VICKSBURG TO MEMPHIS
Traveling the backroads of the Mississippi Delta can feel like a rootsy American homecoming, and it can also feel like visiting another country—sometimes in the same moment. It’s been called “the most Southern place on earth,” with a complex and fascinating history as rich as its soil. Following the Mighty Mississippi along legendary Highway 61 toward Clarksdale, the unofficial capital of the blues, you’ll become intimately acquainted with the area’s perfectly authentic, gritty vibe. After all, this is the region where bluesman Robert Johnson traded his soul for his talent; where the Civil Rights movement took hold; where the sons of sharecroppers rose to international stardom; and where the Delta Blues sound was born from church songs, back alleys and cotton fields, and went on to inspire the genesis of rock and roll.
Many of the sites and stories on this leg of the Gold Record Road are told through the Mississippi Blues Trail, an incredible resource for preserving and promoting the history of the blues long after the physical buildings and landmarks have crumbled or been razed in the name of progress. In this day and age, blues history isn’t tied to specific addresses—it’s about breathing in the thick air of the Delta, watching the Mississippi carve its way through the basin, standing on a railroad track at a country crossroads and soaking up the cotton-covered rural landscape. It’s about finding yourself in a juke joint in a rural town and understanding segregation, hardship, beauty and strength in a new way. Welcome to the Delta Highway.
REGIONAL & STATE TRAVELER RESOURCES
Find more information about the area as you plan your trip, including lodging, restaurants, helpful information from other travelers and more:
Mississippi Blues Trail
Mississippi Country Music Trail
Mississippi Delta Tourism
Delta Road Trips
In many rural areas, restaurants and other stops are open and ready for business on the weekends only; in other areas, attractions close on Sundays and Mondays instead. Be aware that hours of operation may vary, especially in smaller communities, and lodging options can be few and far between. We encourage you to visit websites, make phone calls and prepare in advance in order to catch these sites—small businesses and small towns in particular—at their best.
Entering an authentic dancehall or juke joint can feel like entering another country. Most spots are completely safe and welcoming to respectful travelers and visitors who are easygoing, and ready to soak up new traditions and experiences. In other words, “go with the flow,” and you’ll have a great time.
The rural South is economically diverse, with pockets of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, which can raise safety questions with travelers. Our advice is to behave as you would in any urban area—keep car doors locked, keep valuables with you and don’t flaunt jewelry or cash.
This information was accurate when published but can change without notice.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected the hours and operation of many sites and businesses. Please confirm hours and availability before you visit.