The USA is the largest economy in the world, a global superpower whose currency (US$) serves as a benchmark. There are many contributing factors to the US economy, but technology, in particular, plays an important role.
In particular, a civil rights movement took place sometime in the 1960s. The action was initiated to address the issue of racial segregation throughout the United States. While most people admire the country’s infrastructure, cultural diversity, and nature, it struggled with a divided society.
While the movement took place in different cities, one of the most important cities for the civil rights movement was Jackson in Mississippi. The official capital of Mississippi is located near the Pearl River. The city was named after the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. He was also an army general who played an important role in the Battle of New Orleans.
Known as the “crossroads of the South,” Jackson is home to many museums like the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the Mississippi Sports Hall, and the Mississippi Museum of Art, which discuss the history of the USA and Mississippi. Jackson is also known as the “city with a soul” owing to its famous jazz, blues, folk, and gospel musicians.
As a traveler visiting the USA, Jackson is a city that has to be on your bucket list, owing to its cultural and historical institutions. This article explores the best things to do in Jackon, MS.
Things to do in Jackson, MS
1) Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
Located near the Smiths-Wills Stadium (home of the Jackson Senators), the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame is a must-visit for any sports fan. The museum has many exhibits, including Olympic gold medals, Super Bowl MVP trophies, and even titles of NBA championships.
Apart from boasting a collection of the awards of favorite teams, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame also consists of a separate section for PGA golf tournaments, displays from the Dizzy Dean Museum, and exhibits of high school students who have received the Heisman award. One of the most prominent exhibits honors NFL legends Brett Farve (Quarter Back) and Jerry Rice (Wide Receiver). They were recognized for their passing and scoring abilities.
2) Mississippi Children’s Museum
If you are visiting Jackson with your family, then be sure to visit the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Divided into six different areas, the Mississippi Children’s Museum is not just limited to fun and entertainment; the exhibits are designed to evoke children’s curiosity.
There is a giant map called “Exploring Mississippi.” Its specialty is that children can climb the map and learn about the different regions of Mississippi. The “World at Work” talks about various scientific concepts and how they are related to other industries and careers.
Other exhibits include “Healthy Fun,” “Literacy Garden,” and the “Pollinator’s Playground Garden.” The Mississippi Children’s Museum combines fun activities and learning important lessons.
3) Smith Robertson Museum
The Smith Robertson Museum was named after Smith Robertson, a formerly enslaved person and the first African-American Alderman in Jackson. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, life for African Americans was not easy, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. The Smith Robertson Museum highlights the experiences of being an African American in the southern parts of the country.
The exhibits display the African heritage from the African subcontinent, boasting a wide array of photography and artwork in the visual and master collection galleries. A permanent exhibition named Smithsonian explains the African migration from 1915 through 1940.
The Smith Robertson Museum also has a hall of fame that recognizes the contribution of African Americans in various fields.
4) Jackson Zoo
With more than 120,000 visitors annually, the Jackson Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in Jackson. Spanning 110 acres of land and home to more than 150 species, it is an ideal spot for animal lovers and travelers who want to spend quality time with their families.
Apart from viewing live animals, the Jackson Zoo also has a living classroom where you can learn about the different wildlife species and conservation for endangered species. Some species include the Amur leopard, Sumatran Tiger, colobus monkey, African-fat-tailed gecko, and tropical birds like Macaws. Since there is a huge crowd, visitors are encouraged to book their tickets in advance.
5) Old Capitol Museum
Travel back in time to the old capitol museum. Considered a national historic landmark, the old capitol museum highlights the historical events in the city.
Built-in 1839, the museum chronicles some important events in Mississippi history. These events included Mississippi’s Succession from the Union in 1861, the 1839 Married Women’s Property Act, and crafting the 1868 and 1890 state constitutions.
Furthermore, several Multimedia exhibits explain the roles that legislation and the high court play in the judicial process. Other highlights include a 180-foot dome roof and an eagle statue at 150 feet.
6) Mississippi Petrified Forest
The Mississippi Petrified Forest is a must-visit for nature lovers and history buffs. Located a few miles outside Jackson, the Mississippi petrified forest was once a green forest that has slowly been eroded over time. The forest consists of nature trails where you can find old fossils and the famous “Caveman’s Beach.”
The Caveman’s Beach is a hotspot for taking pictures and the spot where the eroded sands took place. The Mississippi Petrified Forest is where the Earth Science Museum is located. The museum has interesting exhibits of fossils, dinosaur footprints, and the bones of an ancient whale. Other attractions within the forest include Gem Mining Flame, Campground, and the Pavilion.
As the name suggests, the Mississippi Museum was opened to educate the American public about Islamic culture. The museum hosts many exhibits, including the relationship between the Muslim community and other faiths and cultures. Some popular exhibits include The Legacy of Timbuktu, which highlights the complexity of African literature.
Other exhibits include one that talks about the history and culture of Moorish Spain and one that celebrates the spiritual heritage of Ramadan. The international museum includes changing exhibitions that explore important topics like the relationship between the Muslim faith and other Abrahamic religions.
8) Mississippi Agricultural Forestry Museum
While most Mississippi destinations highlight the state’s rich history and culture, spanning 39 acres, the Mississippi Agricultural Forestry Museum explores the importance of agriculture and how it has impacted Mississippi. A popular section of the museum is “Small Town Mississippi.”
As the name suggests, it is a miniature version of what a town would look like during the 1920s. The city included public places like a blacksmith shop, school, sugarcane mill, cotton grin, and other interesting places. Another important section of the museum is the heritage center. It explains how the different transportation methods relate to agriculture and forestry. Other popular areas include the Victory Garden and the Fitzgerald Collection.
9) Mississippi Museum of Art
The central art galleries have a theme around the “Mississippi Story.” This means a theme that is focused on regional artists and topics.
Some popular collections include prints from the 16th century and even 19th and 20th-century artwork. The Mississippi Museum of Art also hosts educational programs and special events, including art garden concerts.
10) Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
Jackson, MS, is host to many museums that talk about Mississippi’s diverse history. The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science explores Mississippi’s ‘natural’ history. Located in Lefleur’s Bluff State Park, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science consists of interactive habitats, specimen collections, and educational exhibits.
There are areas within the Natural Science Museum dedicated to wildlife. Within these areas is a ten 0000-gallon aquarium network, home to 200 species of aquatic life. The museum also has a greenhouse called ‘The Swamp,’ home to reptiles and wetland flora.
The museum also has a large fossil collection and information about Mississippi’s endangered species. The Mississippi Natural Science Museum is one of the best places in Jackson, MS.
11) Lefleur’s Bluff State Park
Apart from being home to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Lefleur’s Bluff State Park. The park offers 305 acres of natural greenery to reconnect with nature. Located in central Jackson, Lefleur’s Bluff State Park is named after an explorer who set up a trading post along the Pearl River.
There are many recreational activities like picnic areas, a 9-hole golf course, disc golf, playgrounds for children, and places to shop and eat. You can also hike in one of the many nature trails of Jackson, MS. There are water activities like fishing and boat launching. The park has 28 camping sites ideal for tent and RV camping.
12) Mississippi Governor’s Mansion
Another national historic landmark on this list, the Mississippi governor’s mansion, is one of the oldest occupied governor’s residences in the United States. A beautiful building to admire from both the inside and outside, it is an example of Greek revival architecture of the 18th century. The mansion was built in 1839 but was occupied in 1842. The best part is that visitors can tour the Mississippi Governor’s mansion free of cost.
13) Davis Planetarium
If you are looking for fun things to do in Jackson, the Russell C Davis Planetarium is the right place to be! Named after the former mayor of Jackson Ms, the Russell C Davis Planetarium is a domed-shaped building that provides visitors with an engaging experience.
Explore the planetarium to understand celestial navigation, voyagers, and astronomy. Such complicated concepts are explained through cinema screens. One of the best planetariums in the south, it has the latest gadgets and accessories.
Apart from space-based concepts, the planetarium has film screenings that are both educational and entertaining.
14) Eudora Welty’s House
Eudora Welty was an award-winning short story writer who won a Pulitzer prize in 1973 for her novel, ‘The Optimist Daughter”. The Eudora Welty house is located on Pinehurst Street in Jackson, MS. Eudora Welty lived there for about seventy-five years. Before her death, she wrote as many as 15,000 letters. What’s interesting is not the number of letters but their content. In the letters, Eudora Welty talks about society during the 20th century and her life in Mississippi.
15) Boyd House
Also called “the oaks,” the Boyd house is one of the oldest homes in Jackson, MS. The Mississippi museum was part of a civil war that caused widespread damage throughout Jackson, MS. A fire in several places leveled the city. The house was built in 1853 and restored in the 1960s (damage caused by the Civil War).
It serves as a museum and headquarters of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. The museum consists of the original furniture received from the Boyd descendants. Apart from the antique furniture, the Boyd house has many walnut-based pieces like a walnut bed, turn top card, and cylinder top secretary. The building is on the list for the National Register of Historic Places.
16) Museum of Mississippi History
The Museum of Mississippi’s history consists of temporary and permanent exhibits showcasing Mississippi’s history. Some of the most important exhibits include The First Peoples Exhibits. This exhibit looks in depth at the first human inhabitants and gives an insight into the people who first arrived before the Europeans colonized the country.
The next exhibit provides interesting facts about the first Native American tribes settled in Mississippi, i.e., Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes. Another display discusses 19th-century slavery, the Civil War, and the “Cotton Kingdom.” However, a must-visit exhibit is the one that highlights the Mississippi civil rights exhibit.
17) Mississippi State Capitol
Theodore Link designed the Mississippi State Capitol. The building was established in 1901 and is the greatest pride for the citizens of Jackson. Mr. Link competed with other applicants in an architectural contest to design the building.
A designated national historical landmark, there are plenty of attractive sights to view within the Mississippi state capitol. These include historical paintings, sculptures of Lady Justice, and the Beaux-arts style architecture. The building hosts state political events since the legislative branch still holds office in the state capitol.
18) Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
As mentioned earlier, Jackson’s MS was important for the Civil War. There is a museum that explores the events that took place in the Civil War. The museum consists of exhibits, films, and memorials discussing the events after the Civil War.
If you are a history buff, explore the photographs and quotes of the people affected by slavery. Apart from photos, some exhibits talk about the church’s role in abolishing slavery and the stories of civil rights activists.
The southern states of the USA are, in general, more relaxed than other states of the country. Also, the people in the south of the states are very friendly. Mississippi, in particular, is a relaxed state. While most US states focus on infrastructure, technology, and education developments, Mississippi has a more traditional approach to improving its economy. In particular, the state mainly relies on agriculture and forestry.
Many prominent events like the civil rights movement, the Assassination of Medgar Evers, and the Ole Miss Riots of 1962 took place in the state. Mississippi was also the largest cotton-producing state during the 19th century, and during the same period, enslaved people accounted for more than half the population.
The state was also home to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, Brett Favre, and many other famous people. With many historical events and the birthplace of many famous people, visiting Jackson is worth your time.