Live music, a legit dining scene, and loads of culture are a given in Cleveland, Mississippi, but you may be seeking a more outdoorsy adventure (especially during the stunning fall season!). From a super walkable downtown to exploring amongst our area’s mesmerizing natural history, there are endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Cleveland. Read on for a few of our favorite ways to get out and about during the epic autumn weather.
1. Trace the Railroad Right Through Downtown
As one of just a few Western Mississippi communities to salvage a benefit from the abandonment of a 50-mile railroad corridor between Cleveland, Mississippi, and Hollandale in 1999, Cleveland railbanked a portion of the line right through the city, giving way to what is known today as Crosstie Walk—or the Downtown Walking Trail. The paved trail, which runs through our quaint downtown, lights up at night and is peppered with plenty to see (and plenty of benches should you want to take a quick pause). The Martin & Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum near the trail’s midpoint features exhibits on Cleveland’s extensive railroad history, as well as artifacts and one of the largest model train layouts in Mississippi—including a real caboose that the kiddos will absolutely love (be sure to have your phone ready to snap a pic!).
2. Experience the Birthplace of the Blues
The blues are alive and well in the Mississippi Delta, and the Cleveland area is home to an iconic institution of the musical genre: Dockery Farms. Often referred to as the “Birthplace of the Blues,” Dockery Farms was once a working farm known as a gathering place for famous bluesmen to unwind after a long workweek. Musical gamechangers Charley Patton, Pops Staples, and Henry Sloan lived on and around Dockery Farms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—and this was the very spot where they’d come together to sing, play, and craft some of what would ultimately become the music world’s most influential songs. Today, artists and producers like T Bone Burnett, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and Rosanne Cash serve on the Dockery Farms foundation’s council to help preserve the land and education surrounding the music, agriculture, and rich history of the Mississippi Delta. These musical mavens and mavericks also occasionally stop in to play shows at the landmark outdoor venue and living testament to the blues. Definitely make time to experience Dockery Farms on a crisp, fall afternoon. There’s truly nothing like fresh air and feeling inspired in the very place where soulful melodies and unforgettable tunes have been homespun through the years.
3. Navigate the Area’s Natural Wonders
Located just 15 miles south of Cleveland, Mississippi, you’ll find nearly 10,000 acres of pristine, protected nature at Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge. From waterfowl to migratory songbirds, marbled salamanders to the skittish majesty of deer, there’s no shortage of wildlife to marvel at on Dahomey’s lands. A whopping 35 miles of roads and walking trails provide visitors access to various habitats upon the refuge—perfect for a variety of exploration throughout the area. We’re especially fond of Dahomey’s Herbert Nature Trail, a 0.9-mile loop that meanders along the banks of Happy Hollow Lake and features an observation tower at its midpoint with panoramic views of a lovely meadow and reforestation area. Another awesome trail is the Pawpaw Trail, a half-mile, one-way path that takes visitors through a bottomland hardwood forest and culminates at a blind. Once you’ve reached the blind, you’ll have unfettered access to behold the splendor of the local wildlife and snap a few photos that your friends will have to see to believe.
4. Receive an Unparalleled Music Education
Though the Blues Trail itself spans the entire state of Mississippi, you’ll find some of the best sites right here in Cleveland (18 in total!) Discover a wealth of musical lore on Chrisman Street, the very street where the famed Harlem Inn once played host to B.B. King, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, and many more blues greats. The intersection of Gospel and the Blues, The Enlightenment of W.C. Handy, and of course, The GRAMMY® Museum of Mississippi are other can’t-miss moments on the Blues Trail. Lose yourself in the soul-stirring verses and haunting harmonies inspired by these momentous Mississippi sites—you may just walk away with a revitalized appreciation for the blues.
Now is the perfect time to experience Cleveland, Mississippi’s great outdoors. Adventure, inspiration, and culture await in this ultra-walkable small town with big vibes. For comfortable accommodations, great places to grab a bite, and more trip-planning assistance, click here.
We’re stoked to say that Cleveland, Mississippi, is open and taking your health and wellbeing seriously. We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for our visitors when you’re ready to return. Please check with us often as some of the local businesses’ hours of operation are subject to change. Welcome back (safely), y'all!