10 Reasons To Visit Tupelo Now

June 17, 2014 | By | Comments (15)

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Tupelo is getting seriously cool. Yes, the city is known for being Elvis’ birthplace and mighty proud of this fact (as it should be). But on a recent trip we absolutely fell in love with this small Mississippi town, for its legends and its new energy. (Seriously, after a quick 36-hour trip, I can’t stop thinking about the lamb prosciutto and the engraved leather bracelet I purchased. The customized letters I chose? “TCB,” of course.)

Tupelo tells the story of so many Southern cities–one being transformed by its native residents, many of whom moved away, only to come back to plant roots in their hometown. It’s an easy weekend trip from cities like Birmingham, Jackson, and Nashville. Follow our lead and hit up these 10 spots. Along the way, talk with the owners of these businesses, ask them why Tupelo, and why now? You’ll find they share the same passion for their city and what it’s becoming. Trust us.

Photo: Erin Street

Shockley’s/Photo: Erin Street

1. Shockley’s — It’s the kind of mom-and-pop place you grew up going to or wish you had. Slide into a booth and behold the long, impressive list of pancakes. This writer went for the blueberry, and you won’t be disappointed if you do the same. The coffee is a-flowing, but Shockley’s is open only till 2 p.m., so get there early, and hungry. 662/842-6036, 927 Gloster Street

Photo: Erin Street

Reed’s Department Store/Photo: Erin Street

2. Reed’s Department Store — This family-run, 125-year-old Main Street anchor harkens back to a time when every Southern downtown was home to at least one department store. The clothing store boasts an impressive bow tie selection, and women’s dresses by designers like Trina Turk and Nell. There’s also a bookstore and children’s shop. Look for the photo mural in the shop with a photo of Gladys when she was pregnant with Elvis (Gladys worked in Reed’s clothing factory.) 662/842-6453, 131 W. Main Street

Photo: Erin Street

About the South/Photo: Erin Street

3.  About The South — Featuring the work of Mississippi and Southern artists and makers, this three-year old shop recently moved to Main Street. This is where a certain writer purchased a Lily Belk leather cuff engraved with TCB. We also admire the necklace pictured above. Made by Mississippi artist Amelia Massengill, it bears the rallying phrase of the city as it rebuilds after the April tornado. Thirsty? Grab a bottle of the Debutante Farmer Bloody Mary mix, made down the road in Oxford. 662/844-2689, 120 W. Main Street

Photo: Erin Street

Neon Pig/Photo: Erin Street

4. The Neon Pig — Did I mention lamb prosciutto? Part butcher shop, part restaurant, part community gathering pace, The Neon Pig has become a Tupelo institution. Chefs Mitch McCamey and Seth Copeland work with local farmers to bring the freshest meats and produce to the market and restaurant. Grab extra paper towels so you can properly eat the smashburger, made with aged filet, ribeye, New York strip and Benton’s Bacon. Leave space in your trunk for locally canned goods like spicy green tomato chow-chow and sweet ice pickles from nearby Mayhew Tomato farm. 662/269-2533, 1203 N. Gloster Street

Photo: Erin Street

Elvis’ Birthplace/Photo: Erin Street

5. Elvis’ Birthplace — Every Southerner–heck, everyone–needs to visit this spot at least once. The tour includes the two-room house in which Elvis was born on January 8, 1935, a memorial walk that documents a milestone for each of the 13 years he lived in Tupelo, and his childhood church, where visitors can get a taste of a 1940s-style Pentecostal service like the ones the Presleys attended. Plus there’s a gift shop where you can buy Elvis pajamas decorated like a jump suit. Fit for a King. 662/841-1245, 306 Elvis Presley Blvd.

Photo: Erin Street

Carron Gallery/Photo: Erin Street

6. Caron Gallery — Featuring the works of more than 40 Mississippi artists, Kimberly Caron’s gallery includes art that reflects the South, full of Southern landscapes and iconography. Folk art, painting (oil, acrylic, and mixed media), pottery, jewelry, and sculpture fill the brick-lined room. With pieces ranging from $20 to $5,000, Kimberly stocks the shop with something for everyone’s price range. The theme here: art for everyone. 662/205-0351. 128 W. Main Street

Photo: Erin Street

Tupelo Hardware/Photo: Erin Street

7. Tupelo Hardware — The folks at Tupelo Hardware are glad to tell you about the fateful day Elvis got his very first guitar. Yes, it’s still a functional hardware store, and also boasts impressive section dedicated to cast iron cooking and canning. 114 W. Main Street, (662)842-4637.

Photo: Courtesy Cafe 212

Jason and Amanda Hayden/Photo: Courtesy Cafe 212

8. Cafe 212 — Leading the charge of young natives who have returned to Tupelo to open businesses are husband-and-wife duo Amanda and Jason Hayden. (Jason may originally be from Alabama, but he’s loved Tupelo since age 12). The cafe, which opened in 2006, is known for its honey-apple-nut chicken salad and its white pimiento cheese. The only locally run coffee shop, it’s the perfect place for a caffeine pick-me-up. Save room for the chocolate peanut butter pie too. 662/844-6323, 212 W. Main Street

Photo: Erin Street

Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen/ Photo: Erin Street

9. Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen– Not yet a year old, the sister restaurant to the Neon Pig (same owners and chefs) features an open kitchen downstairs and upstairs bar. On the menu: Appalachicola oysters, game butchered at The Neon Pig, and a vegetable plate that’s almost too pretty to eat (but you will because that corn is calling your name). 662/620-6622, 124 West Main Street

Photo: Erin Street

Blue Canoe’s Stage/Photo courtesy Blue Canoe

10. Blue Canoe — No trip to Mississippi is complete without some killer music. Park yourself at the bar (more than 100 brews on tap) and you’ll instantly meet a friend. Owner Adam Morgan does the booking, and has a keen eye for acts right before they explode (see: Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr.) Hungry? Check out the duck quesadilla or chicken and waffles. 662/269-2642, 2006 N. Gloster Street


  1. john

    “Look for the photo mural in the shop with a photo of Gladys when she was pregnant with Elvis”

    Only thing is that its NOT Gladys in the photo. Yes, she worked for Reeds and was pregnant at the time the photo was taken, but its NOT Gladys. Gladys was thin at the time and a woman only 3 months pregnant isnt going to have that much weight gain even with twins. In any case, it doesnt even look like her. I imagine Reeds made the mistake of assuming Gladys was overweight all her life when she was not. I doubt Reeds will admit their mistake.

    October 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm
  2. Happy Birthday Elvis! 5 Things To Make This Your Most Elvis Filled Year | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] 3. We believe a visit to Graceland is an essential experience for every American. This new map will guide you through all of the spots where the King lived, rocked and rolled in Memphis. (And if you’re making a pilgrimage, it’s worth it to make the 108 mile drive to Tupleo, his birth place. Here are some of our favorite things to do there.) […]

    January 8, 2015 at 8:36 am
  3. Beck

    Sorry you missed out on the blueberry doughnuts, chicken and biscuits and the best homemade onion rings, just to mention a few, at Connie’s Chicken, across from the hospital. Third generation Tupelo restaurant owners, Mike and Jay Asters. A favorite stop and a must have for folks young and old when they visit family here in Tupelo. As my daughter, who now lives in Jackson puts it, I need my Connie’s fix. Stop by next time you’re in town. Tell them Beck sent you. 🙂

    September 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm
  4. Alan

    What, no mention of Romies Grocery? Chef and owner, Rob Lesley has the best food in town.

    July 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm
  5. Jack Reed, Jr.

    Reed’s is excited to be recognized as one of Tupelo’s “cool ” spots to visit. We look forward to greeting you! jack Reed, Jr.

    June 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm
  6. Joni Luis

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    June 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm
  7. Erin Shaw Street

    Thanks for the comment on Johnnie’s Drive In. We’ll make sure to visit next time we are in Tupelo!

    June 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm
  8. Corrin

    Seriously, the Neon Pig! I have been telling people about this place for 3 years. I discovered it by accident when I was really hungry and ever since that it is where I eat when I find myself in Tupelo.

    June 18, 2014 at 10:42 am
  9. Cheryl Henning

    Great article! Tupelo says “Thank ya’, Thank ya’ vera much!”

    June 18, 2014 at 7:59 am
  10. Peggy Krahn

    Yes! johnnies is a definite!

    June 18, 2014 at 7:50 am
  11. Paula

    Great story .. Big ELVIS fan!!! Adding Tupelo to my bucket list for sure

    June 18, 2014 at 7:41 am
  12. Southern Living’s 10 reasons to visit Tupelo | Mississippi News Feed

    […] Living‘s Erin Shaw Street wrote a “10 Reasons to Visit Tupelo Now,” and if we haven’t review it, we […]

    June 17, 2014 at 9:53 pm
  13. Joyce McClanahan

    Everyone leaves out Elvis’ favorite place to eat ” Johnny’s’ BarBQue ” located on East Main Street. Hmmmm so good. I’ve been going there for sixty years.

    June 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm
  14. Phyllis Guffey

    Just spent Elvis Festival #5 there. A great city that we love very much.

    June 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm
  15. Patricia Neely-Dorsey

    We welcome you to Tupelo
    With wide open arms
    Here, we Let Our Hospitality Show
    And exude southern charm
    We invite you to the Birthplace of Elvis
    And the headquarters of the Natchez Trace
    Discover the history and heritage
    In abundance, in this place;
    Learn all about Mill Village and Chief Piomingo
    SHakerag, The National Fish Hatchery and more
    Find the place where “The King” got his first guitar
    At our own Tupelo Hardware Store
    Visit the Oren Dunn Museum
    With our proud past displayed at it’s best;
    Sample a true southern delicacy
    At the annual Dudie Burger Fest.
    Explore this First TVA City
    Nestled in the Mississippi Hills;
    Those looking for fine dining and shopping,
    Can certainly get their fill.
    Take in a show at the Lyric Theater
    Or try the yearly Gumtree Run
    Tour our All -American City
    And find all kinds of fun
    See amazing cars at the Automobile Museum
    And exotic animals at the Buffalo Park
    You’ll discover that there are endless adventures
    On which any family can embark
    Let us show you the Tupelo Spirit
    Forever shining bright;
    Streaming out from Northeast Mississippi
    As a true beacon light
    2013 Patricia Neely-Dorsey.
    #Tupelo #Mississippi

    June 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm

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