5 Must Visits for Families Wanting Fun
Mississippi offers up everything a family needs for fun and adventure
By Paige Townley
Summer is synonymous with fun new adventures, and there’s no southern destination that provides it quite like Mississippi. The Magnolia State is packed with attractions to please everyone in the family—no matter their age or interest. So gather your friends or loved ones, pack up the car, and meet us in Mississippi to explore these five must-visit destinations.
The Mississippi Aquarium
Gulfport is home to the Mississippi Aquarium, one of the newest attractions in the state and certainly one of the best. The facility boasts both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including 12 freshwater and saltwater habitats, 200-plus species of animals, and 50 native plant species. Whatever you’re hoping to see up close—bottlenose river otters, dolphins, sandbar sharks, stingrays, and even exotic birds—can all be found here, which is one of only a few facilities in America with underwater viewing via the SeaTrek helmet diving experience.
The Hattiesburg Zoo
Anyone wanting to get up close and personal with their favorite zoo animals must check out the Hattiesburg Zoo. The zoo is home to more than 100 types of animals from around the world. Here you’ll find everything from a Sumatran tiger and jaguar to howler monkeys and wallabies. One of its most unique exhibitions is the Africa exhibit. Experience Africa opened just last year and features giraffes, a hyena, and colobus monkeys. One of the Hattiesburg Zoo’s most popular encounters is the Sloth Experience, which allows visitors to tour the animal kitchen, assist in preparing sloth diets for the day, and feeding a sloth.
Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo
The destination for a completely different type of animal encounter is the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo. On its 175 acres—which makes it the largest zoo in the state—the park and zoo features a large herd of American bison, along with so much more. Here you’ll also get a chance to check out 260-plus exotic animals, including giraffe, zebras, llamas, a Burmese python, monkeys, and other primates. Making this destination even more unique is that visitors can drive their vehicle through the park and feed many of the animals.
Minor League Baseball
Mississippians appreciate their sports every bit as much as their animals. The state is home to two minor league baseball teams, the Mississippi Braves, who play in Jackson, and Coastal Mississippi’s Biloxi Shuckers. In addition to top-notch baseball, the teams feature family-oriented and kid-friendly promotions, and a highlight is the fireworks post-game.
For those looking for more of a literary adventure, look no further than the offerings in Oxford. A city known for its literary history and tradition, the city is home to not only many writers, but also one of the most noteworthy independent bookstores in the country: Square Books. Square Books boasts three bookstores located on Oxford’s town square—Square Books, Off Square Books, and Square Books, Jr., and they are frequently hosting book signings and even a weekly live radio broadcast.