I’ve Traveled to Mississippi’s Best Kept Secret for a Taste of Southern Magic – Eat This Not That

Tupelo is a sweet little slice of lost Southern charm—and Mississippi’s best-kept secret. I checked out this town’s hotspots and magnolia-lined streets via bike, sipped some mead (“honey wine”), and had a doggerburger—a delicacy of northern Mississippi—at the oldest restaurant in Tupelo. It was the escape my mind and body never knew it needed, and now I’m convinced your next getaway must be here too.

Why Tupelo, Mississippi? listen to me. It is not every day when you travel to a city like this that it is not exaggerated and packed with tourists. Sometimes it pays to go the less crowded route, in which case I was able to cross off a very unique gem that was on my bucket list. In Tupelo, you can enjoy getting away from the energy and exercising while exploring the city’s rich history and enjoying relaxed Southern hospitality. And that’s exactly what the holiday should be.

Plus, it’s no secret that travel benefits your emotional health and wellness in many ways — and we love that for that. Research has already proven that a planned trip can make you happier. Spending time away from work, commitments, and the same routine can be just the break you need to feed yourself with entirely new experiences, relieve any stress you might have, lift your mood, and fill your mind with creativity. So pack your bags, and let’s go!

Is Tupelo the next Nashville or Charleston? You’ll just have to read on to find out more about Mississippi’s best kept secrets and head to IRL to find out.

Alexa Millardo

One of the coolest highlights of Tupelo? If you’re a rock ‘n’ roll fan, Elvis Presley – “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” – was born here. Walk through Elvis Presley’s birthplace, explore the on-site museum that takes you through the life of a rock and roll legend, and check out the star’s childhood chapel.

Of course, when I was on Mississippi’s best kept secrets I wanted to cross that off my to-do list, but what I really liked was the Elvis self-guided bike tour. I checked out a bike and helmet from my hotel, the Tupelo Hotel, and took a trip to 14 different places on a very hot summer afternoon, but it was totally worth the sweat and workout! The tour took me to Milam Junior High, where Elvis attended seventh and part of the eighth grade; Lyric Theater, where Elvis was rumored to have stolen his first hug; Johnnie’s Drive-In, where Elvis dined with his friends (you can still sit in the go-to booth today!); Elvis Homecoming Statue; And much more.

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Food side by side
Alexa Millardo

Let’s be honest: What’s better than indulging in some comfort food? It is very difficult to reach the top, and Tupelo offers some of Better.

While there, I dined at the Forklift, a hip spot that mixes handcrafted cocktails, elevated Southern food, and a side of Southern Sass. Ten out of 10 recommend tenderloin with chickpea puree, maitake mushrooms, and truffles. You can’t miss “The King” for dessert, which is a peanut butter pie with bacon, banana, and caramel.

If you are in the mood for some live music while you sip on a sweet tea cocktail, Ethel Mae’s is the place for you. Here, I’ve enjoyed Chef Reginald Scott’s Neo-Soul food: half a 48-hour brine, fried until crispy, along with collard greens and a traditional grilled bun with honey butter.

For something you’ll likely never have experienced before, head over to Clay’s House of Pig for a half hour. It’s a piece of barbecue topped with slow-smoking crushed pork and all the toppings, including queso, sour cream, slaw, jalapenos, bacon, and homemade BBQ sauce. You would never want to eat potatoes any other way.

meady side by side
Alexa Millardo

If you haven’t heard of med before, you’re ready to get the real treat. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a huge fan of wine. Mead – also known as “honey wine” – took that love to a whole new level.

To give you a little background, this alcoholic beef is made with fermented honey. It is sometimes referred to as the “drink of the gods” and has been around for thousands of years. People consider mead to be a great “health tonic” for gut health due to the potential probiotics it contains. Another fun fact? The word “honeymoon” got its name from the Scandinavian tradition of sipping mead for the first month after stumbling on the hope of boosting a couple’s chances of conceiving.

However, you can’t go to Tupelo nor stop in for some outdoor fun at Queen’s Reward Meadery. This spot is the first in Mississippi to pour, serve, and sell award-winning mead made with 100% pure Mississippi honey. The best part? From cranberry ruby ​​and orange honey to honey grape Mid Scarlett Noir, all kinds of meadowsweet are incredible and totally different. I even had a simple tasting slushie (Queen’s Reward sells fun bags on the go!) for the most refreshing summer treat.

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Alexa Millardo

Everyone needs a little retail therapy now and then. It can be therapeutic, boost your mood, and make you feel in control when done in moderation.

In downtown Tupelo, you’ll find charming boutiques like L.A. Green, where you’ll fall in love with a flowy sundress (or a few) and an elegant selection of wine glasses for your home bar. You’ll also want an oversized tee as I did from Tupelo Hardware Co, where Elvis’ mother Gladys bought him his first guitar.

And let me tell you – if you stay at the Tupelo Hotel, you will be obsessed With the smell in the lobby (and the general atmosphere). Take a walk to Raw Furniture Co. To take a beautiful piece of your stay at home with you. You’ll find the same scent of magnolia and cashmere in candle and oil form flowing throughout the hotel lobby. (The candle is currently lit on my desk, reminding me of this amazing journey.)

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Street Art Murals in Mississippi's Best Kept Secret
Alexa Millardo

The art scene in Tupelo is beyond rad. You’ll snap a photo in front of a “Greetings from Tupelo, Mississippi” mural and immerse you in the abundance of street art, such as the murals of Coca-Cola and the Mississippi flag. It’s also essential to take a photo in front of the Lyric Theater and one alongside the more than 25 Elvis-themed guitars along the guitar track.

The beautiful magnolia trees lining the sidewalks will make you feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie as you make your way to the Tupelo River Cafe – which looks like a hangout in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – for an afternoon of some other shots. If you’re hungry for a snack, Strange Brew Coffeehouse is another great option for sips, photos, and desserts. Located in a converted service station, this local coffee shop serves Mississippi roast coffee, homemade baked goods, and really cool mugs.

The road less traveled was a big win – it led me to Tupelo!

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