There are some places that take you by surprise and Jackson, Mississippi was that destination for me. When I initially told friends and family that I’d be visiting this Southern US city, they looked a bit confused. And honestly, I had no idea what to expect either.
I’d passed through Jackson before while driving to beachside towns like Gulf Shores and Destin during spring break in my early years. However, I’d never spent a substantial amount of time in the city. It isn’t plastered all over the ‘gram and I had no idea what to expect in terms of tourism, but that made the journey so much more exciting. I always aim to visit every destination with an open mind and this trip was no different. Well, I’m here to report that this was truly one of the best trips I’ve taken in a very long time, even more so because it was so unexpected.
On the surface, Jackson is a quiet town. However, once you dive deeper into the culture, you’ll quickly discover that the city is full of soul. From hidden speakeasies in refurbished pharmacies to the most dynamic(and emotional) civil rights museum I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting, I found myself constantly impressed by the art, food, music and cultural scene within Jackson. Follow me to Jackson and see where to stay, eat, & play during a weekend in the city with soul.
I checked in to the Old Captiol Inn, which is a family-owned boutique hotel in downtown Jackson. Previously home to the YWCA(Young Women’s Christian Association for women relocating from rural Mississippi), the hotel is full of historic charm. With a rooftop bar overlooking the city, it’s the ultimate place to hang out once summer rolls around. I’m always searching for distinct places to stay wherever I travel and this was definitely the most unique accommodation option.
Jackson is a city for foodies. If you like Southern comfort food as much as I do, then you’ll be in heaven. From Spanish tapas to good ol’ soul food, here were my favorite places to eat in Jackson:
1. Babalu – This was by far my favorite food experience during my trip. The atmosphere was lively and the food was bursting with flavor. Babalu is located in an old school building in the Fondren district and I’d say it’s a must-visit in Jackson. Order a La Paloma from the cocktail menu and Crab Croquettes from the tapas menu. Thank me later!
2. Deep South Pops – If you’re up for a treat, then stop by Deep South Pops for handcrafted gourmet popsicles. Do yourself a favor and order the King Cake pop. The menu is ever changing so you’ll have to stop by and taste one(or a few) for yourself.
3. CAET Wine Bar – Located in the Fondren district, CAET Wine bar is an upscale yet casual place to go for dinner during your stay. The low-key inmate setting made it one of the best dining options for a solo traveling wanting to treat herself.
4. Brent’s Drugs – Breakfast at Brent’s was everything and the history behind this restaurant made it even more interesting. It was known as the neighbourhood pharmacy back in the ’40s so it still holds a lot of nostalgia for many residents and visitors today.
5. The Apothecary – Did you think you’d find a speakeasy in Jackson, Mississippi? Me neither. This cocktail bar is hidden somewhere in the back of Brent’s Drugs and it felt like I stumbled upon a treasure when I stepped in.
6. The Big Apple Inn – This hole in the wall has been featured by Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, which is already saying a lot. You can’t visit Jackson without trying the famous smokes and pig ear sandwiches from this hole in the wall. You can’t leave Jackson without hearing the story behind this Farrish street staple from the owner Geno Lee himself.
7. Broad Street Baking Company and Cafe – I passed through Broad Street Baking Company as my final stop before heading to the airport and it was the perfect way to end my trip to Jackson. Let’s just say, the handmade artisan bread doesn’t disappoint.
If there’s any museum that you should visit while staying in Jackson, it’s the Civil Rights Museum. The experience was both heartbreaking and phenomenal as I studied the artifacts, memories, and displays of the civil rights movement in Jackson. I was moved to tears more than once and I’d say that this is one of the most well-curated museums I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
International Museum of Muslim Culture – Admittedly, Jackson is one of the last places I’d ever expect to find a museum of Muslim culture – It’s the Bible belt, after all. It’s the first of its kind in the United States, and somehow that makes it even more special. I didn’t expect much at first glance, but Erika Handy(the museum guide) provided an informative history lesson on all things Islam.
Mississippi of Modern Art – Mississippians travel from all over the state to visit this museum of modern art and I can totally see why. I particularly enjoyed the Chickasaw Art and scholastic youth exhibitions that are currently on display
Mississippi Museum of Modern Science – I’m a huge fan of interactive museums, so I felt like a kid again in the museum of modern science. You’ll get up close & personal the Mississippi’s wildlife environment.
Johnny T’s Bistro – I had such a fun night out during a comedy show at Johnny T’s Bistro and club. The soul food(see: crab cake and fried catfish) was on point! It’s the best place for hip-hop, rap, and r&b lovers in Jackson.
Cathead Distillery – The first and oldest distillery in the entire state, Cathead distillery is the best stop to tour and taste local spirits. Check their website for weekend events, parties, and concerts that take place on site.
The Iron Horse Grill– If you’re looking for the best Blues music in Jackson, then Iron Horse Grill is worth a stop. This isn’t just a restaurant/bar, it’s an experience. Visit Thursday through Saturday for live music acts and order fried okra as you enjoy the tunes.
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