If you’re exploring the American South, one city that’s not to be missed is Jackson, one of the top destinations in Mississippi. As the capital of the state, there are lots of historic sites to see to learn about the region. But this is also a prime place to visit for families because of the museums and zoo here. Meanwhile, travelers can explore the neighborhoods, delicious restaurants, and nature areas nearby too. Here are our top picks for fun things to do in Jackson, Mississippi.
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Take a Tour of the Capitol Building (Nearby Hotels)
One recommended place to start your exploration of Jackson is at the capitol building. This lovely building was finished in 1903 and has an impressive dome on top. You can take a free guided tour of the capitol building on weekdays at 9:30am, 11am, 1pm and 2:30pm. Alternatively, you can stop by between 8am and 5pm on weekdays to do a self-guided tour. The capitol grounds has parking for visitors when you arrive at the building at 400 High Street.
Visit the Old Capital Museum (Nearby Hotels)
The next logical stop on your Jackson journey is the Old Capital Museum, which is a National Historic Landmark. Significant historical documents and acts originated here, such as the 1839 Married Women’s Property Act and Mississippi’s secession from the Union in 1861, and the building itself is a beautiful piece of architecture. This is the oldest building in Jackson and served as the state’s government seat from 1939 to 1903. Following some structural repairs, the museum plans to reopen to the public in late-May 2019. Admission to the museum is free, and the open hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9am to 5pm and on Sundays from 1-5pm.
Walking Tour of the Downtown Area (Nearby Hotels)
Sometimes the best way to get to know a new city is just to wander around its downtown area and see what you happen to stumble upon. The downtown area is filled with lovely scenery and historic sites, and the Downtown Jackson website details various walking tour options that take you along the historical markers, Freedom Trail, Blues Trail, and much more. The website links to printable maps along with short descriptions of the sites you’ll see along the way. Other walking tour routes focus on the arts and cultural sites, as well as the 2.5-mile tour of LeFleur’s Bluff and Belhaven.
Explore the Museum of Natural Science (Nearby Hotels)
This is another exciting museum in Jackson and one where you can learn about Mississippi’s natural landscapes and the plants and animals that call them home. Here you can explore the wildlife exhibits, aquarium, nature trails, and outdoor center with your family. This museum is located inside LeFleur’s Bluff State Park and has everything from fossils to treehouses, a swamp, and over 200 aquatic species native to the region. Even if you don’t have kids, this is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon or to just learn something new. With the exception of some holidays, the museum is open on weekdays from 8am to 5pm, Saturdays from 9am to 5pm, and Sundays from 1-5pm. Over 100,000 people visit the museum each year, and the museum hosts fun annual events that include Family Fun Science Night and Park After Dark.
See the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (Nearby Hotels)
Anyone who enjoys history or architecture should also make a point to visit the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, which dates back to the 1840s. The mansion was first occupied in 1842 and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1975. It is typically open for visitors on Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30-11am, and you can join a guided tour every half hour between these times. Admission and tours of the mansion are free.
Get Outside at LeFleur's Bluff State Park (Nearby Hotels)
There’s an urban park in Jackson called LeFleur’s Buff State Park that spans hundreds of acres of land and was named after the French-Canadian explorer who established a trading post in the area. This is a great place to get outdoors and active with hiking, fishing, disc golf, and even golfing at the nine-hole golf course and driving range. Bring the kids here to use the playground or have a picnic, and bring your tent or RV to stay for the weekend. There are 28 developed camping sites here.
See the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum (Nearby Hotels)
Sports fans of all types and ages will enjoy the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, which highlights Mississippi-specific memorabilia for a variety of different sports. Here you can learn about sports legends with ties to Mississippi, such as Jerry Rice and Brett Favre who played in the NFL. It’s open from 10am to 4pm every day except Sunday.
See Animals at the Jackson Zoo (Nearby Hotels)
Another great attraction to check out in Jackson if you’re traveling with kids is the Jackson Zoo. There are over 200 species of animals at this zoo, including tigers, monkeys, tropical birds, and much more. There is also an endangered species carousel and train for little ones to ride. The zoo is open every day except Christmas, and admission is $10.25 for adults and $7.25 for children.
Experience the Fondren District (Nearby Hotels)
As you make your way through the city of Jackson, one neighborhood to add to your itinerary is the Fondren District. This is a hip and artsy neighborhood filled with small businesses, local shops, cocktail bars, bakeries, galleries, and entertainment venues. This is a quirky neighborhood that’s fun to explore and attend local events, such as public art shows and concerts.
Browse the Mississippi Museum of Art (Nearby Hotels)
Jackson also has an excellent art museum that features the works of sculptors, painters, and photographers. There’s a nice patio here to spend time out on during nice days after you browse the museum. Come see the art on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm or on Sundays from noon to 5pm. Admission to the museum is free for everyone.