The Hidden Treasures of Mississippi: Family’s Day Out
By Daniella DiRienzo
Spring hasn’t officially sprung, but it will be here before you know it. The cooler weather that comes along with the season makes it the perfect time to get out and explore the state’s outdoor treasures. And we’ve got plenty. Even more than most realize. For example, did you know that you can traverse a canyon, visit a waterfall, and go on a safari without leaving Central Mississippi? It’s true. What’s more, it can all be done in one day, making for one incredible family day trip. Of course, visiting even just one is sure to create lifelong memories for you and the brood.
Take in Gorgeous Views
Red Bluff has got to be one of the state’s most impressive natural wonders. It’s also one of the most obscure, which is pretty surprising since it’s basically a massive hole in the ground. Fittingly dubbed the “Little Grand Canyon,” it formed as a result of millions of years of erosion from the nearby Pearl River. And unlike its more famous counterpart, Red Bluff will continue to get bigger as time goes on. Today, it’s about ½-mile wide, 1-mile long, and 150’ deep. Located right off of Highway 587 in Foxworth, MS, Red Bluff is incredibly easy to access – no hiking required. One thing to keep in mind is the canyon’s desolate locale. One visitor, Scott L., put it best, “Cool place to go, something unexpected in rural Mississippi… like a mini Grand Canyon. Definitely recommend if you have never been there, but pack some snacks or a picnic since there is nothing for miles.”
Fall for Dunn’s Falls
Loaded with natural beauty and seeped in history, Dunn’s Falls Water Park is a great place for the entire family. Spend your time at the park exploring the state’s tallest waterfall – Dunn’s Falls. The 65’ waterfall is man-made and was created by John Dunn in the 1800s. Today, beautiful views of the cascading fall are easy to come by thanks to an overlook, and for adventure-seekers, there’s a staircase that leads straight to the base of the waterfall. The park also includes an authentic 1857 gristmill, which is open for self-guided tours. Step inside, and you’ll find a variety of historic tools and memorabilia. With a picnic area, BBQ grills, and primitive camping, you could easily spend an entire day – and night – at this outdoor treasure. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Past visitors, such as Paula B., consistently rave about the park, saying things, like “Dunn’s Falls is a great place to get away for the day in the quiet countryside. You can take a long walk, visit the old mill, enjoy the water, and have a nice place to picnic. My son and I spent the day visiting the area and thoroughly enjoyed it.” Dunn’s Falls Water Park is located at 6890 Dunn’s Falls Road in Enterprise.
With tons of exotic animals and one-of-a-kind safari tours, McClain is the perfect place for some action-packed family fun. The 60-acre park is home to more than 200 animals, which includes dozens of exotic species from around the world. And according to owner Brandon McClain, these numbers will continue to grow. “We have over 40 different species in our park and petting zoo. Every week we’re getting new animals,” McClain stated. During the tour, you’ll get close-up views of many of the animals and even be able to feed a few. You’ll also learn about the animals. “It’s just very educational to hear the stories of the different animals,” McClain said. “You learn a lot in that hour.” A great place to spend an entire day, McClain also includes an old-fashioned general store, bakery, butcher shop, and several restaurants. Visit McClain at 874 Holly Bush Road in Brandon.
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.
Photo of Red Bluff By Ivan Illidge