For a Budget-Friendly Winter Getaway, Head to Water Valley, Mississippi
But don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to stay permanently.
Just a half-hour drive south of William Faulkner's postage stamp of soil (known as Oxford), the thumbtack-sized town of Water Valley, Mississippi, has slowly become a haven for artists, professors, and entrepreneurs who are rebuilding the historic town into the community they want to live in rather than moving to find one elsewhere. A mix of progressive spaces and established businesses line Water Valley's Main Street while new owners are restoring the collection of cottages and Victorians nearby.
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Although the town is small enough to see in a day, don't be surprised if a conversation with a local turns into looking at real estate listings the next day. The Valley's villagers have a certain way of recruiting city-weary visitors to their happy hill country hamlet.
Book the Monet room upstairs (through Airbnb) at the Humble Bee Cafe complete with a clawfoot bathtub and grab the corner window seat downstairs in the morning for coffee and a housemade pastry.
B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery: One of the Valley's pioneering businesses, B.T.C. (which stands for "be the change") is just as much an indoor farmers market as it is a community incubator. Above the cafe that functions as a town hall, co-owner Kagan Coughlin holds Base Camp Coding upstairs where high schoolers learn how to pursue in-demand tech jobs. Order "The Mayor of Main Street" sandwich with smoked turkey breast and Muenster cheese on brown rye bread with in-house cured kimchi, root beer mayo, pickled onions, sweet tea pickles, and fresh sprouts. Then, fill your basket with Two Brooks Farm rice, local produce, and jars of lard rendered in-house.
Turnage Drug Store: Pull up a stool and order a Coke float or a dollar ice cream cone at the counter of this still-standing soda fountain founded in 1905.
Crawdad Hole: While mudbugs might not be in season now, the Crawdad Hole's tamales are timeless. Share a Casey Jones plate, a1 lb. of gulf shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn on one of the red check-covered tables at this former service station.
yaloRUN Textiles: From tomato boxes full of vintage sewing patterns to pillows stitched with scenes from As I Lay Dying, artist Coulter Fussell's shop is filled with the trappings of her passion for textiles. The space also functions as a studio where Fussell can often be found basting her latest quilt pieces, many of which she displays nationally.
Bozart's Gallery: If you missed Water Valley's Art Crawl in September, you can still find many of the area artists' work at Bozart's, which displays photography, paintings, and other mediums in the middle of Main Street.
Splinter Creek: Whether you're an architecture and design geek or you're looking for newer construction in the area (assuming Water Valley has indeed charmed you), the new nearby housing development Splinter Creek features modern, futuristic takes on classic farmhouse structures. Built to blend into the forested setting, many of the homes have panoramic views of two different lakes. To schedule a tour of a model home, contact Sonia Thompson.