15 Best Things to Do in Meridian, MS

Meridian, MS
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Meridian, the seat of Lauderdale County, lived up to its reputation as” The Queen City” in Mississippi because of its vibrant community, rich history, and growing economy.

However, there’s more to Meridian than meets the eye.

It’s an upcoming tourist destination in Mississippi that is passionate about music.

It’s where famous musical artists like Jimmie Rodgers, the famous country singer and Music Hall of Famer, Elsie McWilliams, Moe Bandy, and David Eli Ruffin, were born.

Their passion and excellence in music have inspired generations to follow in their footsteps.

Meridian celebrates its love for music every year through the Jimmie Rodgers Festival, the country’s oldest music festival.

Aside from music, the city also has a rich but tragic history that you can uncover in its historical landmarks and museums.

Furthermore, Meridian has a wide array of restaurants that serve scrumptious food.

Meridian has 36,000 plus inhabitants, making it the seventh most extensive city in Mississippi.

You can reach this city west through Interstate 20-E if you’re coming from Jackson.

If you plan to visit this growing city in Mississippi, here are the 15 best things to do in Meridian that will surely create great travel memories:

Watch Exciting Concerts at the Riley Center

View of Riley Center
Katyrw, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Riley Center, which locals known as the Grand Opera House, is where most musical performances, concerts, and huge events in Meridian happen.

Thanks to the efforts of both the Riley Foundation and the Mississippi State University, the old Riley Center went under renovation to restore its old beauty.

The Riley Center, built way back in 1889, has 950 seats, and it’s highlighted with its High Victorian opulence interior design.

View of Riley Center
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite its classical look, the Riley Center boasts modern audio and lighting technology, making it an excellent theater and events center.

To visit this iconic theater in Meridian, it is at 2200 5th St, Meridian, MS.

The Riley Center opens from 9 am until 5 pm.

Discover History at the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Center

Outside View of Mississippi Industrial Heritage Center
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re interested in Meridian’s history, visit the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Center, where you’ll come up close with an old-school steam engine factory.

In the early 1900s, Meridian thrived on the machine industry, wherein numerous factories, including iron foundries and assembly facilities, used to operate in the city.

Today, only a few of those old factories are well-preserved, and one of them now serves as the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Center.

Outside View of Mississippi Industrial Heritage Center
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Heritage Center houses one of the three remaining steam engines in the United States.

The steam engine factory at the Heritage Center powers up sawmills, cotton gins, cotton presses, and other machinery in Meridian.

To visit this historical tourist spot, head to 1808 4th St, Meridian, MS.

Mississippi Industrial Heritage Center is open every Thursday to Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm.

Treat Yourself at the Amore Italian Restorante

One thing’s for sure about Amore Italian Restorante: the owners deserve a pat at the back for their huge gamble when they opened the restaurant in the middle of the pandemic in 2020.

Despite the risk, they endured the hardships of the pandemic and overcame all the challenges as things started to go back to normal.

Today, Amore Italian Restorante has been recommended by both locals and visitors for their delicious Italian cuisine, especially their mussels and flavorful lasagna.

This Meridian restaurant also has an excellent selection of wines to pair with their delicious food.

To dine at the Amore Italian Restorante, they’re located at 1600 24th Ave, and it’s open from 11 am until 9 pm and closed every Monday.

Fall in Love with Country Music at the Jimmie Rodgers Museum

View of  Jimmie Rodgers Museum
Dudemanfellabra at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jimmie Rodgers Museum is one of Meridian’s most famous tourist attractions in Meridian.

It’s where you’ll find most of Rodgers’ memorabilia that describes his amazing story and legacy, including his famous guitar “Singing Brakeman.”

Even if you’re not really into music, this place is a must-see place in Meridian because of the beautiful building where it’s situated.

The entire structure combines the design of Rodgers’ house in New York and the home he grew up in Meridian.

The Jimmie Rodgers Foundation is one group that maintains this magnificent museum and organizes different events yearly.

The Jimmie Rodgers Museum is at 1200 22nd Ave, Meridian, MS, and it’s open only from Friday to Saturday from 11 am until 4 pm.

Follow the Tragic History of the Meridian Civil War Trail

Every Valentine’s Day, the locals of Meridians commemorate the tragic events of February 14, 1864, during the American Civil War.

The Union forces headed by General William T. Sherman entered the defenseless Meridian town and destroyed everything they saw in their path.

It includes homes, buildings, railroads, and confiscated the locals’ valuables.

The Union forces left the city utterly destroyed and reported that Meridian was already wiped out of the map.

However, the city stood back on its feet and rebuilt from scratch amidst the destruction.

The destroyed railroads were repaired within a month and now serve as the Meridian Civil War Trail.

Today, you can visit the old railroad remnants that now serve as the historic trail.

Shop at the Bonita Lakes Mall

Front View of Bonita Lakes Mall
CapCase, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bonita Lakes Mall is probably the most popular shopping center in Meridian.

The CBL & Associates Properties-owned mall has been serving locals and tourists in Meridian since 1997.

Today, you can enjoy additional features in the mall along with more than a hundred shops.

If shopping is listed on your itinerary, they have various shops featuring mainstream clothes, accessories, and cosmetics brands.

View of a Parking Lot at Bonita Lakes Mall
Dudemanfellabra, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plus, they have a supermarket and department store.

You’ll also find a Tesla supercharger there if you’re driving a Tesla car to Meridian.

Furthermore, Bonita Lakes Mall has a diverse restaurant option that guarantees to treat your tastebuds with great food.

Bonita Lakes Mall is nestled at 1210 Bonita Lakes Dr, Meridian, MS, and its open from 10 am to 7 pm daily.

Bring Your Kids to the Mississippi Children’s Museum

Kids will surely grow bored when you’re only visiting museums in Meridian that only grownups appreciate.

Fortunately, Meridian is also home to the Mississippi Children’s Museum, where you can let your kids experience a fun-filled tour.

The museum has numerous exciting exhibits.

They have exhibits for science, arts, math, technology, and culture that are highly interactive.

Aside from fun, your kids will surely learn many educational kinds of stuff.

The Mississippi Children’s Museum is the state’s most comprehensive non-profit early learning institution.

It has already received numerous awards for its contribution to the well-being of families and children.

To have a fun-filled time with your kids in Meridian, visit this awesome museum at 403 22nd Ave.

The Mississippi Children’s Museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm and is closed every Monday.

View of Dentzel Carousel
Rebecca Kyzar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This old but fully-functional carousel in Meridian has witnessed how the city has grown over the years.

Today, the Dentzel Carousel at 1802 Carousel Dr continues to make childhood memories extra special with its beautiful wood-carved animals that kids and even kids at heart love.

The carousel still uses vintage music while spinning, making it a nostalgic and fun-filled experience that you shouldn’t miss.

The Dentzel Carousel is open every weekend from 1 to 5 pm.

View of Dentzel Carousel
Rebecca Kyzar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Munch on Delicious Barbeque at Squealer’s Bar-B-Que

One of Meridian’s favorite barbeque joints, Squealers, has been running since 1998.

They’re widely known for their juicy, tender, and flavorful hickory-smoked barbeque, such as brisket, pulled pork, sausages, and ribs.

They also have delectable sides to pair with their barbeque while their sauce adds more flavor and kick.

To try Squeal Barbecue’s irresistible hickory-smoked barbeque, they are at 4950 Great River Dr, Meridian, MS, and they serve daily from 10:30 am until 9:00 pm.

Roam Around the Mississippi’s Arts + Entertainment Experience or MAX

View of Mississippi’s Arts + Entertainment Experience or MAX
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

MAX is a museum solely dedicated to music and arts.

You will come across different arts from performing, cultural, written, culinary, visual, and musical arts.

Visit MAX’s Hall of Fame, a two-story exhibit in the museum.

You’ll find memorabilia from Mississippi’s brightest stars like Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, William Faulkner, John Grisham, and Sela Ward of Meridian.

The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience or MAX is at 2155 Front St, Meridian.

The museum opens its doors from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm daily.

Dine at Weidmann’s Restaurant

The secret to Weidmann’s Restaurant’s longevity in business was very simple: they only serve delicious food.

The Weidmann’s Restaurant is already a culinary icon in Meridian and has been operating way back to 1870.

They are very popular for their signature peanut butter crock, which they serve as appetizers at each table in the restaurant.

They serve mainly Cajun and New-Orleans style dishes and barbeques.

Weidmann’s Restaurant is located at 210 22nd Ave, and they’re open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.

Celebrate Local Music at the Meridian Underground Music Exchange

Front View of Meridian Underground Music Exchange
Nicolas Henderson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Meridian Underground Music Exchange is a testament to the locals’ love for music.

Located in downtown 2220 8th St, the company is Meridian’s premier music shop.

They specialize in selling new and used vinyl, CDs, and musical instruments.

Today, the company earned a lot of success and is highly recognized by the independent music scene.

Visiting this shop lets you further understand that Meridian’s passion for music is way beyond Jimmie Rodgers and country music.

They’re also very fond of other genres through their vast display of CDs and vinyl from various artists.

The Meridian Underground Music Exchange is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm but is closed on Sundays.

Spot Some Rare Coins at the United States Rare Coin & Currency

Strolling along the streets of Meridian, you’ll come across a small shop that’s dedicated to collecting super rare coins.

The shop, United States Rare Coin & Currency, is where you’ll find a vast collection of rare coins from different parts of the country.

Visiting this shop guarantees you a unique experience with your Meridian travel adventure.

The United States Rare Coin & Currency is at 2115 5th St, Meridian, MS, and they’re open during weekdays from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Stroll on the Historic Rose Hill Cemetery

If you want to dive deeper into Meridian’s history, you should head to Rose Hill Cemetery.

It’s where most of the people who shaped Meridian’s history are laid to rest.

It’s one of the oldest cemeteries in Mississippi, so there’s a lot of history to learn there.

It’s also where you’ll find graves of Civil War soldiers, famous Gypsies, along with Meridian’s pioneers and founders.

Atop the Rose Hill Cemetery is a huge burial mound wherein more than a hundred Confederate soldiers are buried.

You may visit the Rose Hill Cemetery on your own or perhaps join guided tours.

The Rose Hill Cemetery is located at 701 40th Avenue, Meridian, MS.

Enjoy Fusion Cuisines at the Harvest Grill

Front View of Harvest Grill
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Harvest Grill is well-known in Meridian for its innovative cross-country fusion cuisines.

The restaurant’s menu is inspired by its owners’ food travels across the United States while using only the freshest ingredients from local farmers.

Technically, the owners combine Hawaiian and Colorado cuisines to treat Meridians with a new food experience without leaving town.

They have a fancy dining room, a cozy bar, and a nice patio to dine at.

Harvest Grill is situated at 618 22nd Ave, Meridian.

The restaurant has irregular business hours, so it’s best to check their website for reservations.

Final Thoughts

If you want to find the best of Mississippi, it is in “The Queen City” Meridian.

This city perfectly combines music, history, and culture, giving you an unforgettable travel experience.

Surprisingly, it also boasts excellent restaurants that add more excitement and flavor to your travel experience there.

If you’re already planning about visiting Meridian, make sure to include all of the attractions listed in this post!