Since it was incorporated in 1837, Oxford, Mississippi, survived almost two centuries of turbulent history. It was burned to the ground during the Civil War and went through more turmoil during the Civil Rights Movement. It has been described, romanticized and immortalized by writers, poets, and painters from Faulkner to Grisham.
Today, it is known as a great cultural destination, the home of the University of Mississippi or Ole Miss, rich in culture, history, fabulous food, beautiful architecture, and expansive green spaces. Stroll around the Town Square to get a feel for the spirit of the city or take a bike to the Holly Springs National Forest. Here are the best things to do in Oxford, Mississippi.
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1.The University of Mississippi Museum
© The University of Mississippi Museum
With more than 20,000 objects on display, the University of Mississippi Museum caters to people with a variety of historic and modern interests, and is one of the top Oxford attractions. Some of its unique features include collections of Greek and Roman artifacts, scientific instruments, and American art. Several private collections of artwork are on display at the museum, and the UM museum also has a series of rotating exhibits to supplement its permanent attractions.
Families can take advantage of the UM Museum's educational programs and summer camps, which encourage children to explore their artistic side.
University Avenue and 5th Street, 655-915-7073
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© Rowan Oak
Rowan Oak, a stately home located in Oxford, Mississippi, was first built in 1844, and Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner purchased the property and its surrounding 29 acres in 1930. People close to Faulkner say that the beauty and solitude of Rowan Oak inspired many of his stories and novels, and visitors can freely explore the grounds surrounding Faulkner's home from dawn to dusk each day.
A tour of the home costs only $5, and explanatory materials are available in multiple languages. Tour hours vary depending on the season.
916 Old Taylor Road, 662-234-3284
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© Courtesy of paulvelgos - Fotolia.com
The Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at the University of Mississippi campus seats more than 60,000 football fans, and it has been an iconic feature of the Ole Miss campus since it was built in 1915. In recent years, Vaught-Hemingway has experienced several expansions and upgrades. Thanks to a $150 million campaign, the stadium is receiving hundreds of new club level seats as well as 30 luxury suites this year.
Construction scheduled for 2016 will increase the stadium's capacity by almost 5,000, and plans for the installation of a plaza and bell tower are also underway.
All-American Drive and Hill Drive, University, MS 38677, 662-236-1931
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4.Oxford City Farmers' Market, Oxford, MS
© Oxford City Farmers' Market
The Oxford City Farmers' Market, also known as the OXCM, serves the dual purpose of uniting the community and helping Oxford residents sell their produce, homemade goods, and handicrafts. The market is organized by a small group of locals and sponsored by a handful of Oxford businesses and individuals. In addition to helping market locally produced items, the OXCM hosts programs to engage and educate the Oxford populace. If you are wondering what to do in Oxford, Mississippi with kids, this is a great place to visit.
The OXCM takes place in the Community Pavilion along University Avenue every Tuesday from mid-April to late November.
Community Pavilion (Old Armory) on University Ave., 662-832-7257
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5.Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts
© Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts
This performing arts center at the University of Mississippi is named after Gertrude Ford. Ford was an avid reader and an accomplished musician, and she had the ability to speak three languages. Above all, she loved the performing arts. The 88,000-square foot center that bears her name has two main performance areas and seating for more than 1,000 people. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Oxford, watch a performance at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
Vocal performances, dance productions, and plays are held there on a regular basis. The center also hosts educational programs geared toward youth and teenagers.
100 University Avenue, 662-915-2787
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6.L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum
© L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum
The L.Q.C. Lamar House was built in the late 1860s by Lucius and Virginia Lamar. Over subsequent years the house changed hands but remained in the family. In 2004 it was purchased by the Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation for $425,000. The City of Oxford now owns the home, which contains several exhibits detailing Lucius Lamar's accomplishments as a congressman, Secretary of the Interior, and a Supreme Court Justice.
The home also has several exhibits with information about his personal life. Admission to the museum is free, and guided tours are available for large groups.
616 North 14th Street, 662-513-9957
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7.Thacker Mountain Rail-Trail, Oxford, MS
© Courtesy of Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails
At nearly 3 miles long, the Thacker Mountain Rail-Trail is a popular spot for hikers, bikers, and joggers. The majority of the trail is flat, but the main trail branches off into a series of steeper, narrower paths that mountain bikers often frequent.
Athletes from the University of Mississippi tend to use the trail for exercise, as well. Several roadways, sidewalks, and bike lanes connect the Thacker Mountain Rail-Trail to a nearby mile-long trail called the Oxford Depot.
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8.Big Bad Breakfast
© Big Bad Breakfast
Even if you have never been a breakfast person, you will probably become one after you try what Big Bad Breakfast has to offer. Located in the Mid-Town Shopping Mall, the restaurant is a bit off the beaten path, but it is well known, and it is always packed. It is an old-fashioned diner-style eatery with unassuming décor and a large counter where you can perch and watch the action in kitchen while you keep cozy and comfortable.
Nothing extravagant would fit the kind of food they serve: classic southern plates loaded with house-cured Tabasco and Brown Sugar Bacon, thick slices of toast, fluffy biscuits, Original Grit Girl grits, crispy southern fried chicken, and the list goes on. If you really cannot take this much rich food so early in the morning, just come for lunch instead. Read more
719 North Lamar, 662-236-2666
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9.Ravine, Oxford, MS
Tucked in a dense pine and oak forest not far from downtown Oxford sits a charming, rustic log chalet that hides one of the best restaurants you will ever visit. Large porches offer outdoor seating where you can listen to the birds and enjoy the smell of pine needles, while the interior is elegant and sophisticated, oozing old-world southern charm.
Food comes from the kitchen of celebrated chef Joel Miller, who uses ingredients from his own garden and local farms to create southern fare using his own interpretation. Scrumptious small plates are followed by exquisite creations such as duck breast loaded on wild rice pancakes and drenched in sweet and sour cherry sauce. Ravine is also a training ground for young chefs from the legendary Culinary Institute of America.
53 County Road 321, 662-234-4555
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10.Oxford Treehouse Gallery
© Oxford Treehouse Gallery
Aside from being a showcasing venue for the work of local artists, the Oxford Treehouse Gallery served as the home and studio of Walter and Vivian Neill until 2013. Now the Neills own a separate home on the same property, but their gallery remains open to the public. Currently, the Oxford Treehouse Gallery displays a collection of paintings, ceramic work, metal work, and jewelry.
The gallery is also used as a venue for events. The unique space is a choice site for parties, receptions, and workshops. The Neills also have an onsite apartment that can accommodate a small number of visitors.
328 Country Road 418, 662-236-1667
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11.Proud Larry's, Oxford, MS
© Proud Larry's
Proud Larry’s is an unapologetic student bar and Ole Miss students’ and professors’ hangout – it is large, loud, colorful, and fun and has been around for the last 20 years. It is also a place where Oxford residents go to enjoy Chef Jon Myrick’s delicious comfort food and listen to some great music – there is always something going on at Proud Larry’s.
Musicians come to introduce their new albums at Proud Larry’s on Fridays and often on other days as well. Their large bar serves great beers on tap and just about anything else you could want.
211 S Lamar Blvd, 662-236-0050
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12.Ya Ya's Frozen Yoghurt
© Ya Ya's Frozen Yoghurt
You know that yoghurt is good for you, and at Ya Ya’s they want to show you that what is good for you does not have to be boring. The tiny shop with only a few chairs under the counter overlooking the street has no less than 50 flavors of yoghurt, and there is a special every day. The system is simple: you choose the cup size, the yoghurt flavor, and one or more toppings and sauces.
Any combination is allowed and you can really treat yourself with yoghurt loaded with fruits, nuts, cheesecake bits, Oreo bits, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and so much more. Don’t overdo it or you will lose bragging rights to eating a healthy snack.
100 Courthouse Square, 662-234-0038
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13.College Hill Presbyterian Church
© College Hill Presbyterian Church
This historic Presbyterian chapel is located a short distance from the University of Mississippi. Built in 1844, it is the oldest church building in the Oxford area and the oldest Presbyterian church in North Mississippi. College Hill is also the site of author William Faulkner's marriage, as well as a Civil War-era encampment site for Union troops.
The church's cemetery is the final resting place for Union soldiers, Confederate troops, and slaves. Visitors can worship in the chapel with the local congregation or simply visit the grounds to enjoy College Hill's tranquil setting.
339 Country Road 102, 662-234-5020
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14.Honey Bee Bakery, Oxford, MS
© Honey Bee Bakery
Honey Bee Bakery is tiny, bright, and cheerful and has walls covered with local artists’ works for sale. Their other décor consists of a glass display full of absolutely sinful pastries that look like little colorful edible jewels. They bake different bread daily and that fabulous bread is what they use to make fantastic sandwiches.
You can have a very nice, healthy lunch at Honey Bee with fresh-made soup, salad, and a sandwich, but then you will look at all the pastries and your decision to eat a healthy lunch will evaporate. You can load your plate with tempting delights such as Mississippi Mud pie or Fresh Peach Tarts, petit fours, drop cookies, quiches, and brownies. They also make very popular birthday and wedding cakes.
2305 W. Jackson Ave. Suite 202, 662-236-2490
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© Courtesy of oxfordms.net
Lamar Park is an outdoor arboretum located in Oxford, Mississippi. Visitors come to walk along the park's trails, to spend time relaxing near the lake, or to view the built-in gardens. Due to its fragile environment, the park's management discourages people from hosting parties or holding large meetings without receiving approval first.
As an additional measure to protect Lamar Park's recently planted flora, visitors are prohibited from bringing equipment such as tables, chairs, or grills into the park. People can visit the park with pets as long as they are on a leash.
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15 Best Things to Do in Oxford, MS
- The University of Mississippi Museum, Photo: The University of Mississippi Museum
- Rowan Oak, Photo: Rowan Oak
- Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Photo: Courtesy of paulvelgos - Fotolia.com
- Oxford City Farmers' Market, Oxford, MS, Photo: Oxford City Farmers' Market
- Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Photo: Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts
- L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum, Photo: L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum
- Thacker Mountain Rail-Trail, Oxford, MS, Photo: Courtesy of Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails
- Big Bad Breakfast, Photo: Big Bad Breakfast
- Ravine, Oxford, MS, Photo: Ravine
- Oxford Treehouse Gallery, Photo: Oxford Treehouse Gallery
- Proud Larry's, Oxford, MS, Photo: Proud Larry's
- Ya Ya's Frozen Yoghurt, Photo: Ya Ya's Frozen Yoghurt
- College Hill Presbyterian Church, Photo: College Hill Presbyterian Church
- Honey Bee Bakery, Oxford, MS, Photo: Honey Bee Bakery
- Lamar Park, Photo: Courtesy of oxfordms.net
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of The University of Mississippi Museum