Tupelo, Mississippi … Elvis fans immediately know that this is the King’s birthplace and may even have spent a few days touring Tupelo, Memphis and Graceland as part of an Elvis tour. But, there is much to Tupelo that appeals to even those who like Elvis (who doesn’t like Elvis?!) but perhaps don’t want to plan a weekend as an homage to him.
Tupelo is a regional shopping hub for North Mississippi, South Tennessee and West Alabama. Thus, there is quite a bit of shopping and dining to be found there. And, with the city being located just off the Natchez Trace Parkway, there are plenty of hikes and beautiful drives, the lake nearby is large enough to ski, and yes, you can definitely fish. If you are into history, you can learn more about the Civil War, as several battles took place in this area, and you can learn more about Civil Rights on the Civil Rights Heritage Trail Tour. There is live music to be found every night, and there are more than 160 restaurants from which to choose.
Tupelo is also less than an hour away from Oxford, MS. So, combining both into a long weekend would be ideal as well.
I talked with Jennie Curlee at the Tupelo Convention and Visitors’ Bureau to map out a trip to Tupelo, and this is what we have lined up for you:
WHERE TO STAY
The Hilton Garden Inn is located in the heart of downtown Tupelo, along the Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail that connects the city’s top attraction with its hub for local shopping and dining.
Locals love this breakfast spot for fried chicken and biscuits slathered in homemade white gravy. A Tupelo delicacy, the Connie’s blueberry donut is deep fried and dunked in icing and has been served there for over 38 years.
Johnnie’s Drive-In is a full-service drive-in restaurant, serving up the same diner food that Elvis loved. Guests can even sit in the “Elvis Booth,” the very same place where The King himself sat. Try the dough burger, a North Mississippi specialty that was introduced during the Great Depression when meat was scarce.
Open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (except on Sundays, when they close at 4 p.m), Neon Pig is a butcher shop, market and cafe. They serve a large variety of craft beer, and they happen to have won the prize for #1 burger in America by Thrillist. That means you just may have to try the Smash Burger. Just sayin’…
Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen (KOK), housed in a 140-year-old building in downtown Tupelo, creates new menus weekly based on the bounty of fresh meat and produce available in North Mississippi. All of KOK’s meats are processed and broken down at their sister restaurant, which happens to be the Neon Pig.
For those who like their supper served with a side of live music, the Blue Canoe is for you. With an eclectic bar menu that includes fried black-eyed peas and chicken and waffles, they have more beers on tap than anywhere else in North Mississippi. A live music hotspot, the likes of the Alabama Shakes and Gary Clark, Jr. have graced the stage there.
As just stated, Blue Canoe promises great live music, but Tupelo also has a live music calendar on their website because, as Jennie says, you have to hear great live music when you’re in the birthplace of The King!
Tupelo is home to three distinct shopping districts: Midtown District, The Barnes Crossing Shopping District and Downtown Tupelo, which is home to many of the city’s unique shopping venues, including:
- Caron Gallery – a local art gallery specializing in Mississippi artisans
- Reed’s – a 125-year-old department store
- About the South – a gift shop focused on Southern goods, gourmet foods and art
- Tupelo Hardware Co. – Gladys Presley purchased Elvis’ first guitar there, and they still sell guitars today, along with everything else you might need from a hardware store!
Tupelo’s Midtown District is home to more than 25 locally owned specialty stores, including:
- Jody’s Flowers – A unique flower shop that sells McCarty Pottery from the Mississippi Delta and unique specialty items
- Corner Shoe Store – The place to go for children’s shoes, clothes and accessories in Tupelo
- Mary McGuire’s Bakery – A local bakery where the custom-created sweets are as yummy as they are beautiful
The Barnes Crossing Shopping District includes the Mall at Barnes Crossing and a plethora of nationally known stores.
For the Elvis Fan, a visit to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum is a must, as well as Tupelo Hardware Co. in downtown Tupelo, and the Elvis’ homecoming statue in Fairpark. All three of these stops are included on the 13-stop Elvis’ Tupelo Driving Tour.
Tupelo is also home to the largest private collection of cars east of the Mississippi River at the Tupelo Automobile Museum. Over 100 classic and antique cars are on display in this museum dedicated to the automobile.
Tupelo is the headquarters of the Natchez Trace Parkway, the 444-mile scenic byway that extends from Nashville, TN, to Natchez, MS. Guests can visit the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo and discover the parkway’s history and inhabitants.
Tupelo also has a lot of Civil War history. Mississippi’s final stands in the Civil War were fought in and around Tupelo. The Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and the Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg are interpreted in the 2,500-square-foot interpretive center, just minutes from the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield. Take a drive through history by visiting significant sites of these battles that took place more than 150 years ago. Check out the website for the Mississippi’s Final Stands Civil War Interpretive Center.
That was a pretty great 24 hours, huh?! If you are ready to start planning your trip, a great resource is Tupelo.net.
And, one last tip. If you are reading from Nashville, TN, you must read this similar article we put together just for you. Why? Because you can fly from Nashville’s BNA airport to Tupelo for just $19. Even with a checked bag! Read more here.