whether you’re visiting Cleveland specifically or taking a trip through the Mississippi Delta in general, Cleveland is your best bet for luxury accommodations in the Delta. From the downtown Cleveland Marriott Tribute Portfolio Cotton House to the Ascend Collection Lyric Hotel West End resort-style hotel, Cleveland has hotels with on-site restaurants, cocktail bars, and gyms, as well as luxurious concierge spa services and other activities.
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Oxford is a college town in Lafayette County, and home to the well-known University of Mississippi, otherwise known as “Ole Miss”. Built on land that had previously belonged to the Chickasaw until the Pontotoc Creek Treaty, the founders named the town Oxford with the intention of making it a center of learning in the South. When the state legislature chose Oxford as the site for the new state university in 1841, these hopes were realized. In more recent history, Ole Miss hosted the first presidential debate of 2008. The Mississippi State Legislature chose it as the location for the state’s first university, Ole Miss, in 1841.
Oxford is also the birthplace of Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner, who used it as inspiration for his fictional Jefferson in Yoknapatawpha County. Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, a US Supreme Court Justice and Secretary of the Interior, also lived in Oxford and is buried there. After touring campus, stroll through Lamar Park or visit the Civil War-era Confederate Cemetery. Hike through Bailey’s Woods or visit the Midtown Farmers Market for some fresh produce. Before enjoying a relaxing meal at the Ravine, take in some music at Lyric Theatre. Put your feet up and relax at The Nests B&B!
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Bay St. Louis
The small seaside town of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, was caught in the path of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The recovery process was long and slow, but the coastal Mississippi community worked hard to rebuild and resurrect the spirit of this small town. Bay St. Louis is now one of the Gulf Coast’s most underrated destinations, thanks to its laid-back attitude, stunning waterfront, and funky, eclectic local culture. Bay St. Louis is only 51 miles from the unique hub that is New Orleans, but it feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle. The town’s prime location on the Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico, provides a glorious stretch of white-sanded beach with few people. This stretch of coastline is known as Mississippi’s “Secret Coast.”
Old Town Bay St. Louis is a walkable area full of local shops and eateries just off Beach Boulevard. Spend the afternoon strolling through Old Town, checking out the beach boutiques and art galleries. Don’t miss the French Potager, a flower shop and antique store. Plan your visit for the second Saturday of each month, when Old Town hosts a massive art walk complete with live music, local merchants, and other special events.
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When they coined the phrase “good things come in small packages”, they must have been referring to New Albany. The small town in northern Mississippi has a population of only 8,500 people, but what it lacks in population, it more than makes up for in activities. In fact, there is so much to see and do in New Albany that it would be an ideal weekend getaway destination. New Albany, known as “the fair and friendly city”, is nestled in the hills of north Mississippi, about an hour south of Memphis. The vibrant downtown area of New Albany is one of its most notable assets.
The area, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to antique stores, specialty shops, eateries, galleries, independent clothiers, boutiques, jewelers, and other businesses. Unique shops, such as The Vintage Market, can be found in the thriving part of town. Aside from floats, sundaes, and the “best lemonade around,” this vintage soda fountain also has a shop filled with a wide range of merchandise. Another must-see in New Albany is Latham’s Hamburger Inn. The restaurant, according to Business Insider, serves the best burger in Mississippi. The doughburger is the restaurant’s specialty. If you plan your visit carefully, you might be able to attend one of New Albany’s many events and festivals.
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Corinth is in Alcorn County, but it was originally known as Cross City when it was established in 1853. Its name was later changed to Corinth after a newspaper editor suggested it: because the ancient Greek city of Corinth was also a crossroads, like the current town, it was a poetic name change. Following the defeat at the Battle of Shiloh, Confederate General Beauregard retreated here during the Civil War. The approaching Union army descended upon Corinth and took over a month to actually approach the town, a tactic now called “the Siege of Corinth”.
Visit the Veranda House, a headquarters for Confederate generals during the Civil War, the Siege and Battle of Corinth sites, Fort Williams, or the downtown and midtown Historic Districts. Borroum’s Drugstore and Soda Fountain serves old-fashioned sodas, and the Rib Shack serves barbecue. Relax and enjoy the history at the General’s Quarters Inn. Whether you like Coca-Cola or not, a visit to the brand-new Coca-Cola Museum, located next to the old bottling plant, is a must. As an added bonus, admission to the museum is free. Simply ring the bell, and the door will be unlocked, allowing you to explore at your leisure.
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Ocean Springs, located on the state’s coast, has plenty of scenic beauty to offer, but that’s not all the city has to offer. Ocean Springs, the state’s oldest city, is proud of its history. The beachside town is a perfect blend of old and new, with plenty of history as well as great restaurants, shopping, and other amenities. Oceans Springs, on Biloxi’s eastern shore, has a population of just under 20,000 people. The coastal community was discovered by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville in 1699, making it the territory’s first capital. Ocean Springs was originally known as Fort Maurepas and did not receive its current name until 1854.
Dr. William Glover Austin coined the name because he believed the local springs had curative properties. The railroad arrived in 1870, and Ocean Springs was on its way to becoming a prosperous resort town. Tourists began flocking to the beachside town after the railroad line from Mobile to New Orleans was completed. The central business district was relocated to Washington Avenue near the L & N Depot to accommodate the influx of visitors. Hotels and vacation homes quickly sprouted up all over Ocean Springs, particularly on Washington Avenue.
Washington Avenue, which is now part of Oceans Springs’ historic downtown area, is still as popular as it was in the late 1800s. The picturesque street is now lined with lovely oak trees, but that’s not all. Stroll down the historic street and you’ll come across a plethora of shops, galleries, and restaurants. The quaint downtown area has become a favorite of both locals and tourists over the years, and it has even received the “Great American Main Street Award.” Ocean Springs has a reputation as a “arts community”, and it certainly lives up to it.
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Vicksburg’s historic downtown district, which is home to a diverse range of attractions ranging from immersive museums to delectable local restaurants, provides an excellent opportunity to make the most of a relaxing day spent with friends and family. Visit downtown Vicksburg the next time you’re in town. Looking for a memento? Downtown Vicksburg is the best place to look. The city’s local shops offer a diverse selection of one-of-a-kind finds, so you’ll have no trouble finding a souvenir to remember your time in Vicksburg for years to come. Popular shopping destinations include the Attic Gallery and the H.C. Porter Gallery, which both highlight local artists who draw inspiration from the city’s deeply Southern heritage.
After you’ve explored the eccentric collection of shops and galleries in downtown Vicksburg, MS, make time for a delicious meal at one of the city’s renowned restaurants. Vicksburg’s thriving culinary scene offers a diverse range of cuisines, from international favorites like sushi and tamales to authentic Southern comfort food. Vicksburg also has a rooftop restaurant and both a new and established brewpub.
Visit this historic town and the Vicksburg National Military Park. They’ve also kept their historic courthouse, the Old Courthouse, which is well worth a visit. Explore the Linden Plantation Gardens and the H.C. Porter Gallery. Before retiring for the night at the charming Anchuca Historic Mansion and Inn, dine with a view at 10 South Rooftop Bar and Grill.
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Natchez is a must-see because of its rich history and abundance of small-town charm. Many of the cemeteries here bear the names of some of the town’s early founders, as well as those who left indelible marks on the town’s history over the years. It has been dubbed the “Jewel of the Mississippi” due to its location on the Mighty Mississippi. Historic markers located throughout town provide information about the town’s early history. Natchez has a plethora of fascinating facts. Prior to the Civil War, it had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country. Beautiful historic homes are one of Natchez’s main draws.
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Canton, like most small towns in Mississippi, has a charming Courthouse Square and a historic downtown area that is picture-perfect. Unlike other small towns, it has a thriving film industry and a popular annual flea market that draws thousands. Canton is the only town in the state that is quite like it. Canton, Mississippi, with a population of about 13,200 people, is located 15 miles north of Jackson and just eight miles from the famous Natchez Trace Parkway. Canton was incorporated as a town in 1836, with a population of 400 people.
The town got its name in one of two ways, according to historical records. According to one theory, Canton, Mississippi was named after Canton, China, which is located on the opposite side of the world. According to the other story, a local Chinese family’s child died, and the community named the town after the family out of sympathy. The thriving town had two banks, two hotels, ten dry goods stores, a drug store, three grocery stores, a bakery, a tin shop, three tailor shops, two watchmakers, a courthouse, a jail, a church, and a female academy by 1838.
The majority of the charming town is now on the National Register of Historic Places. And that includes the stunning Greek Revival Courthouse in the heart of town. After a two-year construction period, the historic structure was completed in 1857. It was renovated for $2,000,000 in 1995. The charming Courthouse Square surrounds the courthouse. The charming neighborhood is filled with one-of-a-kind shops, museums, galleries, and other attractions. Spend some time exploring Canton, Mississippi’s downtown. You’ll undoubtedly find some one-of-a-kind souvenirs to take home!
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Arriving in Carthage is like traveling back in time to a more tranquil era when life was simpler, and people were less hurried. Carthage’s history includes ragtime musicians, women’s rights activists, and Wild West outlaws, and it’s now a town that welcomes visitors with open arms and offers a taste of small-town America that’s hard to come by these days. Carthage comes to life at the Jasper County Courthouse and Square. The courthouse’s architecture is stunning, with medieval-style turrets and towers. People congregate here, and the town hosts open markets and events.
Mother Road Coffee is a fantastic coffee shop where people will tell you stories from the past and the owners couldn’t be nicer. In the square, there is also a small but interesting Civil War Museum, and the staff is extremely knowledgeable. We drove to the Precious Moments Chapel & Gardens after enjoying the square. The peaceful and serene chapel, inspired by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome, is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It tells Biblical stories with Precious Moments figures that are childlike and angelic. There are murals and stained-glass windows, as well as lovely landscaping, a gift shop, and a café. It is difficult to describe the chapel’s uniqueness; you must go and see for yourself.
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