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Kicking things off in the city of Jackson, our first stop is the Chimneyville Crafts Gallery, which features demonstrations, exhibits, and sales of a fabulous variety of original pieces produced by the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, Inc. It’s a great place to create a friendship with local artisans. Head over to the circa 1841 Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, a good stop for amateur historians. The impeccable Greek Revival-style estate is a designated National Historic Landmark. For a little floral boost before departing Mississippi’s state capital, walk among the camellias, azaleas, and songbirds at the city’s beautiful Mynelle Gardens.
From Jackson, drive south on US-49 all the way to Gulfport. Easy on the gas pedal there, Leadfoot; there are a few nice towns we’d like you to see along the way. Start in Mendenhall and its namesake Grocery & Grain, a country store built back in 1928. All it takes is a step through its doors to transport you back in time. From whole vanilla beans and Mississippi-made foods, to handcrafted pottery and bird houses, Mendenhall’s Grocery & Grain stocks up on vintage fun.
There’s more old-time shopping to be found in the town of Mount Olive. You can order a custom-designed furnishing at Diehl Brothers Furniture, pick up homemade jams and a hand-stitched quilt at Martha’s Kitchen, or visit Roger’s Basketry for signature soaps and baskets tinted with natural nut dyes.
A great selection of time-tested wares is readily available in the antique shops of Collins. Might we also suggest loading up the rig with straight-from-the-soil goodies at Mitchell Farms, where antiques are offered alongside fruits, veggies, and fresh-harvested peanuts? Be sure to browse the shelves at Pope Company General Store, a sprawling, circa 1913 establishment that carries everything from feed n’ seed to kitchen equipment and comfy shoes.
Shady Acres fruit stand yields much more than produce for the town of Seminary’s lucky visitors. Make room in your basket for baked treats, rich ice cream, sweet jellies, and homespun candies. The nearby city of Hattiesburg has several antique malls and art galleries to explore, while Gulfport is a good place to embark on a windswept offshore cruise.
From Gulfport, pick up US-90 east. Take a break in Biloxi for more appealing river cruise options. You can make reservations for sightseeing, fishing, dinner cruises, or sunset viewing on your choice of small craft, sailing schooner, shrimp boat, or pontoon boat. From Biloxi Lighthouse, there’s also a memorable adventure waiting for you aboard the street-based, open-air Biloxi Tour Train, known as the “shrimp train” by local folks, that drives through Biloxi’s Historical District.
Pascagoula is the final stop on our Mississippi sojourn. On a Gulf Coast Gator Ranch visit, carve some time in the day to stroll along boardwalks that wind through alligator territory and take an airboat ride through a genuine Mississippi swamp.