15 Good Reasons to visit Oxford, Mississippi on a Deep South Road Trip

As part of Travelista’s Deep South Road Trip series, we shine the spotlight on Oxford Mississippi, one of America’s prettiest college towns.

A Deep South Road trip is travel bucket list dream for many, especially for us Brits and Europeans with a slight fascination with the USA. But if you ever get the opportunity to make the dream a reality, how do you go about planning it? Luckily, I’ve recently published the full itinerary for my 12-18 day Deep South Road Trip, and one of the stops on this route is Oxford Mississippi. Unexpectedly, Oxford was one of my favourite stops on our Deep South road trip, so I wanted to dedicate a full article to share a little more about this creative and charming Mississippi college town. Here are 15 Good Reasons to visit Oxford Mississippi. 

This article has been written in partnership with Visit Mississippi and Visit Oxford MS. Images marked with a photo credit are owned by Visit Oxford MS. All others are taken and owned by Travelista.

An Introduction to Oxford, Mississippi 

Nestled in the hills of North Mississippi, Oxford is consistently named as one of the prettiest college towns in America. With a population of around 27,000, Oxford is a unique cultural Mecca of the South which still offers lashings of small-town charm. With historical architecture backdrop by magnolia and oak trees, a bustling town square, great shops and restaurants galleries and museums, Oxford offers a dose of creative charm to your Deep South road trip. 

15 Good Reasons to Visit Oxford Mississippi

1. It’s the perfect stop as part of a wider Deep South Road Trip

Spending 2-3 days in Oxford would be the perfect amount of time, which makes it an ideal ‘stop over’ destination as part of a Deep South Road Trip or an exploration of the wider state of Mississippi. It’s close to the Mississippi / Tennessee border and its two closest major cities are Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi.

Our route involving Oxford went as follows; Jackson, MS > Oxford, MS > Tupelo, MS > Memphis, TN

2. Exploring Oxford’s Town Centre is like stepping into an American hallmark movie

Oxford is one of those quintessential American small towns you’ve seen countless times in American movie, which definitely adds to the charm of it. We visited Oxford in November when the Christmas lights were out, which made it feel like the set of a Hallmark Christmas film.

3. It’s very safe, with low crime rates

Oxford’s crime rates are super low and being a University town, it feels very safe. Oxford has great nightlife and live music, and this is enhanced even further by being able to safely stroll the streets at night. However, I’d always advise recommend staying vigilant when travelling and avoid taking valuables out at night whenever possible. 

4. It’s a haven for creatives, with a strong literary heritage

Oxford has long been known as a creative hub that attracts artists, inspiring writers, musicians and creatives of all types. Nobel-Prize-winning Author William Faulkner set up home in Oxford and you can still tour his impressive home, Rowan Oak, for just $5 per person. The house remains frozen in time with its 1920s decor and furniture and even his typewriter remains in situ. 

5. It’s been named as one of “America’s Coolest College Towns’ by Travel & Leisure

Oxford Mississippi often makes national press and the giants at Travel & Leisure declared it one of America’s Coolest College Towns. Students reign supreme in Oxford and can be seen all over town, particularly in the Scandi-style coffee shops and on laptops in the lobby of The Graduate Oxford. The Graduate is where we stayed for 2 nights during our stop in Oxford, and after speaking to the staff we learned that students are welcome to study in the lobby as a way to support the local student community. 

Photo Credit: Visit Oxford MS

6. Feel inspired in Oxford’s cute boutique shops and renowned book stores

A ‘mooch’ around Oxford’s many boutique shops is a must. Oxford was once described as ‘a small town with big style’ by Lucky Magazine, so be sure to allow some time to do this if and when you visit. We spent a morning exploring the shops during our Deep South road trip and it was one of my favourite things to do in Oxford. Don’t miss Hinton & Hinton HER for some fabulous, stylish and unique women’s wear. Neilson’s Department Store is the oldest department store in the south and Square Books is a nationally renowned bookstore. 

7. Oxford has a thriving live music scene

Oxford is entwined with an eclectic music scene and you can head out to enjoy live music on any day of the week (excluding Sundays). Often, you’ll find the best live music on or around The Square, which is the hub and heart of this bustling Mississippi town. Many artists record at the famed Sweet Tea Records, whilst Proud Larry’s and The Lyric Theatre make up some of the best venues for live music.

Photo Credit: Visit Oxford MS

8. Oxford and ‘Ole Miss’ are main locations of Sandra Bullock’s Academy Award-nominated film, The Blind Side

Oxford Mississippi and its university ‘Ole Miss’ were featured in the Academy Award-Nominated blockbuster hit The Blind Side, which is a true story about a former Ole Miss American football player and his fascinating journey into the NFL. Despite much of the film being set in Oxford, lots of the scenes were filmed in Atlanta.

9. It’s a great place to experience America’s unique Tailgate culture

Be sure to check the latest Ole Miss sporting fixtures to see if you’re in town during a game day. The Grove is a dedicated tailgating area at The University of Mississippi during football games. This unique slice of American culture involves a social get-together which usually takes place in the car park of a stadium, arena or venue before an event (usually a sporting one). People usually set up food stands, alcoholic drinks and barbecue stations from the back of their car. A must-see experience for sports enthusiasts when visiting Oxford.

10. There are amazing culinary experiences to be had, beyond the Southern comforts

Unlike much of the Deep South, Oxford’s culinary scene goes far beyond the traditional Southern comfort food.

Whilst the local dishes are a must-try (check out Ajax Diner and Big Bad Breakfast, where I tried the best American ‘biscuits’ of the whole trip), visitors to Oxford can also enjoy upscale dining, coffee shops, health cafes and international restaurants such as;

  • Lenora’s
  • YŪGŌ.
  • Saint Leo’s
  • Tarasque Cucina
  • Bouré Restaurant
  • Bouré Restaurant
  • Byrd House Cafe
  • Check out more top restaurants in Oxford.

11. You can tour the Ole Miss University Campus and visit the University Museum

If you have the time, a mini tour of the Ole Miss University Campus is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon whilst in Oxford. See where Michael Oher’s American Football Career really took off and the backdrop for many scenes in The Blindside, and where over 24,710 students come every year to study at the state’s university.

12. The Christmas lights make the town even prettier

As if Oxford wasn’t quaint or picturesque enough, the town takes it up a notch from November when the streets are adorned with Christmas lights and holiday decorations. Venture a little further out of the centre and you can admire the impressive residential displays too. 

13. There are creative festivals and events all year round

Oxford, Mississippi, hosts a variety of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, showcasing its rich literary, musical, and artistic heritage. While specific dates may vary, some recurring events include Oxford Film Festival, Double Decker Arts Festival, Proud Larry’s Music Showcase, Oxford Fiber Arts Festival and the Mississippi Song Writers Festival. Dates vary year on year so be sure to check out Visit Oxford’s event listings for the latest information on what’s on in Oxford. 

14. It’s part of the famous Blues Trail

The Mississippi Blues Trail is connected by a series of iconic blue markers across the state, that marks a significant place (or person) that helped to shape the foundations of Blues music. Often situated in the most unsuspecting places, these markers bring the history of the blues to life. You’ll find these markers around Oxford, which adds even more depth and soul to this charming town. Historians claim that The Blues started in the nearby region of the Mississippi Delta.

14. Oxford has some great boutique hotels and unique accommodation

Oxford Mississippi has a great choice of mid-range hotels and lodgings that will enhance your experience of Oxford and won’t break the bank. We recommend staying in one of Oxford’s boutique hotels and be sure to check out the historical Inn at Ole Miss which is located right on campus. We’ve started by listing The Graduate Oxford, which was Travelista’s base whilst in the town of Oxford Mississippi. The Graduate provided stylish and comfortable surroundings in the heart of Oxford and the rooftop bar felt like a real hidden gem away. 

Each hotel has a link for easy-booking.

The Graduate Oxford – 4 Star

This hotel is an Instagrammer’s dream; a stylish and vibrant hotel located near the University of Mississippi campus. The Graduate Oxford provides a unique and well-designed space with comfortable rooms, a rooftop lounge, and a convenient location near the Oxford Square.

400 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655, USA

The Inn at Ole Miss – 4 Star

Situated on the University of Mississippi campus, The Inn at Ole Miss offers comfortable accommodations with a classic Southern charm. It’s a great option for visitors attending university events or exploring the Oxford area and has been welcoming travellers since 1951.

120 Alumni Dr, Oxford, MS 38655, USA

The Oliver Hotel – 4 Star

This boutique hotel reopened in August 2023 after an extensive renovation and now offers 40 beautifully appointed rooms that offer a fresh take on Oxford and it’s heritage. The Oliver Hotel is conveniently located on the corner of S. Lamar and University Ave, just a few blocks south of The Square.

425 S. Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655, USA

Courtyard by Marriott Oxford

This Marriott property offers a contemporary and inviting atmosphere. The Courtyard by Marriott Oxford is conveniently located near the University of Mississippi and provides a range of amenities for both business and leisure travellers.

305 Jackson Ave E, Oxford, MS 38655, USA

For more inspiration and even more reasons to visit Oxford Mississippi, check out the Visit Oxford MS website.

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.

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