From Betting to Battlefields: Discover the Dynamic Offerings of Vicksburg, MS

If you're a Civil War buff or fancy a poker round or two, unlock some serious fun at the "key to the South," Vicksburg, MS.Read More

Quaint but steeped in history, Vicksburg, Mississippi has long been hailed as the “Key to the South” — where a battle against the North marked the turning point in the American Civil War. Since those early days, the city has grown to include an Engineer Research and Development Center, where the Army Corps of Engineers works to improve flood control and river navigation; a reimagined riverwalk; local mural art depicting historical figures and scenes central to the city’s development; and the launch of several community events.

For tourists, the two biggest attractions are the site of the Battle of Vicksburg and the casinos that line the riverfront along the Mississippi. Before we get to these, though, a few thoughts on getting to Vicksburg and where to stay.

Rent a car for your stay

If you’re coming from several states away, you’ll like want to fly into Jackson (the nearest major airport) and drive to Vicksburg. We don’t recommend trying to work with public transportation and ride-shares will get expensive quickly. After all, it’s over 50 miles from the Jackson airport to downtown Vicksburg.

Go with a B&B — not a hotel

While you can easily book a hotel room at a Comfort Suites, Courtyard, or other chain, it’s highly recommended that you soak in more local cultural and history by staying at a bed and breakfast. There are about 10 to choose from, but our two favorites are definitely the classic Greek-meets-antebellum Anchuca Mansion (complete with free WiFi, a pool, and onsite café with mind-bogglingly good cheesy grits) and the Duff Green Mansion (featuring a three-course seated breakfast). Many of the B&Bs in Vicksburg have incredible stories, though, so even if you’re not staying at one of them, visit their websites to see if they offer tours. You can find a full list of local B&Bs on the Vicksburg tourism website.

The Duff Green Mansion offers a true taste of Southern high life (blended with Victorian panache). (Source: Visit Vicksburg Facebook)
The Duff Green Mansion offers a true taste of Southern high life (blended with Victorian panache). (Source: Visit Vicksburg Facebook)

Come mealtime, avoid the chains and casinos

It’s easy enough to pop into McDonald’s for breakfast and roll through Chick-fil-A for lunch, but do yourself a favor and explore the best of Vicksburg’s culinary scene (yes, there is one). Set aside at least one night for dinner at Anchuca — even if you’re not staying at the mansion. The restaurant serves up their own special flavor of surf and turf, with Pecan-Smoked Pork Tenderloin, Creole-styled Shrimp & Grits, and andouille-plumped Gumbo starring on the menu. It’s a touch on the pricier side, though, so we recommend only enjoying one meal here.

A healthy helping of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy at Klondyke. (Source: Klondyke Facebook)
A healthy helping of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy at Klondyke. (Source: Klondyke Facebook)

For a fun hole-in-the-wall experience, Klondyke on Washington Street can’t be beat. They’ve been voted “best of” for their steak and hamburger, and for good reason — “Bad Bob’s Hamburger Steak” has the perfect blend of char and juiciness, capped with bacon for good measure. (If you ask us, though, we’d probably go the country fried steak route or opt for the ribeye steak sandwich, known affectionately as The Klondyke.)

A couple of other options to round out your Vicksburg diet: Rusty’s Riverfront Grill, always a good choice for Blackened Catfish or a po’boy; and 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill, which dishes up a melt-in-your-mouth Cornbread Skillet and inspiring views of the Mississippi.

Reflect on the gravity of the Civil War

The Battle of Vicksburg was pivotal in the Union's advancement on the South during the Civil War. (Source: iStock / traveler1116)
The Battle of Vicksburg was pivotal in the Union’s advancement on the South during the Civil War. (Source: iStock / traveler1116)

Without question, one of Vicksburg’s more intriguing historical elements is its role in the U.S. Civil War. The National Military Park in the city has preserved much of the battlefield that stood in 1863 when the Union Army laid siege to the city for 47 long, grueling days. Some 170 cannons and a ring of forts protected the city from Union advancements during the siege, slowing the North’s advance and almost thwarting their war plans. Visitors can still see many of the cannons aligned as they were 150 years ago.

Guests to the park can engage in many different, hands-on experiences to help understand Vicksburg’s role in the Civil War, including reenactments, cannon demonstrations, and musket demonstrations. There are also open trails for hiking and “running through history.” Get all the details on the park’s website.

Spend some time outdoors

If you come in warmer months, take advantage of the weather and enjoy leisurely hikes through nearby forests — where wildlife like deer, rabbits, and boar bound — or connect with a company like Blue Cat Guide Service, which can set up day trips for catfishing in the Mississippi (rates run about $450/day for three people).

For cyclists, consider renting a bike from Battlefield Bicycles and wheel around downtown or by the river at your own pace.

Chuck dice at Vicksburg casinos

Ameristar tables await. (Source: Ameristar Facebook)
Ameristar tables await. (Source: Ameristar Facebook)

Few think of casinos as being a draw of Vicksburg, but there are actually several that line the Mississippi River near downtown. Here are few worth checking out:

  • Ameristar Casino Hotel Vicksburg: Ameristar is, of course, a big name in casinos, so you can expect some big things. While you may be perfectly content playing the slots or throwing down some cards on your way to blackjack magic, the casino also has a quirky-fun bar (with bottle caps lining the tables and a junk wall fitted with broken plates and worn-down LPs) and free entertainment featuring musicians of countless genres.
  • Riverwalk Casino Hotel: A bit less glam that Ameristar, this casino still offers all the slots and table games you love. Plus, they offer sports betting and buffet dining for those who get hungry.
  • Lady Luck Casino Vicksburg: We love the design of this casino/hotel — and doubly love the view of the Mississippi. Slots and poker are big here, but so are sports-watching parties and cutting-edge e-gaming tables (no dealer needed).

There are plenty of other ways to enjoy yourself in Vicksburg — including pampering spa treatments, museum tours, and engaging in some competitive karaoke. Learn all about the city’s activities and destinations and start planning your trip by visiting Vicksburg’s tourism website.

For tourists, the two biggest attractions to Vicksburg are the site of the Civil War battle and the casinos that line the riverfront along the Mississippi.