Mississippi embodies the heart and soul of the True South in all its rich and varied expressions. Legendary musicians hail from every corner of the state. Fabulous resorts, beautiful beaches, and championship golf courses are a part of Gulf Coast life. The delight of mouth-watering cuisine, antebellum history, exceptional hospitality and the unparalleled beauty of the True South are everywhere in Mississippi.

From blues legends Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and B.B. King to the king of rock ‘n roll, Elvis Presley, to the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers—the only place you’ll find the history, heritage, legends and folklore that surround the sounds of America’s music in Mississippi. We think you’ll find our phenomenal musical heritage is unmatched, especially when you discover our Blues and Country Music Trails and trace the history of the people behind the music that is so deeply embedded in American life.

Southern-fried catfish or chicken, succulent Gulf shrimp, homemade desserts just like grandma used to make and ice-cold sweet tea–one look at a Mississippi menu will whet anyone’s appetite to discover the authentic Mississippi. The state’s Culinary Trail is a virtual tour that highlights the stories and details about eateries, restaurants and other food-related sites in every region of the state. It highlights those singularly Southern food attractions travelers want to find, but often don’t know where to search for them. There’s no better way to taste the flavors of the True South than by getting to know Mississippi’s fresh Gulf seafood, restaurants, specialty items all mapped out along the Culinary Trail.

Intriguing Southern history is everywhere you turn. From antebellum homes tucked away in small towns to Civil War sites in Corinth, Columbus, Vicksburg, Natchez and Port Gibson to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, you’ll find history beautifully preserved throughout the entire state. 2011 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and Mississippi is home to many of the Civil War Sesquicentennial activities and events being planned from 2011 through 2015. The Civil War Preservation Trust lists 39 Mississippi sites on its Civil War Discovery Trail. The recently launched www.mscivilwar150.com is an excellent resource for up-to-the-minute details about Civil War-related activities happening around the state.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders and Freedom Summer 1961, a pivotal part of the Civil Rights Movement. African-American heritage is showcased at festivals, museums, and attractions across Mississippi including the home of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers in Jackson. The history of the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi dates back to the early 1500s. Today, the Choctaw Indian Reservation covers 35,000 acres of tribal lands in ten of Mississippi’s counties. The diversity of the state’s history and heritage is rich and rewarding no matter where you travel in Mississippi.

Southern literature was born in Mississippi. The state’s literary greats have distinguished themselves the world over with a special talent for capturing the true south and the heart of America in their works. As a creative bedrock, Mississippi has also produced artists in every genre from painting and sculpture to stage and film.

This year, Mississippi celebrates the centennial birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams. Activities around the state, particularly in Clarksdale and Columbus, will pay homage to this native son and his influence on America’s literary heritage. Annual events also recognize the genius of William Faulkner. And while you’re in Faulkner’s hometown of Oxford, stop by Rowan Oak, a beautiful greek Revival house, which was the author’s longtime residence. There, visitors can experience the world of Faulkner, including the outline for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “A Fable,” written directly on the wall of the study. Other literary legends like Richard Wright, Shelby Foote, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Eudora Welty and more contemporary authors like Willie Morris, John Grisham, Nevada Barr, Greg Iles, and Kathryn Stockett have called Mississippi home as well.

Not only has Mississippi provided a backdrop for television series like “Between the Lions” and “True Blood” or films like “O Brother Where Art Thou,” “Double Jeopardy,” “Walk the Line” and most recently “The Help,” but the state continues to produce a wealth of performers for film and stage. Talents like Morgan Freeman, Sela Ward, James Earl Jones, Jim Henson and much more hail from the most Southern state.

“The Mad Potter of Biloxi,” George Ohr was a turn-of-the-century artist of abstract pottery recognized as a genius by all who view his unusual designs. The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi celebrates the independent, innovative and creative spirit of its namesake and recently opened three new buildings to expand its collections and programs. Walter Anderson, another eccentric artist known worldwide for his unusual sculptures and paintings, also called the Mississippi Gulf Coast home. A museum dedicated to his works and legacy is located in Ocean Springs. But Ohr and Anderson are only the tip of the iceberg that represents the artistic treasures hidden across Mississippi. A stop at Mama’s Dream World Belzoni will reveal the genius of Ethel Wright Mohamed, world-renowned for her unique style of art stitchery and whose works are now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute. The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson features a comprehensive permanent collection of photographs, prints, sculptures and paintings by Mississippi artists. And galleries around the state exhibit contemporary, primitive and classical works of art by local artists. Visit a local flea market or festival any weekend and soak up even more of the unique talent that permeates the state.

Want more? Mississippi is blessed with pristine natural resources, where you can wet a hook, watch the birds, swim, and ski, and hunt whitetail deer or wild turkeys. Want to play? World-class casinos offer endless entertainment, shopping, luxurious spas and internationally acclaimed golf courses to challenge players at every level. It’s all here in the True South!