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Jackson, Mississippi: Family Travel Guide

Barbecue and blues meet Civil Rights history in Mississippi's capital
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital city and largest urban center of the U.S. state of MississippiDenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
/ Source: TODAY

What to do in Jackson

Sincere and sophisticated, Mississippi's capital, home to many significant Civil Rights sites, also serves up barbecue, blues music and fun outdoor spots like farmsteads and a petrified forest.

The Capitol Building is one of Jackson's highlights.Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Where to go in Jackson

Even the youngest kids can understand the messages of kindness and tolerance found at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, through exhibits like the interactive light installation called "This Little Light of Mine:" As more visitors enter the space, the sculpture glows more brightly and the music gets louder. Take older kids for an unforgettable tour of the restored Medgar Evers Home Museum, one of the sites on the Mississippi Freedom Trail. The museum honors the civil rights leader and NAACP field secretary who was assassinated in his driveway in 1963. (Note that tours must be booked in advance by calling Tougaloo College, who owns and operates the home.) Kids will appreciate that many of the attractions at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum are outdoors, including a farm, carousel and recreated town.

Parents will appreciate the educational and cultural significance of the Medgar Evers Home Museum.Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Where to stay in Jackson

At The Westin Jackson, which is conveniently located downtown near the Planetarium and art museum, guests can borrow a guitar to keep in their room, but not just any old six string — the instruments available are replicas of the ones used by Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Jimmy Buffet, Marty Stuart and Prince. (Of those greats, all but Prince are from Mississippi.) The comfortable rooms have chaise lounges, massive windows and the chain's ultra-comfy beds. Familiar and comfortable, the Hilton Jackson is in the Wildwood North area. It's a short drive from the Agriculture Museum and Sports Hall of Fame, and the outdoor pool has stylish cabanas and a fire pit.

Music lovers rejoice! This hotel lets guests check out replicas of guitars used by some of the biggest names in music.Westin

Where to eat in Jackson

Brent's Drugs has been a beloved diner and soda fountain since 1946, and despite the name, there hasn't been a pharmacy on site since 2009. What hasn't changed is the old-time vibe and the chance to sip a Coke float or vanilla malt on a stool at a charmingly retro formica counter. Once you've put wing sauce on your fries, a popular combo at E&L Barbecue, you may be hooked for life. This casual, locally loved joint describes its style as mixing the best of two barbecue worlds: the vinegar-heavy Kansas City style and the sweeter Southern interpretation. Rib tips and hot links are bestsellers, and there are combo plates available for the indecisive.

Looking for more of the best vacations with kids? Check out TODAY's Family Travel Guide.