When it was founded in 1837, Oxford, Mississippi was named after the British city with hopes of earning the privilege to house the state’s university there. It worked. With the University of Mississippi, colloquially known as “Ole Miss”, located in Oxford, the city has been ranked one of the best college towns in the nation. Not only that, it has also been named by USA Today as one of The Best 100 Small Towns in America.
Oxford’s mix of small-town charm with historical sites allows visitors to explore all the city has to offer without having to do much traveling. It has a surprisingly big music scene, and has been compared to cities like Austin, Texas for this reason.
Football is king in Oxford, so play like a local and attend a game at Ole Miss. The university comes alive on Saturdays, and tailgaters can be seen setting up their tents the night before since cars aren’t allowed on the Grove, a 10-acre park in the middle of the Ole Miss campus. Unlike many college football tailgates, Ole Miss prides itself on being more refined, as most people dress up in their “Sunday’s best” and treating game day as more of a sanctioned holy day. For a pre-game, a bourbon cocktail, and hors d’oeuvres, join in on the fun and experience the tailgate area for yourself.
Every year in April the square in Oxford is closed off for the Double Decker Festival Arts and Music Festival. This annual celebration has hosted some pretty incredible musicians, both established and up-and-coming, in its past years. The festival is full of local eateries selling their best dishes and over 100 artists and shops showing their artwork to patrons.
The historical sites in Oxford are a main attraction for visitors. Tourists love to visit the Civil Rights Monument honoring James Meredith as it is a site on the State of Mississippi Freedom Trail. Tourists can also see the Oxford-Lafayette County Blues Trail Marker, a site on the Mississippi Blues Trail, as well as the Blues Archives. The Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center serves as an exhibit on African American history from slavery through Civil Rights. This is a state and local landmark, so be sure to check it out!
Holly Springs National Forest is just a 45-minute drive northeast of Oxford. Enjoy a hike on the trails, have a picnic in the forest, or fish in the lake. This beautiful, 243-square mile forest has ample space for camping, horseback riding, and even riding 4-wheelers. This is a great spot for outdoor activities and close enough to visit from Oxford in a day.
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The square in the center of Oxford is the best place to go for shopping and dining. Boure’ has some of the best po’boys in the area and Rebel Barn is a local favorite for BBQ. Antique shops and bookstores can be found in the square, too, so take a walk around the area and explore the places that make Oxford such a beloved small town.
Getting into Oxford from out of state is best done by flying into Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and driving 2 and a half hours to reach the town. There are also regional airports in Columbus and Meridian, Mississippi, but Jackson-Medgar is your best bet at a lower cost flight. While in Oxford, renting a car is not a bad idea, although the town does have a decent bus system that runs through the University of Mississippi’s campus, among other places. Having your own car might be ideal, though, as you may want to explore places not easily reached by the bus.
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