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Enjoy time with family at the Jackson Zoo, where giraffes, otters, black bears, cougars, chimpanzees, and other wild animals thrive. Take a walk through the jungle to see the monkeys or step inside to view the reptiles. The Jackson Zoo brings you lots of animal fun while also providing education on wildlife conservation and care. You will be able to enjoy a variety of interactive programs, such as Critters and Crawlers for toddlers, Family Safari Slumber, Story Time Tuesday, and various camps, as well as carousel and train rides.
While in south Mississippi, take a visit to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. A part of the Gulf Coast Refuge Complex, this refuge is set on 19,000 acres and encourages visitors to trek through southern Mississippi’s many habitats and take educational tours.
Fishing, Hiking, & Mississippi Nature at its Finest
Established in 1940, the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge is a recreational playground set in northern Mississippi.
Approximately 35 miles southwest of Columbus, and less than 20 miles south of Mississippi State University, Noxubee sits on 48,000 acres and consists of lakes, reservoirs, and nature trails.
Nature lovers, keep your eyes peeled for incredible bird watching and wildlife viewing – Noxubee is home to 254 different bird species, and almost as many animals.
Fishing is a popular activity within the refuge, as Noxubee is home to two major lakes: the 800-acre Bluff Lake, and the 400-acre Loakfoma Lake. Hunting is also permitted, as many sportsmen frequent the refuge for deer, waterfowl, turkey, and small game hunting.
For those looking to get a little exercise, the refuge provides many foot trails for outdoor adventurers. Choose from Woodpecker Trail, Morgan Hill Overlook Trail, Scattertown Trail, and several more. Noxubee also provides incredible views of this 48,000-acre refuge, just head to Goose Overlook – the 30-foot-high observation deck granting views of wildlife and Bluff Lake.
Tours & Trails in Southern Mississippi
Established in 1975 to protect the Mississippi sandhill crane, the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic spot just north of the Mississippi coast.
Set in southern Mississippi, the refuge is just northeast of Biloxi, and northwest of coastal cities like Gautier and Moss Point.
Set on 19,000 acres, the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Gulf Coast Refuge Complex. Mississippi travelers may stop by the visitor center, sign up for crane tours, or attend annual events such as Crane Fest.
Refuge visitors are encouraged to trek through southern Mississippi’s many habitats with the Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR trail system. Start with the C.L. Dees Nature Trail – easily accessed from the visitor center – and hike your way down this 3/4-mile loop trail.
Find the Fontainebleau sector of the refuge for the Fontainebleau Nature Trail, accessible during the daylight hours, and reachable by the Davis Bayou through canoe or kayak.
Established in 1984, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is a non-profit group dedicated to education and protection of marine mammals across the globe. The institute is primarily located in Gulfport in southern Mississippi.
Institute visitors can expect a variety of education and interactive displays at the museum, including touch tanks and aquariums – maybe even dolphin interactions. The museum works with several of the state’s universities.
Visitors and residents ready to explore the coastal region of southern Mississippi have a wonderful option in Moss Point. The Pascagoula River Audubon Center encourages its visitors to learn about the rich environment of the Pascagoula River area, its inhabitants and a variety of conservation practices.
For a fun time on the water, partake in a two-hour McCoy's Swamp & River Tour. The tour provides an up close look at the old growth swamps, tidal river marshes, migratory birds, and American alligators. In total, there are 75 reptile species, 75 mammal species, and 200 bird species living in the Pascagoula River basin.
The centerpiece of Tupelo Buffalo Park, the Tupelo Buffalo Park Zoo is located in Tupelo, in northeastern Mississippi. The 175-acre zoo is the largest in Mississippi, and is home to more than 450 animals, across over 125 species – with everything from zebras, lions, and ostriches to, of course, buffalo.
Get an insider's look at the facility by embarking on a guided tour or visit in October to be a part of the annual, monthlong Pumpkin Patch event, which draws big crowds with hay rides, a corn maze, and more. A variety of other special events fill the calendar throughout the year – check the schedule to see what adventures await.