Like Gettysburg, I visited to see the military park. Unlike Gettysburg, there is no museum and the visitor center is also closed. It may have some great exhibits, information, and artifacts that are comparable to Gettysburg.
I stayed close to the downtown area, just off the Yazoo River. I had an easy walk to Washington or Levee Streets and was close to all the restaurants and sites.
I stopped at the visitor center my first morning to pick up a guide and map; they are right across from the entrance to the Military Park.
Vicksburg National Military Park I did a phone tour one day stopping at all the stops except 6 and 7 on Union Avenue that was closed to cars. This is very interesting and worth listening to all the stops. I saw the USS Cairo but, unfortunately, like the visitor center, the museum is closed. The national cemetery is also closed to traffic but open for walking. There are 17,000 soldiers here, 13,000 unknown.
I also booked a guided tour the following day after my self driving tour. My guide introduced herself, with “hi, I’m (name), and a proud confederate”. I should have immediately ask her to explain that statement or cancelled my tour. She mentioned the war was because the south paid too many taxes to the federal government, ignoring the mention of slavery 80 times in the various secession documents from the Confederate States.
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery–the greatest material interest of the world.”
—Mississippi Secession Convention
At the end of the tour she said, a few hotheads started the war, we should have just “compromised” on slavery. I responded with ‘we tried that, it was called the Missouri Compromise’. She said well “it would have ended eventually due to automation”. I wonder how many years or generations of enslaved she thinks acceptable to wait?
Cedar Hill Cemetery and Soldiers Rest Confederate soldiers were not allowed in the national cemeteries being set aside for soldiers during and after the Civil War. The confederate dead were buried in the local cemetery in the new soldiers rest. There are marked areas for each of the confederate states soldiers.
Anshe Chesed Cemetery On the grounds of the military park but the cemetery is only accessible if you stop and walk up the hill, otherwise you can get to the cemetery from the temple on Grove Street. The Jewish grave monuments are mingled with markers from the battle.
Heritage Walking Trails This is a great option for seeing the downtown, there are multiple tours. I did the 3 mile heritage tour. The next day I did the Captain Speeds Route. The other three are variations of the full Heritage Route. I saw areas of town that I probably wouldn’t have seen without taking the walk. I enjoyed reading all the the markers. Some are slightly hard to find, they might appear on the map on one street but are slightly around the corner, 3 or 4 weren’t on stands but attached to fences making them hard to spot. The only one I couldn’t find at all was #33 for the “Blue Roof” on the Captain Speeds route. I just wanted information about the beautiful house I saw but found the marker online.
Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum Free entry, run by the US Army Corps of Engineers. A number of displays about the river, the great flood of 1927, the tributaries, and flood management. The flood model is outside the museum, I walked through the previous day not realizing it was part of the museum but there are great views from the museum. You can also visit the MV Mississippi IV, a working tow boat and flagship of the Mississippi River Commission.
Catfish Row Museum The museum is just in the early stages of building and growth. They have some interesting exhibits available in the one room currently available. I spent quite a bit of time talking with the woman at the entrance. Our conversation and her information about the woman who is leading the project made me feel so much better about what I had heard, seen, and experienced in Vicksburg.
Catfish Row Art Park Right along the river, across from the murals. A nice space for kids to play or to sit and enjoy a take out lunch.
Vicksburg Riverfront Murals An enjoyable walk along the Levee river looking at the art on the walls. There are signs about each mural and its historical significance to town.
McRaven House I took the haunted tour Saturday night. I had scheduled the Haunted Vicksburg Ghostwalk but it got cancelled due to lack of guests just a few hours prior to start so I went online and scheduled the tour with McRaven. I had heard a couple people talking about it when I was having a beer at Key City a few nights earlier. I would have still liked the walking tour to hear about more locations around town but I did like visiting the McRaven house, great host and stories.
Old Court House Museum Built in 1858 and a museum since 1948. Lots of Civil War relics, a beautiful view of the downtown, in a beautiful building. The old courtroom is definitely worth a visit.
Biedenham Coca-Cola Museum On Washington, only $3 entry. A small museum with lots of coke memorabilia and a soda fountain in back. Interesting history of the first bottling of coca-cola. Joseph Biedenham figured out the process necessary for making the carbonated water and bottling it. He didn’t ask permission or say anything about it in advance but sent a dozen bottles to the current president of Coca-Cola. He got a letter back saying it was fine but, according to Biedenham, “he made no further comment at all that I remember. You know, he never returned my bottles!” Try that now and I am sure he’d be sued.
Church of the Holy Trinity I just wanted to see all their stained glass windows, six from Tiffany, but they were holding services so I attended their Easter morning service. A lovely way to see the church and windows. Everyone was in masks (and almost everyone wearing them correctly) and it was nice to be in church as it’s been over a year.
They have a great number of historic homes for touring but you had to call each individually to scheduled a tour. I was staying directly across from Cedar Grove and the Corners Mansion was on the next block. I passed many of the others while out walking, I thought the Bazsinsky House looked interesting but just never spent the time to make any reservations other than the ghost tour at McRaven. Many are run as B&Bs.
Old Depot Museum Not worth the visit, in my opinion. I did enjoy seeing the large diorama of the battlefield. But seeing the confederate flag and bumper sticker (“historic not racist”, it’s both!) and comments I overheard (“it’s a shame the flag is getting so hard to find”, talking about the confederate flag) were one of many issues I had with my visit to Vicksburg. Fighting the “Lost Cause”.
There is a city passport, if you get at least 5 stamps from visiting the attractions take the passport to the visitor center for a free t-shirt.
Monsour’s at the Biscuit Company Didn’t eat here but stopped for a beer one afternoon and sat on their sidewalk enjoying the view of the river with Boo. Nice location and the menu looked good.
I tried the fiesta tamales at Original Solly’s Hot Tamales. They were just okay, nothing great. With all the toppings from the “fiesta”, cheese, salsa, jalapeños, hard to taste the tamales, but they seemed standard fare, the kind you can buy frozen at the grocery store. They are part of the Mississippi Tamale Trail.
The Tomato Place A fried green tomato BLT. Delicious. Outside seating and dog friendly.
Bohemian Cafe and Bakery Great breakfast biscuit. Their sweets looked good, too.
Beechwood Restaurant Picked up a good burger to go.