Mississippi: Wild & Wonderful

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The mighty Mississippi River winds down to the Gulf of Mexico, linking diverse ecosystems and offering endlessly stunning vistas for visitors.

(Anne Power / Dreamstime.com)

"Paddling" the Mississippi River can mean two things: It’s possible to get out on the river in some places and kayak the incredible shoreline of America's biggest river. And…

Taking a Mississippi River tour on a paddlewheel, such as the popular Natchez, is a great way to appreciate the river’s grandeur.

Natchez Trace Parkway is one of America’s most scenic drives, connecting Mississippi with Tennessee and Alabama through hundreds of miles of parkland, but it is so much more. The parkway draws not only motorists but also hikers, cyclists, and campers for its natural beauty, and it is a major “play and learn” adventure for families to explore the rich history of the region.

The Natchez Trace is known for its uniquely beautiful Cypress Swamp, with old-growth trees right at home in the wetlands. Insiders love to catch the Cypress Swamp around dawn, when it can be shrouded in mist for an extra-spooky experience.

Playful and helpful Natchez Trace Trail Markers turn up all over towns in the region, a friendly nudge in the right direction for visitors looking for the next gorgeous must-see.

Vicksburg Military Park does double duty as a significant historical site and a beautiful natural landscape. The circumstances surrounding the battlefield are dramatic: It was here that Ulysses S. Grant led Union troops in a siege of the city that ultimately helped to turn the tide of the Civil War. Today, grassy hills, historical monuments, and shady trees make the park a surprisingly serene place.

Grant’s Canal is a man-made body of water left over from the battle that took place here more than 150 years ago. While Grant attempted and ultimately failed to change the course of the Mississippi River by digging a canal (we know, it sounds far-fetched, but it happened), the remaining stretch of canal today is a lovely spot to contemplate the power of nature.

Sure, you know Mississippi for its musical heritage, great food, and world-famous authors. But we have always loved the Magnolia State for its beaches too. Biloxi Pier at sunrise is enough to entice any world traveler who hasn’t yet enjoyed this beautiful stretch of sand.

Take a ride in one of the majestic Biloxi Schooners to get a view of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast from out on the water.

Gulfport is one of our favorite Mississippi beach towns, and its shrimp boats make for a great photo opportunity. Don’t forget that, in April, Gulfport’s oak-lined, bachfront Centennial Plaza will be the site of one of Mississippi’s three major bicentennial concert events.

Beach lovers flock to Ocean Springs for its charming pier, warm sand, and vibrant cultural scene.


Pascagoula River Audubon Center, in Moss Point, is one of Mississippi’s most superb educational institutions for families who want to explore the state’s natural beauty and sneak in a little learning for the little ones. Exhibits devoted to local wetlands, birds, and the evolving ecosystem are inspiring and entertaining.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, in Jackson, offers hands-on nature programs for visitors, exhibits about the area’s wildlife, and multimedia presentations the whole family will love. And don't forget that in December, Jackson's Entergy Plaza will be the site of one of Mississippi's three major bicentennial concert events.

The bicentennial of Mississippi’s statehood is inspiring celebrations of music, food, and culture all year. There’s also no better time to visit the Magnolia State’s natural wonders, from the mighty river that shares its name to the incredible miles of parkland and shores that inspire vacationers year-round.

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