10 Places To Visit In The Mississippi Delta

If you're staying in Memphis and want to explore the region, this road trip is for you. Here are 10 places worth visiting in the Mississippi Delta.

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Quail and rice from Delta Meat Market. Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

1. Doe’s Eat Place
When I asked 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 reminded me of eating in my South Mississippi grandparents’ house. If you’re staying late in Greenville, lodge at the historic Greenville Inn & Suites and walk down the street to the Walnut Street Blues Bar.

Does Eat Place tamales
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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 will be there for an impromptu show.

Highway 61 Blues Museum
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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 12 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
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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, Muppets 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
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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

McCarty Pottery Showroom
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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 behind the cash register), and an earnest family eager to share their love of Mississippi, their art, and hospitality.

McCarty Pottery Garden
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

You’ll want to set aside a decent amount of time for a walk through the gardens and 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 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
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

It’s a pretty little place (people get married there now), and it’s totally free to 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. Brand new to Cleveland is the Grammy Museum Mississippi located at 800 W. Sunflower Road. Experience interactive exhibits on Grammy history, in-depth information on Grammy winners,  and hours of things to listen to and watch. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $12; college students with ID and youth are $6; military and seniors are $10.

You can also find Delta State University, home of the Fightin’ Okra, where the campus boasts an impressive sculpture garden, as well as the free Railroad Heritage Museum downtown which has a huge model train full of fun details that runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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 also 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.

Cleveland Railroad Museum
Grammy Museum Mississippi
Grammy Museum Mississippi
Bread salad at Delta Meat Market
Photos by the I Love Memphis Blog

8. Delta Meat Market
Also located in Celveland, this is one of my favorite places we ate on our trip. 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 McCartys Pottery (of course) and I had a shockingly good Moon Pie bread pudding that I’m still thinking about six weeks later.

9. Vicksburg
If you’re a history buff, Vicksburg is essential to this list. 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
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

If you have the kids with you, stop at the free Lower Mississippi River Museum in Vicksburg. Right around the corner are the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals, also worth a look. The Anchuca 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 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
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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 moist and crazy sweet (below). Apparently there’s a line out the door every day.

crave cupcake
Photo by the I Love Memphis Blog

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 from the 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 that’s a town worth looking into if you’re going to visit the Delta.

Holly Whitfield