Worth the Drive :: LeFleur Museum District in Jackson, MS

Worth the Drive :: LeFleur Museum District in Jackson, MS

My husband’s family lives in Memphis, so a couple of times a year, we drive up I-55, through Jackson, to visit. Several years ago, I noticed some construction happening along the side of the interstate; a few trips later, I noticed a large sign advertising the Mississippi Children’s Museum and shortly after, I noticed the development of what looked like a pretty awesome playground. I mentioned to my husband that we should stop there on one of our trips, and I mentioned it the next time we passed, and the next time, but I never seemed to remember it until we were driving past it.

Finally, this past Thanksgiving, I was determined that we were finally going to check it out. My husband and I mapped out some extra time to stop for the museum and lunch in Jackson on our way to Memphis. When my husband logged on to the website to buy advanced tickets, however, we discovered that the Children’s Museum and playground were both part of the larger LaFleur Museum District, which also includes the Mississippi Natural Science Museum, the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. It is also next to LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.

We purchased attraction passes, which allow access to all of the museums once, and do not expire, so you don’t have to use them all in one day. On our drive up to Memphis, we used our passes for the Children’s Museum and the Natural Science Museum.

The Children’s Museum was one of the best Children’s Museums I’ve been to. Because it was the holidays, they had a Polar Express Attraction in the front of the museum, but there are also tons of great regular attractions. Kids can work on a car or use a crane and they explore “underground tunnels.” There was also a two-story slide and maze that represented the GI system. Of course, this English Teacher-Mom may have gotten overly excited about the author’s forest and the giant Scrabble board. At the time, they were also working on the construction of an outdoor expansion, which we will certainly be checking out in the future.

After the Children’s Museum, we walked over to the Natural Science Museum. The two museums are connected by a cute pathway with statues and butterfly benches, and the walkway continues into the park. The Natural Science Museum was also incredible. There were interactive activities for the kids and great visuals showing current and past flora and fauna of Mississippi and its surrounding region. There is also an outdoor dinosaur walk.

Before we got back in the car, we headed over to the playground. It is a massive playground complex with several areas for different age groups, including some tall slides and a spaceship-looking climbing area. There were also zip lines and hills for rolling down. Most of the playground is shaded, which would keep the equipment from getting too hot on a summer day. Our daughters had so much fun that we had a hard time convincing them to get back in the car.

Our initial plan was to stop at the remaining museums on our drive back to New Orleans, but the weather was wet, cold, and miserable that day. Luckily, the tickets we had could be used at any time, so we figured we had plenty of time to check out the other museums.

Recently, we visited the Agriculture and Forestry Museum. The indoor portion of the museum has a number of interesting displays about Mississippi’s agriculture past, including the world’s oldest bale of cotton. My family was especially interested in the National Agricultural Aviation Museum and the massive model train display. The train display included a seek-and-find, and we really enjoyed trying to find the items on the list and discovering other easter eggs, like the Grimm Reaper, as we searched. The outdoor portion of the museum is set up as a replica of “Small Town, Mississippi” including a print shop, doctor’s office, church, schoolhouse, and a farm with livestock. There is also a blacksmith, and a local blacksmithing club actually meets and demonstrates at the Ag. Museum every third Saturday of the month, which we were fortunate enough to witness.

Before leaving on this most recent trip, we headed back to the playground to let our girls run around a bit more. We still need to check out the Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, which we hope to check out on a future trip.

The LeFleur Museum District in Jackson, MS is definitely worth the drive. Although my family split our visits to the museums up over several days, it would be very feasible to plan a day trip around the museums and the parks. Of course, you could also plan a longer trip to Jackson and add the museums to your itinerary.

Kelly Vollmer
Kelly first moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University, from which she earned a B.S. in Psychology and English and an M.A. in English. She quickly discovered New Orleans was the place where she had always belonged, and her high school sweetheart, Jeff, soon followed her here. They have now been married for 16 years and have two beautiful girls, Emma Jane (11) and Hannah (6), and 4 year-old pup named Ember. Kelly is a lover of all things nerdy, a proud fangirl, and she is a passionate high school English teacher.

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