• Honky tonk: Head over to Hal and Mal’s, not far from Parlor Market, started by brothers Hal and Malcolm White. The bar and restaurant has been bringing blues, jazz and country bands to Jackson for more than 25 years. Pictures of past acts plaster the walls, as do their signatures. The bar keeps regional beers on draft.
• A venerable survivor: Farish Street was the center of African-American life in Jackson during the Jim Crow era, but in recent decades the street has nearly emptied out. The Big Apple Inn, which opened more than 70 years ago, is one of a handful of businesses to survive the exodus. The limited menu includes smoked sausage sandwiches ($1.25) and pig ear sandwiches ($1.25). For breakfast, you can ask them to add an egg.
When he was a field officer for the NAACP, Medgar Evers had a small office above the restaurant, and he used to hold meetings inside with Freedom Riders, one of whom was the owner’s mother. Although the street, bustling then, is now mostly silent, little seems to have changed inside the restaurant. A gleaming soda vending machine nods to the present, and after you taste the homemade hot sauce, you’ll be grateful for this allowance.
• Taste of the rural: The Jackson Farmer’s Market at the Mississippi Fairgrounds will give you a taste of the rest of the largely rural state. Try the hand-churned goat’s milk ice cream and buy some Mississippi-made soap, cutting boards and cornmeal to bring home. The market is held Saturdays year-round from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with additional hours in the summer.
• Mississippi greats: Lemuria Books, a Jackson institution, has changed locations a few times in some 38 years. Don’t be fooled by its current site, in a shopping complex next to the highway. Once you step inside the cozy store, pick out a book and sink into one of the plush, timeworn couches, you’ll begin to feel Lemuria’s magic. Perhaps it’s John Evans’s love affair with books coming through.
Evans started the store because he had a hard time finding books in pre-Amazon.com Jackson. Today he’s cultivated sections on everything Southern, from cooking to gardening, literature to religion. Lemuria also has a room of rare, signed books. Beholding Faulkner’s signature on a limited-edition print is humbling. Check out the website’s events section to find out if you’ll be in town during a book signing with one of your favorite writers.
• Fondren finds: In Fondren, Jackson’s hub of creative, locally owned businesses, the more you look, the more you find. At Sneaky Beans, a good place to stop for a cup of coffee or a craft beer ($4), posters advertise concerts and events around town. Check out Morning Bell Records & Studios, inside the converted Duling Hall, once a school. Across the street, Brent’s Drugs, a throwback luncheonette, served as the setting for one of the scenes in The Help.
Next explore the shops inside the mixed-use building Fondren Corner, like Blithe and Vine, which sells designer clothing and jewelry, or Swell-O-Phonic, offering snarky Jackson-themed T-shirts ($20) and skate gear. When you’ve finished shopping, sit on the patio at Babalu, a tapas restaurant, with a Cat 5 in your hand — similar to a mojito, but with Mississippi-made Cathead Vodka instead of rum.
• At the drive-in: Walker’s Drive-In isn’t really a drive-in. The beloved restaurant, considered by many to be the best meal in Jackson, manages to make retro diner decor elegant. At lunch, patrons crowd the booths for the redfish sandwiches, sweet potato fries and salads. During dinner, the menu changes entirely, with entrees like lamb with curry-tzatziki sauce and appetizers like fried oysters with warm Brie and apple slaw.
• Going underground: Underground 119 brings together the best of Jackson, with music of all genres and a diverse crowd. The club has a $10 cover for some acts. Tom Ramsey, the chef, who left a career as an investment banker and lobbyist to follow his dream, frequently makes the rounds to make sure everyone’s having a good time.
• Sweet tea: Eating at Two Sisters’ Kitchen feels a little like coming home, and only in part because it’s inside an old house. The restaurant was named in honor of the owner Diann Irving Alford’s sisters, who still provide some of the recipes. Take a plate and fill it with a comforting Southern meal: collard greens, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, biscuits and fried okra are just some of the items that rotate on the lunchtime buffet ($12.50 on weekdays, $15 on Sundays). Sit down inside the house or out on the patio, where there’s often live music. It’s an easy way to get a helping of all things Southern, and the servers are as sweet as the tea.