7 Simple Rules for Enjoying Downtown Meridian

Rule 1 for visiting historic downtown Meridian: Stay at The Threefoot Hotel.

It’s a stylish conversion of a 1920s Art Deco skyscraper into a boutique hotel right in the heart of the city, with amazing views from the rooftop bar.

Even if you can’t stay at the hotel, you can still make it your base for exploring. Just park in the free garage next door.

Rule 2: Wear walking shoes.

Within a five-block radius of The Threefoot, you’ll find more than a weekend’s worth of live entertainment, great dining experiences, and one-of-a-kind museums – plus shopping for everything from fashions and made-in Mississippi crafts to premium cigars and rare coins.

So stroll the streets. Poke around. Surprise yourself.

Rule 3: Time your visit so you can see a concert, play, or other touring show in the gorgeous
restored Victorian theater at the MSU Riley Center.

The Riley Center’s opening in 2006 sparked a downtown renaissance that’s still going strong. Three blocks away stands another historic theater, an ornate 1920s movie palace
called the Temple Theatre for the Performing Arts. It presents musical and dance performances and other live entertainments as well as occasional films.

Meridian’s many festivals also offer great entertainment experiences. At the Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival in May, choose from a week of shows by local, regional, and national
blues, rock, country, and gospel artists. The Full Moon on Fifth and Third Thursday concert series bring musical parties to downtown streets spring through fall.

The city boasts that its live music scene is the state’s oldest (a credible claim, according to local historians). Youll hear melodies floating from restaurants and other venues
downtown in the evenings. Local performers even provide a musical backdrop for the monthly spring-through-fall Earth’s Bounty farmers markets.

Rule 4: Take yourself to The MAX.

More formally, it’s the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience. From the MSU Riley Center, it’s easy to find. Literally. Bronze stars in the sidewalk, each commemorating a Mississippi legend, make up a Walk of Fame that leads to The MAX.

Once you arrive, you’re in for an immersive experience that introduces you to Mississippi’s great artists and entertainers in surprisingly intimate ways. You spend time in their company, bask in the warmth of their creative fire, maybe even feel a spark of inspiration kindle within yourself.

The MAX is one of six downtown museums. The others are:
The Meridian Museum of Art, which shows works by regional artists in a historic building.
• Three interesting historical museums near the edges of downtown – the Jimmie Rodgers Museum, the Soulé Steam Museum, and the Meridian Railroad Museum.
The Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian, a longish walk or a short drive but an absolute must if you’ve brought young kids.

Rule 5: Treat yourself.

Downtown Meridian’s food scene consists basically of Mississippi’s oldest restaurant (Weidmann’s) and several relatively new establishments that have both benefited from and enhanced the area’s reawakening during the past couple of decades. You’ll find special-occasion dining that you can dress up for, or not, plus comfort food, pub food, and Thai, Italian, and Caribbean cuisine. Craft beers are a particular strength, especially at Brickhaus Brewtique and Meridian’s first brewpub, Threefoot Brewing.

The amount and variety of good shopping may surprise you. More than a dozen independently owned specialty shops lead the way. Outfit yourself for everything from a formal ball to an outdoor adventure. Browse home goods made by Mississippi artisans. Check out the latest in guitar technology. Find gifts for everyone in your life – adults and kids.

You’re only a few blocks from The Threefoot, so you can easily haul your hauls back to your room (or your car in that parking garage).

Rule 6: Look around.

The downtown streetscape amounts to a museum of architecture styles from the last part of 19th century and all of the 20th. Meridian preserved much of its bricks-and-mortar heritage even during periods when it was considered embarrassingly old-fashioned. In the 1960s, sleek metal siding hid the exuberant rows of arched windows on what is now the MSU Riley Center. Today, the building, once again revealed in all its Romanesque Revival glory, is a civic treasure.

The city thoughtfully addressed two particularly difficult periods in its history by creating a Civil War Trail and a Civil Rights Trail. The first seven civil rights markers form a tight cluster downtown, starting at 25th Avenue and Fifth Street in the African American Business District. A QR code on each marker links to a short video providing background about that location.

Rule 7: Come back soon.

New shops and restaurants open all the time. New shows come to the Riley Center and new exhibits to The MAX. And, face it, you’ll soon be craving another slice of Weidmann’s World Famous Black Bottom Pie.

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