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Vicksburg is vibrant and thriving

Vicksburg is vibrant and thriving

By: Susan Marquez - May 9, 2023

Docked on the Mississippi River at Vicksburg

Take a stroll through downtown Vicksburg and it’s easy to see why visitors are pleasantly surprised by what the city has to offer.

Vicksburg has long been known as a river town, and it’s famous for being a battleground during the Civil War. The Vicksburg National Military Park attracts history buffs with its winding road through its 1,728 acres filled with 1,300 monuments, including state monuments, a memorial arch, Navy monument, and the African American monument, all designed by prominent 19th and 20th century artists.

Vicksburg is also known for being the home of the Miss Mississippi Pageant.

But there is much more to Vicksburg than the Military Park and beauty queens. Those who enjoy a vibrant tourist scene will be pleasantly surprised with what Vicksburg has to offer in its downtown area.

The newest hotel downtown is located on Mulberry Street. Built as Harrah’s Casino, then transformed into Margaritaville Casino, the building sat empty until developer Sunny Sethi purchased the building and transformed it into The Mulberry, a contemporary hotel featuring hotel guest rooms with Mississippi River views as well as lofts for long-term rentals. The large swimming pool is flanked on two sides with private cabanas, and two outdoor bar areas. Rooms off the lobby invite visitors to stay a while to read, play billiards, or enjoy a cocktail with friends.

Jackson Street Art Gallery, owned by Paula Jackson, anchors the hotel. Filled with hundreds of works of art for sale by Mississippi artists, the gallery’s focal point is the large blue rotunda in the middle. The gallery features long benches placed down the middle of the gallery where guests can sit and admire the art.

If you prefer a more “authentic” lodging experience, Vicksburg has about a dozen bed and breakfasts in historic homes around the city.

A walk up the hill from Mulberry Street to Washington Street reveals a plethora of restaurants, shops, and a brewery with a rooftop seating area. Key Brewing Company offers a host of beers brewed on site. Lunch is served until 4pm, followed by the dinner menu which features small plates, wood-fired pizza and entrees using locally sourced ingredients.

Other restaurants worth noting are 10 South Rooftop and Relish Bistro. 10 South Rooftop is built atop the First National bank building. The relaxed casual restaurant offers not only an impressive menu, but a spectacular view of the Mississippi River and the Yazoo Canal. Patrons toast the sunset and enjoy the night sky while they dine. Relish Bistro is an Italian restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients in dishes by Chef Jason Penley, who has worked in such esteemed establishments as Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, Commander’s Palace and Cochon in New Orleans, and the Ritz Carlton in Lake Oconee, Georgia. This is just a sampling of the many restaurants located in the downtown area.

Many visitors to Vicksburg enjoy going to see a performance of “Gold in the Hills,” the longest continually performed melodrama in the United States. Appropriate for the entire family, audience members cheer for the hero, boo for the villain, and sing along to all the songs.

Mayor George Flaggs says it does his heart good to see families pushing strollers on the sidewalks of downtown Vicksburg.

“I make it my business to drive around downtown every morning and every afternoon. When I first became mayor much of the downtown area was boarded up,” Flaggs said. “It’s a great feeling to see it coming back to life in such a good way.”

The Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation is housed in the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Company where the iconic beverage was first bottled in 1894. The museum is filled with a wide variety of Coca-Cola advertising and memorabilia, and you can even get a fountain Coke, Coke float, ice cream and souvenirs.

A walk to the river front to burn off the calories consumed reveals a series of the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals, a project by the City of Vicksburg and the Mississippi Arts Commission. When a river cruise is docked in Vicksburg, it’s not unusual to hear languages from several foreign countries as tourists disembark and walk along the river front admiring the colorful murals depicting the history of the area. Nearly 150 boats dock at Vicksburg each year, with over 25,000 passengers. Some boats dock for a few hours, while others for a few days.

“The river boats are a tremendous asset to Vicksburg,” says Flaggs. “We have become an international market for cultural exchange. It’s a great well to sell Vicksburg by way of water. And if the Amtrak station goes through like we believe it will, people can come by rail. We feel really good about it.” 

About the Author(s)
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Susan Marquez

Susan Marquez serves as Magnolia Tribune's Culture Editor. Since 2001, Susan Marquez has been writing about people, places, spaces, events, music, businesses, food, and travel. The things that make life interesting. A prolific writer, Susan has written over 3,000 pieces for a wide variety of publications.