First, let me say…I understand your pain. From families looking forward to spring break to retirees planning the next adventure and everyone in between are disappointed about travel bans imposed by the threat of COVID-19. Before mourning our fate, though, here’s a cheerful thought. Mississippi has plenty of interesting places to visit for day trips, overnighters, or week-long trips. Attractions and interesting places abound all over our state. Even better, Mississippi is blessed with thousands of restaurants ranging from family-owned diners to fine-dining establishments. Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a few of the places right here at home that combine good food with plenty to see and do. After seeing what our cities and towns have to offer, you won’t think twice about staying here instead of jumping ship to other locations.
One of the most intriguing, interesting, and historical places in Mississippi is Vicksburg. For starters, the River City annually attracts millions of visitors from around the country and even the world. If you haven’t visited in a while or at all, it’s time to make the trip to this gem on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Vicksburg is filled with historic sites and scenic views, but perhaps none is as awe-inspiring as the 1,800-acre Vicksburg National Military Park. America’s most monumented national military park contains more than 1,400 memorials to soldiers who served on both sides of the Civil War. There’s also a Civil War gunboat, museum, visitor’s center, the largest National Military Cemetery of Union dead, and a separate cemetery where 5,000 Confederates were laid to rest. Walking or driving through the rolling hills of the park dotted with beautiful scenery, historic bridges, artifacts, and much more is an unforgettable experience.
One of the city’s most historic buildings and a can’t-miss attraction is the Old Warren County Court House Museum. The building was built in 1858 and survived the Civil War with minimal damage. The nine-room museum is packed with over 15,000 artifacts ranging from pre-Columbian items to authentic Civil War relics, Indian implements, and an original teddy bear given to a local child by Pres. Teddy Roosevelt. Beautiful, sprawling grounds, highlighted by a Civil War cannon, and blooming plants and trees make this the perfect spot for a family photo or selfie.
Walk over to the historic downtown area, where you’ll find a number of specialty shops, museums, and art galleries. One of the most intriguing is the Biedenharn Coca-Cola® Museum, where Coca-Cola® was first bottled in 1894. Head down to the Mississippi River Overlook for an up-close-and-personal view of the Mighty Mississippi and plenty of photo opportunities.
One of the most Southern experiences in a city filled with great restaurants is Walnut Hills. Housed in a beautiful home built in 1830, Walnut Hills’ rocking chair-lined porch and columns take visitors back to a simpler time. The experience only gets better when you enter and breathe in the aroma of fried chicken, homemade rolls, and freshly-baked pies and cakes.
It’s safe to say Walnut Hills offers almost every Southern delicacy you’d hope to sample. For starters, try a serving of fried oysters, tomato aspic, homemade pimento cheese and Cajun sausage, tamales, or fried green tomatoes, to list a few.
Walnut Hills' fried chicken is famous world-wide.
When you’re ready for the main course, it’ll be hard to select just one, but you won’t go wrong with Walnut Hills’ famous fried chicken. The crispy, golden brown chicken has been named to several “best of” lists and featured in national publications. Served with two sides, it’s a meal that will (almost) make you forget about that cancelled vacation.
Other house favorites include fried or blackened catfish, shrimp and grits, and boiled shrimp. Or, try delicious entrees such as red fish Almondine, seafood platter, barbecued ribs, ribeye, hamburger steak, seafood pasta, and chicken or shrimp Alfredo.
Served on authentic New Orleans bread, po’boys are a crowd favorite and range from shrimp to oyster, catfish to crab cake. A Walnut Hills burger, along with chicken and club sandwiches, are also on the menu.
A variety of soups and sandwiches can be enjoyed separately or paired together. Just a few of the offerings include crab cake or oyster salad, chicken salad, seafood gumbo, and corn and crab bisque.
Whatever you select, don’t forget to save room for dessert. Delicious, homemade delicacies like red velvet cake, pecan praline pie, caramel cake, creole cream cheese cheesecake, and most diners’ favorite, cream of coconut pie, are the perfect ending to an unforgettable Southern meal. Stop by Walnut Hills’ bakery on your way out the door to pick up your favorite dessert to enjoy at home.
Walnut Hills Restaurant is located at 1214 Adams St., Vicksburg. Hours are Sunday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Mon day – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; and closed on Tuesday. For more information, call 601-638-4910, or visit www.walnuthillsms.com.
Kara Kimbrough is a freelance food and travel writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.