The Elvis Presley legacy thrives in the town of Tupelo. Not only is this the birthplace of “The King,” it’s home to the Elvis Presley Park and Museum. But Elvis isn’t the only king around these parts. There’s also the largest herd of bison east of the Mississippi and one of the oldest warm-water fish hatcheries in the country. Battles have been fought here — everything from the Chickasaw Indians defending their native land to brother fighting against brother in the Civil War. Tupelo is listed in the annals of the fight for civil rights and is the starting point to an epic road trip through American history on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Birthplace of The King
People travel from around the world to visit the place where it all began for the superstar known as the Tupelo Tornado. The two-room shotgun house where Elvis Presley was born is now part of a 15-acre park that includes his childhood church, a memorial chapel, a museum, a theater and an events center, along with several statues of the rock ’n’ roll icon. A story wall narrates Elvis’s life from birth to age 13, when his family moved to Memphis. Wander the Elvis Guitar Trail and explore 12 additional sites on the Elvis Driving Tour, including the Tupelo Hardware Store, where his mother, Gladys, purchased that first guitar.
One Little Fishy
The Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery is one of the oldest facilities of its kind in the country, founded in 1901. Operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this warm-water hatchery is used to spawn fish for public lakes, rivers, streams and reservoirs in Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. Fish hatched here are used to reestablish the species in their native environments and to sustain existing supplies. Hatchery-raised fish include striped bass, bluegill, paddlefish, lake sturgeon, piebald madtoms, alligator and Gulf Coast walleye. Events are held throughout the year including a veterans and children’s fish rodeo. Admission is free and tours are available upon request.
The story of rural Mississippi is told at the Oren Dunn Museum. Located in a converted dairy barn, the collection includes Mississippi fossils, relics of the Chickasaw culture, an original village with dogtrot cabins and a one-room schoolhouse. The Veterans Museum includes a Civil War document signed by President Abraham Lincoln and a soldier’s diary.
Wild in Tupelo
Kids will love the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, home to 300 exotic animals such as yaks, lemur, snakes and the largest buffalo herd east of the Mississippi River.
The First Interstate
The Natchez Trace Parkway was a “natural interstate” more than 8,000 years ago. This 444-mile course follows the “Old Natchez Trace,” a historical byway trod by Native Americans, pioneers, soldiers, slaves and future presidents, all searching for a better life. Regions traversed by the trace include swamps, lakes and rivers; forests, woods and bottomlands, along with prairies and fields. Thanks to the wide variance of ecosystems, the region is teeming with wildlife. Thirty-three animal species have been confirmed, including foxes, bobcats, feral pigs, black bear and armadillo. Just north of Tupelo, the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center sheds light on this compelling course, which is protected by the National Park Service. Learn about the reptiles, such as alligators and turtles, that inhabit the waterways, along with 25 varieties of snake.
Travel a Trail
The Heritage Trails program showcases several past residents of Tupelo. The Chickasaw Native American Trail includes renderings of a fort and village that once served as home to 2,000 Chickasaw Indians. Travel the Civil War Trail, where brother fought against brother on the Tupelo National Battlefield. In July 1864, an estimated 22,000 soldiers fought over this ground.
Civil Rights Battleground
Follow the fight for freedom along the Civil Rights Trail, where seven plaques mark historic places of change for the local black community. Visit the location where African Americans held the “The March of Discontent” in 1964.
For the Love of Elvis
Every June, Tupelo honors its native son with the Elvis Presley Festival. The event features blues, country and Southern gospel music that influenced Elvis during his childhood. Elvis look-alike performers shake, shimmy and sing as they participate in the Ultimate Elvis Artist Competition. The festival is held in Fairpark, the place where Elvis competed in his first talent show at age 10.
For More Information
Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau