jwefj

Trip Planning

5 Great Places to Camp in Mississippi and What to Do While You Are There

Mississippi is full of great campsites and things to do for the whole family.

Many people might not think of RVing around the state of Mississippi, but there are so many cool things to do here that you’ll want to plan a trip right away. From world-class gambling to visiting the coast’s beaches, touring fantastic museums, to dining at delicious eateries, you will find as much fun in the day trips and getaways as the camping itself. But since camping is essential, we have five great places to camp in Mississippi that will fit perfectly to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Pelahatchie, MS 

A visit to my first Jellystone resort took my breath away when I arrived at Jellystone Park Pelahatchie, just minutes from Jackson, Mississippi. We came during prime Halloween-decorating season and when I tell you that I’ve never seen a park so decked out in decorations, make sure you picture my jaw hanging open and eyes popping out of my head. 

Our RV campsite was a back-in spot by the water overlooking Pelahatchie Lake. Sunbathing turtles, flying fish, and dozens of Canadian geese entertained us by morning and afternoon, while a warm campfire was the focal point of our evenings. We had a golf cart at this park, which was a nice splurge due to the sheer size of the park and the fact that you can possibly fit your whole family on it to drive back and forth to activities.

Jellystone has a year-round schedule of fun-filled, family-friendly events and activities that are sure to please. You can participate in as many or as little as you want. The calendar of events ranges from movies under the stars, beach volleyball, karaoke, campfire s’mores and weenie roasts to river trikes, a jumping pillow, and the coolest kid’s splash pad you’ve ever seen. Laser tag and candy bar bingo requires a small fee, but most activities are included in your stay. You can even rent one of the fantastic cabins at the property if you would like a change of scenery.

Places you might want to visit while camping at Pelahatchie include downtown Brandon, a nearby historic town with tasty food and pastries, good shopping, and a speakeasy. Brandon also has a live music amphitheater, the best in the state, so check for upcoming concerts that may coincide with your visit. I recently saw The Beach Boys and it was a blast. All seats are good, so unless you want to be close, save your money and get a cheaper ticket.

Jackson, Mississippi’s capital city, is about 30 minutes away and has a wealth of museums (Civil Rights, Agriculture, Art, and Children’s), great restaurants, and a beautiful state capitol complex. 

We like to visit the Fondren area for Rooster’s chicken, Brent’s Drugs (a retro diner seen in The Help) for burgers and shakes, and Babalu for table-side guac and Mexican favorites. Check out the cool murals in this part of town, too. 

Meridian, MS

The Meridian East/Toomsuba KOA Journey was a great time, with a smaller-scale park that was big on decorations (again, it was Halloween season), friendly staff, and a campground with a homey feel plus a recreation room to enjoy billiards, movies, and more. The campsites were sheltered by massive pines that were so pretty, and the general store was filled with grocery and gift items. I also found the USA map and stickers that so many campers put on their rigs. The KOA pool was still open, so we enjoyed splashing around day after day. In the summer months, this KOA has a wicked cool 550-ft waterslide. 

FYI: Your first cup of freshly brewed coffee is on the house each morning.

Meridian is a Mississippi city experiencing a significant growth spurt, and we love the new addition to the landscape. Expect to find vibrant murals, cute boutique shops (Crooked Letter, with all things Mississippi, is in a league of their own), and the MAX- Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience

Here, you can learn about everyone famous from Mississippi, think Oprah, Morgan Freeman, Jimmy Buffet, Elvis, and Jim Henson (plus many more). Grab food fast at Mr. Rodger’s Hamburgers, craft cocktails and heavy appetizers at Harvest Grill, or a classic quiche, salad, or sandwich lunch from Weidmann’s, Mississippi’s oldest restaurant. If you are there on Sunday, try the fantastic Sunday jazz brunch at Weidmann’s. 

Another fun attraction for kids and adults is to see the Dentzel Carousel from the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. The hand-carved wooden animals don’t go up and down as you think of carousels, but they are intricately designed and lovely. The carousel is a National Historic Landmark.

In the same Highland Park area is where you will find the Jimmie Rodgers Museum, “the Father of Country Music,” and a super fun seasonal kid’s splash pad and swimming pool. Back downtown, the Mississippi Children’s Museum is “all that and a bag of chips” and should not be missed for those traveling with kids. 

Hattiesburg, MS

Following the KOA trend, we stayed at the newest KOA, a member since June—the Hattiesburg/Okatoma River location. This campground, built around a body of water, was our first of this fashion, and we loved it. There were oodles of ducks (a wide variety), a swimming pool, a covered patio with scads of games, and a general store for sundries, stickers, and convenience items. Fishing is a popular activity, all catch, and release, of course.

We rented a monthly spot here and found it hard to say goodbye. We appreciated the privacy of our Hattiesburg/Okatoma KOA campsite, the beautiful waterfront views, as well as the peace and quiet of this campground. Cabins are available at this property, plus tent camping.

Downtown Hattiesburg is a must, winning state tourism awards and another Mississippi city with a thriving growth spurt. Weekends are made for browsing The Lucky Rabbit, a whimsical store of epic proportions. In fact, I’ve never seen anything like it. This carefully curated shop, only open on weekends, will spark a walk down memory lane as well as introduce you to new market trends and fun things. 

Hattiesburg dining is delightful at Ed’s Burger Joint, The Midtowner, Depot Kitchen, and Keg & Barrel being my favorites. Ed’s has creative burger recipes, tasty, smothered tots, and gourmet milkshakes, while The Midtowner is your go-to for breakfast served all day. Depot Kitchen has incredible Southern biscuits and gravy, plus egg dishes and coffee drinks, and you can’t find anything not fantastic on the menu at Keg & Barrel, available in two locations. 

Hattiesburg has a colorful art scene with a sculpture and mural walk. You’ll also find the Longleaf Trace here, an excellent spot for riding bikes and/or hiking, running, or horseback riding over a 44-acre linear park. 

Families will adore the Hattiesburg Zoo, just the right size (12 acres), with jaguar, lemurs, giraffes, and many birds and raptors. The new sloth experience is a prevalent zoo activity, plus the high ropes adventure course, train, and carousel rides are always in demand. Adults will get lost in the nostalgia of T-Bones Records & Cafe, a vinyl shop with a terrific book and poster selection, serving food and drinks. 

Pro Tip: Country Tyme Fruitstand is about ten minutes from the KOA campground and an excellent place to buy local fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Biloxi, MS

Cajun RV Park is across the street from the beach, which some people may be surprised at knowing Mississippi even has beaches. The park has 130 sites (shaded ones upon request) and is within walking distance to casinos and a few restaurants along the Biloxi Beach Boardwalk. Cajun Cove has a dog park, swimming pool, and playground. Guests are invited for a coffee and danish each morning in the lounge. 

FYI: You can wash your RV or vehicle for $5 at this campground. 

Biloxi has a wealth of attractions to choose from and excellent casinos, including Harrah’s, Hard Rock Casino, IP Casino, and Beau Rivage. Photograph the Biloxi Lighthouse, catch a baseball game at the Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers), and learn all about living in a coastal town, the trials and tribulations, at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum.

Two historical sites to visit are Beauvoir, the home and Presidential Library of Jefferson Davis, and the Ohr-O’Keefe Art Museum, a Frank Gehry building complex that houses Coastal artist George E. Ohr “Mad Potter of Biloxi” works. And then there are the beaches, free of charge, to sunbathe, walk in the surf, or splash in the ocean. 

To satisfy your cravings, how about fresh seafood from Shaggy’s Biloxi Beach (an awesome spot to watch the sunset), Cajun and creole faves from Half Shell Oyster House, and Patio 44 for steaks, salads, chicken dishes, and Southern cuisine?

Biloxi is part of Coastal Mississippi, which encompasses several small, but mighty towns. Pass Christian is full of lovely antebellum houses and has great fishing spots. Bay St. Louis is a charming little town worthy of exploring and possibly renting a boat. At Ocean Springs, explore the high-end part of town with sensational eateries, adorable boutiques, and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art

Gulfport is another heavy hitter in Coastal Mississippi. Three family-friendly attractions that pack a powerful punch are the Mississippi Aquarium, Lynn Meadows Discovery Center (children’s museum), and Gulf Islands Waterpark, open late May through early September. 

Southaven, MS

We stayed at EZ Daze RV Park in Southaven, which was mainly to be close to both Memphis, TN, and Tunica, MS. EZ Daze RV Park was a clean and friendly park, with online check-in and check-out, a huge dog park, and a lovely almost hidden swimming pool. We appreciated the paved roads and concrete pads on the property.

Driving 16 minutes brings you to Memphis, home to the only residence the King of Rock and Roll would ever own—Graceland. You can tour Graceland via a variety of options that range from $26-$190, or you can go straight to iconic Beale Street and explore the downtown entertainment district of Memphis. Beale Street is a pedestrian-only area lined with honky-tonks, bbq restaurants, guitar sculptures, and a handful of touristy shops. Not feeling the BBQ? Try the excellent breakfast and lunch dishes from Automatic Slim’s on Second Street. 

I recommend a tour of the most famous recording studio in the world, Sun Studio, on your Memphis jaunt. This is where recording artists like Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Elvis, and Johnny Cash cut some or all their most well-known songs. Another highlight of Memphis is watching the iconic ducks at the Peabody Hotel. This luxury hotel has well-appointed common areas and first-class shopping, as well as Lansky Bros, the clothier to the King (Elvis Presley).

While in Memphis, don’t miss the National Civil Rights Museum, one of the most important in the nation. The Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot, is part of the National Parks System. Tour the museum, property, and building across the street where the fatal shot was fired in this heart-wrenching location.

Another day trip from Southaven is Tunica, about 40 minutes away and home to the casinos of Tunica. Experience your favorite slot machines and table games from Horseshoe Tunica (Caesar’s property), Gold Strike Casino Resort (an MGM property), Hollywood Casino & Hotel Tunica, and Sam’s Town Hotel.

Don’t feel like cooking one day? Dixie Queen, a fast-food establishment with burgers, onion rings, breakfast items, chicken wings, and ice cream treats, is probably a mile or less away.

And last but not least, the Tanger Outlets Southaven will give you a place to spruce up your wardrobe, buy gifts, or just wander around and get some steps in. Some of the stores you will find include Vera Bradley, Banana Republic Factory, H&M, Converse, and Vineyard Vines. 

Melody

Blogger

Melody Pittman

Melody is a blogger from Vero Beach, Florida who travels the country with her husband and dog, and blogs about her adventures along the way.