Located in the foothills of Northeast Mississippi, Tupelo is the epicenter of America’s music, where, in 1935, the world’s greatest entertainer was born in a two-room shotgun shack. The gospel tunes he sang in his boyhood church, the soulful blues that he heard coming from the juke joints in the Shakerag district, and the country music that he listened to on the radio from his front porch, enabled Elvis Presley to blend the sounds and deliver what we all know as Rock ‘N’ Roll, to the masses. Visitors can immerse themselves in America’s musical heritage, by beginning their journey in a town called Tupelo.
Travelers to Tupelo can experience the first part of Elvis’ incredible story by visiting the birthplace where he took his first breath, the church where he sang his first song, and the hardware store where he strummed his first guitar. A larger-than-life statue commemorating his 1956 Homecoming concert stands in Tupelo’s Fairpark District, and a driving tour highlighting 13 significant places in Elvis’ childhood is also part of the visitor experience.
The rhythms of this southern town that gave rise to the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll began with the natives who traveled the Natchez Trace Parkway over 8,000 years ago. This National Scenic Byway spans 444 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, and is headquartered in Tupelo, where guests can explore the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center and discover the parkway’s history and inhabitants. It is one of the top 10 National Parks in the United States, crossing four ecosystems and eight major watersheds. Whether on two wheels or four, this all-American road offers travelers the opportunity to slow down and experience the unparalleled beauty and rich history just waiting to be explored.
Tupelo’s beat resounds in the many attractions that showcase the city’s unique southern charm. From the incredible Tupelo Automobile Museum exhibiting over 100 antique and classic cars and the interactive HealthWorks! Kids Museum teaching kids to make healthy choices, to the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo housing over 300 animals representing 87 different species, there is truly something for every visitor to enjoy. Tupelo’s rich cultural history is also presented through a Civil War trail and a Civil Rights and African American Heritage trail.
With three distinct shopping districts, Tupelo is a shopper’s paradise. Whether you are looking for locally-owned shops and restaurants, or even a bit of culture, Downtown Tupelo is the first stop. Visit an art gallery that specializes in the work of Mississippi artisans, a 109-year old department store, and the hardware store where Gladys Presley purchased Elvis’ first guitar. It’s owned by the same family today and still offers guitars for sale. Tupelo’s Midtown District boasts unique finds, boutique clothing, and more. A regional shopping hub, the Barnes Crossing Shopping District is home to large, national brands, as far as the eye can see.
Tupelo’s culinary landscape is an ever-evolving scene whose constant is its ability to satiate any appetite. Perennial southern favorites like lip-smacking barbecue, golden fried chicken, and every soul satisfying side dish to be had, are readily available. From food trucks to farm-fresh creations and haute-cuisine, Tupelo is blazing an epicurean trail through the state of Mississippi. Let your mouth water by following #tupelofoodie on Twitter and Instagram.
Tupelo’s food culture is also inspired by Elvis, inviting patrons to enjoy a meal where he was known to eat. Johnnie’s Drive-In is a full-service drive-in restaurant, serving up the same diner food that Elvis loved. Guests can even sit where he sat in the “Elvis Booth.” Among the varied menu items at Johnnie’s is the doughburger. A mixture of meat, water, and flour, the doughburger was first introduced during World War II when many items were being rationed. A festival is held each May in Tupelo to celebrate one man’s take on the doughburger. In 1947, Truman “Dudie” Christian converted an old Memphis streetcar into a diner that operated there for years, serving the “Dudie Burger.” Today, the retired streetcar is parked at the Oren Dunn City Museum where the annual Dudie Burger Festival is held. Over 1,400 burgers are sold during the one-day event that features 1950’s-style entertainment.
Festival season is in swing all year round in Tupelo. From special events that pay homage to Elvis Presley’s influence on America’s music to celebrations of the thriving arts organizations in this community, Tupelo’s festivals attract a large, diverse audience, truly offering something for everyone to get out and enjoy. From Chili Fest in October and the Tupelo BBQ Duel in March to the Wine Downtown in April, Tupelo also celebrates its food culture through its annual festivals.
Tupelo offers an authentic, Americana experience with modern-day amenities and southern charm at its 150 restaurants and 1,900 hotel rooms. At its heart, Tupelo is full of contagious optimism, making it a center of positivity, drawing visitors in again and again.
Allison this is a caption