Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this post, at no extra cost to you.
What Is Mississippi Known for & Famous For?
If you’ve ever been to Mississippi, you probably just know it as one of the best places to have your fill of the best southern comfort food–I’m talking about seafood, burgers, and barbecue. But did you know that there are plenty of other things that Mississippi is famous for all around the world?
Mississippi is known and famous for its southern charm and bluegrass music. This state is home to the famous Mississippi River, legendary catfish, and is the birthplace of Elvis Presley and Oprah Winfrey. It offers museums, and historical sites, and is also an area of great natural beauty.
Mississippi epitomizes the deep south culture and the history of the land is evident almost everywhere. It is a state that may be poor in pocket but is rich in spirit and has much to offer those lucky enough to visit. In the rest of this article, we will talk about these interesting facts about the Magnolia State.
If you’re fond of catfish, you might be interested to know that Mississippi is America’s biggest catfish producer. It’s home to 205 catfish farms. That’s a lot! Agriculture has always been the biggest industry in the state, with poultry being its biggest source of revenue.
With such a massive supply of catfish, you can prepare all of the catfish dishes that Mississippi is known for such as:
- Deep-fried catfish
- Mississippi catfish
- hush puppies
- stuffed catfish
- Southern-fried catfish
- Skillet catfish
- Mississippi-style whole fried catfish.
Jackson is the capital of and largest city in Mississippi. It’s fondly nicknamed “The City with Soul” because of its rich blues history. In fact, until today, the city is electric with the jazz and blues energy that made Mississippi famous years ago.
If you want to experience this for yourself, you can walk along with F. Jones Corner or Farish Street. Or, if you’re going to sit down and immerse in the music, drop by Hal and Mal’s and listen to impressive blues performances.
If you’re not big on the blues, you can visit museums, attend festivals and cultural events, or even walk the same streets that appeared in famous Hollywood movies like Get On Up.
Jackson has a rich artistic culture that’s just the place you need if you’re looking for inspiration or that jolt of energy for your own creative endeavors.
Going back to catfish, Belzoni is a city in Mississippi that’s nicknamed The Catfish Capital in the World. Remember we mentioned earlier that Mississippi is America’s biggest producer of catfish? Well, the city of Belzoni is where catfish production is concentrated.
Don’t be surprised if you find lots of catfish designs and statues in the city–their catfish production has been part of the city’s history and identity, and they’re proud of it!
But it’s not just the catfish that are the pride of Belzoni. It’s also where you’ll find the Sky Lake Wildlife Management Area, a protected area where you’ll see thousand-year-old cypress trees and other wildlife, such as bears, warblers, and wood ducks.
If you’re the type to keep busy, you’ll find plenty of tourist spots in Biloxi to keep you entertained.
For example, if you like maritime history, you might find the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum an interesting place to enjoy a few hours. Here, you’ll see artifacts of the town’s lengthy maritime history. But you’ll also have a glimpse into the lives of seafarers through the museum’s exhibits of photographs, artwork, and artifacts.
But if you’re the beach-loving type, you might want to spend a day at the Beau Rivage Resort, a top vacation spot where you can enjoy both the beautiful beach and the resort’s premium amenities such as their famous casino.
Another must-see spot in Biloxi is the Biloxi Lighthouse, constructed in 1838 and still stands today. It’s known for being one of the first cast-iron lighthouses in the country and is interestingly situated not on a hill by the ocean but right in the middle of a four-lane highway on Beach Boulevard.
In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the country and destroyed houses and buildings, the Biloxi Lighthouse remained standing, which is why many people see it now as a symbol of human resilience and strength.
Another interesting fact about this lighthouse is that it has been maintained by female keepers longer than any lighthouse in American history.
If you like snow but don’t want the freezing temperature, you’ve come to the right place. Mississippi is home to hundreds of cotton fields where you will find blankets of white farther than your eyes can reach.
Cotton has always been a major crop in the state of Mississippi. In fact, it is fourth among all its agricultural produce. Cotton production has been increasing in the past years, thanks to advancements in agricultural technology.
Cotton is also associated with the great injustices of slavery in the American South, where slaves were exploited to grow and harvest cotton. In fact, in 1840 there were more enslaved African Americans in Mississippi than white Americans.
The cotton trade was also pivotal in Mississippi seceding from the US in 1861 and joining the Confederacy in the American Civil War.
Bluegrass music is an offshoot of country music with some blues and jazz characteristics–only bluegrass is typically more energetic than the blues. It is characterized by a faster tempo, a stringed band, and vocal harmony.
Bluegrass music originated in Kentucky, Texas but is a well-loved genre in Mississippi, where bluegrass music festivals are typically held yearly in different parts of the state.
Who can resist the natural southern charm of Mississippi? Aside from being a beautiful state, surrounded by lovely beaches, scenic views, and even historical landmarks, its locals also have a long-standing reputation for being kind, generous, and welcoming people.
If you’re a new resident or just a tourist staying for a few days, you certainly won’t feel as lost or out of place as you might in other parts of the country because of the warmth of the locals here. It’s generally easier to get help, ask questions, and even strike up a conversation with a stranger.
NCAA College Sports
Love sports? The state of Mississippi actively participates in the NCAA College Sports, represented by the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The baseball team has been active since 1895 and gained 12 tournament championships plus 31 regular-season championships over the years.
If you particularly enjoy baseball, you might even want to drop by some of their games. They may have been struggling to clinch a victory lately, but they have always been a strong team, proving that they can put on a show.
You can also get your hands on some baseball merch from Mississippi State University if you want to immerse yourself in collegiate sports’ energy and youthful vibe.
Birthplace of Many Notable People
Did you know that many notable people were born in Mississippi? Yes–we’re talking about the King of Rock and Roll, the music sensation that made “Oops, I did it again” an iconic line, the bestselling law mystery novelist, and many more!
Mississippi has produced some of the biggest names in music, namely Elvis Presley, Jimmie Rogers, and Riley B. King (most commonly known as B.B. King). These legends came to be known as the King of Rock and Roll, the Father of Country Music, and the King of the Blues, respectively.
It’s clear why Mississippi is called the birthplace of America’s music, as these names, among others, have impacted American music even until today.
Here are some of the most notable people who were born in Mississippi:
- Elvis Presley
- Jimmie Rogers
- Britney Jean Spears
- B.B. King
- Rick Ross
- Jimmy Buffett
- Oprah Winfrey
- Brett Favre
- Jim Henson
- John Grisham
Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile (714.55 kilometers) stretch of road from Natchez, passing through Mississippi and ending in Nashville. This beautiful path actually follows the Old Natchez Trace, a path that Native Americans used hundreds of years ago.
If you want to maximize your time at the parkway, you can go by bike, as the path can be considered one big bike path, devoid of the usual advertisements and billboards that line almost all roads and highways in the country. There are also no trucks or other commercial vehicles allowed on the path.
Another interesting fact about the Natchez Trace is that the path was initially made by herds of bison and other animals. So essentially you will be following a trail more ancient than anyone really knows.
Tupelo Automobile Museum
Someone who adores anything related to cars would have absolutely loved the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Mississippi. It used to be home to over a hundred vintage, and collectible cars were displayed in chronological order to show how automobile engineering and design have changed over the years.
Cars on display dated back to the 1800s, and some cost millions of dollars. The collection included electric vehicles and cars with steam engines. Some cars used to be owned by celebrities, like Elvis Presley.
Unfortunately, after a 16-year run, the museum had to close its doors in 2019 after the estate of Frank Spain (the collection owner) declared that it was no longer able to sustain the museum.
USS Cairo Museum at Vicksburg National Military Park
For those looking to take a trip back in time, the USS Cairo Museum is a wonderful place to start. The museum houses the warship USS Cairo that sailed during the Civil War. Although the warship sank in 1862, it was recovered and preserved for posterity.
Not only can you look at it at the museum, but you can also even set foot in it. As you do, you will be able to see for yourself the traces of war that have been left on the USS Cairo. This experience will perhaps be the best thing next to time travel that you’ll ever get.
How pleasant is the name “Ocean Springs.” And true to its name, Ocean Springs was named Top Ten Happiest Seaside Town in 2015. It is a peaceful, secluded town that lies at the heart of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
It was also home to the artist Water Inglis Anderson and was frequented by the King of Rock and Roll himself, who used to stay at the Gulf Hills Hotel in the summers. And no wonder, the quiet and somewhat isolated feel of Ocean Springs makes it a great hideaway for those who yearn to escape the noise and busyness of city life.
In the 1850s, people began to flock to Ocean Springs when word came around that Fort Bayou’s mineral springs had healing powers. Although there have been no studies to prove it, people still go for the beauty of the springs.
The majestic Mississippi River is the second-longest river in North America and is the third-largest river basin in the world. It also sustains rich wildlife that includes 260 species of fish, migratory waterfowl, birds, and others.
If you enjoy being outdoors, you can go hiking, camping, bird watching, or kayaking. Just make sure to follow all the rules in the area to avoid affecting its wildlife and the river itself.
But even if you decide to simply hang out, watching the glorious sunrise or sunset by the river can give you more than your fill of awe.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is the largest national park in the United States that includes a seashore. This protected area contains eight principal islands and portions of the mainland.
Within this protected region are wildlife sanctuaries and beaches where people can do recreational activities like kayaking, camping, or swimming. If you are interested in biodiversity, it’s also a great place to learn about local wildlife and endemic or natural species.
Mississippi is America’s Poorest State
Despite the many amazing things about Mississippi, it is unfortunately considered the poorest state in the United States. It’s tricky to determine why it’s fared so poorly as compared to other states, but many experts think it’s due to its history and a phenomenon called “heirs’ property.”
Despite its steadily growing agricultural industry, it gains relatively low revenues, especially when comparing industries that support other economically more robust states.
Over the years, the education and health care systems have appeared to be the most negatively impacted by this, as these sectors are continuously being underfunded. While this is a natural result of the state’s poor economic performance, some say it will make it harder for the state to recover or break free from this downhill trend.
Here are some facts that led to Mississippi being named the poorest state:
- Median household income: $43,441
- Poverty rate: 19.5%
Mississippi is known for many things and is called by many names. If you care to peel back its layers, you’ll find that it’s home to some hidden gems that may make it not just an excellent place to visit but a worthwhile place to stay.
From scenic views to beautiful beaches to historical places to lush wildlife, you’ll most likely have everything you’re looking for here.
- Wikipedia: Belzoni, Mississippi
- US Department of Agriculture: Mississippi Rises to the Top of U.S. Aquaculture
- Visit the USA: Jackson
- Clarion-Ledger: What to Do (And Where to Eat Catfish) in the Catfish Capital of the World)
- Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau: 6 Surprising Facts about the Natchez Trace Parkway
- Mississippi State University Extension: Cotton
- Wikipedia: Mississippi State Bulldogs
- National Park Service: Natchez Trace
- Natchez Trace Parkway: Tupelo Automobile Museum
- Car and Driver: Tupelo Automobile Museum to Close, 174 Cars Up for Auction
- National Park Service: USS Cairo Quick Facts
- Wikipedia: Ocean Springs, Mississippi
- National Park Service: Mississippi River
- The Freeman Online: Why is Mississippi So Poor?
- Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: A Major Cause of Rural Southern Poverty
- Business Insider: The 15 poorest States in the US by Median Household Income