Before I started researching our Road Trip USA Deep South Tour, I knew nothing about attractions in the state of Mississippi. Once I started researching, I realised Vicksburg and Jackson Mississippi were excellent places for us to visit, so this is where we headed after leaving New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana.
The two cities are about 45 minutes apart, so we decided to base ourselves in Jackson and travel from there to Vicksburg. Unfortunately, we could only spare two nights, a third would have been nice to give ourselves a day each in each city, but two nights were enough to visit the main things to do in Jackson MS for kids as well as Vicksburg.
Below you will find our quick guide to what to do in Jackson MS, Vicksburg MS as well as essential practical information from our stay such as where to stay in Jackson MS with kids and how much money this trip cost.
Fun things to do in Jackson MS for kids
Jackson State Capitol
Since I have decided it’s my life’s mission to visit every US state capitol building, naturally we headed here first! We started off at the old Capitol building and then walked the few blocks to the new one. It’s also a good activity if you are looking for free things to do in Jackson MS.
It is a gorgeous building set on great grounds with lots of trees and squirrels, which 3 year old S enjoyed more than the building itself. We walked around, took some pics and then the kids chased squirrels and pretended to be squirrels themselves, trying to run up trees. This actually turned out to be one of their favorite kids’ activities in Jackson MS and they talked about it for awhile!
It was getting dark by this point so, after stopping at Walmart to buy some vegies and a roast chicken, we headed to our motel.
The next morning we were off to Vicksburg…
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg’s main attraction is the Vicksburg National Military Park. It’s one of the top Mississippi attractions for families
The site contains a 16 mile driving tour of sites from the American Civil War. The battle for Vicksburg (and thus control of the Mississippi River) sparked major battles and a siege in this war.
We started at the visitor center where we watched a 20 minute video about the campaign for Vicksburg. It was a great introduction to what we were going to see particularly since, being Australian, we know little about the American Civil War. It painted the scene and enhanced our visit.
We then drove around the site using the free map and guide. You can also buy CDs to learn more or hire a guide, but since we aren’t big Civil War buffs and have kids with short attention spans, this was enough for us.
It is a beautiful area of rolling hills and grand trees. However, it is hard not to feel melancholy when driving round a site where over 10,000 people died in battle. There are many memorials, information boards and sign posts along the way which add to the experience.
At one end of the trail, you can also visit the USS Cairo and museum. The USS Cairo was the first vessel sunk by mines and was recovered from the Mississippi and put here. You can walk around the vessel and get an idea of how ships such as these were constructed and worked. It is also fun for the kids to run around on it and they enjoyed having a bit stretch of their legs here.
Next to this is the car cemetery where over 17000 union soldiers are buried, many unidentified.
This place is well worth a visit, even for people like us with little knowledge of the American Civil War. I would imagine it would be even more interesting to Americans.
$8 per car.
We now have a bit of a crush on Vicksburg.
There is perhaps nothing that special about it, but it seemed like the small town USA we had imagined visiting but were yet to come across. It had an actual main strip with actual shops and just felt small and charming. It helps that it is on the mighty Mississippi, and it is always awesome to see this river whose name we have heard so many times in the past. We wish we had based ourselves here instead of what feels like run of the mill, could be anywhere, Jackson in comparison.
We drove up and down main street and checked out the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum – the place where coca cola started their worldwide domination when they came up with the idea to start bottling soft drink in 1894. Until that point, “soda” had been a regional thing. Once they started bottling their Coca-Cola, they could export and reach new markets. It is now a museum and you can see some reproduction bottling works, memorabilia and buy hundreds of Coca-Cola items!
We then had a picnic lunch at the Children’s Art Park by the Mississippi. A lovely little park which has groovy music playing, lots of art (who would have thought) and lots of Christmas decorations. It also has a fabulous playground and is opposite one of my favourite Vicksburg attractions – Vicksburg Riverfront Murals. If you are looking for Mississippi attractions for kids, definitely head here!
The riverfront murals consist of 32 great murals along a flood wall detailing the history of the area. Most of the murals have information plaques in front describing the picture and how it is significant to Vicksburg. A nice, easy (and very cheap) way to learn about the city.
It was then back to Jackson for some more things for kids to do in Jackson MS.
Mississippi Children’s Museum
The Mississippi Children’s Museum is meant to be one of the best in the country. I can’t really say whether this is true or not since it is my first children’s museum, but we did love it!
Chock full of exhibits which are always interactive, S and I had fun exploring and learning more about Mississippi (many have a Mississippi theme) and just doing cool things! This children’s museum was like a cross between a play center, science museum, awesome toy store and a house made especially for children.
Some of our highlights are in the picture below, but my iPhone ran out of battery while we were there so it only shows a small part of what you can do here. We especially loved recording our own songs, dancing like ballerinas, painting, “shopping” for vegetables, S doing the housework, playing water games, building boats, driving a real car… just so many things to do here! I highly recommend it to any family in the area.
1 year old Z didn’t come because he needed a nap, but there would have been enough to interest him as well. It would definitely win our prize of the fun places for kids in Jackson MS.
$8 each for everyone 1 and over
It was then back to the motel for another self catered dinner. This ended our adventures in Jackson.
We enjoyed our two nights here a lot. We could have easily spent another day exploring this area. We wished we had based ourselves in Vicksburg instead of Jackson, but otherwise we are very happy with how spent our time.
I have the impression that not many foreigners make it here which is a shame. There are some fun and interesting things to do in Jackson MS with kids. It does have a charm and we are happy to have come through here on our road trip USA!
They loved it here. They were happy with all the things to do with kids in Jackson MS, especially the Mississippi Children’s Museum. S liked that perhaps too much since she screamed her head off and caused quite a scene when I tried to get her to leave!
The military park worked quite well with kids since we were mostly outside and they enjoyed checking out the USS Cairo. S actually surprised us with how much she actually learned by watching the Vicksburg battle documentary.
They are both sleeping reasonably well at the moment (halleluiah!) and have adapted well to road tripping.
Cheap accommodation in Jackson
We stayed at the Red Roof Inn Ridgeland and even shelled out for the “deluxe” room, since it came with a microwave and a fridge. We are trying to only stay in accommodation with a fridge and microwave now, as this makes self catering easy and means we can make far healthier food choices. It only cost $58 a night with taxes and was fine. We even got things like toiletries!
The disappointing part was no breakfast and no laundry facilities, but for the price we are paying, we are very happy. It was quiet and by the interstate which made for a very quick journey downtown. My only real gripe is that the servicing of the room was basically non existent, even though they knocked on our door and asked if we wanted the full service which we said yes to.
Red Roof Inn Jackson North – Ridegland deluxe 2 full beds room about $58 including tax – check out the latest prices here.
We actually went under budget even though we bought lots of diet coke and nappies! Thanks to the cheap accommodation costs and self catering everything but lunch a day, we kept well within our budget of $136 even including attractions.
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Tags: USA Travel Blog