Last Updated on August 4, 2023
Tupelo, Mississippi is best known for being the Natchez Trace Parkway headquarters and the birthplace of Elvis Presley. The area is filled with unexpected beauty and vibrance at every turn. Tupelo is in the northeastern corner of the state and is the seat of Lee County. This town of just over 38,000 has shown remarkable resilience through wars, fires, and tornadoes. Despite withstanding such tragedies, the folks who live here are incredibly friendly and helpful.
Tupelo was originally inhabited by the Chickasaw and Choctaw indigenous tribes. European settlers began to arrive in the 18th century. Growth was due to cotton mills, dairy, and becoming a hub of railroad transportation.
History runs deep in Tupelo, as visitors can clearly see by the many wonderful sites, trails, murals, and parks. Visitors are sure to be delighted with the variety of food, shopping, entertainment, and all there is to do in Tupelo. There’s even an Elvis Presley Lake and Campground, perfect for relaxing and fishing.
- 12 Best Things to Do in Tupelo
- Where to Stay in Tupelo
- Is Tupelo Worth a Visit?
12 Best Things to Do in Tupelo
The Birthplace of a King
Elvis Presley was born in a two-room shotgun shack in 1935. That small white home, built by his father, is now part of a large park visited by thousands from around the world. True fans are often moved to tears and even nonfans will find this a memorable experience. A 1939 Plymouth, statues, a chapel, and a fountain are only some of the attractions to enjoy while paying homage to the late, great King of Rock and Roll.
Interested in walking through a day in the life as Elvis? Check out this tour.
Explore Mill Village
Tupelo’s first Historic District, Mill Village, includes a cotton mill built in 1901, surrounding bungalow houses, and a park. The mill is the icon of the neighborhood even though it ceased operation in 1937 and is now an event venue. The picturesque area has a few small businesses, railroad tracks, and many vibrant murals.
Near the old cotton mill is what train experts describe as a “BN caboose in Frisco colors.” It sits off alone, neglected, and in need of attention beside the main tracks. Still, an old caboose can be an item of deep interest to those of us who love trains.
Saving the Fish
Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery is a warm-water hatchery that was established in 1901 and produces over 1.3 million fish per year. The nine species are used for habitat restoration and education. This hatchery generates a tremendous local economic impact for Mississippi.
Ponder Ghosts of the Past at the Lyric Theatre
Built as a vaudeville theater in 1912 at 201 N. Broadway Street, the Art Deco revamp was done in the 1930s. After the 1936 tornado, the Lyric served as a temporary morgue and is believed to be haunted. Local legend claims Elvis stole his first kiss on the balcony of the Lyric.
Peruse Produce at Farmers’ Depot
If it can be locally sourced, grown, or baked, then you are sure to find it proudly displayed and sold at 415 South Spring Street. Open on Saturdays from May through October, Farmers’ Depot is a happy shopping spot with a big bright mural.
Relax at Fairpark
This one block includes a children’s playground, lots of benches, and a great view of the Tupelo City Hall. The impressive Elvis Homecoming Statue beckons locals and visitors to reach out and embrace Tupelo.
Work up an appetite at Fairpark? Stop by the Fairpark Grill to dine with a view.
Tupelo Main Street – Start with Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis bought his first guitar. Then at Reed’s, ask for Morris McCain, who can give you lots of insights into his famous artwork. When you need refreshments, check out Kermit’s Soul Kitchen and Amsterdam’s Deli & Grill. These hold the key to great photo ops and food.
Follow the Guitars
The Elvis Guitar Trail is a hunt for almost 30 whimsical guitars, which have become a big part of the fun of seeing what is right in front of you. Each colorful guitar tells one small piece of the life of Tupelo’s most famous son.
Marvel at the Many Murals
Murals of all sizes can be found in Tupelo, Mississippi. Some, but not all, are about Elvis. Inside, outside and all over town, you will have so much fun just looking around. Murals of pizza, history, and pop…if you found a dozen, there are more, so don’t stop.
Tom Watson Drive
Tom Watson Drive is a main thoroughfare in Tupelo, Mississippi which was named after the legendary golfer, Tom Watson. The four-mile drive cuts through the heart of the city and is the main connector between many of the city’s neighborhoods. It is also the site of the annual Tom Watson Classic golf tournament which brings in tourists from all over the state and region to compete.
The drive is a great place to walk, jog, or bike and offers a variety of unique shops and restaurants. It is also home to the Tupelo Country Club and the Tupelo National Battlefield. Tom Watson Drive is a major part of what makes Tupelo such a great place to visit and live.
Oren Dunn City Museum
The Oren Dunn City Museum is an important cultural resource in Jackson, Tennessee, and a must-see for visitors. Located on the corner of Church Street and North Royal Street, the museum houses artifacts, documents, and photographs related to the city’s history. The museum also features interactive exhibits and educational programs that provide an in-depth look at Jackson’s culture and past.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the museum’s many exhibits, which include memorabilia from the city’s former railway and textile history, stories of the city’s African-American heritage, and displays about the city’s musical history, including the blues and country music. The museum also offers special events throughout the year and hosts educational lectures and workshops to further explore the city’s past.
Where to Stay in Tupelo
Looking for where to stay in Tupelo? Check out these hotels centrally located in Tupelo.
Is Tupelo Worth a Visit?
Find your fun in Tupelo, Mississippi. Plenty of options abound for lovers of history, music, food, art, culture, mead, and photography. Be mindful that winter temperatures can fluctuate wildly, and snow is a possibility. In all other seasons, you will find Tupelo warm and welcoming.
The residents are more than happy to let you in on all the best places to see and things to do. They are eager to brag about the local artists and musicians, who are probably their neighbors. Tupelo has won the Great American Main Street Award for building a downtown district with a thriving environment and inclusive community events.