Explore The Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile National Scenic Byway and All-American Road that connects Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. The scenic, recreational route follows the Old Natchez Trace, a historic travel corridor used by Native Americans, European settlers, soldiers, and many others through the centuries. In addition to driving the route, visitors can also find options for hiking, biking, camping, and more along the parkway. Tupelo is home to the Natchez Trace Headquarters & Visitor Center, a National Park Service site that offers exhibits and information about the parkway.
Pilgrimage To Strange Brew
Its too easy to picture Elvis as either a Las Vegas attraction or a scandalous boy gyrating on Ed Sullivan. However, before the opulence of Graceland, Elvis was a poor boy in Tupelo. Ambition is a dream with a V-8 Engine, but its easy to see how young Elvis just wanted to entertain.
The birthplace has a museum, the hand-built shotgun house where he was born, and his childhood church that was relocated to the grounds. The image is one thing, and the human being is another. Walking through these exhibits, you get to meet Elvis, the human being, and not Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll.
Pay A Visit To Tombigbee Lake State Park
This park is a popular site for a wide range of recreational activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and disc golf.
It features a lake, playground, barbeque grills, tennis courts, ball field, picnic tables, and more.
Located at the center of the park, Lake Lee is a popular spot for fishing.
Surrounded by dense foliage, the lake is a spectacular visual to behold.
Go hiking along the invigorating trails, enjoy a picnic against the picturesque backdrop, play a fun game of volleyball, soak up the tranquil atmosphere, and camp here at night.
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Attend The Tupelo Elvis Festival
If youre in the Tupelo area in mid-June, be sure to check out the annual Tupelo Elvis Festival. The Tupelo Elvis Festival features some of the top Elvis tribute artists in the country and includes a preliminary competition for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. The winner named in Tupelo goes on to compete at Elvis Week in Memphis. We watched two shows at BancorpSouth Arena and found ourselves extremely entertained and impressed by the performances.
Late Afternoon Friday Explore Downtown Tupelo
If you love boutique shopping, street art, local restaurants, and even have a passing interest in The King of Rock and Roll, you Cant Help Falling in Love with downtown Tupelo. We recommend you check out shops like the Caron Gallery specializing in local Mississippi art, and RAW furniture Company that pays homage to Tupelos history as a furniture manufacturing hub by creating handmade furniture from reclaimed Mississippi wood. Another must-stop shop is Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis bought his first guitar. However, plan wisely because many of these shops close at 5:30 weeknights, are only open for a couple of hours on Saturday morning, and all are closed Sunday.
After the stores close, make a few stops on the Elvis Tour like Lee County Courthouse, where Elvis first sang on the radio in 1946, and the Elvis Homecoming Statue, where Elvis performed in 1956 to a packed crowd at the fairgrounds and was given the key to the city.
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Travel Back In Time At Chickasaw Village Site
The Chickasaw people used to call Tupelo, Mississippi, home.
According to local historians, Chickasaw forts and villages thrived on this territory in the 1700s.
There are now interpretative signs and artist renditions depicting what the community might have looked like today.
Here, you may find hiking and walking trails.
The Blackland Prairie Trail is a six-mile-long path that may take you to the Old Town Overlook and the Parkway Visitor Center.
To cross a road and a creek, certain path sections necessitate walking on the parkway.
You can also spot plants and their usage by the American Indians on an instructive one-half-mile route.
As part of a loop, hikers can simultaneously use the hiking and horse trails.
See The Diverse Animals At Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo
Encompassing over 200 acres, this zoo features more than 260 animals, including several buffaloes, one of the tallest giraffes in the country, camels, zebras, capuchin monkeys, Burmese python, lemurs, blackbuck, African grey parrot, peacocks, Arctic fox, llama, deer, horses, rose tarantula, and several more.
The distinguishing feature of this zoo is that you can pet the animals and feed them as well.
What’s more, kids can try pony rides at the zoo.
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Join Elvis Tupelo Self
In Tupelo, you can also take Elvis self-guided tour.
A self-guided bike ride takes you to 14 places in Tupelo that were important to Elvis in his childhood.
Rent a bike to most of the goods in the area, or you can add your own.
The tour includes Lyric Theater, where Elvis went to see theaters, Johnnies Drive-In, where he loved food, and Tupelo Hardware Store, where his mother bought him his first guitar, among other places.
Take Advantage Of The Tupelo Coffee Scene
Start by heading over toStrange Brew Coffeehouse which is a local & independent coffeehouse. Strange Brew specializes in original espresso drinks and lattes.
Another delicious coffee shop to try isTupelo River Coffee. This small husband and wife startup has been serving some hot brews since 2017. They serve hand-crafted lattes, cappuccinos, and more.
Working remotely? Indigo Cowork is the place to be. Their saying is caffeinate and collaborate, so you know you can get some work done here. This chic and productive space is only $35 a day for a drop-in with 24/7 access. Enjoy the conference rooms at an additional cost and of course, take advantage of freshly brewed coffee from Tupelo River Coffee. They are connected to each other.
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Enjoy The Shops And Sights Of Downtown Tupelo
Downtown Tupelo is just so cute and while I have listed off quite a few spots to check out while downtown, there are still a few shops and places to check out.
Once youre downtown and have checked out the different murals and Elvis sights, look around for guitars on the sidewalk! This is the Elvis Guitar Trail. There are more than 25 Elvis-themed guitars scattered around downtown for you to take a photo.
I also recommend stopping by Reeds Department Store, one of the oldest department stores in Mississippi to step back in time and The Lyric Theatre, its so cute! To check out a bit more of Tupelos art scene, stop in at Caron Gallery, featuring local Mississippi artisans. I also loved the cute little shop, Raw Furniture for souvenirs and home goods, but there are so many other great local shops here. Relics Antique is another popular antique store just a few blocks from Main St.
Sweet Tea & Biscuits Cafe
The Sweet Tea & Biscuits Cafe is a family operated business serving homemade Southern favorites Tuesday through Saturday. It is the epitome of southern hospitality. The recipes have been passed down from the owners mother.
Although the restaurant is popular with Tupelo locals, it has also been featured in Paula Deens Magazine. If you dont have time to stop in and eat lunch, pick up a casserole or dessert from the Take Home Freezer.
My daughter, Taylor, and her husband Blake, visited Sweet Tea & Biscuits Cafe during lunch. Taylor had the Homemade Pimento and Cheese Sandwich while Blake ordered Mommas Famous Chicken Salad Sandwich.
Not just any chicken salad, but a hearty salad of mixed spring greens, tomatoes, toasted almonds, and juicy sliced red grapes. They finished their lunch by sharing a slice of Strawberry Cake, but swear the best parts of their meals were the Southern Sweet Tea and friendly staff.
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Visit The Oren Dunn City Museum
Located in Ballard Park, this museum educates its patrons about the history of Tupelo and its nearby regions.
Its permanent displays portray the historic Battle of Tupelo, prominent achievements in agriculture and industry, the destructive cyclone in 1936, Chickasaw history, and more.
It also features a model railroad, a train car, dioramas, images, fossils, historic buildings, and other regional memorabilia.
The museum hosts the Dudie Burger Festival and the Dogtrot Festival in May and October respectively.
Throughout the year, numerous events are organized here, such as toy exhibits, geology exhibits, fossil shows, summer camps, and more.
The park in which the museum is situated features scenic views, play areas, picnic spots, and hiking trails along a lake.
Enjoy Great Food And Music In Blue Canoe
In Tupelo, Blue Canoe is the go-to venue for innovative live music.
It has smart, mostly hands-on bar cuisine and offers a daily special most evenings.
They have won Mississippi Magazine’s Best Dessert in MS award three times.
With 48 craft beers available on tap, Blue Canoe pub is proud of its beer selection.
They promise that you won’t get thirsty!
Regularly, Blue Canoe features big-name artists.
Show up for the music stick for the beer and food, with former acts including Alabama Shakes and Gary Clark, Jr.
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Friday Night Dinner Kermits Outlaw Kitchen
To be fair, Kermits Outlaw Kitchen has nothing to do with Muppets and green frogs. It keeps showing up on must-eat in Mississippi lists because of an unrelenting commitment to downhome food done right. As they say, its where Mississippi farms meet Mississippi tables.
However, Im looking for an Elvis tie-in here, Dont Ask Me Why. I was looking for that Puppet On A String / rainbow connection where Kentucky Rain created a Pocket Full of Rainbows, but I couldnt make anything work. I do Love Me Tender wood-grilled meat and delicious craft cocktails, so I guess Ill have to let it go at that.
Go On Elvis Tupelo Self
You cannot visit Tupelo without giving the king himself some of your time. Spend your day bike riding around town to fourteen of Elvis famous location spots with theElvis Tupelo Self Guided Bicycle Tour. This includes the Mud Creek Swimming Hole, where Elvis and his friends used to swim, Lawhon Elementary School where Elvis attended elementary school, and the Lee County Library where he got his first library card! I break a few of my favorite stops out in separate sections down below.
No bike? No problem. You can rent a bicycle atKing City Cycles. That way, you can take your time exploring Tupelo by bike while seeing all of Elvis main hot spots. Hotel Tupelo also has free bikes to use for guests.
In addition to Elvis, you can also check out some other historic town sites. Stop by the Tupelo National Battlefield, where the 1864 Battle of Tupelo was fought during the Civil War. It is only about a twenty-minute bike ride away from the Elementary School.
Dont want to bike? You can easily do a self-guided driving tour with this guide!
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Natchez Trace Parkway Welcome Center
Come here to learn everything there is to know about the Natchez Trace Parkway. A ranger is generally on hand to answer all your questions and there are often special events going on here as well We came just in time to see a performance from about 30 dulcimer players! Several Parkway points of interest are within easy driving distance of downtown Tupelo, including the Chickasaw Village site, a mysterious row of Confederate graves, and the Pharr Mounds, which I mentioned earlier in this post.
Source: Tupelo Farmers Depot
Relax By The Lake In Veterans Park
You can arrange to spend some free time in Veterans Park with your loved ones. Many locals use this public park, which features a nice forested area, specifically to play disc golf. This park is bordered by two lakes, which means youll undoubtedly enjoy the tranquility of the entire area.
The park is appealing to children since it has a variety of walking pathways and a playground with play equipment. It has parking, gazebos, a community center, a pavilion, and softball grounds. The seasonal splash pad tends to make vacationing more enjoyable for adults as well as kids.
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Relax At A Boutique Hotel
Right in the middle of the action and walkable to most everything downtown is Hotel Tupelo, a 79-room hotel that opened in 2021 in Tupelo’s Fairpark District. Feel like a rockstar in the Elvis-inspired King’s Suite, outfitted with mid-century modern furniture and dÃ©cor and overlooking Main Street. On the ground level, Jobos Surf + Turf is a restaurant and bar serving up coastal cuisine with a Southern twist, plus a popular weekend brunch.
Saturday Day Trip / Tanglefoot Trail Or Natchez Trace
If you got in too late Friday to explore downtown, its a perfectly reasonable thing to do here instead. You could swap out the ride on the 45-mile Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame Tanglefoot Trail for a self-guided Elvis bike tour. Its all good. You Aint Nothing But a Hound Dog, cycling all the time.
If youre not into riding or somehow kept from indulging in all that great Tupelo food, you can always go for a drive on the Natchez Trace. Its one of Americas great scenic roads, and the headquarters is just outside of Tupelo.
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Go Shopping At Relics Antique Market Place
Relics Antique Market Place is a one-of-a-kind antique mall.
It hosts over a hundred antique vendors selling a broad array of vintage goods, such as furniture, home décor, apparel, glassware, clocks, paintings, cutlery, jewelry, and plenty more.
The mall also features stores of local artists exhibiting their works and a nice coffee shop.
Best Things To Do In Tupelo Mississippi
April 9, 2021 By Angela Dowdy
Tupelo, Mississippi is best known for being the Natchez Trace Parkway headquarters and the birthplace of Elvis Presley. The area is filled with unexpected beauty and vibrance at every turn. Tupelo is in the northeastern corner of the state and is the seat of Lee County. This town of just over 38,000 has shown remarkable resilience through wars, fires, and tornadoes. The folks who live here are incredibly friendly and helpful. You could say they are full of the milk of human kindness.
Tupelo was originally inhabited by the Chickasaw and Choctaw indigenous tribes. European settlers began to arrive in the 18th century. Growth was due to cotton mills, dairy, and becoming a hub of railroad transportation.
History runs deep in Tupelo, as visitors can clearly see by the many wonderful sites, trails, murals, and markers. Visitors are sure to be delighted with the variety of food, shopping, entertainment, and all there is to do in Tupelo.
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Swing At Bel Air Golf Course
At the Bel Air Golf Course site, there is a delightful 9-hole regulation course called Bel Air. The golf course was inaugurated in 1936 and offers fun things to do in Tupelo MS.
- It has 3,026 yards of golf and a par of 36.
- A public visitor policy is in place at the municipal golf course known as Bel Air.
- The ideal way to spend a holiday is to work on your swing or participate in a friendly tournament.
- You can play a morning round of golf on this well-maintained course with your friends before exploring the city.
Relics Antique Market Place
Perhaps one of the best things to do in Tupelo, MS is exploring Relics Antique Market Place, an outstanding vintage mall within the city. Over a hundred vendor booths are found in the 16,000-square-foot marketplace, spread across two floors.
- Over a hundred antique and vintage dealers offer a diverse range of gorgeous vintage things.
- Unique clothing, clocks, furniture, home accents, cutlery, glasses, artwork, jewelry, and a plethora of trinkets are available.
- The malls intriguing attractions include local artists shops where they display their artwork.
- There is a wonderful coffee house nearby as well.
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Hours Of Fun In Tupelo Mississippi
Are you looking for a fun weekend away? Here’s what to see and do in Tupelo, Mississippi with great food, history, hikes, local arts and live music, this could end up being the most unexpected weekend you’ve had! Image: Sean Davis
Tupelo, Mississippi Elvis fans immediately know that this is the Kings birthplace and may even have spent a few days touring Tupelo, Memphis and Graceland as part of an Elvis tour. But, there is much to Tupelo that appeals to even those who like Elvis but perhaps dont want to plan a weekend as an homage to him.
Tupelo is a regional shopping hub for North Mississippi, South Tennessee and West Alabama. Thus, there is quite a bit of shopping and dining to be found there. And, with the city being located just off the Natchez Trace Parkway, there are plenty of hikes and beautiful drives, the lake nearby is large enough to ski, and yes, you can definitely fish. If you are into history, you can learn more about the Civil War, as several battles took place in this area, and you can learn more about Civil Rights on the Civil Rights Heritage Trail Tour. There is live music to be found every night, and there are more than 160 restaurants from which to choose.
Tupelo is also less than an hour away from Oxford, MS. So, combining both into a long weekend would be ideal as well.
Wondering what to see and do in Tupelo, Mississippi? Welcome to the Business district, marked by this neon sign. Image: Sean Davis