With its songs derived and developed from those sung by slaves in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, the blues went on to become the most important musical genre in the history of modern American music. And, for those that travel across the state's endless rural landscapes today, the guitar strains of legends such as Skip James and Robert Johnson seem just as poignant as they did all those years ago. For this is a region of America's Deep South, with its grand mansions and vast swathes of farmland, that feels, in some ways at least, completely untouched by time.
While much of Mississippi is made up of hills, plains, prairies and pine woods, the state's eponymous river hosts several towns and cities along its banks. Of these, it's perhaps Natchez that holds most interest for the casual tourist, blessed as it is with some 668 Antebellum homes - each one as grand as the last. Visit in spring or autumn for the chance to peek inside, or head to the pedestianised Downtown for leisurely strolls among its historic architecture.
If Natchez is all about Mississippi's Antebellum era, then at Vicksburg it's the war that brought it all to an end which takes centre stage. It was here in July 1863, after a 47-day siege by General Ulysses S Grant, that the Confederation army surrendered, ultimately put the North in control of America's mightiest waterway. Despite the fierce fighting, many of Vicksburg's buildings survived and today form one of the state's prettiest historic centres.
If its American music that draws you to the Deep South, then the Mississippi Delta is, for history buffs at least, its magnet in chief. Take a drive down Highway 61 – the road that carves through the region's vast floodplains – and you might just here the harmonica strains of Sonny Boy Williamson floating among the cotton fields.
When you travel, you'll find contrasts wherever you go. And there can be none quite as stark as those between Mississippi's green interior and its the sugar-white sands and sparkling waters of its Gulf Coast. Here, among rolling dunes, pretty towns host boutique galleries and a burgeoning food scene showcases fresh-from-the-boat seafood alongside Deep South classics.
Top itineraries in Mississippi
When it comes to American music, all roads lead to the Deep South. This fly-drive celebrates the very best of the region's musical heritage, from soulful blues and brassy jazz to riverboat calliopes and gospel choirs.
Discover a rich and innovative culture, history and heritage on this 15-day self-drive tour of the Deep South states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The Deep South has music running through its veins, and nowhere more so than in the state of Alabama. Explore its rich heritage, both musical and otherwise, on this tailor-made road-trip.
Top places to stay in Mississippi
Where to go in Mississippi
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