The Best Things To Do In Oxford, Mississippi

This North Mississippi college town is a destination for culture, dining, and more.

Square Books in Oxford, MS
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

Life in Oxford may be in tune with the seasons and semesters of The University of Mississippi, but it is no ordinary college town. It’s a literary town, a food town, a music town, a historic town, an art town. Equally celebrated for college sports and its cultural scene, this place attracts all kinds of residents, creating a vibrant community unlike any other. Add stately old homes (including Rowan Oak, the former residence of William Faulkner), a charming town square packed with shops, galleries, and restaurants, and welcoming locals, and you’ve got a pretty ideal place to live or to visit.

This North Mississippi town’s academic roots run deep. In 1837, it incorporated and named itself after Oxford, England, with the hope that it would also be home to a great university one day. About 10 years later, The University of Mississippi opened, and in time, Oxford became the South’s quintessential college town. For 110 years, it was the state’s only comprehensive university, and it was also one of the first in the South to admit and hire women.

Today, Oxford—on campus and off—reflects the diversity and creativity of our region. Browse the shelves at Square Books, the South's beloved independent bookstore, and the heart of Oxford's literary scene. Square Books regularly attracts a wide range of celebrated authors for readings and signings. (Or tune into Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, the store’s weekly live radio show that features musicians, writers, and other artists.) Nearby, Southside Gallery has been a community hub for the visual arts since 1993. If it's music you're after, head to Proud Larry’s or the historic Lyric Theatre. 

Like many places in the South, Oxford’s dining scene continues to gain national acclaim. Pop over to St. Leo for wood-fired pizzas and sophisticated small plates, or head to Snackbar for raw oysters and a plate of Sweet Potato Chaat, one of chef Vishwesh Bhatt’s glorious international spins on Southern cooking. Head to Bar Muse for Joseph Stinchcombe’s constantly changing, refreshingly creative takes on craft cocktails. Or, for a classic Mississippi experience, head just outside of town to Taylor Grocery, which has long served some of the best fried catfish around.

Unlike most small towns, there’s more to discover in Oxford than you can fit into a single weekend. Which is a good thing, because after one visit, you’ll definitely be back.

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