As I was reading through Facebook last week, I noticed that Mississippi was on a list as being in the “Top 10 Boring States”.  Well, I certainly have no problem finding something to do in our lovely state!  And I KNOW that our state offers many wonderful family destinations and it is not always about world-class, expensive resorts and attractions that make for a wonderful family memory.  I was particularly reminded of this during Easter weekend.  

Actually my story begins in June of 2017 when I visited the George W. Bush library in Dallas and bought my 6 year old grandson, Tanner, the book, Our Great Big Backyard written by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager.  This is a wonderful story about a family that spends the summer camping throughout the United States in numerous National Parks throughout our beautiful country.  I made the statement that we should go camping as a family and, of course, Tanner was all about that!  I said we should probably wait until March when it was cool.  Well, in March, Lindsey, my daughter and Tanner’s mother, called me and said that Tanner had written on his March calendar page “camping with Lolly” and she wanted to know what that was all about!   Everyone in the family knows that if Tanner writes an event on his calendar that it was taken by him as a serious commitment…not to be ignored!  So I scrambled around trying to think of where and when to work our camping trip into my calendar.  I first tried Paul B. Johnson State Park and even went there to check out the cabins, activities and such.  It was already booked up!  (I was impressed!) 

So in the back of my mind I remembered two statements I had heard concerning Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Pelahatchie, MS. (www.jellystonems.com)   One was from Breanne and Seth, my daughter and son-in-law, who had taken their youth group from church there probably 10 years ago.  They raved about the place!  And then I remember one of my friends telling me that their grandchildren would rather go to Jellystone than Disneyworld.  Normally I would have thought that was an outrageous comment…but when we kind of jokingly ask Tanner if he would rather go to the Hattiesburg Zoo or Disneyworld he says “Hattiesburg Zoo!”  Well needless to say, Jellystone was a hit and I learned several things from this wonderful, family adventure. 

  1.  Be careful what you say.  If it sounds like a promise you need to keep your word!
  2.  You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a fun and memorable experience with your kids and grandkids.
  3. Don’t assume…ask their opinion about places and things they would like to experience.  It may surprise you! 

By the way, Mississippi has so many fun places to visit that I have lived here 47 years and still have many on my bucket list.  I have many clients who are moving here from other states that ask me about what activities our state offers.  Here are a few that I particularly enjoy and also a few new ones that I can’t wait to visit:

Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (MAEEX)- www.msarts.org It opened April 28, 2018 in Meridian and is the new $50M Museum known as “The Max” showcasing Mississippi arts and entertainment legacy.  The evocative and interactive spaces in the museum were engineered by the same people that worked on the WWII Museum, The Grammy Museums in LA and Ms,  The National Archives Museum in DC and The Kentucky Derby Museum.  Sounds impressive!

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson- https://mcrm.mdah.ms.gov  There are 8 galleries that focus on the years 1945-1976

The Institute for Marine and Mammal Studies in Gulfport- www.imms.org The Ocean Adventures Marine Park in now open.

USM Gulf Coast Research Lab’s Marine Education Center- http://gcrl.usm.edu/summer.camps.php  The Education Center holds summer camps for grades 1-12.

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours- www.natchezpilgrimage.com Fall Tour is Sept. 21-Oct.8, 2018.  There is also information on their website for a stay in an historic Bed & Breakfast. 

The grand, octagonal antebellum home, Longwood, is open daily and is definitely a must see. www.stantonhall.com/longwood.php But don’t miss others that are open daily such as Dunleith, Melrose, Rosalie and Monmouth either.  Also, Rowan Oak (William Faulkner’s home) in Oxford, Waverly (supposedly haunted) in Columbus and Beauvior (Jefferson Davis’s home) in Biloxi!

The Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg is June 20-23. https://missmississippipageant.com/miss-pageant  (My next door neighbor, Mary Margaret Hyer, is competing again this year and I’ll be there!)

The Vicksburg National Military Park www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm It was once the scene of a 47-day Civil War Battle.

Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs www.walterandersonmuseum.org Ocean Springs is remarkable and my daughter’s good friend, Roxy Condrey, is the owner of two fabulous places to stay for an overnight visit…The Inn at Ocean Springs located right in the center of things on Washington and her new endeavor, The Roost.   Both got recognition in Southern Living Magazine and Architectural Digest respectively.

As you can see, our state is not boring.  Here are a few more I just can’t leave out:  Ship Island, Birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo, Windsor Ruins in Port Gibson, Natchez Trace Parkway, The Mississippi Children’s Museum and next door the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, and a canoe trip on the Okatoma in Seminary.

Always be a happy camper!

Brenda