Mississippi has no shortage of places the whole family will love. Whether you’re looking to explore the outdoors or stroll around a museum, these vacation spots will make sure the entire family has an unforgettable time in the Magnolia State.
Mississippi’s capital city is the ideal destination for family fun. Gaze up at the stars at the Russel C. Davis Planetarium then stroll across the street to play in The Mississippi Museum of Art’s art garden and splash pad. The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is the perfect spot for the whole family to learn about the native wildlife and flora of the Magnolia state and is conveniently located directly next to Mississippi’s top children’s attraction, The Mississippi Children’s Museum.
While it might be known as home to the University of Mississippi, Oxford is much more than just a college town. Take the kids to award-winning Big Bad Breakfast for pancakes and bacon before heading to Square Books for weekly story time and a great selection of literature for kids and parents. Try to catch a fly-ball at an Ole Miss baseball game at Swayze Field and make sure to catch a free, outdoor, family-friendly movie at Avent Park.
For outdoor family fun, head to Dunn’s Falls in South Lauderdale County. Part of the Chunky River, Dunn’s Falls features a water park that’s fun for the whole family, plus primitive camping or cabin accommodations to really get in touch with nature. There’s plenty of wildlife to view along nature trails or on a hiking, fishing or canoeing trip, and visitors can even swim near the waterfall that’s powering a reconstructed 1857 grist mill.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast offers good times for parents and kids alike. Spending the day at the beach is guaranteed fun, but there are also other great experiences like a tour of the Biloxi Lighthouse trip on the Betsy Ann, an authentic riverboat. Be sure to check out Escape, a 55,000-square-foot family entertainment center at the Margaritaville Resort Biloxi. Here, guests and the general public can enjoy a 48-foot volcano rock-climbing wall, ropes course, bowling, an indoor cloud coaster and virtual gaming.
Comprised of the cities of Ridgeland, Madison, Canton and Flora, this county just outside the state’s capital offers attractions perfect for a family vacation. Ridgeland’s Renaissance at Colony Park has world-class shopping and dining with a splash pad for the kids, while Madison is full of playgrounds and parks for a day in the sun. Flora is home to the Mississippi Petrified Forest, a six-block nature trail that’s home to ancient trees and 36-million-year-old logs. In winter, Canton becomes “the city of lights” with their annual Christmastime light display in the famous Canton Square.
South Mississippi is home to many beautiful swamplands, and the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in Moss Point offers a chance to get up-close-and-personal with some of the swamp’s most intriguing creatures. Children as young as four can even take a trip on their Airboat Swamp Tours, with a chance to see wild alligators, explore the Mississippi wilderness and give the kids an experience they’ll never forget.
The Hattiesburg Zoo and Kamper Park are just two of the great family destinations in the MS Main Street Community of Hattiesburg. Kids Rule Family Fun Center also offers open play time on its obstacle courses, interactive sports games and inflatable jumps and slides. In the fall, enjoy a University of Southern Mississippi football game and take the family tailgating before the game.
Philadelphia is home to the annual Neshoba County Fair, a festival that’s a hit for families and offers live music, rides, horse races and many other attractions the family will love. Stay at the Pearl River Resort for plenty of pool time and great food for the kids, plus golfing and drinks for the grownups. The not-to-be-missed attraction in Philadelphia, though, is Geyser Falls Water Theme Park, a top-rated water park with rides and thrills for kids and adults of all ages.
Infinity Science Center is the official visitor center for NASA’s nearby Stennis Space Center. A top STEM destination of the southeast, the center offers 35,000 square feet of interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits, artifacts and stimulators that make learning about Earth, space and technology interesting, immersive and fun. Located in Pearlington, Mississippi, the Infinity Science Center is just a short drive from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans.
Gulfport is a great beach destination with fun attractions suitable for many different types of families. Stop by the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, an interactive children’s museum in a converted 1916 former school, splash and swim in the Gulf Islands Waterpark or enjoy dinner at Island View Casino. For a truly unique experience, visit the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, where you can interact with marine animals in touch pools and watch a dolphin display while learning about research conducted by the institute.
Historical Vicksburg has fun things for the entire family to enjoy. The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum gives a glimpse into the beginnings of the popular soda that was first bottled in the city. To catch up with history, the Vicksburg National Military Park offers guided and self-guided tours of the city’s involvement in the Civil War. For a little more laid-back fun, head downtown for a bite to eat before stopping by the Catfish Row Children’s Art Park, a collection of murals, children’s art exhibits and splash fountains set against the backdrop of the Mississippi River.