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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Jackson, Mississippi: ‘City With Soul’

Jackson at a Glance

Location: Central Mississippi

Access: Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport; interstates 20 and 55

Hotel rooms: 648 downtown; 4,500+ in Greater Jackson

Contact Info:

Visit Jackson


Meeting Spaces

Jackson Convention Complex

Built: 2009

Exhibit Space: 60,000 square feet

Other Meeting Spaces: 25 meeting rooms

Mississippi Fairgrounds/Trade Mart

Exhibit Space: 110,000 square feet (Trade Mart)

Other Meeting Spaces: 3 meeting rooms

Meeting Hotels

The Westin

Guest Rooms: 203 rooms

Meeting Space: 12,000 square feet

The King Edward Hotel-Hilton Garden Inn

Guest rooms: 186 rooms

Meeting Space: 7,321 square feet

Hilton Jackson

Guest rooms: 276 rooms

Meeting Space: 19,154 square feet

Who’s Meeting in Jackson

National Baptist Convention USA

Attendees: 3,000

Southern Hospitality Volleyball Tournament

Attendees: 1,350

Southeast Tourism Society

Attendees: 570

Church of God in Christ, Inc

Attendees: 500

Called the City with Soul, Jackson, Mississippi, pulses with music, history, art and an unrivaled blend of culinary flavors.

It’s in a region rich in Civil War history, a place where generations of blues and jazz musicians have recorded unforgettable sounds. It’s a place where civil rights pioneers like Medgar Evers led the way to a better America. It’s steeped in struggle and perseverance. All of this together makes Jackson a fun and fascinating place to meet.

Destination Highlights

Downtown Jackson boasts the beautiful state capitol and governor’s mansion, along with the Museum of Mississippi History, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and a host of restaurants, museums, colleges and entertainment spots.

“The Governor’s Mansion is a beautiful building with a lot of history from the civil rights movement to today, and you can tour on certain days,” said Yolanda Moore, director of communications for Visit Jackson.

Housed in the same building, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum explore the stories of courageous Mississippians like Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer. Exhibits guide visitors through decades of struggle for racial equality, displaying photographs, films and recordings that refuse to sugarcoat a painful — yet ultimately triumphant — history.

This year, Jackson commemorates the 60th anniversary of the death of Evers, who was murdered in his driveway by a white supremacist on June 12, 1963.

Home to multiple institutions of higher education, Jackson today pulses with the energy of youth. Colleges include Jackson State University, Millsaps College, Belhaven University, Tougaloo College, Mississippi College and Hinds Community College Jackson.

Distinctive Venues

Once the hub of Jackson’s Black community, Farish Street now features shops such as Marshall’s Music and Bookstore, Afrikan Art Gallery and Lavish Boutique. The street is also home to Johnny T’s Bistro and Blues, the site of the epic 1940s Crystal Palace where Sammy Davis Jr., Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong played. Guests still enjoy live performances and food.

One famous Farish Street restaurant that was a popular meeting place for civil rights activists Freedom Riders is the Big Apple Inn. It is known for its tamales and pig ear sandwiches served on a bun with homemade hot sauce, slaw and mustard.

A popular historic landmark in the Belhaven neighborhood is the Tudor Revival home of Eudora Welty, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Optimist’s Daughter.” Visitors can tour Welty’s home and garden to learn about one of the most important Southern writers of the 20th century.

“Her home is just like it was when she was alive, and there are a lot of activities and events,” said Sherri Ratliff, tourism and convention sales manager for Visit Jackson. “Her story is a Jackson story.”

The home is close to the educational and interactive exhibits in the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Other cultural and educational museums in Jackson include Mississippi’s Museum of Art, Museum of Natural Science and the International Museum of Muslim Cultures.

Major Meeting Spaces

At night, the outside of the downtown Jackson Convention Complex gleams with its crystalline glass exterior. It contains a total of 330,000 square feet of flexible space, a 382-seat theater and an outdoor patio overlooking downtown.

The complex boasts a 60,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 25,000-square-foot carpeted ballroom, 25 meeting rooms and 33,000 square feet of carpeted pre-function lobby and registration space. There are 500 parking spaces within walking distance of the complex, as well as an additional 2,000 spaces accessible nearby with shuttle transportation.

“There are two hotels, the Westin Jackson and the Hilton Garden Inn, formerly the King Edward Hotel, that are literally just steps away from the convention complex,” said Ratliff.

Another major downtown venue is the Mississippi Fairgrounds with 110,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Trade Mart and three meeting rooms. The fairgrounds covers more than 105 acres, with 63,000 square feet of column-free space that can be divided into three trade halls, connecting to a 26,000-square-foot arena.

Event planners can make use of a 2,500-square-foot commercial kitchen with a service corridor and a lobby that features two cafes as well as a reception area for smaller events.

After the Meeting

Jackson’s funky art scene is on full display just three miles from downtown at the coffee shops, bars and boutiques in the Fondren District.

When it’s time to eat, Jackson’s restaurants have it covered whether visitors are in the mood for seafood or authentic soul, Cajun, Caribbean, or Southern food.

“Jackson doesn’t have a true food identify,” said Moore. “What is consistent is good food, especially fresh Gulf seafood. We are just two-and-a-half hours from the Gulf.”

The city features great soul food like fried chicken, sweet yams and collard greens with Tabasco sauce at restaurants like Bully’s. Another restaurant, Elvie’s, serves eggs, meats, seafood and spirits from nearby Two Dog Farms, Homeplace Pastures and Jackson’s Cathead Distillery. Near Elvie’s, there is plenty to do at the shops, breweries and outdoor entertainment courtyard in Belhaven Town Center.

At one time, Jackson was the heart of the American music industry, and the Iron Horse Grill features a museum dedicated to this heritage, including antique instruments and a collection of musical memorabilia. For a true blues juke joint, F. Jones Corner on Farish Street reverberates with live music and favorite eats late at night.

Just like listening to the blues, a trip to Jackson offers a fresh perspective about the wide range of feelings, struggles, beauty, fun and the humor of life.

“Jackson, Mississippi is a city with soul because of the people, places and events that have not only shaped our city and state, but are threaded into the fabric of America,” Moore said.