Any time is a good time to visit Tupelo, Mississippi.
Found in the northeast corner of the state, in the Hills region, Tupelo is perhaps best known as Elvis' birthplace. But, while that is the main draw, that's only half of what you can see, do, experience and eat while here.
Whether it's an overnight trip or a weekend getaway, there's no doubt Tupelo will leave a lasting impression.
Elvis was Here (and Here and Here)
First thing first, tour the house Elvis was born in at Elvis Presley Birthplace. On the original site in east Tupelo is the original two-room 450-square foot shotgun house. The Presley's lived here until Elvis was three years old. After that, they would live in eight other homes in the area before moving to Memphis.
You can also visit Elvis' Childhood Church, Elvis Presley Museum, Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel, and more on the grounds.
More than an average hardware store, the family-owned Tupelo Hardware secured its place in music history in the 1940s. It was here that Gladys Presley bought her son Elvis his first guitar instead of the BB gun he wanted.
Rent a bike and download the guide to discover the sites that played an essential part in Elvis' life while in Tupelo. As a bonus, check out the Elvis Guitar Trail with over 25 guitars placed throughout the city. Snap a selfie or two with your favorites or all of them.
(Further) Explore Downtown
A visit to Tupelo isn't complete without stopping in Reed's flagship location. The over 100-year-old department store consists of four specialty stores, including Reed's GumTree Bookstore, under one roof. So take your time as you browse and potentially pick up a few items you didn't know you needed until you saw them.
For a one-of-a-kind souvenir, head to Caron Gallery, which features Mississippi artists' works in various mediums. Treat yourself to the "My Mississippi Art Box." Similar to subscription boxes, it features a piece of art and a surprise from the gallery. For an additional art fix, make your way over to GumTree Museum of Art. The facility hosts free exhibits, special events year-round and more.
And while on the subject of art, check out the many murals that add color to downtown.
Learn more about the 30-county region known as "Hill Country" at the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Center. Detailed panels provide information on what makes the area, designed by Congress and the President in April 2009, special to the state.
Sip Some Mead
Discover the world of honey wines with a tasting at Queen's Reward, the state's first meadery. Using honey sourced from Yazoo County, the family-owned operation produces small batches of mead flavors that include RuBee and Pucker Up.
Place Your Order
With over 160 restaurants in the city, the hardest decision you'll face is deciding what and where to eat.
Start your day at Brick & Spoon Tupelo, where you can indulge in Bananas in Pajamas (banana egg rolls with a Foster sauce) or Bananas Foster French Toast, to name a few dishes.
When it comes to lunch or dinner or both, among the many choices include Kermit's Outlaw Kitchen, a funky farm-to-table restaurant whose menu changes daily to reflect what's fresh, available and in season.
Enjoy the upscale yet laid-back atmosphere at Fairpark Grill. Definitely order the Bourbon Street Nachos -you won't be disappointed.
If you are craving a sandwich, then Cafe 212 is the spot for you. Their menu includes a "Fit for a King" section with such options as Blue Suede Grill, featuring bananas and peanut butter. Cafe 212 is also an excellent place for a mid-morning caffeine fix.
Pizza vs Tacos is what it says; you can't go wrong with either one or both. Pizzas are "Detroit style," while the tacos feature fresh ground corn tortillas.
Off West Main Street is the Tupelo National Battlefield Site. The park remembers the Battle of Tupelo, the last significant engagement of the state's Civil War. Over 20,000 soldiers fought here for two days in mid-July 1864.
Engaging for all ages, the Oren Dunn City Museum, inside a converted dairy barn, provides insight into the city's history and personality throughout exhibits and collections. Be sure to check out Dudie's Diner, the Davis Dogtrot House and more surrounding the museum. Oren Dunn City Museum also hosts events like Living History Days and Dudie Burger Festival throughout the year.
Behind the museum is the Tupelo Veterans Museum. Honoring those who served from the Civil War to the Iraqi Wars, the vast collection highlights uniforms, weapons, pictures and other artifacts. The museum was started and is continued by an army veteran.
Hit the Trace
The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway winds through three states (Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee), more or less following the "Old Natchez Trace" once used by Indians, settlers and others. Today, not only is the Trace a scenic route, but it also offers recreational opportunities, historic sites and more.
At Milepost 266 is the Natchez Trace Visitors Center, which provides you with the opportunity to further learn about the Trace through a short movie and exhibits. The visitors center hosts monthly events as well.
Where the Buffalo and Others Roam
It may be hard to believe at first, but it is possible to see buffalo and other exotic animals like Capuchin monkeys in Tupelo. The 210-acre Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo is home to over 260 animals. Explore the park aboard the Bison Bus or the open-air trolley. For something a little different, there's horseback riding and VIP Tours for the up-close experience. But, the fun doesn't end with the tours; there's also a petting zoo, pony rides and more.
Don't miss swinging by the Tupelo Visitors Center, an attraction itself. Besides picking up information on the area, you can view interactive exhibits, purchase some Tupelo swag, listen to audio clips of Elvis's childhood musical influence.