Things to Do in Oxford, MS
All the best in shopping, dining, sports and culture can be found in historic Oxford and surrounding Lafayette County. Located 70 miles southeast of Memphis, the area offers a delightful abundance of tourist amenities.
A city of approximately 20,000 residents, Oxford is a vibrant university town, filled with unique shops and galleries, eclectic restaurants and clubs, historic landmarks and comfortable inns. One of the South’s crown jewels, it is home to the University of Mississippi and hosts an array of exciting Southeastern Conference athletic events, as well as enlightening and enriching performing arts programs, scholarly presentations, museums and exhibits. The area is dotted with parks and recreation centers that offer tennis, swimming, hiking, fishing, golf and other sports. One trip to Oxford, and you will quickly see why businessinsider.com named Oxford, Mississippi as one of their “50 Must-Take Trips in the U.S.”
While dedicated to maintaining its Southern charm and gentility, the area has evolved into a cultural oasis for the arts and learning. Oxford produced Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, and other nationally celebrated authors such as John Grisham, Larry Brown, Cynthia Shearer and Barry Hannah have followed Faulkner’s lead by making Oxford their home. The independent bookstore Square Books was named the 2013 Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly. Annual events such as the Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference and the Oxford Conference for the Book have made the town a destination for not only writers, but readers as well.
Awash in the colors of blooming azaleas, wisteria and dogwoods each spring, Oxford celebrates its appreciation of fine crafts, good music and delicious food by hosting the Double Decker Arts Festival on the picturesque downtown Square. Taking its name from the town’s authentic double decker bus imported from England in 1994, the festival brings together visitors and residents alike for a two-day celebration of music, food and the arts. Over 200 selected art vendors from around the region display their creative wares for the anticipated 60,000 attendees. Shoppers can browse to the rhythmic sounds of bluegrass, jazz, gospel, blues, country folk, Cajun and rock-and-roll musical groups, while sampling the variety of culinary treats from local restaurateurs.
Each fall, Oxford doubles in size for nine months of the year when University of Mississippi students enroll in classes.
Tens of thousands of fans travel to Oxford to see exciting SEC football as the Ole Miss Rebels take the field. In addition to its nationally recognized athletic program, the University of Mississippi houses the Blues Archive, the world’s largest collection of blues recordings, as well as the University Museum and Historic Houses, whose exhibits include rare Greek and Roman antiquities and 19th-century scientific instruments.
An evening’s walk around the Square presents an alluring atmosphere of couples and families strolling by lighted storefronts, with bicyclists and joggers quietly passing by. Overlooking it all is a smattering of ornately trimmed balconies, filled with the faces of young and old as they enjoy the sounds of live blues, jazz, or rock music, the scent of magnolias, or the whisper of a southerly breeze.
Dining and entertainment options abound in Oxford and Lafayette County. Looking for the one of the “Best Breakfasts Around the World?” Oxford’s got it! (April 2013, CNN/Travel and Leisure) How about One of the 101 Best Restaurants in the U.S.? Look no further! (February 2013, USA Today) From gourmet restaurants serving the finest in fresh seafood, steaks and pasta dishes, to chic and cozy cafés featuring ethnic and regional cuisine to family-style eateries combining comfort and charm, there’s a flavor and a style to appeal to every taste.
As for lodging, the Lafayette-Oxford-University community offers an array of options, ranging from the newest additions of Courtyard by Marriott, The Graduate and The Chancellor’s House to the prime University view at The Inn at Ole Miss, or the historic atmosphere of cozy bed and breakfasts like Castle Hill. Oxford has several other lodging options currently in the construction phases, set to be completed in early 2018. A full list of facilities can be obtained from the Visit Oxford office at 1013 Jackson Ave. East or on the web at www.visitoxfordms.com. Additionally, a list of rental homes for football and special weekends may be obtained at the Chamber of Commerce on Jackson Avenue West, or on the Chamber’s website www.oxfordms.com. For tourism information, contact Visit Oxford at (800) 758-9177 or www.visitoxfordms.com.