Mississippi is a natural choice for outdoor fun, and the state serves it up in numerous ways, from tennis in Jackson to the rolling waters of the Mississippi River in Tunica. Attendees can chat with a yak in Tupelo, take a dolphin-watching cruise on the Gulf Coast, peep at alligators in the Delta, and go for the burn with bicycling, hiking, swimming, golfing and more all across the state.
While the capital city of Jackson has a rich selection of sporting and outdoor activities, one venue is a standout with groups, according to Jennifer Byrd, convention sales manager for Visit Jackson.
“Providence Hill Farm is a beautiful venue—it has 1,250 acres, spectacular woods, three lakes and lodging,” she said, noting that the property’s shooting club draws in groups with an outdoor range set up for sporting clays, trap skeets and 3D archery.
“We’ve arranged events there, and it’s absolutely gorgeous,” she said.
The property’s lakes are managed, so bass fishing and fly fishing are popular with guests. Also, planners can arrange shooting or archery classes, or hold a meeting on-site.
Another jewel in Jackson is LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, a 305-acre park in the heart of the city that offers nature trails, picnic areas and a nine-hole golf course with a driving range. Tennis is another top pick, with three tennis centers boasting nearly 50 courts, from clay surface courts to hard courts.
Bicycling is the hot ticket in Vicksburg, with several bike races and marathons held throughout the year. Bike riding isn’t just for special occasions, though. Locals and visitors alike can take advantage of the many rides and trails, including the national Mississippi River Trail that goes through downtown, and the challenging 18-mile tour through Vicksburg National Military Park.
In Natchez, a walk is more than exercise when groups visit the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, a 128-acre archaeological and religious site of ancient Native Americans. Visitors can walk the sacred mounds and connect with history, explore the nature trail and learn about the site at the Visitor Center’s interpretive exhibits.
The outdoors is not only a place to play for the Gulf Coast region; it’s their livelihood, culture and history as well. The Mississippi Gulf Coast has been designated as a National Heritage Area, and groups can experience its unique diversity through a variety of activities.
“The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Estuarine Education Center is a wonderful resource for both residents and visitors,” said Janice Jefferson, director of sales for Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. “The center focuses on outdoor learning, using it to develop leadership skills and teambuilding, combining classroom-based learning and outdoor recreation.”
The center’s campus features 33 acres of woodlands and wetlands, so groups can enjoy kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling and ropes courses.
Learning opportunities include courses in natural and environmental sciences as well.