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What makes Jackson, MS the City With Soul?

As you explore Jackson, you’ll discover a community culture that’s unique to the state. The city’s vast culinary offerings, museums, and historical sites, many of which have played a significant role in shaping the culture of the United States, are just a few examples of the soul of Jacksonians. With hundreds of locally-owned restaurants, nearly two dozen award-winning museums, visual and performing arts, literature, and history, Jackson is a place that will make you want to come back again and again.

The population of Mississippi’s capital city is made up of communities of diverse backgrounds and experiences, cultures, ethnicities, and lifestyles, all of which collectively represent the strength and creative energy that make us the City With Soul. Visitors from all over the world will experience southern hospitality and the embrace of diversity that is unique to Jackson.

Visit Jackson works with our industry and community partners to further educate and encourage inclusion in attitude and practice. With a Municipal Equality Index grade ranking Jackson the highest in the state and 15 points above the national average, we are proud of the great strides taken to purposefully promote equality. We will continue to be strong advocates for expanding those policies.

3 Civil Rights 5 Culinary 7 Music 9 Literature 11 Visual & Performing Arts 13 Family IN THE CITY WITH SOUL?

Jackson is home to six outstanding colleges and universities.

Belhaven University, Jackson State University, Millsaps College, Mississippi College School of Law, Tougaloo College and University of Mississippi School of Medicine

• The city features nearly two dozen interactive museums within a 10-mile radius, including museums focusing on sports, agriculture, science, history, aviation, art, music, and civil rights.

• Jackson boasts numerous historical markers on the Freedom Trail, Blues Trail, and Writer’s Trail.

• Jackson is home to the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, America’s first Islamic history and culture museum.

• The City With Soul is home to more than two dozen cultural organizations and institutions.

You'll find an impressive creative scene for music, dance, theater, and the visual arts.


“One of the things I love about Jackson is the city’s ability to make me feel tiny. Whether that’s through the big buildings, the incredible humility of the people, or the giant portions of food. Few places in the world make me feel this way and I’m happy to report Jackson is definitely one of them.”

Varma – Travel Blogger/Passport to Eden

Here in the City With Soul, we know how to – no matter the occasion!

The Mississippi Blues Marathon, Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival, The Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Maker’s Fest, Sanderson Farms PGA Championship, Jackson Indie Music Week, Farish Street Heritage Festival, Juneteenth in JXN, and the Dixie National Livestock Show & Rodeo are among many events held throughout the year.



Several southern cities have a Civil Rights Museum, but Jackson played a pivotal role in the movement that transformed America. And we tell our own story, in our own words, and from our own unique experiences.

At the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, you can discover and explore the inspiring stories of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Vernon Dahmer, and many others who bravely led the fight for equality. Throughout the museum, eight interactive galleries lead you on a journey of the Civil Rights movement. If luck is on your side, you may find yourself on a guided tour of the museum led by one of the original Freedom Riders.

Jackson is also home to the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, the first schoolhouse in Jackson for African American children, where famed author Richard Wright once attended. The now historical museum displays a showcase of African American art, artifacts, and photography.

Jackson State University’s campus was the site of pivotal protests and numerous civil rights organizations during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement. Most recognized is the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), established in the early 1960s. Making voter registration and organization a top priority for the Mississippi movement, COFO was instrumental in organizing the 1963 Freedom Vote, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project.

And the City With Soul is where you’ll find the Farish Street Historic District, once known as a hub for Black-owned businesses up until the 1970s.

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• The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (along with the Museum of MS History) opened in celebration of the state’s bicentennial, becoming the first civil rights museum to be sponsored with state funding.

• The home of NAACP Field Officer Medgar Evers is now a museum and dedicated National Park Service site. The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument features original crime photographs of Evers’ assassination.

• Jackson is the location of two Historically Black Universities. Jackson State University, dating back to 1903, and Tougaloo College, established in 1869. Both universities share a history of monumental events that took place during the Civil Rights Movement.

• Jackson is home to the most Freedom Trail Markers in the state.

Jackson Freedom Trail Markers

• COFO Office

• Greyhound Bus Station

• Jackson State University (shootings)

• Medgar & Myrlie Evers’ Home National Monument

• Mississippi State Capitol Building

• Municipal Library

• Tougaloo College

• WLBT television studios

• Woolworth’s Sit-in


The City With Soul makes culinary news by creating southern classics with a Jackson twist.

Jackson restaurants – from small mom and pop eateries to James Beard Award-winning, chef-driven concepts – offer some of the best authentic southern cuisines. Enjoy soul food, Cajun, Greek and Italian, all with an eclectic twist.

This thriving culinary scene is thanks to our visionary chefs. The city takes pride in our diverse population, and that is reflected in their work. Jackson’s culinary community also reflects a commendable diversity of restaurant ownership and clientele. The welcoming atmosphere in these establishments embodies the spirit of Southern hospitality that makes Jackson restaurants so unique.

Whether you’re in the mood for competition barbeque, creative cocktails, authentic French crepes, Gulf seafood, or Wagyu beef, Jackson restaurants offer a diverse range of options.


• Bully’s Soul Food Restaurant was named a James Beard American Classic.

• Hometown chef Hunter Evans has been named a James Beard finalist (2024), and a semifinalist (2023), and Sambou’s African Kitchen was nominated for Best Restaurant South.

• Several Jackson chefs have appeared on numerous Food Network competitions, including Chef Nick Wallace.

• Brent’s Drugs appeared in the film The Help along with other Fondren neighborhood businesses.

• Cathead Distillery is the first and oldest distillery in the state of Mississippi.

“It’s not all about in Jackson, Mississippi. The food has depth and soul with delicious contemporary twists. It was fantastic.”

Caroline Makepeace - Makepeace Family. Ytravelblog.com

• Jackson is home to some unique southern fare, including the pig ear sandwich, comeback sauce, and tamales.

Other Notable Jxn Eateries

Walker’s Drive-In, Mayflower Café, Hal & Mal’s, Char, BRAVO!, CS’s, The Iron Horse Grill, Big Apple Inn, Sugar’s Place, Elvie’s, Pulito Osteria, The Pig & Pint, Stamps Super Burger, Lou’s Full Serv and Johnny T’s Bistro and Blues.


There is no argument that you can find authentic blues shows here in the City With Soul, but you’ll also find fantastic funk, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, gospel, indie, country, folk, and rap artists mixing it up on a nightly basis.

With Jackson located halfway between Memphis and New Orleans, headline acts regularly make the stop for a quick mid-week gig in the city. And significant annual events like Jackson Indie Music Week, Mississippi Makers Fest and Farish Street Heritage Festival – and great venues in Fondren, Downtown, or Belhaven – keep the music going.

Of course, blues writers looking for long-forgotten history or even an unforgettable show will find more than their share. The city boasts numerous Mississippi Blues Trail Markers, honoring the people and places that made their mark on Mississippi blues. And you can catch some great sounds at Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues and F. Jones Corner in the Farish Street Historic District. Don’t miss Blue Monday at Hal & Mal’s, hosted by the Central Mississippi Blues Society, for an authentic blues experience.


• The Museum of Mississippi History features a replica of an authentic Mississippi juke joint.

• F. Jones Corner, located in the Historic Farish Street District, operates as one of only a few, all-night blues clubs in the state.

• Visitors from all over the world come to Jackson to attend the Central Mississippi Blues Society’s Blue Monday event held at Hal & Mal’s. This open-mic event features a house band and regional entertainers.

• Mississippi’s Blues Trail markers recognize not only the famous musicians, but also the recording studios and entertainment venues behind the city’s most recognizable attributes.

Blues Trail Markers

• Ace Records

• Alamo Theatre

• Bobby Rush

• Cassandra Wilson

• Dorothy Moore

• Edwards Hotel

• Ishmon Bracey

• Malaco Records

• Otis Spann & Little Johnny Jones

• Queen of Hearts

• Scott Radio Company

• Subway Lounge/Summers Hotel

• Trumpet Records


Jackson has a long literary tradition.

And it’s still

going strong.

The City With Soul claims writers – past and presentand wordy events for the lit-minded to experience. Explore the works of poet and professor Margaret Walker at the writing center she founded at Jackson State University. Stroll Eudora Welty’s House and Garden, not just as a museum, but as the place she lived and wrote every day. See where acclaimed author Richard Wright went to school, now the Smith Robertson Museum & Cultural Center, showcasing a rich collection of African American art, literature, and culture. Attend readings by notable authors at local bookstores and coffee shops. Eat at places like Brent’s Drugs, the Fondren diner featured in both the book and film version of Katheryn Stockett’s

The Help. Walk through the college campuses where Margaret Walker (Jackson State University) and Angie Thomas (Belhaven University) once roamed. And, meet established and up-and-coming authors at the Mississippi Book Festival held annually in September.

Eudora Welty & Margaret Walker Alexander


• The Mississippi Children’s Museum features both a literacy gallery and outdoor learning garden and play space designed to encourage language and reading skills development in young children.

• Locally owned Lemuria Bookstore typically hosts readings by the author, book signings, and social gatherings weekly. Notable authors such as John Grisham, Richard Ford, and Eudora Welty have all held book signings here.

• The Mississippi Book Festival takes place in Jackson - now in September - welcoming dozens of nationally recognized authors and panelists along with more than 10,000 visitors.

Mississippi Writers Trail Markers

Based on Mississippi’s successful effort to share the state’s history of Blues and Civil Rights through designated trail markers, Mississippi organizations felt the time had come to honor Mississippi’s rich literary history.

The first location of the Mississippi Writers Trail began with the unveiling of the inaugural marker honoring Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Eudora Welty in her hometown of Jackson.

There are currently fourteen markers composing the trail, two of which are in Jackson.

• Eudora Welty House and Garden

• Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University

Come cover the arts in the City With Soul. Or, the soul in the City With Arts.

Either way, you have a multitude of choices. For a city its size, Jackson is blessed with a fantastic array of arts. We have a world-class symphony, exceptional theater productions, and a thriving scene for ballet and dance - from the Belhaven University dance program to Ballet Magnificat, Montage Theatre of Dance to Kinetic Etchings, and more. It’s no wonder Jackson holds the distinction of being one of only four cities worldwide authorized to host the International Ballet Competition (IBC.)

And on the visual arts side, many local artists start in Jackson with support from area galleries and then go on to national acclaim. The Mississippi Museum of Art offers an exceptional collection of both domestic and international artwork.

As the popularity of public art grows, Visit Jackson has created the JXN Art Map, featuring downtown, Midtown, and Fondren murals, ghost signs, and other forms of street art vibrantly coloring the City With Soul.

Explore JXN’s public art.



Jackson is the only city in the USA and the entire Western Hemisphere to host the IBC. It rotates every year between Jackson, Mississippi; Moscow, Russia; Varna, Bulgaria; and Helinski, Finland.

• Thalia Mara Hall, named after the American ballet dancer and cofounder of the IBC, hosts numerous events throughout the year by a variety of performers - including ballet, opera, and symphony performances. Along with traditional concerts, the theatre hosts worldclass Broadway shows.

• The Mississippi Museum of Art received the National Medal for Museum Service from the Institute of Museum of Library Services. The medal is the highest national honor awarded annually to five museums and five libraries. In 2010, the Mississippi Museum of Art was the only art museum to be recognized with this distinction.

• Jackson is home to Pearl River Glass Studios, one of the nation’s leading stained glass studios.

• Throughout the year, Jackson hosts many arts and crafts festivals featuring local artisans that specialize in woodworking, glass sculpture, ceramics, and more.


“Growing up in the south makes you appreciate the smaller things in life like southern hospitality, amazing food, and stories that would blow your mind!”

Terrell & Jarius – Family Influencers

Did you know that approximately 2,300 acres of land in the City of Jackson is composed of nearly three-dozen city parks?

Most, if not all, parks offer picnic tables and benches, shade trees, and, at some, pavilions and sports fields.


The two-and-a-half-mile trail, ten years in the making, connects the Two Mississippi Museums to three public parks and the Mississippi Children’s and Mississippi Science Museum. The trail follows the abandoned GM&O Railroad, which travels through Greater Belhaven and along the western border of the LeFleur’s Education and Tourism Complex. Constructed specifically for exercise and nonmotorized transportation, the trail connects JXN to its rich history while positively impacting citizens’ health and the community’s economic development.


Hike rugged trails along the banks of the Pearl River, view the many species of birds among the Cyprus trees, fish Mayes Lake or pitch a tent there for a camping adventure.


Enjoy an ADA-accessible playground with more than 80 activities, one of the largest in the southeast. A museum walking trail - Spotter’s Trail - and an outdoor pavilion - The Den - are the newest additions to the complex.



Jackson is home to two-dozen museums for you and your family to explore. Each focuses on a unique visitor experience, art, science, agriculture, sports, and history, to name a few.

• The LeFleur Museum District consists of four separate museums and the outdoor recreational area known as LeFleur’s Bluff.

Within a two minute drive, you can visit the Mississippi Children’s Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. Adjacent to the museum district, children enjoy the ADA-accessible playground at the LeFleur’s Education and Tourism Complex and outdoor enthusiasts love LeFleur’s Bluff State Park with fishing, camping and hiking.

• Inside the Heritage Center located at the MS Agriculture & Forestry Museum, you will find nearly 200 scale miles of model railroads along with the National Agricultural Aviation Museum.

• The Jackson Zoo is over 100 years old, and what once began as a small collection of backyard animals housed at the Central Fire Station now covers 110 acres. The zoo features over 120 species of animals from across the world and continues to be one of only a few licensed and equipped organizations to care for orphaned or injured birds.


The primary objective of Visit Jackson is to promote Jackson as a tourist destination brand. To achieve this goal, Visit Jackson is responsible for developing marketing tools and assets like the Visit Jackson website, advertising campaigns, and both paid and earned media opportunities. Moreover, Visit Jackson produces new media and non-traditional marketing materials such as documentaries, podcasts, music videos, original music tracks, branded merchandise, and travel influencer and micro-influencer campaigns.

VisitJackson.com for an events calendar and general visitor and meeting planner information

Soul Sessions conversations on culture from Jackson, Mississippi, is a podcast hosted by Paul Wolf, Visit Jackson’s Director of Destination Storytelling, and guest hosted by Visit Jackson’s Director of External Affairs, Partnerships and Alliances, Yolanda Clay-Moore.


1.800.354.7695 | media@visitjackson.com visitjackson.com

E. Pearl Street, Suite 301 Jackson, MS 39201
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