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Exploring the bounty of the Mississippi River

The southern Mississippi River is rich in resources. On this tour, you'll sample local delicacies, find farmers' markets and enjoy craft cocktails.

Farmers Market in Fayetteville
Credit: Arkansas Parks & Tourism

From the early days of American steamboats and pioneers, the rich land that flanks the Mississippi River has helped feed the world. Over thousands of years, the river’s silt deposits created a fertile soil that formed the base of the country’s most productive agricultural regions. European settlers quickly began prospering off of the land’s bounty and agriculture has now been the dominant land use for nearly 200 years.

Today the basin produces 92 percent of the nation’s agricultural exports, 78 percent of the world’s exports in feed grains and soybeans, and most of the country’s livestock and hogs. About 60 of all grain exported from the U.S. is shipped on the Mississippi River through New Orleans.

As impressive as these statistics are, they can’t begin to quantify the scope and majesty of the Mississippi River Delta. Join us on this unforgettable seven-day Mississippi adventure. We’ll take in a feast that will delight the senses as we visit beautiful wineries, picturesque farms and chefs who celebrate the river’s riches.

Day 1 – Memphis, Tennessee

We’ll start our river travels in the classic American city of Memphis. This city is known as the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock and Roll, but foodies know it’s one place where everyone eats well–very well. The day begins at a colorful farmer’s market that features 75 vendors and ends with a hearty meal of local barbeque at a restaurant that’s a Memphis institution.

Morning: Arrive in Memphis, Tennessee

Explore and photograph locally-grown foods at a farmers’ market in the historic South Main Arts District.

Afternoon: Stroll Beale Street

Evening: Meal of dry-rubbed Memphis-style ribs at the A&R Bar-B-Q. Don’t even think about ordering a side of sauce–here, dry ribs are king! Finish with a decadent slice of cake. It’s a fitting way to celebrate the end of your fist day traveling in the south.

Spend the night in Memphis.

Day 2 – Helena, Arkansas

We’ll embrace the meandering spirit of the Mississippi River and take a scenic trip through the Delta that ends in beautiful Helena.  We’ll explore the cultural and culinary traditions of rural Arkansas.

Morning: Drive to Tyronza, Arkansas (34 miles/58km, 34 minutes).

Tour the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum.

Afternoon: Drive to Cherry Valley, Arkansas (43 miles/69km, 36 minutes).

Visit Riley’s Orchard, sample peaches; visit vineyard.

Evening: Drive to Helena, Arkansas (73 miles/117km, 90 minutes).

Dine at Rosie’s Diner, a destination for soul food and home cooking. Stroll Helena’s historic streets.

Day 3 – Greenville and Vicksburg, Mississippi

We’ll head back across the river and learn about—and taste—delicious local foods.

Morning: Travel to Greenville, MS (2 hours, 103 miles/166km)

Afternoon: Visit Delta Conservation and Demonstration Center, a 38-acre (15 hectare) facility that demonstrates Delta-specific conservation practices in a working farm environment.

Evening: Travel to Vicksburg, (2 hours, 103 miles/166km)

Stroll historic Vicksburg, sample local cuisine at Culley’s BBQ, a popular local spot for smoked ribs and brisket.

Spend the night in Vicksburg.

Day 4 – Natchez, Mississippi

We’ll continue our travels south to Natchez (72 miles/116km, 82 minutes).

Morning: Take a walking tour through the heart of Natchez-you’ll encounter buildings that are more than 200 years old.

Afternoon: Enjoy tastings at the Old South Winery and the Charboneau Distillery.

Evening: Dinner at the Magnolia House. The view of the river is as delicious as the fresh seafood!

Spend the night in a Natchez hotel.

Day 5 – Natchez to Baton Rouge

Morning: Travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, (2½ hours, 170 miles/274km) and take a driving tour of plantation country.

Afternoon: Head to Red Stick Farmers Market and sample some local flavors; stroll historic Baton Rouge.

Evening: Head to Louisiana Lagniappe with an appetite—this restaurant features delicious seafood, including “fish in a paper bag.”

After dinner: Visit the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino.

Spend the night at a Baton Rouge hotel.

Day 6 – Baton Rouge to New Orleans

This road trip ends in the historic city of New Orleans.

Morning: Travel to New Orleans (81 miles/130km, 1 hour, 24 minutes).

On the way to New Orleans stop in Covington to visit an alligator farm. These toothy native residents of the region are a culinary treat in the south. People even enjoy the snack of “alligator on a stick.”

Afternoon: Drop off the bags at a Baton Rouge hotel and park the car—it’s time for a carriage ride! Get the lay of the land with a horse drawn tour of the city. Before dinner, stop by the Market Wego to take a look at the variety of shrimp and seafood that this region produces. Remember what looks good—dinner is at a seafood restaurant.

Dinner: Head to Commander’s Palace to sample some of those Gulf shrimp!

Evening: Stroll downtown and grab an after-dinner nightcap at a French Quarter bar. Take your time—many New Orleans establishments never close.

Overnight: Stay in a historic New Orleans hotel.

Day 7 – New Orleans

We’ll keep the car parked on this last day in the Delta. We’ll eat our way through this last day in the Big Easy, by taking a spin of the city on bicycle in the morning and enjoying a culinary tour in the afternoon.

Morning: Start the day with some chicory coffee and beignets, have lunch at the Napoleon House, take a bicycle tour of the French Quarter

Afternoon: Take a culinary tour of New Orleans and sample a variety of foods from the Delta.

Evening: Enjoy an excellent seafood restaurant at Broussard’s. The restaurant is a local favorite.

After dinner: Drink a hurricane at Pat O’ Brien’s.

Overnight: Stay in a traditional New Orleans hotel.

Day 8 – Depart for home

Fly home from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, full of Delta memories from Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.