The Ultimate Guide to Your Tupelo Getaway
By Daniella DiRienzo
Warmer weather and some time-off from school makes spring perfect for a family adventure. Luckily, you don’t have to leave the state (or break the bank) to have fun with your brood. Making memories that will last a lifetime is as simple as travelling to Tupelo. Much more than the birthplace of Elvis Presley, the city is teeming with wonderful attractions. “Tupelo is a bit of an anomaly,” Jennie Bradford Curlee, the public relations and international sales director for the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau says. “On paper, we look like just a small town, but in reality, we have so much to offer.” And that “so much to offer” includes lots of family-friendly sites. Here are a few your clan is sure to love.
Oren Dunn City Museum
Any attraction that is educational and fun is a win-win, and that’s exactly the case with the Oren Dunn City Museum. Housed in a converted dairy barn, which was once part of the internationally known Forest Lake Farms, the museum traces the history of Tupelo from its humble beginnings to present day. Sure to capture the attention of the young and old alike, the extensive array of exhibits includes everything from a model railroad to fossils found in northeast Mississippi. According to the city’s website, visitors don’t just get to learn about Tupelo’s history, they can “re-live it through an eclectic village and its original dogtrot cabin, one-room church, and school!”
As if it couldn’t get any better, Oren Dunn City Museum is located inside Ballard Park. The perfect place for some outdoor fun (and to burn some energy), the park includes playgrounds and a lakeside walking trail. There are also picnic areas, so don’t forget to pack lunch.
Open since 2009, the fun at this museum is absolutely infectious. The Tupelo treasure is only the second educational facility of its kind and the first national full-scale replication of the original HealthWorks! in South Bend, Indiana, making a visit that much more special. Through huge interactive exhibits, games, and activities, HealthWorks! aims to educate children on how to lead healthy lives. And as far as Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center is concerned, the museum is succeeding, stating “HealthWorks! is meeting the needs of children and communities by increasing awareness and health knowledge, which changes lives!”
Special events, like Kids Night, Fun and Fit Friday, and Summer Day Camp, are held throughout the year. Check out the HealthWorks! website to learn more about upcoming events.
Buffalo Park and Zoo
The Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo has been helping people get in touch with their wild sides since opening in 2001. At one time a simple cattle ranch, the park has grown tremendously over the years. As of today, it spans 210 acres and is home to more than 260 animals, including many exotic species. And that’s no accident. “The Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo is dedicated to preserving each individual animal in our care, in both health and enrichment, and educating the public through access to species scarcely found or non-existent elsewhere in Mississippi,” said owners Dan and Sheila Franklin.
The best part is that there are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals. In addition to a petting zoo, there are guided tours that, per the park’s website, promise to get “you face to face with bison and many other animals, teach you more about the buffalo than you ever thought possible, and even let you feed them.” The tours are not only a great way to take in all that the park has to offer but are the perfect option when time or weather is a concern.
Daniella DiRienzo is a self-proclaimed southerner who graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011 and has been working as a freelance writer ever since.