Mild temperatures prevail year round in Mississippi, but March and April are when the azaleas and dogwood come into full bloom. It's also when the state's hundreds of historic homes throw their doors open to visitors. It is, in short, when Mississippi seems best to typify the "Old South."
These townwide open houses are known as pilgrimages. Many of these houses are open year round, and you'll find them all over Mississippi, from Holly Springs to Natchez.
If you're interested in studying the history of the Civil War, Mississippi has several outstanding sites you should visit. The four most important battlefields in the state are at Brices Cross Roads, Champion Hill, Tupelo, and Vicksburg.
With more than 150 campgrounds and six national forests, totaling more than one million acres, Mississippi appeals to anyone who loves the outdoors. Hunting, fishing, hiking, bicycling, canoeing, and boating are extremely popular in these areas. One of the most scenic of the national forest areas is in Delta National Forest, north of Vicksburg, where cypress, gum, tupelo, and cottonwood trees grow. DeSoto National Forest offers a 50-mile float trip starting from Black Creek near Brooklyn on US 49.
Golf, fishing, and waterborne activities center around the coastal resorts of Biloxi and Gulfport. Biloxi, the oldest town in the Mississippi valley, has been a popular resort since the 1840s. Camellias, azaleas, roses, and crepe myrtle bloom along the streets among moss-draped oaks. West of town you can tour Beauvoir, the house in which Jefferson Davis lived for his last 12 years. Gulfport has been a resort town since the 1920s, but gained fame back in 1882 when Mississippi City, now a part of Gulfport, hosted the bare-knuckles heavyweight championship fight in which John L. Sullivan beat Paddy Ryan. Both cities offer a wide selection of deep-sea fishing charters, as well as golf and boat trips to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Biloxi hosts a Mardi Gras, a garden club pilgrimage, and a shrimp festival each year. Gulfport offers a spring pilgrimage and the Mississippi Deep-Sea Fishing Rodeo.