In the northeast corner of Mississippi lies Tupelo, a dynamic town of 38,000 residents that's best known for its most famous native son: Elvis Presley. The King was born there decades ago, but thousands still flock here annually to experience the community that raised him (including the Elvis Festival, which takes place every June). There are many ways to experience spots he frequented growing up, but that's not the only reason to come to Tupelo. With outstanding Southern cuisine, a diverse coffee scene, a beautiful downtown, and a trendy boutique hotel within walking distance of it all, Tupelo is a must-visit destination. Check out these 10 things to add to your list when planning a trip to Tupelo.
Learn About the The King
Travelers from all over the world come to Tupelo to visit the Elvis Presley Birthplace, which includes the home where he was born in 1935, a museum that chronicles his life (including some of his performance outfits), the famous "Becoming" statue, and the original Assembly of God church where a young Elvis was deeply influenced by gospel music.
Caffeinate at Local Coffee Shops
With this many locally owned cafes, Tupelo might as well be called Little Portland. Stop into Tupelo River Coffee for local roasts and seriously good handcrafted espresso, or check out Lost + Found Coffee, where baristas concoct creative creations on its "Lab" menu (think Golden Grahams lattes or lavender espresso lemonade). At Strangebrew Coffeehouse, find a huge menu of dessert-sounding coffee drinks (like Grandma's Caramel Cake Lattes) that can be ordered hot or iced.
Kelsey Ogletree Strangebrew Coffeehouse
Take a Cycling Tour
Bring your bike or borrow one from Hotel Tupelo (guests can check them out for free) to explore 14 places around downtown that were influential in Elvis's life growing up in Tupelo. Highlights include the Tupelo Hardware Company, where his mother Gladys Presley purchased his first guitar (the friendly staff is glad to tell you the story); Lee Country Library, where Elvis got his first library card; and Johnnie's Drive-In, Tupelo's oldest restaurant, where you can sit in the booth in which he used to dine.
Try Honey Wine
Queen's Reward is the only meadery in the world that makes mead with 100% Mississippi honey. Stop in for a tasting of varieties like Scarlet Noir, blackberry, and cranberry orange—contrary to what you might expect, not all mead is sweet. Some varietals drink like a dry red or white grape wine. Games like corn hole on the front lawn, delicious mead slushies, and special events like trivia night turn a visit into an experience.
Kelsey Ogletree Jeri Carter pours honey wine at Queen's Reward Meadery
Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway
The 444-mile scenic road that winds through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi roughly follows the Old Natchez Trace, a travel corridor used by Native Americans. It runs right through Tupelo. Pull over at milepost 266 to pop into the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center to see interactive exhibits or stretch your legs on nearby hiking trails. Another attraction worth stopping for is the Chickasaw Village Site, at milepost 261.8, which will be home to the Chickasaw Heritage Center.
Sip Along the Tupelo Cocktail Trail
Eight downtown locations are part of this unique trail. Stop in to pick up a Tupelo Cocktail Trail card at the Tupelo Visitors Center or at one of the participating locations, like Amsterdam Deli or Kermit's Soul Kitchen. Then, visit as many of the eight stops as you'd like to sample a handcrafted cocktail. Once you've completed all eight stops, redeem your card back at the Visitors Center for a free cocktail shaker.
Snap Colorful Photos
Tupelo is home to an impressive collection of larger-than-life murals that illustrate the city's history and celebrate its rich heritage. They make the perfect backdrops for colorful Instagram photos: Don't miss the giant "Welcome to Tupelo" mural downtown. And even if you're not part of Gen Z, anyone will find fun inside Tupelo's Love Your Selfie museum, located inside The Mall at Barnes Crossing. This interactive photo studio has 20 different stations to serve as selfie backdrops and help you level up your Instagram feed, from colorful ball pits to a pink-hued donut room.
Eat Your Heart Out
More than 160 restaurants in town mean you may want to eat more than three meals a day—a perfectly acceptable approach when you're visiting Tupelo. It doesn't look like much on the outside, but Clay's House of Pig, located inside a bait and tackle shop, serves up some of the best barbecue in the Southeast (a must-try is the BBQ Tater topped with queso sauce). At Romie's Grocery, housed in a former neighborhood grocery store, grab a classic meat-and-three Southern lunch or Mississippi catfish for dinner. For something a bit more refined, Sweet Tea & Biscuits Café serves favorites made with seasonal produce, like fried green tomato BLTs. And at Forklift, in Tupelo's Jackson West neighborhood, enjoy craft cocktails and dishes like grilled Gulf oysters and jerk steelhead trout prepared by Chef Miller, who was named King of Mississippi Seafood.
Kelsey Ogletree Romie's Grocery
End on a Sweet Note
Give yourself extra time when stopping into Crave, the downtown dessert café that's perfect for a post-dinner treat: It's going to take a while to decide what to order because everything on the menu is so darn delicious. Crave has everything from indulgent cakes and cheesecakes to bread pudding, skillet cookies and an over-the-top peanut butter brownie concoction topped with gobs of whipped cream, served warm and perfect for sharing.
Kelsey Ogletree Crave dessert cafe
Relax at a Boutique Hotel
Right in the middle of the action and walkable to most everything downtown is Hotel Tupelo, a 79-room hotel that opened in 2021 in Tupelo's Fairpark District. Feel like a rockstar in the Elvis-inspired King's Suite, outfitted with mid-century modern furniture and décor and overlooking Main Street. On the ground level, Jobos Surf + Turf is a restaurant and bar serving up coastal cuisine with a Southern twist, plus a popular weekend brunch.
Kelsey Ogletree Hotel Tupelo