One of the USA’s most misunderstood (and yet most mythologized) states, Mississippi is home to gorgeous country roads, shabby juke joints, crispy catfish, hallowed authors and acres of cotton. Long scorned for its lamentable civil rights history and its low ranking on the list of nearly every national marker of economy and education, most people feel content to malign Mississippi without ever experiencing it firsthand. But unpack your bags for a moment and you’ll glimpse the real South. It lies somewhere amid the Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, the literary legacy of William Faulkner in bookish Oxford, the birthplace of the blues in the Mississippi Delta and the humble origins of Elvis Presley in Tupelo.
The state seems proud of its rural nature, and small pleasures, like the absolute darkness of a place unspoiled by light pollution, more than compensate for the lack of urban glitz. Yes, it’s a spread-out place. But that allows for some transcendent drives through awe-inspiring cotton country and the windy, wooded Natchez Trace Parkway.