The past two days, I’ve written travel tales about my hometown, Jackson, Mississippi, a place I love (like a family member) and a place most people have probably not considered traveling to. I wrote about food, and I wrote about, well, food, because those are some of the best things about Jackson.

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A frog statue outside the Mississippi Craft Center

Today, as promised, I’m moving on to inedibles: a few Jackson attractions. Tomorrow, I’ll continue with some unattractive things about Jackson because–those are so serious, and they really deserve their own entry. But that’s tomorrow–so today I’ll write about the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum and the Mississippi Craft Center. (In case you’ve forgotten, we’re in Mississippi.)

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (or as we actually call it, there being no other in the orbit of most Jacksonians, the Natural Science Museum) holds fond memories for me. It was one of the four rotating field trip destinations throughout elementary school, although it was in a much smaller and less grand building back then. I visited again a few years ago and still enjoyed the experience, and although it doesn’t compare in any way whatsoever with, say the Field Museum in Chicago (my favorite museum ever–Sue the T-Rex is there!), it’s still a neat museum. And admission is only $6 for adults–Mississippi is definitely a high-value destination, as long as you’re not flying into the Jackson airport!

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The giant white catfish at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science; unfortunately, most of my photos from my last visit seem to include a now ex-boyfriend.

One famous attraction is this gigantic white catfish; he (she?) weighs in at about 50 pounds. There is also a two-headed snake, some nice fossils and nature trails out back. Naturally, the museum also includes lots of stuffed wildlife, which I have been told was all found dead/died of natural causes, not shot just for the display. I am 100 percent sure that some of them were there when I was trailing through the old museum building behind classmates some 20+ years ago, but hey–that’s preservation for you!

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A stuffed bear I first encountered during a childhood field trip, still keeping it real at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

Find admission details for the Natural Science Museum here.

The nearby Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum ($5/adult)–or the Ag Museum, as locals call it–was also on the field trip rotation and was actually the favorite destination of myself and most other students. This is primarily because of the Small Town Mississippi exhibit, which features buildings from around Mississippi that have been arranged around a “Main Street” and set up to look like they might have in the 1920s: schoolhouse, gas station, doctor’s office, veterinarian and–the prize for us young’uns back in the day–a general store that sells lots and lots of old-fashioned candy (and other things).

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The church at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum where Mr. Kim and I are getting married.

The Ag Museum is special now for another reason: It’s where Mr. Kim and I will get married later this month. The Small Town Mississippi exhibit also includes an old church, which is rented out for weddings.

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Apparently most of my photos from the Ag Museum also feature the ex, but here’s me (with no feet) trying to look hardscrabble outside a pioneer house in the Small Town Mississippi exhibit a few years ago.

In addition to the Small Town Mississippi exhibit, the main museum building includes displays of old farm equipment, quilts, cropdusting airplanes, historical exhibits and a very extensive interactive train track, one of the newer additions. Various festivals also take place on the grounds; for example, Celtic Fest Mississippi is held there each fall. All in all, I think you could say that the Ag Museum remains my favorite; find admission details here.

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Bottle tree at the Mississippi Craft Center

Finally, there’s the Mississippi Craft Center (no admission fee). If you want to buy a Mississippi-made product (or a ceramic cross), this is the place for you. Out front are statues, many made from what some would describe as “junk,” including a couple of bottle trees, a Mississippi garden classic.

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Leatherwork at the Mississippi Craft Center

The main room is full of wares made by members of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (note: also open to women, unlike, apparently, the highest offices of our state). I always enjoy going here because I love seeing the creativity of individuals on display and, while art is great, I’m really more of a crafter at heart. My favorite items are probably the woven baskets and the gourds, but they really have all kinds of things, many useful, beautiful or both, and some a little tacky.

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Gourd containers at the Mississippi Craft Center

So! Now you know some places to go in Jackson, Mississippi, where you aren’t forced to eat delicious food or drink alcohol. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about things you can see in the Jackson area that showcase the nastier side of Mississippi and her history.

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2 thoughts on “Jackson, Mississippi: a hometown travelogue (part 3)

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