Low-Budget Day Trip for Spring Break
By: Mary Ball
As a Travel Advisor, I get to talk to people all the time about where they are going and where they want to go. It’s great fun to dream of far-off destinations like Hawaii, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and the Bahamas! But we can all be travelers without a huge investment of time or money. Look around you for places with beauty and adventure, places to make memories.
Spring Break is coming soon, so here is a collection of three day trips to take you and your family outside the box for fun exploration of the region. You choose how many parts of these trips your people can do. Doing everything listed on the day trip will make for a full day! The youngest kids might only need to do one activity per day. Most of these activities appeal to a wide range of ages, and many of them are free! (Save money now with these staycations, so you can go further for a summer adventure.)
#1 Animals and Artillery
Hattiesburg is full of family fun! Don’t miss the Hattiesburg Zoo. The animals have great habitats which are very interactive with visitors. You’ll find the alligators in a bayou; the African Savannah is filled with drums and a trader’s tent; and the sloths, reptiles, giant tortoise, and emus are in a fabulously themed steam punk building! You can reserve a time to hold and feed the sloths at the zoo (for an additional fee). In addition to the animal displays, buy tickets to enjoy the train, merry go round, and the huge climbing structures – a small one for young children and a big green one for the daring members of your party!
Do you have a military or history buff on your hands? There are two museums in Hattiesburg, Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby and the African American Military History Museum. The African American Military History Museum is in downtown Hattiesburg where you can hop on a horse like the Buffalo Soldiers of the early American West, try on uniforms from various military branches, and learn about brave African American soldiers through history. Admission is free, docent tours are available for $1 per person. Call to schedule the tour.
The grounds outside of Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby feature a large collection of tanks, helicopters, planes, and field artillery. Inside the museum you will find detailed galleries filled with weapons and memorabilia dedicated to the conflicts in which Mississippi soldiers have participated. Free admission, closed Sunday and Monday. Important to note: this museum is located on an active military base, so everyone 16 and older must present a picture ID to be admitted to the base, and no personal firearms are permitted.
#2 History and Sweet Tea
Travel southwest from Jackson to jump into living history. Make your first pit stop at H. D. Gibbes and Sons in Learned. It’s a great little general store (the restaurant is open on the weekends for dinner). Call them to make sure they are open on the morning of your trip (601-885-6833). Find their page on Facebook for more information.
After you purchase snacks, head down to Rocky Springs to wade in the water of a rock bottom spring off the Natchez Trace. You’ll find it off the Trace at the Rocky Springs campground. You can then go on down the Trace to Natchez. There’s a new Hop on Hop Off bus tour with 12 stops around the city. This doesn’t include admission to the houses or the attractions en route. Another popular stop for kids is the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians— it features a museum, a reconstructed Natchez Indian House, and three ceremonial mounds. Hours are Monday – Saturday 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, Sunday 1:30 pm until 5:00 pm.
One of the most unique finds in the area is the Ruins of Windsor which you will find just up the road in Port Gibson. Here you will find great photo ops with the remarkable ruins of a plantation house.
#3 Trees, Tunes, and Treks through the Delta
Begin this day in Belzoni at the Sky Lake Boardwalk. The boardwalk was built to blend into Sky Lake’s cypress-tupelo swamp as much as possible. The boardwalk is 12 feet above the forest floor which allows visitors ample opportunities for photography and wildlife viewing. Bring your own boat for canoeing or kayaking along their paddle trail.
Then you choose your own adventure from the following options.
Winona has a new treetop family adventure area. Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures has three different types of elements, the Spider Quest has a huge net you fall in, the Treetop Quest is safe and challenging, and even young kids can enjoy climbing on their smaller structures in Kids Quest and Kiddie Quest. They have a great spot for picnics or snacks. Their Spring Break hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 2-5.
Before you go home, eat at Tracks (100 N Front Street – right by the railroad tracks, of course). The atmosphere is fun, and they have a good food including a great pork chop (huge, so it takes a long time to cook) and apple cinnamon dessert nachos (order two sets… or three).
Have fun, take pictures, make memories!
Mary Ball is a Travel Advisor living in Madison with her husband and four children, who love finding adventures. If you need help planning your family trip, feel free to give her a call at 601-201-0912 or visit www.magnoliatravelgroup.com