A Vacation to the Heart of Blues
The soulful, narrative ballads of the Blues changed the tune of American music forever, and it all started in the deep south. In order to understand the blues, take a trip through the historic cities where it all began. From the Mississippi Blue Trail to the B.B. King Museum and every soulful stage in between, you’re sure to uncover a better understanding of the heart and soul of American Blues music.
In and Around Jackson, Mississippi
This iconic American adventure kicks off in Jackson, Mississippi. Start by exploring the Mississippi Freedom Trail - commemorative markers throughout the city provide important historical context and stories that lend a greater understanding of Jackson. Let the learning continue with a trip to the B.B. King Museum, or visit the Grammy Museum in nearby Cleveland, Mississippi. And after a long day of soaking in social and musical history, you can’t miss the soul food of Jackson. Try the award-winning barbecue at Pig and Pint, generational family cooking at The Mayflower Cafe, or the upscale-meets-down-home dining experience at Hal & Mal’s.
Where to Stay:
- Local history abounds near the Hilton Garden Inn Jackson. Jackson University, the Mississippi Coliseum and the Old Capitol Museum are all within a mile of this hotel.
What to Eat:
- The Mayflower Cafe, the oldest restaurant in Jackson, serves up unique Greek-inspired seafood and steak with recipes passed down through generations.
- Come hungry for award-winning Mississippi BBQ at Pig and Pint, with menu favorites like BBQ Chicken Tacos with Mango Jicama Slaw and Pork Belly Corn Dogs.
- Hal & Mal’s is the most-talked-about upscale honky-tonk in all of Mississippi, where art is made, music plays, and folks gather to share community and celebrate the very best of Mississippi’s creative spirit.
What to See:
- It’s a well-known fact that Mississippi is the birthplace of blues. Explore the Mississippi Blues Trail, and you’ll uncover a whole new side of Blues history.
- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, F. Jones Corner hosts the best local and regional blues musicians every weekend.
- Located in a diverse and multicultural neighborhood, Fondren is a hub when it comes to artistic expression with owner-operated boutiques and locally owned restaurants and bars.
- No trip to Mississippi is complete without witnessing the story of a beloved music icon at the B.B. King Museum.
- Celebrate the power of music at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland Mississippi, where the interactive experiences make for a one-of-a-kind visit.
- Ready to take the blues into your own hands? Take a guitar lesson at Fondren Guitars by Patrick Harkins!
- Take a trip to the Petrified Forest and explore nature, 36 million years in the making.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Hop in the car and head to Little Rock, Arkansas, a city full of rich musical and civil history. The best way to feel the grandiose impact of this region is with a trip to Little Rock Central High School. Standing on the grounds of this National Historic Site, you’ll feel the profoundness and gain a better understanding of American segregation, the Little Rock Nine, and the impact of Brown v. Board of Education. While you’re in Little Rock, enjoy learning about the south’s locomotive history at the Arkansas Railroad Museum, or take a stroll through the restaurants and shops at the River Market. Finish your adventure through Little Rock with a sweet, southern slice of pie at Honey Pies.
Where to Stay:
- Southern hospitality takes on a new meaning at The Capital Hotel, where guests have been treated like family since opening day in 1876. Experience a living piece of history in Little Rock.
What to Eat:
- Arkansas loves pie, and nowhere is pie exalted more in the city than at Honey Pies.
- Sample award-winning spirits at Rock Town Distillery, the first legal distillery of any kind in Arkansas since prohibition.
- Enjoy the warm environment and delicious meals at Brave New Restaurant, and don’t miss their artisanal roasted coffee.
What to Do:
- Learn about the state’s steam locomotive history at the Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff.
- Situated in Little Rock’s most vibrant neighborhood, the River Market is the unofficial cultural center of the city with local restaurants and shops.
- One of the most iconic places in Arkansas and a major catalyst for change, Little Rock Central High School was the site of struggles over school desegregation in 1957. Take a ranger-led walking tour of this historical sight and learn the story of the Little Rock Nine, desegregation, education and civil rights.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Ready for a little time to rest and relax? Head to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the healing properties of the Hot Springs National Park have drawn travelers for hundreds of years. Nestled in the Ouachita mountains, Hot Springs is the perfect place to slow down, connect with nature, and take a moment to treat yourself. Take a dip in the thermal mineral baths at Buckstaff Baths, and feel any tightness and tension wash right away in the naturally heated springs. Then, take in the stunning park views at the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. For a unique outdoor experience, head to the Petrified Forest. Take in this one-of-a-kind landscape that feels straight out of the dinosaur ages, and don’t forget to take a photo!
Where to Stay:
- The Waters Hot Springs, Tapestry Collection by Hilton is perfectly positioned at the center of everything in Hot Springs. Hike kilometers of trails at the nearby national park and explore the iconic Bathhouse Row, just across the street.
What to Eat:
- Eat like a local at Fisherman’s Wharf, a laid-back seafood spot on a lake with grilled & fried fish, nautical decor and a spacious patio.
- Working with regional farmers and growers, JB Chop House showcases locally sourced items like produce and Arkansas bred Wagyu cattle.
- Enjoy high quality sweet treats at Kilwin’s, an old-fashioned confectionery chain.
What to Do:
- Hot Springs National Park is praised as a healing area with nine historic bath houses that have been drawing people to the region for hundreds of years.
- Enjoy the ultimate thermal mineral bathing experience at Buckstaff Baths, continuously operated since 1912.
- For panoramic views of Arkansas’ mountains, visit the breathtaking observation decks at Hot Springs Mountain Tower.