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Tank Trip: What to do in Tupelo, Mississippi

A sign outside Assembly of God Church detailing Elvis Presley's connection to the church At the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, tour his childhood home and the church where he first attended services. Photo courtesy Tupelo CVB

Before there was Graceland, there was Tupelo. About 100 miles southeast of the iconic Memphis mansion that showcases Elvis Presley’s celebrity, this Mississippi town where he was born offers insight into the multicultural community that created a legend. Enjoy music, cuisine fit for a King, and adventures that will have you ready to rock ’n’ roll.

What to do in Tupelo

Start your tour of this 5-time recipient of the All-America City award with interactive exhibits at the Tupelo Visitors Center, where you can also find suggested itineraries, guides, and maps.

A must-see for Elvis fans is the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum. The 2-room frame house where he was born in 1935 has been preserved, and the church where he attended services as a child and was first exposed to gospel music was moved to the site. Admire Elvis statues and the Fountain of Life, which is symbolic of his Tupelo and Graceland years. Adults, $20.

Trace more of Elvis’ roots at the Tupelo Hardware Company, where his mother, Gladys Presley, purchased his first guitar. You can still find guitars for sale there along with souvenirs and hardware supplies.

Elvis Homecoming Statue, showing the singer crooning into a microphone

You can reach out and touch the King’s hand in the bronze Elvis Homecoming Statue downtown. Photo courtesy Tupelo CVB

Also downtown, don’t miss the Elvis Homecoming Statue that was based on one of photographer Roger Marshutz’s best-known images: a crooning Elvis reaching for outstretched fans’ hands at a Tupelo concert. Tour the Elvis Guitar Trail, which leads to more than 25 guitar sculptures—6 feet tall and Elvis-themed—set amid downtown’s colorful murals.

Hikers surrounded by trees and greenery in Natchez Trace Parkway

Hiking trails invite exploration along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Photo courtesy Tupelo CVB

Named after a Native American word meaning to scream and make a loud noise, Tupelo is an ancestral home of the Chickasaw Nation. As the Chickasaw began to travel beyond this area, they and other Native tribes helped create a footpath now known as Natchez Trace Parkway. A visitors center in Tupelo provides information for drivers, cyclists, and hikers who want to explore this 444-mile scenic recreational road that also cuts through Alabama and Tennessee.

Among Tupelo’s other memorable experiences, drive or walk through the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, where its buffalo herd is joined by more than 200 other exotic animals. $15 per person.

Many of our nation’s military are honored at Veterans Park, home to the Vietnam Veterans Replica Wall Memorial.

Stop for a sweet sip of mead, also known as honey wine for its chief ingredient, at Queen’s Reward Meadery, which has been earning accolades since it opened in 2018.

You may also like: Explore America’s musical heritage on a road trip through the South

Where to shop in Tupelo

Midnite Pottery stoneware dishes on display

Peruse fun and funky stoneware pieces at Midnite Pottery. Photo courtesy Midnite Pottery

  • Two floors of shopping and a great vintage elevator await you at Relics Antique Marketplace, where you’ll find collectibles, vintage clothing, furniture, and decor.
  • Take home some beautiful local pottery, from functional to funky, and other artwork from Midnite Pottery.

What to eat in Tupelo

Blue Canoe shrimp and grits

Enjoy live music and savory dishes like shrimp and grits at Blue Canoe. Photo courtesy Blue Canoe

  • The doughburger was Elvis’ favorite at Johnnie’s Drive-In. Enjoy walls of memorabilia and sit in Presley’s favorite booth.
  • Blue Canoe is noted for its music and menu, which includes a delicious blueberry doughnut bread pudding.
  • The must-have at Café 212 is the Blue Suede Grill—a banana, peanut butter, and honey sandwich that Elvis favored.
  • Spiff up your blue suede shoes for dinner at Park Heights Restaurant, where steak and seafood shine.

Where to stay in Tupelo

Jobos, a restaurant and bar inside Hotel Tupelo

Jobos restaurant in the chic Hotel Tupelo serves steak and fresh coastal cuisine. Photo courtesy Hotel Tupelo

You’ll find major hotel chains in town, but for a boutique experience, settle into Hotel Tupelo. The Wyndham property features chic decor and Jobos, a trendy restaurant and bar that serves coastal cuisine and steaks. Rates start at $149.

Learn more about Tupelo

For more information, call the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau at (662) 841-6521 or visit their website.

You may also like: 10 top state parks for hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping, and more

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