A Guide to Alex Booze's 'Must-See Capital City' Experience
What does a first-timer to Jackson, Mississippi, think after a four-day visit? Ask Alexandra Booze - @EastCoastContessa – and words like "amazing," "cool," and "surprising" describe her City With Soul experience.
We sent Alex on a tour of the city's history, art, music, literary and food scene, leaving her saying, "I could have stayed another day (or more)!"
Just 15 minutes from the heart of Jackson, the Jackson Evers International Airport offers daily flights – some direct - to and from major hubs like Atlanta and Dallas, with continuing flights to destinations worldwide. "It was very easy to navigate and clean," Alex said of the small and manageable airport. "It's nice that you guys have that airport there close by. It makes it very convenient."
Capitol-ize on the History
Designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1986 and a National Historic Landmark in 2016, the Mississippi State Capitol has been the seat of the state's government since 1903. One of Alex's first requests was to visit this Beaux Arts-style building, and for good reason. "I actually studied history and political science in college, so I'm a huge history buff, and I love learning about where laws are made. Honestly, I thought it was one of the prettiest state capitals I've seen inside. It was so unique, and I enjoyed it." Daily guided and self-guided tours are available.
Searching for the City's Artsy Vibes
When guests come to town, it's always fun to show them around, pointing out the hidden gems you don't often find on the beaten path. So Alex (and her traveling companion, dad Sheldon) took a ride around to take in more of the city. "I love going mural hunting and looking for public art," she said. "I think there are great opportunities for photo shoots and photos [in Jackson]. You can find unique things and ways that the city has made things more appealing, colorful, and vibrant. And I really loved [Suzie Cranston's] birdhouse garden [in Fondren], a neighborhood where Alex said, "The small area packs a big punch." Use the Visit Jackson Google Art Map to explore the scene for yourself.
A Moving Lesson in the Past
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum shares stories through eight interactive galleries, promoting a greater understanding of the impact of the Civil Rights movement. The Museum of Mississippi History encourages the exploration of more than 15,000 years of state history through interactive exhibits and fascinating artifacts.
"I knew going into it that both of [the museums] would be amazing, but I was just so impressed by all of the details and the personal accounts and the way that they make you feel, to see what it was like to live back in that era," Alex said. "It was really moving, and I enjoyed both museums."
Taking a step back in time to the 1946 Brent's Drugs, Alex was in foodie – and photo heaven. "We had a lot of fun shooting [photos] inside. I liked the aesthetic, like the turquoise and cream-colored seats. I feel like diners nowadays are a little bit difficult to find. It's always nice when you find a gem like that that has such a cool story. And tasty food and ice cream, like the spicy honey chicken biscuit and Coke float.
Not Just for Kids
One of Alex's must-see spots was the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. And you only need to be a kid-at-heart to pack in an afternoon of fun! "Even though it has a large component for children, I thought it was also a perfect spot for adults. I learned so much! You have this space exhibit, all the different fossils, and even the live animals. I thought it was great for kids and adults." Alex also enjoyed the trails "even though it was a warm day") and noted the new Dino Trail she spotted while exploring.
A Soulful Spa Experience
In the heart of the city, The Westin Jackson's Soul Spa provides the ultimate spa experience for guests and locals alike. Alex was thrilled to have this spot on her agenda. "I got there early and did the shower experience and the sauna so I could check out the locker rooms and the sauna. And I spent an hour in there [before my] hydra facial. The esthetician was very professional and knowledgeable, and the staff was very nice. They make you very comfortable. I loved my facial so much that I purchased a few items: some face wash, under-eye cream, and body scrub."
Old School, Fresh Flavor
For dinner in Fondren, Alex had a variety of options. We chose to send her to Saltine Restaurant & Oyster Bar, located in the former Duling School building, for this meal. Oysters stand out on the menu along with Southern cuisine that highlights fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables to share. "We had the fried oysters, a lobster roll and a fried shrimp po'boy. All of it was delicious. The seafood was very fresh. I also love that it's inside of the old elementary school. It's such a cool vibe and makes it unique. It's lively."
Art – Inside and Out
The state's largest art museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art, is a downtown treasure. We wanted Alex to experience "A Movement in Every Direction: Stories of the Great Migration" while she was here, an exhibit she called "beautiful." It's what is outside that caught her attention first. "We got there early to enjoy [the Art Garden]. That was impressive. I would get there early just to experience that for 15 or 20 minutes and do a nice little walk around."
"Four Freedoms," a four-panel mural by Mildred Nungester Wolfe "was my favorite in the whole museum. I just thought that was incredible," Alex said.
Other Standout Experiences
- Cultivation Food Hall – "I loved the different arrays of food you could try. It's almost like you could make a little trip around the world with food in an hour and a half!" Alex recommends O Hashi Sushi and La Brioche Patisserie.
- Native Coffee Company – "It's a cute space with a good vibe. Order the Ube Latte with oat milk."
- Lou's – "That's a solid choice. It's a great spot." Order the crawfish fondue with seasoned string fries!
- Tuk Tuk Boom - "It was one of my favorite meals. I loved everything about that experience." Alex says to order the Ahi Tuna Crisps and a Pineapple Coconut Margarita.
- Urban Foxes – "We ordered four slices of pie because I wanted to try a few different ones. We stayed there for about an hour, and I got some work done and went through photos. It's a perfect spot just to chill, have some pie and relax, especially on a weekend." Alex recommends a slice of the Peanut Butter Pie and whatever savory pie they have on the menu.
- BRAVO! Italian Bar and Restaurant – "It was crowded at the time that we went… so we sat at the bar, and it was perfect. The bartender was very attentive, and our food came out very quickly. It was definitely on point." Alex says to order the Strawberry Burrata cheese appetizer and a Shrimp + Basil pizza
- Residence Inn by Marriott at The District at Eastover - "Spacious suite-style rooms with plush beds, sizable bathrooms, fully stocked kitchens, and a separate living room [made] for a comfortable stay. I thought it was a great location and a really good value for the money. And I love that they had a daily hot breakfast. That's a great amenity to have, especially for families."
Planning a Trip Back to Jackson
It's easy to see why Alex, the @EastCoastContessa - said she is already looking forward to another trip to the City With Soul.
"This was my first time in Mississippi, and I'm so glad that my first time was in Jackson," she said, surprised at what she found on her journey. "When I did some research, I thought, 'Wow, this looks like this is a cool city. I didn't realize Jackson had so much.' But then, when I actually got there, I was blown away!"