Hitting the Mark: Family Adventures in JXN MS
Kids in tow? Travel can be a beast. But not for college sweethearts Nate and Chelsea Day, now with four kids – five years apart.
The Day's “road-schooling” homeschool family has a zest for learning and recently spent three days in the City With Soul. Did you follow their trip on Instagram? Let us catch you up on their adventures!
Mississippi was on their list of states to visit for ages. And, despite the pandemic, the family said Jackson’s health and safety measures put them at ease. “The area currently has a public mask mandate, tons of wide-open spaces to explore and polite people who kindly kept their distance.”
But not too far away: the Days expressed how genuinely welcome Jackson made them feel!
Jackson MS food is oh-so-drool-worthy! The Days
Ask anyone, the family found out, and food is always a “must-enjoy” on any Jackson visit. “The food is SO good. It was absolutely worth the numerous sad, sad salads and smoothies I had to have to make up for it back at home.”
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day – breakfast!
“Carve out a visit to Urban Foxes. This charming old home-turned-pastry-shop features handcrafted pies, scones, cookies and coffee! The entire house has fun, funky seating and various meeting rooms throughout, so you can gather in your own cozy space with your family. We took a spot in what looks like it was once the living room, lounging around amidst adorable antique furniture.”
If a more traditional breakfast is your thing, “you CAN’T miss Brent’s Drugs!” Chelsea noted the classic soda fountain for their southern hospitality, iconic lunch counter and walls full of quirky history.
Also, for breakfast or lunch: Campbell’s Craft Donuts (now closed).
Southern steakhouse Char at Highland Village was a lunchtime hit. Opting for surf-and-turf, the Day’s meal featured filets, no-filler crab cakes and salmon. Tip: “Make sure to save room for their famous house-made pecan pie or pecan caramel butter crunch.”
Also, at Highland Village, the family enjoyed Aplos. “They magically manage to mesh together Lebanese, Italian and Greek influence with kid-friendly burgers, fries and pizza,” giving bonus points to the outdoor, socially distanced courtyard seating.
Additionally, at Highland Village, the Days recommended “incredible” espresso at Coffee Prose.
In Fondren, the Days found Sal & Mookie’s New York Ice Cream and Pizza Joint a “hoppin” spot “for good reason.” They said, “This was one of the very best pizzas our family has ever had – which is saying a lot” (the restaurant, as of April 2021, is now located at The District at Eastover).
More lunch: The Iron Horse Grill (“a really fun spot to explore,” too, especially with the Mississippi Music Experience Museum upstairs).
When the sun goes down, appetites were right for The Pig & Pint – award-winning barbecue and local craft beer along with “totally creative renditions” of BBQ nachos, smoked tuna dip, Pepsi-Cola glazed wings, comeback coleslaw and more.
“This place hit especially high marks with us,” Chelsea said. “Nate spent half the night talking off the owner’s ear and trying to uncover all his saucy secrets. Coming from a barbecue-loving family with multiple household smokers and rather high standards, that’s lofty praise! This place also gets mega props from me for their awesome to-go specials and scenic, comfortable outdoor seating. If we lived nearby, I daresay this would be a weekly stop for us.”
Another fun dinner spot for the family, the grandma-chic “adorable” Fine & Dandy, a District at Eastover restaurant that pairs fine china with milkshakes, burgers and ‘birfday’ cake. “We visited on Tiny Burger Tuesday for a slammin’ deal on small bites,” The Days said. “At this point, I was ready for some fresh greens, and their Catfish Lettuce Wraps TOTALLY hit the spot.” Chelsea also recommends the Pimm’s Cup “if you’re looking for some European flair and a tummy-taming drink to go with ALL that food" (Fine & Dandy closed in February 2022).
Museums That “Hit the Mark” in Jackson MS
When you’ve traveled all over the country (and have lived in big cities like San Diego – “one of the best museum scenes”), museums in other locales have big shoes to fill.
“Our family has seen museums from DC to London to NYC, so we don’t tend to get our hopes up too high,” the Days said. “We weren’t honestly anticipating any sort of earth-shattering museum experience. And we were totally wrong."
The museums of Jackson absolutely rocked our socks! The Days
Always entertaining and enlightening Conservation Educator Corey Wright gave the family a hands-on tour featuring alligators, turtles and more. “He patiently answered my kids’ (fifty gajillion!) questions and left them with a creative seek-and-find activity when our time with him was up.”
Creature displays made the Days think of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City!
“If you’ve watched ‘Night at the Museum’ and wondered how YOU could get up-close and personal with perfectly preserved – and occasionally live – specimens – natural science museums are what you should search for in your area.”
Science-filled minds and bodies didn’t have far for another museum stop, the Mississippi Children’s Museum “to let loose and take in some more (super-stealth) learning opportunities!” Explore from the Mississippi Delta to the Gulf Coast, hands-on, with role-playing, science, literacy and more.
A run-through of the history museum gave a broader context to what was to come next, Civil Rights.
Chelsea said, “As much as we’ve tried to explain the history of Black lives to our children through movies, books and conversation, I believe this was the first time they really understood what that means on a human level. I don’t often say this, but it’s one of those things you have to see to truly understand,” she noted of the immersive and moving experience.
For a family who loves rural life, the Days felt right at home at The Mississippi Ag & Forestry Museum. Museum exhibits, the small-town Mississippi experience and even live animals were a hit! “You know we’re ALL about that small farm life, and this was a great way to see how it’s done on a larger scale.” The Ag Museum, she added was, “in-depth coverage of how technology – and humanity – has advanced with time.”
Kid tip: “There’s a super fun train!”
Outdoor Activities in Jackson MS
LeFleur’s Bluff State Park was an urban oasis the family appreciated with fall weather and foliage at its peak. “The weather was perfect, the setting was charming, and I’m honestly just not sure how else to describe this all-American backdrop,” they said.
Off-The-Beaten-Path Stuff in Jackson MS
Love public art? The Days say you (and your camera) will love Jackson! “If you like to ‘do it for the gram’ (it’s okay, we’re eagerly raising our hands right along with ya), then don’t miss the multitude of Jackson murals!” Look for the Visit Jackson-created & curated Google Map to explore for yourself.
For fans of “local,” a quick stop at Offbeat was a kid-favorite (gathering plane-ride-worthy souvenirs to boot). Phillip “DJ Young Venom” Rollins’s comics, records and apparel boutique “showcases minority art and makes a point to source many items locally,” an observation Chelsea made – and appreciated.
At the end of every busy day, the family expressed a special appreciation for their two-bedroom, two-bath suite at the Residence Inn by Marriott at the District at Eastover. “We love Residence Inns for their spacious rooms, helpful amenities and always-convenient locations.”