What is there to do in Mississippi with kids?
I remember wondering this same thing before we moved. We were pretty content in the Midwest, so when my dear hubby announced that he had gotten a position in Mississippi I was a little stunned. He cheerfully told me that at least they didn't have cold weather and started bringing home empty boxes. Two weeks later we found ourselves in Madison, Mississippi where we have been for the past almost two years.
Despite my initial concerns, Mississippi in many ways has amazed us.
The weather is indeed wonderful. Their idea of Winter - if you're used to northern seasons - is hilarious. This isn't tropical island weather, but you can certainly get outside year round in Mississippi. This is one of the things I will miss the most when we move again in a couple short months back to the cold up north.
The best thing about Mississippi however isn't the weather. The best thing is the people.
We have made fantastic friends that we will miss dearly, but it goes further than that. My favorite thing about Mississippians is how much they adore children. Almost everywhere is child friendly and there are so many, many things that are specifically for kids. The Fall church festival season alone is quite astounding. So, what is there to do with kids in Mississippi? A ton!
I went with Jackson and the surrounding area when making this list. Jackson is the major city and where a lot of the bigger attractions are, however it is not a huge metropolis and it is pretty easy to move between the city and the suburbs that surround the city. The list below is divided into indoor and outdoor activities for kids and focuses on places you can go with kids any time of the year. There are loads of special events and seasonal places - but that would be a whole other post.
Visit a Playground, our favorites include;
Winner's Circle Park - Flowood MS
Liberty Park - Madison MS
Strawberry Patch Park - Madison MS
Freedom Ridge Park - Ridgeland MS
LeFleur's Bluff State Park - Jackson MS
Old Trace Park - Ridgeland MS
Ride Bikes along the Reservoir at Old Trace Park
The Barnett Reservoir is one of our favorite spots. About once a week we take our bikes to Old Trace Park. My kids ride and I walk or run and we make frequent stops to explore. The Reservoir is beautiful and the path is smooth and wide. In the summer there are also festivals and various events at the park. Now there is also a playground here which is beyond awesome. View Website.
Bike Ride or Walk on Natchez Trace Parkway
The Trace is part of the National Park Service and stretches all the way across the state of Mississippi. It is primarily a scenic highway with various historical stops, but there are also some trails and parks integrated along the way. In the Jackson area, primarily near Ridgeland there is a nice spot to park your car and hop on the trail. You can bike ride all the way until you over look the Reservoir and further. This is a lovely shaded spot to run, walk or push a stroller as well. View Website
Clinton Nature Center
This is about a half an hour drive from Jackson, but in my opinion entirely worth it for so many reasons. Once a month they have a preschool program called Nature Nuts which is incredibly well planned and executed by lovely staff and volunteers. The Nature Center also has nice nature trails and an outdoor natural playground which is tons of fun, especially in the warmer months when the water section is turned on. A membership is reasonable and gives you free access to their preschool program and special events. View Website
My kids love the Jackson Zoo, but it is likely more because of the train ride than the animals. It is a smaller zoo so it is easy for little legs to explore. In the summer there is also a fantastic splash pad you can use with admission to the zoo. The zoo also has some fun events throughout the year so make sure to check their event calendar. View Website
Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum
Honestly when we showed up at this one I wasn't sure what to expect, but my kids loved this museum. The majority of it is outside, but there are some indoor parts as well. It is not the newest museum in town, which is somewhat noticable if you also visit the children's museum across the street, but there is a lot to do. There is a small historical town, farm animals, a large indoor model train display, and more. Many special events, including Jazz Fest and Irish Fest are also held on the ground throughout the year. View Website
Mississippi Petrified Forest
If you're looking for a nice easy hike for young kids, this is a winner. For adults there is also some added history that is kind of fun. View Website
This is a darling old outdoor mall that my twins love to explore. It is filled with little nooks and funky wall art. I can't honestly explain how we manage to kill hours walking around but we get lunch and then wander and they love it. In warmer months there is also a monthly storytime in the courtyard near Beagel Bagel - look on Facebook for details. View Website
Play Ball at the Park
Fun often comes in the cheapest of packages. Bring baseball gear or a soccer ball to Liberty Park in Madison and you can have a blast running and chasing and developing gross motor skills on a nice day.
Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, MS Children's Museum, and Art Museum all have outdoor sections.
see details below
Mississippi Children's Museum - Jackson MS
We adore the children's museum and highly recommend a membership if you live in the area. I have shared some details when our kids were obsessed with cranes and when the visiting exhibit about Japan was in town. Make sure to check out their calendar for awesome weekly activities and special events. I have been blown away by their special events - their annual New Years Eve party for kids and Book Festival are two of our favorites. There is also an outdoor space for all those lovely weather days. View Website
Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
The Natural Science museum has been another of our favorite spots for BOTH indoor and outdoor fun. The indoor part isn't huge but for kids 0-5 it is perfect. They always have a visiting exhibit and then you can check out the fish tanks and turtle area and other displays. There is also a small preschool play area for children 0-5 that my kids love. Outside there are trails of varying difficulty and length to explore. And DO NOT miss their special events. We have loved them all from NatureFest to Cajun Christmas. View Website
Throughout the city there are preschool story times at the various libraries. Our favorite is the Flowood Library. They have the best children's book area in the city, kind librarians, and several storytime options. They are also down the street from Winner's Circle Park and it's awesome playground.
Deep South Pops
If you just need to get out of the house for a little bit or what a delightful treat, stop by Deep South Pops in downtown Jackson. The popsicles are amazing (and there are a lot of dairy free options), the staff is friendly, and the shop itself fun. View Website
Barnes and Noble and the Renaissance Mall
This isn't unique Mississippi, but it is still a fun way to pass a few hours. This Barnes and Noble has a huge kids area and a little train section for play. Our kids love playing and browsing for books. Check the website for brief storytimes as well. Across the street there are fountains to splash in on hot days and there is plenty of space to wander and run in this outdoor mall. Five Guys and Panera are also conveniently located in the mall. View Website
Mississippi Museum of Art
Truthfully the art museum is on the small side, but if you have preschoolers or early elementary schoolers they have a fabulous FREE event on the third Friday of every month called Look and Learn with Hoot. Someone from the staff reads a story and then the kids get to create something in the art studio. The art museum also has water fountains outside to splash in on hot summer days and a small, but lovely garden to wander through. View Website.
Our favorite is Bounce Palace - mostly because of its convenient location. There is also a Pump It Up in Brandon MS and High Heaven in Flowood MS. These are just fun places to let loose and move wiggly bodies on super hot or rainy days.
Northpark Mall Indoor Playspace
This isn't huge, but as far as mall play spaces go this is a nice one. It is enclosed on three sides, clean, and quiet on most weekdays. View Website
This is a cozy little bookstore in Jackson. There is a section in the back for kids with a great selection of books. It is also housed in the same building as a cute little lunch spot. If you follow them on Facebook you will occassional spot some child friendly events as well. View Website
Panera in Flowood
There are now two Panera restaurants in the Jackson area which I am inexplicably giddy about - but our favorite is the one in Flowood. It has a huge chalkboard and small place space off to one end of the restaurant. Grab lunch or a snack or even just a coffee for you and the kids can play for a bit on a rainy day.
Little Giants Center
This sweet little playspace in Madison is perfect for the 3 and under crowd. They do have some classes for older kids, but the space is ideal for the youngest set. You can get a membership or pop in for some sessions at low cost. View Website
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