Tupelo – A Walk Through the Past


Located in the hills of Northeast Mississippi, Tupelo offers visitors a walk through the past with the boy who would be king, Civil War soldiers who defended this land, and Native Americans who roamed these hills over 8,000 years ago. Tupelo offers an authentic, Americana experience with modern-day amenities and southern charm at its myriad restaurants, hotels, and unique shopping venues. At its heart, Tupelo is full of contagious optimism, making it a Center of Positivity, drawing visitors in again and again.

To truly understand the greatest entertainer the world has ever known, you must first understand the place that influenced him. Born January 8, 1935 in a two-room shotgun shack, Elvis Presley spent his first 13 formative years in Tupelo before heading to Memphis with a guitar and a dream. The Elvis journey begins in Tupelo with a visit to places that inspired young Elvis and others that pay homage to his memory still today. The Elvis Presley Birthplace offers guests the opportunity to explore his home, a museum dedicated to his life, and the original Assembly of God Church where he was influenced by gospel music. The Elvis Driving Tour takes visitors to 13 different stops to explore Elvis’ Tupelo. One of these is Tupelo Hardware Co. where Gladys Presley purchased a guitar for Elvis’ 11th birthday. The rest is musical history.

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. The Tupelo Automobile Museum’s over 100 classic and antique automobiles on display offer visitors a walk through automotive history beginning with an 1886 Benz and ending with a Toyota Corolla that is made in Tupelo today. There is also a car that Elvis purchased and gave away and an Elvis movie poster exhibit. Families will enjoy HealthWorks! Kids Museum where kids can learn to make healthy choices through the many interactive exhibits, and the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo is home to over 300 animals representing 87 different species. Tupelo’s rich cultural history is also presented through a Civil War trail, a Civil Rights and African American Heritage trail, and a Chickasaw Native American trail.

Often the best part of exploring a new place is through discovering its food. Tupelo is no exception. Just like the unique sound Elvis created, melding gospel, country, and rhythm and blues, Tupelo’s culinary culture is a melting pot, celebrated through special events, festivals, and at tables throughout the city, at every meal, every day. From Food Truck Fridays in Downtown Tupelo’s Fairpark and live music with your pizza at Vanelli’s Bistro, to the perfect ladies’ lunch at Sweet Tea and Biscuits and the country’s top burger at Neon Pig, Tupelo’s foodie scene is more than just a meal, it’s part of the experience.

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 1950s 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, 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.

With over 150 restaurants, three shopping districts, and an array of accommodating hotels, imagine what you can do in Tupelo.

Visit tupelo.net to create your unique itinerary or use one of the many pre-planned itineraries to begin your next great adventure, because in Tupelo, anything is possible.  

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