Vicksburg, Mississippi, became famous for being the site of a lengthy and important battle during the Civil War, but the townspeople want visitors to know Vicksburg has so much more to explore and discover. The art, history, accommodations, restaurants, and shopping, make it a great place to spend a weekend or longer. Read on to learn about the best things to do in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
1. Visit the site of important American Civil War history
Control of the transportation route along the Mississippi River was a crucial part of battle strategies during the Civil War, and Vicksburg was an important port. Confederate troops tried valiantly to hold onto it, but they were greatly outnumbered by Union soldiers. The Battle of Vicksburg began on March 29, 1863, and continued until Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on July 4, 1863. A visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park will make both sides of the story become more vivid as you drive through the grounds, listen to the heart-wrenching stories, and stop to admire the monuments and statues along the 16-mile (25.7 km) tour road. A tour that’s highly recommended is The Art of Commemoration tour, where your guide will lead in his own vehicle and will communicate with your car via a Bluetooth speaker.
The Vicksburg Civil War Museum at the corner of Washington Street and China Street opened in 2021, thanks in large part to the donation of a vast collection of guns and important artifacts from African-American entrepreneur Charles Pendleton who is the museum’s owner. The museum tells the stories of black and white people during the time period but focuses on the experiences of slaves and free blacks. The museum is an important educational tool for sharing the entire Vicksburg story.
2. Eat a fresh tomato sandwich
What began as a series of roadside fruit and vegetable stands along Highway 61 has evolved into one bustling business known as The Tomato Place. It looks rustic on the outside, but inside you will find produce for sale that is as local as they can find. The sandwiches prepared and served on the spot bring in a constant stream of locals, and the popularity has extended to the point that you will see car tags in the parking lot from miles away.
The menu includes burgers, catfish, and breakfast items, but you simply must try a tomato sandwich. If you want it to be extra special, make it a fried green tomato, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.
3. Stay in a stunning bed and breakfast inn
Oak Hall Bed & Breakfast, previously known as Stained Glass Manor, is now owned by Don and Elizabeth Nelson, who have done a stellar job with furnishing and redecorating this beautiful inn built in 1910. Guest rooms are huge, and the hospitality is gracious. On weekdays, a continental breakfast is delivered to your door, but on weekends a full, hot breakfast is served. True to its former name, stained glass windows can be found everywhere you look.
Two additional, historically-significant inns in Vicksburg are Duff Green Mansion and Anchuca Historic Mansion & Inn. The Duff Green Mansion was built in 1856 and survived the Civil War by being used as a hospital for both Confederate and Union soldiers. Ulysses S. Grant and Jefferson Davis once danced in its ballroom. Anchuca was built in the late 1820’s and was the home of Joseph E. Davis, brother to Jefferson Davis, who served as President of the Confederacy. Both offer lovely accommodations for their guests.
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4. Take a walking tour of the historic district
Vicksburg Old Town Tours is a company that highlights historic Vicksburg with walking tours encompassing several blocks of buildings with lively, informative narratives provided by owners Bertram and Carol Hayes-Davis. Bertram is the great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis, so his perspective is personal and unique. The tours are especially popular with those who visit Vicksburg while cruising the Mississippi on one of the 400 riverboats that dock in the town every year. Be sure to book your tour well in advance to not miss out.
5. Shop, eat, and browse the galleries on Washington Street
Washington Street is the central hub for action in downtown Vicksburg. Shops, galleries, and restaurants will gladly help you fill several hours or a day. Notable restaurants include Relish Bistro, 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill, Rusty’s River Front Grill, and The Historic Klondyke Trading Post. H.C. Porter, internationally known painter and photographer, has her signature gallery on Washington Street, and The Attic Gallery displays Southern folk art along with contemporary fine art.
Bring your credit cards and allow yourself time to browse the shops too. Sassafras, Peterson’s, The Cinnamon Tree, Paper Plus, Frederick’s, and many others will lure you in with their attractive window displays.
Be sure to also visit the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum at 1107 Washington Street, housed in the building where Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894.
6. Admire the abundant public art
When you include the 1300-plus monuments scattered throughout the grounds of Vicksburg National Military Park, it is easy to believe that Vicksburg has more public art than anywhere else in Mississippi. In fact, the military park has been dubbed “the art park of the world.” Several murals are painted on the sides of buildings in the downtown area, but a particularly artsy place is along Levee Street. There, you will find the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals, 32 murals painted by Robert Dafford depicting significant events in Vicksburg’s history. There is also an abstract mural there by Martha Ferris.
7. Marvel at the Tiffany stained glass windows
Eleven Tiffany stained glass windows are located throughout the state of Mississippi, but you can view six of them in one Vicksburg location. The Church of the Holy Trinity at 900 South Street was built in 1870, and over a period of years, the stained glass windows were added in memory of various members of the church. While all of the windows are beautiful, six have the distinctive marks found in Tiffany creations. Before you go to Vicksburg, call the church office to arrange a tour. The experience is very enlightening.
8. Dine in long-established eateries
With so much to see and do in Vicksburg, you’ll want to boost your energy with a great meal. Two in particular have served outstanding food for several generations. Walnut Hills Restaurant on Adams Street is well known for comfort foods and “meat and three” specials. You’ll have to try their fried chicken too, which is so legendary that it’s won them awards. Beechwood Restaurant and Lounge has been serving great steaks in Vicksburg since 1956, but the shrimp and other dishes are also amazing. You won’t go hungry in this town.
Find this strong community with a proud heritage
Vicksburg has fought to survive and remain a strong presence. With a devastating Civil War, a yellow fever epidemic, and the startling day when the Mississippi River changed its course overnight, many towns would have given up and dissolved. This town, however, has strong leadership and a vision for the future. Vicksburg extends a warm welcome to visitors who leave with a true appreciation for its many assets. Plan to visit soon and see for yourself what makes this town thrive.
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