10 Places To Visit In The Mississippi Delta (Road Trip!)

Posted by Holly Whitfield | May 28th 2015 13245 296

Back in April, I Love Memphis went on the road! I had a generous invite from Mississippi Delta tourism pros to join them on a trip through the lands just a little south of Memphis. I spent four days exploring Greenville, Leland, Cleveland, and Vicksburg with a group of writers and bloggers; there was great history, music, and food.

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Quail and rice from Delta Meat Market.

If you want to see an overview of the trip, click here. If you’re a Memphian looking for a road trip or day trip idea, or if you’re a visitor to Memphis looking to extend your trip to the south, this post will help you out.

Here are 10 places worth visiting in the Mississippi Delta.

1. Doe’s Eat Place
When I asked y’all on Twitter where I should eat in the Delta, the overwhelming response was “Doe’s” in Greenville. Their tamales are legendary, their steaks enormous, and the down-home atmosphere is one-of-a-kind. It kind of reminded me of eating in my South Mississippi grandparents’ house for some reason.

Does Eat Place tamales

If you’re staying late in Greenville, lodge at the historic Greenville Inn & Suites and walk right down the street to the Walnut Street Blues Bar.

2. Highway 61 Blues Museum
Not far from Greenville in Leland is the Highway 61 Blues Museum, filled with photos, art, instruments, and artifacts documenting the blues. If you’re lucky, a bluesman like Pat Thomas might be there for an impromptu show.

Highway 61 Blues Museum

Outside of the museum, you’ll find a handful of Blues Trail markers as well as a huge mural. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and kids 12 and under are free.

3. Winterville Mounds Archeological Site and Museum
Learn about the people who originally inhabited the Mississippi Delta before the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes. There are twelve mounds – including one major one – and a small museum. It’s worth a stop just to take in the peace and quiet of the place. Admission to the museum is free.

Winterville Mounds

4. Jim Henson Museum
The Jim Henson Museum in Leland is a small museum with a big heart. It’s worth a stop to for the Henson family photos, muppet memorabilia, and a human-sized Kermit. My favorite part of the museum is that it backs up to Deer Creek: the creek that inspired Henson to invent Kermit the frog.

jim henson musuem

5. McCarty Pottery
I had no idea what to expect when we stopped at the McCarty Pottery Studio in Merigold, Mississippi (just outside of Cleveland).

McCarty Pottery Showroom

What I found was one of the most exquisite residential gardens I’ve ever seen, a bustling pottery business (they were throwing clay on the wheel right there behind the cash register), and an earnest family eager to share their love of Mississippi, their art, and hospitality.

McCarty Pottery Garden

You’ll want to set aside a decent amount of time for a walk through the gardens, shopping, and if you go during lunch, make a reservation at “The Gallery“, the onsite cafe.

6. Dockery Farms
Dockery Farms is a quick stop, but one worth taking. Memphis may be officially known as the Home of the Blues, but Dockery Farms is considered the Birthplace. The African Americans who worked at Dockery Farms were the first blues singer/songwriters and blues music audiences.

dockery farms

It’s a pretty little place (people get married there now) and it’s totally free to go and check it out. Read up before you go, or schedule a tour.

7. Cleveland
Cleveland as a city could easily take a day or so to explore. There you’ll find Delta State University, home of the Fightin’ Okra, where the campus boasts an impressive sculpture garden, as well as the Railroad Heritage Museum downtown (free) which has a huge model train full of fun details that runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Cleveland Railroad Museum

Right across from the Railroad museum is the rails-to-trails walkway parallel to downtown’s main drag of shops, galleries, and restaurants. There are regular festivals and events in Cleveland. You can keep up with most of them and plan a good weekend to go on this awesome site: Keep Cleveland Boring.

I love that the organizers of Keep Cleveland Boring took that “there’s nothing to do here!” complaint about their town and turned it into something positive. It’s definitely something I can relate to.

8. Delta Meat Market
I’ll admit this was one of my favorite places we ate on our trip. It’s in the heart of downtown Cleveland, and when I walked in and saw Hog & Hominy chefs Andrew and Michael’s cookbook on the shelf, I knew I was going to feel right at home.

 Delta Meat Market Bread Salad

It’s a new-old-fashioned butcher shop and specialty grocery store that also serves up plate lunches on weekdays, plus Friday dinner. Everything I ate there, from the biscuits and cornbread to the mixed greens salad to the quail with was superb. The drinks come in mason jars with Sonic ice, all the servingware is McCarty Pottery (of course) and I had a shockingly good moon pie bread pudding that I’m still thinking about six weeks later.

Delta Meat Market Bread Pudding

It was kind of like if Porcellino’s was more casual and far less pricey.  I made it a specific point to meet the owner, and I specifically asked him to open up shop in Memphis. I think y’all would really like it.

9. Vicksburg
If you’re a history buff, Vicksburg is essential. Between the architecture, the river, and the Civil War history, it makes for a day or two of exploring. The Old Court House Museum ($5 adults, $4.50 seniors, $3 under 18) is huge and full of thousands of historic and antebellum artifacts, and a chance to check out an historic courtroom.

Vicksburg Old Courthouse Building

If you have the kids with you, also stop at the free Lower Mississippi River Museum in Vicksburg. Right around the corner are the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals, also worth a look. The Anchua Mansion is a popular bed and breakfast that also hosts brunch and tours – stay there if you’re looking for something special.

10. Vicksburg National Military Park
Drive through this park and get a triple dose of Civil War history. First, you’re driving around literally where the Battle for Vicksburg took place and can see how the terrain played a role in the battle’s outcome. Second, the park is full of about 1,300 monuments, ranging in scale from busts of important soldiers to a Pantheon replica you can walk inside.

vicksburg military park

Third, the USS Cairo Gunboat – a Civil war era gunboat – is there for you to see and has an accompanying museum. The Park is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except major holidays and is free to drive through. If you’re really into history or have a group, the guided tour (which is what I did) is absolutely worth it. Get details on that here.

Where to stay: In Greenville, we stayed in the historic Greenville Inn & Suites. It had a nice courtyard and was within walking distance of a few blues bars. In Cleveland, we went for the seemingly new Holiday Inn Express. In Vicksburg, we stayed in the lovely Ameristar Hotel. The latter was a real treat – splurge for a night or two there if you’re staying in Vicksburg, and call and ask about special amenities packages. We arrived to monogrammed robes, fresh chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Ameristar

Other places to eat: Everyone on the trip raved about Ubon’s in Yazoo City, though I didn’t join the group until after they’d eaten there. Cicero’s in Leland is popular for lunch: skip the barbecue sandwich if you’re from Memphis and go for the fried pickles, catfish plates and other dishes they’re known for.

The Warehouse in Cleveland was tasty and had a good cocktail selection, but the locals we met raved about Mosquito Burrito and Hey Joe’s burger and beer joint so much, I wish we’d gone there. We had cupcakes from Crave in Cleveland that were ridiculously good and moist and crazy sweet (below). Apparently there’s a line out the door every day.

crave cupcake

I should mention that several of the places we stopped to eat seemed to have trouble accommodating large groups in a timely manner. Keep this in mind if you’re bringing a crew. Bring an extra dose of patience at some of these more rural spots in general, and don’t expect a plethora of healthy or gluten-free options, though it seemed like most spots had at least a veggie plate.

An important note: There are dozens of other places worth visiting in the Delta. The point of this piece is not to name every single place worth stopping, but rather to share some of my favorites that I explored on my trip. I know I didn’t make it to Po’Monkey’s juke joint outside of Cleveland or Clarksdale at all this time (too much to do in just four days!) but of course, that’s a town worth looking into if you’re going to visit the Delta.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the folks at the Greenville, Cleveland, and Vicksburg tourism organizations who invited me and put together such a comprehensive trip. They helped me out in a major way working out the scheduling and driving details and were very kind. They do a great job sharing their passion for their cities. If you’re from the Delta and you’re reading this: Come up to Memphis anytime. I’d love to give you some recommendations!

One more thing: what do y’all think about I Love Memphis going on the road? Do you like the day trip ideas? What other nearby destinations would you like me to explore?


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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Comments

  1. Raja says:

    What about Oxford, MS? Is it worth a day trip. If yes, what should we do?

  2. […] If you’re staying late in Greenville, lodge at the historic Greenville Inn & Suites and walk right down the street to the Walnut …read more […]

  3. Holly Whitfield says:

    Hi Raja! It's totally worth a day tirp visit. Check out this post on the I Love Memphis day trip to Oxford: http://www.ilovememphisblog.com/2013/05/road-trip-oxford-miss-is-perfectly-southern/

    I'd also add The Lyric, which is a music venue I've heard people really like, plus William Faulkner's house, as stops on that list.

  4. ben says:

    You should have drove over the lambfish bridge near Brazil ms.

  5. Dawn Nielsen says:

    Great reviews.  Can you publish a step-by-step?  So want to do the same trip.  Do you think it would work for kids?

    Again, thanks for the post.  Loved it.

    Dawn Nielsen

  6. Justin McElroy says:

    Stop by Wong's Foodland in Clarksdale and pick up a steak or three. My father in law Tony hand trims everything. You won't be disappointed!

  7. Marilyn Storey says:

    Helena, Arkansas….. Downtown and Cherry Street are beginning to come alive again..,, an interesting and beautiful old Mississippi River Delta, Civil War, storied architectural, Blues town. 

  8. Deb says:

    Given that the article was about the Delta, Oxford wasn't skipped or forgotten.  It's just that Oxford isn't in the Mississippi Delta.

  9. Magical says:

    So, take time to come to Cladale. It's the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

    http://www.deltabohemian.com/top-10-things-to-do-in-clarksdale/

  10. Trip Farris says:

    Regarding the info about Vicksburg

    The USS Cairo exhibit is not a submarine.  It is a civil war era ironclad gunship.  It's one of the high lights of the park.  Don't miss it!!

  11. Bill nelson says:

    Thought you would be interested to know that Roseann Cash will be performing at Dockery Farms June 6, 2015

  12. Tom James says:

    Monior correction, but the USS Cairo is an ironclad gunboat, not a submarine.

  13. Lynn Delas says:

    All great places, but I must add Indianola with the BBKing Museum and a number of noteworthy places to eat. 

  14. billy reed says:

    holly and all !!

    do not miss Sumner, Mississippi in it's entireity !!!

         b

  15. Justin Huber says:

    Yazoo City has a restaurant called Tom’s which has the best Hungarian sandwich I’ve ever had.

  16. Christopher says:

    Raja,  Oxford isn't in the Delta. 

    • Holly Whitfield says:

      I could be wrong, but I think Raja was answering my question about what other road trips I should take and write about! 

  17. Billie Howell says:

    Po'Monkey's is in Merigold, MS

  18. Em Shafer says:

    Don't forget Indianola.

    BB King Museum and Interpretive Center, as well as restaurants The Crown Intown, The Blue Biscuit, Sookie's, Nola's are all downtown Indianola! 

  19. Indian Andy says:

    Did you actually see McCarty's throwing pottery on a wheel?

     

    • Holly Whitfield says:

      Hi Indian Andy, Yes, I saw this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovememphis/18178369511/in/dateposted-public/ and was told he was “throwing clay on the wheel”.

  20. Sam Brookes says:

    Ubon's is great, but it is not in the Delta. In Clarksdale I like Abe's BBQ and the Rest Haven's kibbi, cabbage rolls and mile high pie.

  21. Richard Arnold says:

    We ate at Does Eat House and the steaks were big and tough. The salad was wayyyy  to acid and the toast shown was toasted what we received was cold not toasted. The potatoe was average. I had 

    p

  22. H.C. Porter says:

    Vicksburg is well known for it's history, but the arts are vibrant as well! The H.C. Porter Gallery is rich with contemporary Southern art! There is  a focus at the moment on my Blues series, titled, Blues @ Home, which opened recently at Ole Miss and the BB King Museum! 

  23. jacque says:

    Love learning from your blog, Holly. Yes, day trip info is great. I look forward to it.

  24. scott rich says:

    Gotta hit the BB King Museum in Indianola…..

  25. Tina Arrington says:

    Yazoo City is in the Delta…. it's where the Delta meets the Hills.  
    1. Go downtown…. Tom's to eat, Knutty Knitters (biggest yarn selection in South), LOTS of antique stores…. but best of all Rick's Library—step back in time. 
    2. Visit the Witch's Grave at Glendale Cemetary…. yes… the witch that Willie Morris wrote about in "Good Old Boy" and became famous from the movie "My Dog Skip".  
    3. You won't regret it. (BTW, Ubon's is great, too.  It's not in the delta part, but in the hill part, Sam Brookes).  

  26. I grew up in Cleveland and became slose to Pup and Lee and the Smiths. It was and is a magical place. Although Pup is no longer with us, Lee does still work in clay and makes remarkable jewelry. Usually Jamie Smith is on the wheel. Visiting is an experience worth whatever trouble getting there requires.

  27. nancy lee says:

    King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena,Ark, across river from Clarkksdale,Ms, in early fall. This time has Taj Mahalo as a headliner

  28. Ben Warren says:

    The Vicksburg National Military Park no longer offers free admission. Driving/walking tours range from $4 for pedestrians to $8 for a single vehicle. The Cairo museum is free with paid admission into the park.

  29. Lisa Spears says:

    Yes, please – more day trips. Loved this!

  30. Mila Martin says:

    Abe's Bar B Q in Clarksdale … YUM!!

  31. Brenda Mathis says:

    I am so happy to see this, and very excited about taking the same Road Trip

  32. Deltan says:

    LOL, Memphis is in no way, shape, or form the home of the blues.

  33. Jo Ellen Litton Jackson says:

    Love this group got to experience some of the highlights of the wonderful Mississippi Delta.  So much

    Interesting history, tastiest of food, great music & so much more in the area I grew up in & forever hold 

    close to my heart!

  34. Brian Isbell says:

    You forgot the Delta Blues Club, Ground Zero owned by Morgan Freeman in the heart of the Delta. This is a must for any vistor. I am from Memphis and now live in AZ but my 5 yrs MS remain my best memories.

  35. jan klein says:

    My Mom grew up in Cleveland. I love getting back there, it's a great little town. I have a similar picture of the gardens at McCarty, they're beautiful!

  36. Billy davis says:

    Please post more daytrips. As an avid bike rider, I noticed you mentioned a rail to trail as well. As history buffs my stepson and I will certiny visit Vicksburg.

  37. alex rosado says:

    I fell in love with Vicksburg almost 20 years ago when I became a resident. So much to do/see! The Ms Delta is a truly remarkable place to call home! Its people and places are a constant reminder of how easy it is to love and admire such natural beauty!

  38. Brenda Wood says:

    Please visit Carrollton, N. Carrollton in the fall during the pilgrimage. Cotesworth, home of Senator J. Z. George is a must see!

  39. thanks for coming to see us and sharing a touch of Mississippi with your folks 

  40. Karen Hunter says:

    I am from the Mississippi Delta (Greenville), and loved this article! I live in Atlanta now, but go home every chance I get. 

  41. Love these places in the Delta. Here are some other spots in the Delta and a few even further south that are also worth seeing http://deltamemories.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-roots-tour-in-mississippi-delta.html?m=0

  42. Donna says:

    My husband n I are recently retired. We want to to some 1-2 day trips anywhere In Mississippi , or Alabama. Meals are great but mostly we want to do some site seeing. We are not focus on food that much. Anything out there Nyone could reccomendation ??  I know the small towns get let off a lot and there are some real sites there.. So ????? 

  43. Cornell says:

    Clarksdale is definitely worth a visit, for the juke joints, culture and a few good/interesting restaurants. And Greenwood is not bad.

  44. Errol Dillon says:

    Your article on the Mississippi Delta was wonderful! The Mississippi Delta is a gold mine for anyone who wants to see a special place that hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Lots of priceless pictures are there.

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