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Hurricane Katrina memorial, Biloxi, Mississippi© John C. Panella Jr.Hurricane Katrina memorial, Biloxi, Mississippi
© John C. Panella Jr.
It must be something about the sultry heat that makes Mississippi a hotbed for musicians, writers and entertainers. Country music legend Jimmie Rodgers has a museum in Meridian, while Elvis Presley's birthplace has been preserved in Tupelo. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, Muppet master Jim Henson, author Eudora Welty and playwright Tennessee Williams are just a few of the other creative folks who hail from Mississippi.

In charming Oxford you can visit Rowan Oak, once home to author William Faulkner. With its annual book and film festivals, the prestigious University of Mississippi, and a popular recording studio, Oxford has an artsy, youthful vibe that has attracted residents such as author John Grisham.

For one of the country's most scenic drives, motor along the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 710-kilometre (444-mile) historic road that bisects the state, following a path first carved out by Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians. Several sections of the original footpath have also been preserved as hiking and nature trails. Near the city of Natchez itself, you can visit the Emerald Mound native ceremonial site, or tour grand antebellum mansions and plantations.

History buffs will also want to visit Vicksburg, site of a 47-day Civil War siege. Today, you can learn more about the era at Vicksburg National Military Park and several local museums.

The state capital of Jackson is home to several notable attractions, including the Russell C. Davis Planetarium, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, a number of significant civil rights sites and, intriguingly, the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, which opened in April 2001. The Fondren District of the city has been rejuvenated and is now a lively dining, shopping and entertainment area.

Paddle Wheel, Mississippi© Wendy Kaveney PhotographyPaddle Wheel, Mississippi
© Wendy Kaveney Photography
The Gulf Coast, long popular with hikers, fishers, birders and gamblers (the latter due to casinos in Biloxi and Gulfport), is recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many casinos, golf courses, charter boat companies and other tourist businesses have re-opened.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF