To outdoors lovers, the sound of the Mighty Mississippi River is music to the ear and river adventures, both on the Mississippi and the Sunflower, are outstanding ways to enjoy this beautiful Delta region.
Two Sunflower River paddling trails are easily accessible from downtown Clarksdale (Sunflower Landing, 3rd & Sunflower, Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614). A short round-trip from downtown Clarksdale is perfect for beginners to enjoy one to three hours on the water. A longer, 10-mile trail offers more adventure for experienced paddlers and a unique way to experience rural Coahoma County during a paddle into downtown Clarksdale. For equipment rentals, Quapaw Canoe Company has a Clarksdale location and a wealth of knowledge.
For the more adventurous, Quapaw also offers guided day and overnight trips on the Mississippi River. Dedicated to creating unique expeditions, Quapaw takes paddlers out to experience the wildness and majesty of the Lower Mississippi. Services include outfitting, guiding, cooking, shuttling and cleanup–and no paddling experience is necessary!
For on-land fun, Clarksdale’s Soldiers Field (Riverside Ave at Cypress Ave) is a lovely park that runs along the river. This park, filled with large shade trees, has an 18-hole disc golf course, paved walking and biking trail, covered pavilion, picnic tables and a children’s playground, along with canoe and kayak access to the Sunflower River.
Moon Lake is another great place to get on the water in Coahoma County. This 2,300-acre oxbow lake located about 15 miles north of Clarksdale has public access for boating and fishing. There are three public boat ramps on the Lake. Two of them, Moon Lake Park and Moon Lake Landing also have picnic areas with shelters and restrooms. These are favorite spots for birders, as well.
From the landing, many choose to set out on the 2.5-mile Hugh Jack Stubbs Recreational Trail. The trail is ADA accessible, has four Fit-Trail exercise stations and can be accessed at a total of three parking access points. For first time users, the easiest to locate is the Delma Furniss Hospitality Station near the intersection of Highways 61 & 49.
Those who love to hit the links will enjoy a day at the Coahoma Country Club (1980 Bramlett-Davenport Road, Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614). The nine-hole “Coahoma” course’s scenic fairways are lined with pine, maple and oak trees.
Back in downtown Clarksdale, a walking tour offers a great way to explore. Clarksdale’s Audio Walking Tour is filled with stories and perspectives of over a dozen locals and resident experts. It is also an ideal starting place for a tour of the Mississippi Blues Trail. Clarksdale and Coahoma County have 15 markers on the trail with many more in neighboring Delta counties. For those who are ready to get back on the road, other regional trails of note include the Mississippi Country Music Trail, Mississippi Freedom Trail, Mississippi Mound Trail and the Mississippi Writers Trail!
From the waterways to the roadways, from parks and trails to downtown streets, Clarksdale and Coahoma County have much to offer for those who want to get out and explore.
If you go
Outdoor activities will surely lead to an appetite that needs to be fed. Try these local favorites for some surprising Delta cuisine.
Near the trail: Kathryn’s on Moon Lake (5770 Moon Lake Road, Dundee, Mississippi 38626) began serving diners in 1937 and today the tradition continues with a menu of locally sourced, freshly prepared specialties.
On the road: Kenoy’s (4125 Friars Point Road, Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614) is a legendary burger joint, famous for a two-fisted burger and fried pork chop sandwich. (They also offer banner and t-shirt printing.)
Downtown Clarksdale: Hooker Grocer + Eatery (316 John Lee Hooker Lane, Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614) is a restaurant, bar and music venue serving Southern classics with a unique twist. Nightly specials are always a surprise addition to the menu.
In the heart of the Mississippi Delta sits the legendary town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Just 75 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee, Clarksdale sits where highways 61 and 49 intersect at the proverbial crossroads. Clarksdale welcomes travelers to spend some time and experience the fun and funky, the music and myths and the heroes and history that are part of life here. They will also find a mouth-watering mix of Southern food and an eclectic collection of lodging options. And the Clarksdale experience comes with a one-of-a-kind soundtrack—the sounds and stories of the Blues.
Clarksdale is about as close as you can get to the birthplace of the Blues. It’s steeped in deep Delta culture and history. And many of the region’s stories and legends have roots here. It’s home to the legendary crossroads where influential bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his fame.
This was once home to W.C. Handy, Muddy Waters, Son House, Ike Turner, Little Junior Parker and many others. Their amazing stories are still being told, and their music plays on as Clarksdale boasts live music seven nights a week. Full weekly “Sounds Around Town” calendar at VisitClarksdale.com. Whether at a downhome juke joint or a street corner stage, the Blues plays on. The world-famous Delta Blues Museum showcases the importance and influence of this uniquely African American genre. It is filled with memorabilia, photography and even the cabin from Stovall Farms where Muddy Waters lived.
There are other intriguing stories here, too. Clarksdale is the childhood home of one of America’s most-performed playwrights, Tom “Tennessee” Williams. This locale and its people became central to some of his most famous works. Today his story is told in the Tennessee Williams Rectory Museum and during an annual literary festival that bears his name.
Of course, food is a big part of the story here. There are Delta hot tamales and Southern soul food, for sure. There are also a surprising number of ethnic and specialty restaurants. Roadside barbecue joints, downtown cafes and off-the-beaten-path local favorites are all part of the food scene here. In addition to the old-school restaurants, Clarksdale also boasts a tasty array of newer offerings—from locally roasted coffee and homemade bagels to gourmet burgers and fine dining.
All this is set amid the wide-open landscapes and waterways of the Delta. So of course, there’s outdoor entertainment, too. From paddling the Sunflower River and enjoying Moon Lake, with its landing and overlook, to taking a guided excursion on the mighty Mississippi in a handmade wooden canoe, visitors can kick back, relax and experience the Delta like a local.
Clarksdale and Coahoma County are also home to a surprisingly robust collection of lodging options. From brand-name to boutique hotels, from downtown lofts to artsy apartments, from B&B’s to Mississippi’s first hostel, there really is something for everyone. The historic Riverside Hotel also offers a peek into Clarksdale’s rich musical history while nearby Delta shacks offer blues travelers a truly unique, rural experience.
Visit Clarksdale’s historic downtown, and you’ll find dozens of signs and markers highlighting the people and places that made history here. You’ll also find an eclectic downtown shopping experience. Within just a few streets, visitors will find cool clothing, local art, vintage guitars, custom harmonicas, vinyl records, Southern books, seasonal plants, Mississippi pottery and more—the perfect souvenirs from a perfect trip.
A little bit nostalgic, a little bit edgy, Clarksdale has a character like no other. With its music, history, outdoor recreation and more, this is the heart of the Delta and the soul of the Blues. It is the perfect spot to begin any visit to the amazing Mississippi Delta.
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