Our suggested fun things to do in Jackson Mississippi for a perfect 24-hour visit include staying in a historic and luxurious inn, eating tasty food, visiting iconic museums, exploring scenic neighborhoods, and so much more.
Whether you are visiting Jackson MS for a Jackson State football game, driving to or from New Orleans, visiting the Mississippi state capital, or any other reason, use our suggested places to eat, see, do, and stay as a guide for creating your perfect trip.
Jackson is an ideal stopover to or from the US Gulf Coast, which is what I did. I spent a perfect 24 hours in Jackson Mississippi after visiting Ocean Springs Mississippi and on my way north to Nashville.
Many of these Jackson MS places were recommended by a friend who lived there for many years. Having an insider scoop on places to go, see, eat, and stay was phenomenally useful and appreciated and I hope this article will likewise help you plan your perfect day in Jackson MS.
Fun Things to Do in Jackson Mississippi During a 24 Hour Visit
The following fun things to do in Jackson Mississippi can be experienced in any order but I list them accordingly for a potential perfect day. I arrived around noon on a Sunday and left about noon on a Monday.
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
Thee first things I had to do when I arrived in Jackson Mississippi (noon, Sunday) had to be the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. I had heard so much about it and my visit exceeded even the tremendous hype. It is an astounding museum and while there I decided to one day write an article about the most emotion-evoking museums because this is one of them.
The museum focuses on Mississippians roles in slavery through civil rights era issues and right up to the present moment. Displays are emotionally powerful and many are interactive.
Most poignant to me was learning that southern churches historically widely spread terminology and propaganda to maintain slavery and that slavery was specifically mentioned in articles of secession as why Mississippi left USA.
Museum of Mississippi History
Museum of Mississippi History covers 15,000 years of local history, from the First Peoples, through becoming a US state, and up to today. Artifacts, interactive exhibits, narrative stories, and countless informative displays will inspire and educate you.
McCool Travel tip: The Morgan Freeman-narrated history film is the best way to begin your time in this museum, especially if you are coming over from the Civil Rights Museum.
Two Mississippi Museums
Together, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History are known and managed as Two Mississippi Museums and are definitely one of the top things to do in Jackson Mississippi.
One admission charge covers both museums. Admission to Two Mississippi Museums is currently $15 on Tuesdays through Saturdays and FREE on Sundays. The Two Mississippi Museums share a lobby, gift shop, and cafe.
McCool Travel tip: If you do not already have eating plans, try the Mississippi gumbo from Nick Wallace (Top Chef contestant) at the Nissan Cafe at Two Mississippi Museums.
McCool Travel note: The colorful wall mural in the top photo can be found across the courtyard area and North Street from the Two Mississippi Museums main entrance.
Classic Jackson Mississippi Lunch at Crawdad Hole
Crawdad Hole in Jackson Mississippi is a perfect no-frills seafood dive, where you will find only locals—until soon after this article is published—ha, the secret is out! The place is situated in a shack that appears will collapse during the next windy storm, yet Crawdad Hole has looked like that for years.
The menu at Crawdad Hole is written on an erasable board, its outside seating is on wooden picnic tables, and guests bring their own beer. Totally no-frills but absolutely amazing.
Seemed to me the only proper order was two pounds of spicy crawfish and one pound of seasoned peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp. I loved the large plastic bowls for the crawfish and the shell discards. Honestly, the seasoning could have been spicier for me and next time I will ask them to kick it up a few notches.
Sharing the shack is a tamale outfit. Oh, dang, I will definitely hit the hot tamales next visit.
McCool Travel tip: GPS directions are sketchy to this place and maybe that is to keep it a hidden gem. It shows walking to it from busy Lakeland Drive but that is not practical as you will see. Instead, turn on Cool Papa Bell into the sports complex. Crawdad Hole is on the west (left) side of the loop drive/parking lot.
Best Jackson Mississippi Hotel: Fairview Inn
Time to see if our room for the night is ready. Fairview Inn is a historic and luxurious boutique inn and is the #1 ranked top Jackson Mississippi hotel (ranked by TripAdvisor readers).
Fairview Inn is located in Jackson Mississippi’s Belhaven District and was designed by Robert Closson Spencer, Jr, a Frank Lloyd Wright associate. Fairview Inn is his only French Revival property.
Choose from 18 suites at Fairview Inn. We recommend the French Suite or Hayloft Suite. Many rooms have whirlpool tubs and fireplaces so be sure to read the descriptions on their website.
Plan to attend Happy Hour in the Library Lounge, whether or not you choose to enjoy Southern cuisine surrounded by their collection of Civil War and Mississippi authored books. Another dining option downstairs, 1908 Provisions offers fine dining on certain days (be sure to check).
The property grounds and landscaping at Fairview Inn is gorgeous. I enjoyed my carryout dinner from nearby Aladdin Mediterranean Grill under the magnificent live oak tree.
Fairview Inn is a member of the Select Registry and National Register of Historic Places and one of our choices for most Romantic Hotels in North America.
Stroll the Belhaven neighborhood
But I jumped ahead a little there. Hopefully you have some time before Happy Hour and dinner. Leave your car parked at Fairview Inn and explore the surrounding streets of the historic Belhaven neighborhood.
Walk straight east on Fairview Street to Belhaven University and head back on Pinehurst Street to see the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty House and Gardens (closed Sunday and Monday).
The Belhaven historic district is a fantastic stroll and I hope you will enjoy the slight hills, gorgeous trees, and charming 1900 era houses.
Top Dinner Choices in Jackson Mississippi
A few eating options have already been listed but one highly-recommended upscale Jackson Mississippi restaurant is Saltine, in the Fondren District, just a mile north of Fairview Inn. Another nearby suggestion is Elvie’s, a French cafe concept with fresh Southern farmer-supplied ingredients, and Fertile Ground Beer Co. (for a craft beer), both in Belhaven Town Center.
Several casual restaurants and drinking places are also located in Belhaven and Fondren. Basil’s and Thailicious are two other highly-rated places.
Explore the Fondren District
Whether you eat at Saltine, Elvie’s, Thailicious, or Basil’s, have a drink (try The Pearl tiki bar), or just want to stroll any time of the day or night, give the Fondren District a try.
Many places in Fondren retain classic, old school signage and decor. It may be packed on football game days and weekends, so fair warning.
Night and Morning at Fairview Inn
Hopefully you are not too exhausted or celebratory to bask in the whirlpool tub in your Fairview Inn suite. The kitchen has plenty of snacks and drinks (including on-demand tea water tap!) with some specialty items available on an honor basis.
Rest well and sweet dreams.
In the morning, enjoy tea or coffee in your suite, in the garden (under that beautiful oak or the grand magnolia), and then a made-to-order breakfast. Perhaps a morning spa appointment is your cup of tea and was reserved in advance (maybe even as a surprise!).
Sadly, at some point we do have to leave Fairview Inn but now you know that you should plan on staying here for several nights in the near future.
LeFleur Museum District
After checking out of Fairview Inn, visit the other museum district, which is conveniently located next to I-55.
Four nearby museums make up the LeFleur Museum District and they are one of the favorite things to do in Jackson Mississippi. Certainly a return visit is warranted to spend more time to these amazing museums.
They include the above mentioned Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum (both near Crawdad Hole). The other two are located across Lakeland Drive and set back a bit on Museum Drive; they are Mississippi Children’s Museum and Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
McCool Travel tip: Save about 25% by buying an admission pass to cover all four Jackson MS museums.
McCool Travel note: There are plenty of Instagrammable places around Jackson but one spot I remember more than any other. Driving by the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital I saw a group of nurses wearing different color scrubs taking promo photo shots by the multi-color entrance statue.
McCool Travel tip: D’Lo Water Park is about 30 miles southeast of Jackson along highway 49, which continues to Hattiesburg. Stop at D’Lo to see film scenes from O Brother, Where Art Thou? and imagine George Clooney’s pal being turned into a horny toad.
Enjoy your drive to your next destination, whether you are headed west, north, south, or east, and I do hope this collection of things to do in Jackson Mississippi helps you have a perfect day there.