TukTukBoom

Best Things to Do in Jackson, Miss.

BY Susan Marquez | October 30, 2022

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Jackson? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Jackson, Mississippi?”

People mistake Jackson for a drive-by city. It is literally the crossroads of the South, located in the crosshairs of I-55 and I-20. Drive six hours to the west and you’ll end up in Dallas; six hours to the east, Atlanta. Travel south three hours and you’ll drive across Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans; and only three hours north, you’re in Memphis. While it’s true that the city has easy access to other major Southern cities, there is a reason Jacksonians choose to stay in Mississippi’s capital. Jackson is the City with Soul.

Founded on the banks of the Pearl River as a trading post, Jackson developed into the largest city in the state. It’s the center of government, as both the county seat for Hinds County and the capital of the state. One thing you’ll notice about being here is that all the senses are engaged. With a plethora of locally owned restaurants, it is easy to find exceptional food, coupled with a lively music scene and interesting things to see and do. The people in Jackson are friendly, and they welcome visitors with open arms. It’s where true Southern hospitality is found, and that’s something Jacksonians take quite seriously.

There’s also a kind of grit to Jackson. It is a city with problems — constant boil-water notices, potholes that have become the butt of jokes, and, like other cities, there is crime. But there are good things, too. A sense of history. A nod to the past. And there is a creative spirit that sees what can be, and the future looks bright. People believe in Jackson. They are investing in Jackson. And Jackson is all the better for it. So go on. Go to Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans or Memphis. But before you do, or on your way to somewhere else, stop in Jackson.

You're here to taste the local flavor

From barbecue in gas stations to cheese curds at bowling alleys, Jackson is known for its food. Try some of these must-eats while you’re in town.

TukTukBoom
#1
TukTukBoom

TukTukBoom

4500 I-55, Jackson, MS, USA

Yes, there’s a Thai and sushi joint in the Highland Village shopping center and, yes, it’s pretty awesome. (The hero image of this guide is also from TukTukBoom. Looks good, right?). TukTukBoom has indoor and outdoor dining and it’s a laid back vibe. You can make a meal with the Boom Boom Roll, which has (*deep breath*) seasoned tuna, crabstick and salmon, topped with jalapeno, sweet bell peppers, green onion and roe with kabayaki and mango sauces. The massaman chicken and pad Thai servings are huge and tasty. 

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Pig and Pint
#2
Pig and Pint

Pig and Pint

3139 N State St, Jackson, MS, USA

A barbeque joint located in an old gas station, Pig and Pint has developed a strong reputation for delicious barbeque and a huge selection of craft beers. All their food is good, but if you have to choose just one thing, make it the pork belly corn dog, made with love using house-cured smoked pork belly, Colson’s beer mustard and smoked tomato ginger jam. 

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Crazy Cat Eat-Up
#3
Crazy Cat Eat-Up

Crazy Cat Eat-Up

1491 Canton Mart Road, Jackson, MS, USA

The Crazy Cat Eat-Up is Southern-inspired, seasonally crafted and devilishly good. For a fancy riff on Southern cuisine, start with the black-eyed pea hummus served with grilled flatbread, olive salad and white truffle oil. Save room for the grilled Mississippi catfish entrée, served with lady pea succotash, smoked tomato butter and pickled okra relish. 

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Highball in Jackson.
#4
Highball in Jackson.

Highball Lanes

3019 N State St, Jackson, MS, USA

Come to Highball Lanes to eat, but stay to bowl. Everything on the menu is delicious, from the duck spring rolls to the Mardi Gras pasta, made with colorful veggies with a New Orleans kick. But, their piece de resistance is the cheese curds. They are so good you will want to order them as soon as you arrive. Fried in house-seasoned flour and served with gravy and ranch dressing, there are plenty in an order to share, but you will probably want to hoard them for yourself.

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Urban Foxes
#5
Urban Foxes

Urban Foxes

826 North St, Jackson, MS, USA

Everyone knows it’s all about the pie at Urban Foxes (those are the owners in the photo). Choose sweet or savory, or mix it up with a flight of three slices. Offerings include chicken curry, sausage and apple, strawberry ginger, blueberry maple and peanut butter. The indoor/outdoor coffee shop inside a Craftsman-style home also sells scones, cakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and craft beer. Hang around for the after-hours concert series. The schedule is on the website.

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Have extra room?

Don’t miss the oyster bar at Saltine or the smoked tuna dip at Aplos, topped with tomato, onion, cucumber and chile flakes, served with pita chips or veggies. 

Get to Jackson’s booming cocktail scene

Cocktail culture is rocking in Jackson and bartenders regularly compete in local charity events for the title of Bartender of the Year. 

The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs
#6
The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs

The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs

655 Duling Ave, Jackson, MS, USA

This little speakeasy is a popular watering hole for those who enjoy a carefully crafted cocktail. Located in the former pharmacy storeroom for Brent’s Drugs, The Apothecary serves up both classic and original cocktails inspired by the soda fountain and pharmacy history. The atmosphere is dark and cozy, a perfect spot to kick off or wind down your evening.

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The Library Lounge in Jackson, Mississippi
#7
The Library Lounge in Jackson, Mississippi

The Library Lounge

734 Fairview Street, Jackson, MS, USA

Located off the lobby of the Fairview Inn, the Library Lounge has walls lined with book-filled shelves. A quiet spot to visit with friends over cocktails, the menu celebrates Mississippi authors with drink specialties such as the Eudora Welty “Belhaven,” the Willie Morris “Old Fashioned,” the Tennessee Williams “Ramos Gin Fizz” and the Kathryn Stockett “Chocolate Pie” (if you have read “The Help,” you’ll get it!). 

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Cathead Distillery
#8
Cathead Distillery

Cathead Distillery

422 S Farish St, Jackson, MS, USA

Jackson’s first and only distillery, Cathead Distillery now produces a wide range of spirits, including several flavors of Cathead Vodka, Old Soul Bourbon, Bristow Gin, Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur and Cathead Sparkling canned vodka soda. Call to inquire about tastings or check their website for events. 

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Fertile Ground Beer Co.
#9
Fertile Ground Beer Co.

Fertile Ground Beer Co.

800 Manship St, Jackson, MS, USA

Jackson’s newest brewery, Fertile Ground Beer Co. is located within an open-space development with a large and inviting interior with plenty of comfortable seating, as well as a spacious outdoor area under a canopy of trees. The brewery is accessible to the other businesses in the Belhaven Town Center, including Elvie’s Restaurant, District Donuts and The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen.

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Want more?

Other watering holes to try are Barrelhouse, Gold Coast Bar in the Cultivation Food Hall and, for a smoky pool hall vibe, head to The Pub in Ridgeland. 

Neighborhood to know

Fondren Historic District
#10
Fondren Historic District

Fondren Historic District

1491 Canton Mart Road, Jackson, MS, USA

The Fondren Historic District is located geographically smack-dab in the center of town, and it is quintessentially Jackson. The district has been revitalized and is now the hippest area in town. Don’t miss the block of entertainment on North State Street, where the Capri Theatre has been brought back to life, showing both first-run films as well as classics. Next door is Highball Lanes, where you can bowl the night away. If you want a taste of the tropics, walk one door down to The Pearl tiki bar. Fondren is also sprinkled with other restaurants and bars, shops and a vintage soda fountain in Brent’s Drugs. 

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You’re also here for the historic hotels

The real essence of Jackson lies in its historic spots, like these classic hotels.

Capitol Inn
#11
Jackson, Mississippi : Antique bed flanked by nightstands and lamps with wall painting and art at Old Capitol Inn on July 25, 2015.

Old Capitol Inn

226 N State St, Jackson, MS, USA

The Old Capitol Inn was originally built in 1952 as the Young Women’s Christian Association, better known as the YWCA. The original dorm-style rooms were designed for young women from Mississippi’s more rural areas who had come to Jackson to work. When the building was converted into a boutique hotel in 1996, the rooms, each uniquely decorated, provide a comfortable place to stay while in town. The building’s former basketball court was converted into a ballroom used for weddings and other special events. A serene courtyard with a large fountain as its centerpiece provides a place of respite, while the rooftop bar provides exceptional views of downtown Jackson.

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Hilton Garden Inn in Jackson, Mississippi
#12
Hilton Garden Inn in Jackson, Mississippi

Hilton Garden Inn

235 W Capitol St, Jackson, MS, USA

Another historic spot is the former King Edward Hotel, a 12-story structure in downtown Jackson built in 1923. New Orleans architect William Nolen designed the building, known for the symmetry and elaborate ornamentation of Beaux-Arts architecture. After sitting vacant for four decades, it reopened in 2009 as a 186-room Hilton Garden Inn. In a space where old meets new, the charming original details of the building remain, from soaring columns in the lobby to polished marble floors, while a modern aesthetic is introduced with sleek furnishings and art. The hotel features a street-level bar, a restaurant, and it’s walking distance from the Amtrak station.

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Where to listen to live music

From the coffee shop troubadour to big-name acts, it is easy to find live music any day of the week in Jackson. From hip-hop to country to rock ‘n’ roll, there is something for everyone’s music taste somewhere in Jackson.

Hal & Mal’s
#13
Hal & Mal’s

Hal & Mal’s

200 Commerce St, Jackson, MS, USA

Founded in 1985 by brothers Hal and Malcolm White, Hal & Mal’s is a popular gathering spot, restaurant, bar and music venue located in a former meat packing plant. Its gritty interior has a certain charm of time-worn familiarity. Regular music nights include Blues Monday (restaurant closed, bar open, $5 cover), jazz on Tuesdays featuring the Raphael Semmes Quartet, New Bourbon Street Jazz Band on first and third Wednesdays, and for those who love fun facts, trivia night is held on the second Wednesday evening of each month. 

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Duling Hall in Jackson
#14
Duling Hall in Jackson

Duling Hall

622 Duling Ave, Jackson, MS, USA

Located in the former auditorium of Duling Elementary School in historic Fondren, Duling Hall is now a first-rate music venue, with an intimate feel and amazing acoustics. Just know that you may feel like a fifth grader going to a school assembly when you first enter the auditorium. The tall windows, large wooden stage and the Duling Bears mascot are all original to the building. But the bar at the back of the room will soon remind you that you are all grown up, and you have permission to let loose and have fun. Po’boys, oysters, salads and more from Saltine, just down the hall, can be ordered and served in the venue from door opening to showtime. 

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If you are still looking for that Jackson sound …

Other fun places to hear live music range from Pelican Cove, overlooking the water at the Reservoir, Katherine’s Steakhouse and Seafood in Ridgeland and F. Jones Corner, downtown Jackson. For larger music productions, check out the schedule at the Mississippi Coliseum, Thalia Mara Hall and the Brandon Amphitheater

Where to get a cuppa coffee

If your coffee is important to you, then it’s important to know where to find a good cup while you’re in town. Jackson has several local coffee shops to keep your caffeine levels up, so you’ll have energy for busy days of sightseeing. 

Native Coffee
#15
Native Coffee

Native Coffee

1800 N State St, Jackson, MS, USA

Native Coffee is a specialty coffee shop catering to coffee connoisseurs in a science-project-meets-coffee kind of way. The shop is known for their single-origin pour-overs, as well as unique flavors like bourbon molasses cappuccino and honey cinnamon lattes. The shop also offers house-made breakfast sandwiches and pastries. 

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Cups Espresso Café
#16
Cups Espresso Café

Cups Espresso Café

2757 Old Canton Road, Jackson, MS, USA

Jackson’s first local coffee roaster, Cups in Fondren is a place for medical students at University Hospital to study, as well as for students from Belhaven University and Millsaps College. Area residents enjoy meeting there as well. Local artwork hangs on the walls, and seasonal drinks keep folks coming back. Cups has built a community around coffee.

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Get outdoors

If you’re the outdoorsy type, there’s plenty to do in Jackson. 

Kayakers love the surprisingly serene Mayes Lake, located off busy Lakeland Drive behind the Museum of Natural Science. There are primitive campsites available. Mayes Lake is also a great fishing spot.

Get your steps in at Parham Bridges Park, on the meandering walking trail. Burn off even more calories on the tennis courts, which are open to the public. Reservations can be made through the Parham Bridges Tennis Center.

Rent a boat at the Ross Barnett Reservoir and spend a day on the big water. From fishing to water skiing, the reservoir has it all.

Cyclists enjoy riding the Natchez Trace, which stretches from Nashville to Natchez. The part of the Trace near Jackson hugs the shore of the reservoir in places, and offers several scenic outlook stops. 

See some of the best Mississippi museums

Because it is the state’s capital city, Jackson has several museums that celebrate the history, culture and heritage of the state. Most offer student and senior discounts. 

Two Museums
#17
Two Museums

Two Mississippi Museums

222 North St, Jackson, MS, USA

Two Mississippi Museums is two full museums under one roof. The Museum of Mississippi History is on one side, with the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on the other side. Both are poignant, powerful and inspiring. The World of Marty Stuart exhibit, filled with the country music memorabilia collection of Grammy award-winning singer Marty Stuart, is on display through the end of the year. 

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Mississippi Museum of Art
#18
Jackson, MS - January 4, 2020: Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo via Shutterstock.

Mississippi Museum of Art

380 S Lamar St, Jackson, MS, USA

Mississippi Museum of Art has a permanent exhibit with works from various notable artists, many of whom are from Mississippi. Past exhibits include the works of Mississippi artists Walter Anderson and Andrew Bucci. The art garden in front of the museum is filled with native Mississippi plants and art sculptures by Mississippi artists. 

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Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
#19
Jackson, MS - January 20, 2020: Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, part of the MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, located in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo via Shutterstock.

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

2148 Riverside Drive, Jackson, MS, USA

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is for the nature lover. The museum features two enormous aquariums, one with freshwater fish, the other featuring fish and other creatures from the Mississippi Gulf. The museum also has a walking trail through the woods and through a swamp. 

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Other things to do and see before you leave

Offbeat
#20
Offbeat

Offbeat

109 N State St, Jackson, MS, USA

A funky little store with a big heart, Offbeat is where Jacksonians go to find alternative art, records, comics, designer toys and apparel.

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Chane in Jackson
#21
Chane in Jackson

Chane

2906 N State St, Jackson, MS, USA

More than just a T-shirt shop, Chane is a way of life. Ron Chane has developed a brand rooted in skateboard culture that has crossed over to all aspects of life. The store offers apparel, shoes, accessories as well as skateboard and bike supplies. 

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Bill Waller Craft Center
#22
Bill Waller Craft Center

Bill Waller Craft Center

950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, MS, USA

For a hands-on activity, check the schedule at the Bill Waller Craft Center near the reservoir. Demonstrations are held most weekends, as are occasional classes taught by members of the Craftsmen’s Guild. A spacious gallery features work by members for sale.

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Mississippi Farmers Market
#23
Mississippi Farmers Market

Mississippi Farmers Market

929 High St, Jackson, MS, USA

The Farmers Market is the place to go for local produce, but there is so much more. Fresh-baked goods, jams, jellies and other homemade treats are offered by vendors, along with crafts, locally roasted coffee, teas grown and blended in Mississippi and seasonal items. The open-air market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features live musical entertainment. The Farmers Market Cafe on site serves breakfast and lunch made with locally produced products. Be sure to visit the Genuine Mississippi store, where everything is made by Mississippians. 

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601 Escape Rooms
#24
601 Escape Rooms

601 Escape Rooms

839 S State St, Jackson, MS, USA

Get your team together and participate in the physical adventure game where players solve a series of puzzles to unveil the secret plot hidden within the rooms at 601 Escape Rooms. Does your team have what it takes to escape?

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