Monday, May 23, 2011

The Marvelous Mississippi Staycation

When most people think of Mississippi, they think of the mighty river. And with good reason! However, one of the great unknowns about Mississippi (the state) is the plethora of cultural and recreational escapes that are at one's disposal. The delta basin, long known for its cotton production, BB King (and Lucille), and Morgan Freeman, is also home to two nationally renowned potterys. The northwest corner (Desoto County) is home to one of America's largest little league facilities, Snowden Grove in Southaven, and America's fastest growing city, Olive Branch. 

With a Staycation, you actually stay at home, enjoying your area's attractions. These coul dbe things you enjoy doing or trying out something that you may not have done before. Go ahead, try that tourist-y thing you have always thought was cheesy. You may just enjoy yourself!

I have put together several days worth of Staycation activities. There are also lists of things to do by category such as rainy day activities and beat the heat ideas.
The Day Camping Trip
COST: gas and a picnic
When I think of camping, I think of hanging out with my boys and husband and maybe even our dogs – hiking, enjoying nature, eating food cooked over a fire and roasting marshmallows. With camping comes that very dreaded sleeping arrangement – a large “car camping” tent on a chilly ground waking up to an aching back and instant coffee, that is IF you sleep at all. Surely it has to be easier. Well, sure it is, but I don't have the resources to outfit our adventure through REI at the moment. So I have come up with a much, much easier option – the DAY CAMPING trip.

Imagine the commercial of a well-known credit card ….
Gas for your car: $20
Picnic Supplies: $20
Sleeping in your own bed after a day in the woods: PRICELESS

One of our favorite places to get away was Arkabutla Lake. Hiking on some of the 24 miles multi-use trails, swimming at of three designated swimming beaches, grilling some burgers, fishing in the lakes and playing on the playground - that sounds like an awesome day to me! Please be aware that corps land allows hunting during the appropriate seasons! Other US Army Corps lakes include Sardis, Enid and Grenada. Many outdoor activities are available including hiking, horseback riding, hunting, camping, boating, swimming, and fishing. Life jackets are required for all persons swimming outside of designated swimming areas or using a small class vessel (26 foot boat of any kind!)

There are numerous opportunities for outdoor fun in the in over one million acres of public land in the state of Mississippi.

One of our favorite activities in the spring, summer and fall is to pack up a picnic and head to a park. Sometimes we choose a local park, but other times we venture out to a state park. With over 20 parks and recreation areas within the state of Mississippi, there are plenty of parks with different amenities available. Most have grills available if you prefer to cookout rather than picnic – or spend the whole day and do both! Many state parks have beaches on their lakes with designated swimming areas. There are also playgrounds available in most state parks as well as most of the community parks in your area. Due to the recent floods, please call ahead before heading out to a recreation area near the Mississippi River or the deep south coast. 

In addition to hiking, two of our favorite activities at a state or local park are geocaching and letterboxing. 
Think high tech treasure hunt. All you need is a portable (handheld) GPS and some coordinates to tell you where to look for a cleverly concealed box in the woods. Use the search tool to locate the are you are going to and seek out your treasure. My boys love treasure hunting because in addition to the logbook that you sign, there are often trinkets or “swag” to trade out of each treasure box. They love this part of geocaching which they affectionately call treasure hunting.
Letterboxing is a bit different than geocaching. This is the ultimate for Indiana Jones lovers. Letterboxes are hidden like geocaches but instead of using a GPS and coordinates, you must use written instructions or decipher a set of clues. Some are quite easy to find and others are more challenging.



Take up a New Hobby or Rekindle an Old One
Find something the whole family enjoys and make a day of it!

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Disc Golf
  • Biking (road cycling or off-road "mountain biking")
  • Wiffle Ball, Kickball, Wall Ball
  • Horse Shoes
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Ladderball
NOTE: I originally wanted to include a places where kids can eat free or cheap, but decided to make it a separate post since this one was already so long. Tune in later this week for that post!

Many thanks to The Happy Housewife for coordinating this series! Come back tomorrow for links to all the Staycation posts! I'm looking forward to seeing them as I will be utilizing them when we do go visit folks again!


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