Sometimes you really need to get away, but you’ve only got a few days or a small budget. That’s where the short road trip comes in handy. A change of scenery, even if it’s just a couple of hours away, can work wonders.
The Southeastern United States is an excellent area for road trips, with a variety of fascinating areas within easy driving distance. Mississippi is an often-overlooked state, but it’s centrally located and has multiple interesting destinations convenient to many major Southeastern cities. Here are our picks for 5 of the top Mississippi road trips for couples.
Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Bay St. Louis is a quaint and peaceful destination on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. With its easy-to-stroll downtown featuring a variety of art galleries, antique stores, and shops, plus the waterfront, it’s a fun place to spend a weekend away.
If you like to play golf or fish, this is a great area for that, with good local golf courses and lots of fishing charters available. FYI, the beachfront here is small and is located along the bay, rather than the Gulf. The beaches in Ocean Springs are better if you want to hang out by the Gulf.
A sophisticated place to stay in Bay St. Louis is at the Pearl Hotel in the heart of Old Town Bay St. Louis on Beach Boulevard, with water views from your room’s balcony plus a fun bar and fabulous coastal cuisine restaurant downstairs.
Another delicious dining option in Bay St. Louis, just steps away from the hotel along Beach Boulevard, is Trapani’s Eatery. Enjoy water views from the patio and feast on amazing New Orleans-inspired dishes like Paneed Trout, Paneed Veal, and Trout Almondine, as well as poboys and Italian specialties.
Ocean Springs is a lovely scenic drive about an hour to the east from Bay St. Louis. It also has a charming and walkable downtown area. Take a bike tour, explore local shops and galleries, or go to an event at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center. Don’t miss the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, featuring the works of this American master painter plus his two brothers, a master potter and a painter and ceramicist.
You can also visit Charnley-Norwood, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan in 1890, or head out to the Gulf Islands National Seashore Visitor Center.
Stay at The Roost Hotel, a boutique property in a restored historic building that is walking distance from the downtown area and the beach.
Maison de Lu offers French cuisine in an intimate downtown setting with outdoor dining. For a fun evening out, head to the Juke Joint, set inside a hundred-year-old home nestled under huge historical oak trees for live music.
Bay St. Louis is just 1 hour from New Orleans, Louisiana; 1.5 hours from Mobile, Alabama; 2 hours from Pensacola, Florida; and 3.5 hours from Montgomery, Alabama. Ocean Springs is 1 hour from Mobile, 1.5 hours from New Orleans or Pensacola, and 3 hours from Montgomery.
Meridian is known as “the Queen City” due to its standing at the beginning of the 20th century as the largest city in Mississippi. The sizeable but walkable downtown area features an assortment of historic buildings dating from the 1800s and up, many of which have been or are being restored. You can explore antique stores, shops, and boutiques; tour the restored Meridian Temple Theater; or go see a concert or show at the Riley Center in the beautifully restored Opera House.
Meridian is home to a chic Art Deco hotel that should be on any architecture-lover’s list to visit. Threefoot Hotel, which is affiliated with Marriott, opened in 2021 to much fanfare. One of only 3 Art Deco skyscrapers in Mississippi, and the only one outside of Jackson, this former office building was nearly demolished but was saved and has now been restored to its full 1930s glory. Be sure to look up to see the colorful terracotta accents on the building’s exterior.
You’ll be close to the action here, but still feel a world away in your elegant and comfortable room. For a truly luxurious weekend, book one of the two Presidential Suites at the top of the hotel with its own private balcony.
Enjoy a cocktail in the stylish lounge or the swanky rooftop bar, which features views of the whole town and surrounding hills. The bar serves small plates, or you can dine on sophisticated Southern cuisine in the beautifully designed 601 Local restaurant.
Or, walk over and have dinner at Weidmann’s, a historic restaurant with an elegant atmosphere and delicious Creole and Southern cuisine. Amore is another romantic dinner option in Meridian. This new Italian restaurant is set in a lovely Victorian home close to downtown.
Meridian is just 3 hours from New Orleans, Louisiana; Pensacola, Florida; or Montgomery, Alabama; and 2 hours from Mobile, Alabama.
Oxford is a cultural destination, home to the University of Mississippi (known as Ole Miss) and famous authors including William Faulkner and John Grisham.
The Town Square is the heart of Oxford and a fun place to stroll around and shop. A must-see destination for booklovers is Square Books, a bookstore ranging across three historic buildings featuring a huge selection of books on the American South, books by Southern writers, literary fiction, and more plus a cafe and balcony. Check to see if they are hosting one of their 150 author events a year.
You can also visit the University of Mississippi Museum, bike in Holly Spring National Forest, and tour historic buildings like Rowan Oak, built in 1844 and the home of Nobel-prize winning Southern author William Faulkner. For a different date night in Oxford, attend a performance at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
A romantic place to stay in Oxford is the Chancellor’s House Hotel, centrally located on Oxford Square. There are 31 guest rooms and suites in this luxury boutique hotel, which also offers an onsite spa. You can dine here on the terrace overlooking the square, enjoy a drink or meal in the library, or book private dining.
Or, stay in the opulent and stunning Castle Hill Oxford, set in an antebellum mansion that offers 7 bed and breakfast accommodations in elegantly furnished rooms.
A delicious option for dinner in Oxford is Julep Steakhouse & Flights, an intimate restaurant and wine bar located just off the Town Square, serving steaks, seafood, and more.
Oxford is 4 hours from Montgomery, Alabama; 5 hours from Mobile, Alabama; 5 hours from New Orleans, Louisiana; and 6 hours from Pensacola, Florida.
Founded in 1716 along the Mississippi River, Natchez is a beautiful town that’s especially popular with history buffs.
There are more than 40 lovely bed-and-breakfast options set in historic homes in Natchez. Devereaux Shields House is located in a Queen Anne Victorian just a few blocks from both the Natchez Bluffs and the old town center. It offers a variety of romantic packages such as the Simply Elegant Getaway, which includes a horse-drawn carriage ride through historic Natchez to a multi-course dinner at a local fine restaurant.
Another lovely place to stay in Natchez is the Dunleith Historic Inn, an antebellum home dating from 1856 that is listed as an historic landmark. Dunleith is set on 40 acres but has only 22 rooms, giving you plenty of peaceful spots to call your own.
You don’t even have to leave the grounds if you don’t want to; the onsite Castle Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the estate’s old carriage house. But you’ll want to go exploring, because Natchez has some fascinating history and scenic spots to check out.
You can take a variety of tours around Natchez or just head out on your own itinerary. There are amazing historic mansions including Longwood, the largest octagonal mansion in the U.S.; Stanton Hall, a fully restored Greek-Revival style mansion that was the model for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion; and Rosalie Mansion, a pre-Civil War home that served as Natchez Union headquarters during the Civil War.
The downtown area is filled with shops, museums, and restaurants that range from casual cafés serving Southern home-style cooking to fine dining establishments.
In addition to the Castle Restaurant at Dunleith Historic Inn, another top restaurant in Natchez is the elegant 1818 Restaurant, located in the Main House at Monmouth Historic Inn.
Or pick up a delicious Southern meal and have a sunset picnic at Bluff Park, overlooking the Mississippi River as it winds its way through town from the 200-foot-high bluffs.
A magical time to visit Natchez is during the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage, which happens each year in March and April when the lush landscape is filled with blooming azaleas. You can go on exclusive home and garden tours during this time.
Take a leisurely drive along the scenic Natchez Trace, a 444-mile path that stretches from Natchez to Nashville. Several interesting sites are located just a few minutes from downtown, including an Indian mound, a historic inn, and beautiful picnic grounds.
You can also head north about an hour to Vicksburg for more historic homes, plenty of museums and sites dedicated to Civil War history, and a fun downtown that offers plenty of shops and cafes.
Natchez is 3 hours from New Orleans, Louisiana; 4 hours from Mobile, Alabama; 5 hours from Pensacola, Florida; and 5 and a half hours from Montgomery, Alabama.
Now that you know more about our picks for the top 5 road trip destinations in Mississippi, where do you want to head first? Let us know in the comments. For more suggestions on great road trip destinations, check out our other articles about fun places for weekend getaways around the country.