Top 10 Things To Do in Meridian, Mississippi

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Would you like an authentic Mississippi experience filled with history, nature, music, and food? Look no further than Meridian, which is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting destinations in the state. Thanks to several revitalization projects, it has been able to reinvent itself as a superb cultural spot.

Founded around the railroad junction, Meridian has surely seen highs and lows throughout its few centuries of existence, having both the Golden Age at the beginning of the 20th century and a bitter decline afterward. Today it’s a thrilling place to visit with a rich industrial background and a wide artistic soul. Here are the best things to do in Meridian to really feel the beat of one of the most vibrant cities in The Magnolia State.

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Visit the MAX
Visit the MAX

Visit the MAX

What Is It? A landmark project that transformed Meridian, Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (or MAX) is a must-visit not only for the city but for the U.S. as a whole. It’s a cultural institution that takes you on an interactive journey across all the facets of Mississippi art. The striking contemporary building invites you to explore 15 permanent exhibitions covering themes such as Land, Community, Home, Church, People + Places, and Global Community. 

Why Do It? MAX has something for everybody. The music lovers would be delighted to see the space devoted to such Mississippi legends as B.B. King, Elvis, and Jimmie Rodgers. Many cool memorabilia pieces, vintage objects, interactive visual displays, and sensory experiences present the best of the state. Also, it’s a perfect museum for families. The kids are more than welcome here and would have plenty of fun too. 

Good to Know: Be sure to see the centerpiece of MAX, a dazzling Hall of Fame honoring the most prominent Mississipans that shaped the country’s and the world’s history. Also, take a peek inside the recording studio, and buy some souvenirs at the awesome museum store. 

Visit the Museum of the "Father of Country Music"
Visit the museum of the Father of Country Music

Visit the Museum of the "Father of Country Music"

What Is It? The state of Mississippi is a mecca for music lovers. Blues was born here, revolutionizing music worldwide. Meridian is proud to be the birthplace of another genre’s pioneer. Jimmie Rodgers nicknamed the “Father of Country Music,” is from the town. Influenced by the sound of the Delta, he crafted his own style with distinct fingerpicking and yodeling vocals known as hillbilly, which later became country. At the Jimmie Rodgers Museum, you can learn more about the artist and the man behind the country legend. 

Why Do It? If you’re a die-hard country fan, coming to the museum is essential to understand the genre’s roots. Even if you’re not a die-hard fan, it’s an entertaining visit with a chance to discover more about the history of music and the life of a prominent figure in American culture. 

Good to Know: The relatively small memorial museum’s exhibits include an original Jimmie Rogers guitar. These various objects belonged to the singer and a cool vintage steam locomotive in the outdoor area in front of the building. 

Catch a Performance at Local Historic Venues
Catch a performance at the local historic venues

Catch a Performance at Local Historic Venues

What Is It? Meridian is home to spectacular historic theatres. Two of them get a special mention. MSU Riley Center is an 1889 grand opera house that was reopened in 2006 after a thorough renovation. Another highlight is Temple Theatre, with a fantastic Art Deco interior. Needless to say, coming to these venues for a concert is an unforgettable experience.  

Why Do It? Imagine sitting in a magnificent Moorish Revival theatre hall listening to blues in a city that has been vital to this genre’s creation. That’s what you’re getting by visiting legendary Meridian venues. Also, both halls are constantly organizing awesome concerts of diverse performers, both local and internationally renowned, so you can’t go wrong here.  

Good to Know: Temple Theatre offers guided tours by appointment, so you can also get a peek inside even if there’s no concert. 

Stay at an Architectural Icon
Stay at the architectural icon

Stay at an Architectural Icon

What Is It? How about a night in one of the most iconic buildings in the South? Of course, we’re talking about the Threefoot Building, a symbol of Meridian that towers above the Downtown with its sixteen stores and recognizable brown-brick look. Not long ago, Marriott transformed it into a luxurious hotel with 110 rooms, 21 suites, and carefully restored Art Deco interiors. 

Why Do It? Staying here is like being transported to the Great Gatsby-like atmosphere of the roaring twenties combined with a contemporary and stylish accommodation experience. Its central location is another great advantage; you’re literally in the heart of Meridian with all the Downtown restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues nearby.  

Good to Know: The windows here feature city views, so the higher your room is, the better the Meridian view you’re getting. Also, The Box Car rooftop restaurant has the best vista in the city. You simply can’t find a more scenic place to dine. 

Enjoy Cabin Life Next to a Lake
Airbnb.com
Enjoy cabin life next to a lake

Enjoy Cabin Life Next to a Lake

What Is It? Combine your historical exploration of Meridian with the Mississippi outdoors by staying in this tiny Mississippi cabin rental on the shores of a private lake. You’ll be able to enjoy the hiking trails around the property, have direct pier access to the lake, and simply unwind in a large green space. 

Why Do It? It’s the ultimate retreat and an easygoing stay one-on-one with nature. Cute and unique, this experience will definitely become the highlight of your Meridian trip. 

Good to Know: You can have a motor boat upon request for a mini sailing experience. Fishing is also an option. 

See the Last Intact Steam Engine Factory in the U.S.
See the last intact steam engine factory in the US

See the Last Intact Steam Engine Factory in the U.S.

What Is It? Cogwheels are turning with a rumble, the steam is in the air, and the electric motor is pumping. You’re visiting the excellent Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum and its superstar, the Soulé Steam Feed Works. It takes you straight into the era when steam was king, and its uniqueness lies in the fact that all the old equipment you see still operates as it used to.  

Why Do It? If you’re into machines, that’s a prime establishment to visit while in Meridian. Not only is it highly entertaining and industrially spellbinding, but it also shows how things were done a century ago, providing an entertaining excursion into technology’s past. 

Good to Know: You can visit the museum on an informative guided tour.

Ride an Old-School Carousel
Ride an old-school carousel

Ride an Old-School Carousel

What Is It? Before Disneyland and Sea World, there were carousels. These mechanical amusement rides’ golden age was at the turn of the 20th century. Meridian is lucky to have a still operational merry-go-round with painted horses (and other animals) constructed by Gustav Dentzel, a German immigrant who is responsible for the majority of iconic American carousels. Great news, you can ride it the same way as people did a century ago.  

Why Do It? While it’s definitely not Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it still has its charms, especially when you’re in Meridian, known for its diverse historical heritage. A thrilling thing to do for kids and a nostalgic ride for adults, what’s not to like about the Dentzel Antique Carousel? 

Good to Know: The carousel is a National Historic Landmark, and all the pretty horses have been renovated to their former glory.

Rewind in Bonita Lakes Park
Unwind in Bonita Lakes Park

Rewind in Bonita Lakes Park

What Is It? Meridian has a very strong natural side too. The must-visit spot if you’re into the outdoors is the wonderful Bonita Lakes Park, a 3300-acre green gem on the outskirts of the city. There, you’ll find three lakes, miles of trails, and countless outdoor activity opportunities. 

Why Do It? You can paddle through the clear lake waters, ride a horse on more than 20 miles of equestrian trails, have a picnic surrounded by pristine trees, or simply relax in the picturesque forested setting. 

Good to Know: The park is dog-friendly; just be sure to use the leash. It is open year-round from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Hunt for Historic Houses
Hunt for historic houses

Hunt for Historic Houses

What Is It? With a well-preserved historic center filled with buildings from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Meridian is quite a special destination for architecture connoisseurs. You can witness a few decades of American architectural thought just by strolling through its cozy streets. 

Why Do It? Exploring the exciting architectural heritage would be a superb accompaniment for your Meridian trip. Seeing buildings designed by visionary architects like Frank Fort and Wallace Neff is a true joy. 

Good to Know: Check out the 19th-century-built Meridian Museum of Art located in the former First Presbyterian Church in the city. 

Relax Next to a 65-foot Waterfall at Dunn's Falls
Relax next to a 65-foot waterfall at Dunn's Falls

Relax Next to a 65-foot Waterfall at Dunn's Falls

What Is It? While it may not be Niagara Falls, Dunn’s Falls is impressive in its own right. Located less than 15 miles from Meridian, it would be a great pick for a day trip from the city. The waterfall in question was the power source for a historic gristmill from the 19th century. Today it is a beautiful natural wildlife refuge. 

Why Do It? The area is a perfect combination of history and nature. Also, the waterfall itself is a highly Instagrammable location. And you can come for picnicking, swimming, and hiking. 

Good to Know: The park gives you a chance to rent a cabin so you can reserve your spot beforehand and enjoy a night surrounded by nature. 

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