Tupelo, Mississippi, will always be known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, and that will likely never cease to be the town’s biggest tourism draw. But there’s a lot more to Tupelo that makes it a quite unique and well-rounded vacation stop with offerings for everyone in the family.
Tupelo is home to numerous festivals, car shows and hiking trails, and there is an abundance of live music. “A fan favorite of our Tupelo Elvis Festival held every June is the Elvis Pet Parade and Pageant, where people dress their pets up to look like Elvis,” shares Jennie Bradford Curlee, public relations and international sales director for the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so it will be bigger and better than ever,” Jennie Bradford adds. “We bring in national music acts as well as Elvis tribute acts. If you love Elvis, or if you just appreciate what he did for music, then there is something at this festival for you to enjoy. We have live music events all over town and the Running with the King 5K. It’s a big celebration of our favorite native son.”
The town of about 38,000 is in the northeast corner of Mississippi in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains about 90 minutes from Memphis and four hours from Nashville if you drive or 45 minutes by air thanks to a direct flight on Contour Airlines.
The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs from Natchez, MS, to Nashville, TN, goes right through the heart of Tupelo, which is the home to the scenic parkway’s main visitor’s center. The beautiful drive offers scenic nature trails, camping, fishing and water sports and is known for its wonderful cycling and historic sites.
There is also the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo, which is home to more than 260 animals and has the Monster Bison Bus that allows participants to mingle with a herd of buffalo.
“Tupelo is a bit of an anomaly,” Jennie Bradford says. “On paper, we look like just a small town, but in reality, we have so much to offer. We have a thriving arts community, an amazing selection of restaurants, a great live music scene and over 2,000 accommodating hotel rooms.”
If you are contemplating a trip to Tupelo, there are two great places to start your planning. One is the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website, which not only provides a festival calendar, online itinerary creator and other necessary information, but it also has the “Ask A Local” feature that allows visitors to ask questions of a handful of locals. The other place to begin your Tupelo planning is the brand-new Tupelo Visitors Center located at 399 East Main St. in Tupelo.
“We just opened the new Tupelo Visitors Center,” Jennie Bradford shares. “It has a bunch of interactive exhibits and is a really fun place to start your trip. It will give you a taste of everything Tupelo has to offer.”
The first big spring festival coming up in Tupelo is the Blue Suede Cruise, which takes place May 4-6, 2018. The classic car event is great fun for the entire family, where attendees can mingle with car owners, hear live music, visit food vendors and see a car parade.
The next weekend features the annual Mother’s Day celebration known for 47 years as the Gumtree Festival. May 12-13 will transform Tupelo’s historic public square into a fine arts festival featuring more than 100 fine artists from across the country. There will also be children’s art activities, youth performers, food trucks, a songwriting competition, a 10K race and live music throughout the day.
“Tupelo is a great weekend getaway destination for the family. We are affordable, and there are so many different things to see and do,” Jennie Bradford says. “There is so much more to Tupelo than what you see on the surface.”
If you’re ready to pack your bags for a fun weekend in Tupelo, check out tupelo.net and start mapping out your itinerary!
All photography courtesy of Tupelo Convention & Visitors Center.
This article is sponsored by Tupelo Convention & Visitors Center.