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Here’s a list of inexpensive or free things for the kids to do in Vicksburg



catfish row

It’s no secret that the list of activities available to families with small children in Vicksburg is somewhat dwindling. For many parents, planning a fun day with the kids often includes a trip to Jackson and the added expenses of travel, food, and the ever-increasing fees of museums and gymnasiums.

The good news is that there are ways to entertain a younger audience without excessive planning and long drives. Children enjoy simplicity; if you stop to explore the possibilities right here in the city, you’ll find plenty of ways to have fun in Vicksburg.

Ways for families of small children to have fun in Vicksburg:

  • Catfish Row and a tour of the Jessie Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum

It may come as no shock to locals that Catfish Row is at the top of this list. Aside from visiting the park, one could spend a whole day in this area without spending a dime. If needed, pack some good snacks, sandwiches, and a stroller, and enjoy the playground. During the summer, the splash pad opens, so prepare with towels and a change of clothes. Afterward, take a short walk down Levee Street to the Lower Mississippi River Museum. Admission is free, and the museum is open Monday through Saturday until 5 p.m. Children can enjoy hands-on exhibits at the museum and then tour the decks of a riverboat. This is a favorite of children between 5-9 years old. Head back outside and enjoy the walk-through display of the Mississippi River. If one feels open to an extra activity, pop into Levee Street Market, where local vendors sell many handmade and antique goods. There are plenty of toys and treats for kids to choose from if it’s in the budget. To end your trip, walk down the murals across from the park and finish the day tossing rocks by the river.

vicksburg military park

(Photo by Robert D. Hubble)

  • The Illinois Monument and the Bamboo Forest

Located in the Vicksburg Military Park, one could find two specific locations that appease a younger crowd. Walking the trail to get there is optional for families that wish to be more active. Just be sure to take plenty of water. A short drive is just as suitable. Using the Clay Street entrance, drive straight through the gate on the right side. Staying to the right the whole way, drive until you come upon the Illinois Monument. After climbing a healthy set of stone stairs, you’ll enter a building with an incredible feature: sounds even as quiet as whispers will echo and reverberate loudly. Encourage children to sing and play around with various noises as you take in the display of names engraved on the walls. When you’ve had your fill of playing with echos, you can drive or walk further along the trail until you arrive at a section of woods made entirely of bamboo. Carefully enter this area for an extraordinary vision of the sunlight reflecting off endless rows of green bamboo. A little exploration is great for adventurous children. Take it all in and leave at your leisure. There’s plenty in the park to investigate and explore.

  • A picnic and the sunset on Fort Hill

There is nothing quite like the sight of the sun setting from the high viewpoint of Fort Hill. It’s a must-see experience for locals and tourists. Make an event by packing a nice picnic with a large blanket. Intend to arrive an hour before sunset. Prepare to hike uphill and find a nice spot at the very top. While enjoying an outdoor meal and awaiting the visual feast ahead, children have plenty of space to run around and also enjoy climbing atop large cannons on display. As the sun sets, there is nothing left to do but relax with loved ones and soak in the magnificent beauty. When it grows dark, hundreds of lights will glisten behind the canal. Children and adults will be in awe of the sight.

  • A pastry at the bakery and a walk through the Coca-Cola museum

This one requires a little spending, but it certainly won’t break the bank. Children love a visit to Bohemia Cafe and Bakery on Washington Street. Plan to arrive early or before noon to get the best options in pastries and cakes. Adults can enjoy a delicious latte, and children can each hand-pick a freshly baked, reasonably priced treat. Meal options are also available if desired. Feel free to dine in or find a cozy table outdoors and relax. Then, take a short walk down the street to the Coca-Cola museum. Admission here is only 2 dollars for a fun little tour through Coca-Cola’s history. If one feels like making the occasion extra special, head next door to Lorelai Books, which has a great children’s section. Children can pick out a new book or activity to take home and enjoy as the day winds down.

Rainbow Farms

(Source: Leigh Ann Nosser)

  • A visit to see the horses at Rainbow Farms or Silver Creek

If your children are animal lovers, there are two great locations nearby worth checking out. Silver Creek and Rainbow Farms are two horse stables often open to visitors. Be sure to give either stable a call beforehand to ensure it’s a good time. Rainbow Farms is home to several therapy horses and even a small pony who loves to be pet. They are also a volunteer organization for those who want a more long-term way to engage with horses. Silver Creek is a stable in Bovina where many horses, a pig, and a friendly deer who loves to be petted are on the vast property. If you’re looking for a way to get the kids out of the house to see and pet some animals, these are free go-to options. One could always sign little ones up for riding lessons at either location.

  • Big wheelie, bring your stroller.

Big Wheelie is known for being a kid-friendly roller rink geared towards older children. Did you know that parents and babies can also participate in the fun? While older children can burn off some energy skating, parents can bring a stroller for younger children. An able adult with skating experience can strap on some roller skates and join in on the fun (responsibly) by pushing a tot in a stroller. Younger kids love being pushed by a skating adult while taking in all the sensory joys of music and colorful lights. It is recommended to go during early hours to do this when the rink is least busy. This is a great way for a whole family to have fun together.

  • A visit to the River City Rescue Mission for a free toy

Give back to the community while treating kids to a gift… For free! This is a great way to declutter and teach children the value of donating unused items. Help children gather a few toys or things around the house that are no longer needed and take them to the Rescue Mission on Washington Street to donate. After donating, take children to the lower floor of the Mission, where there are bins of children’s toys they can look through. The best part is that all toys are free. Sometimes, you can find some great gems in top condition. Children will enjoy having the opportunity to sort through whatever they find and may be pleasantly surprised to discover something that becomes one of their favorite belongings. Feel free to thrift through whatever else is in the building if you’re up for a little spending. You never know what you may find.

Tomato Place

The Tomato Place in Vicksburg

  • The Tomato Place: smoothies, fresh produce, and boiled peanuts

This is a unique and beloved indoor-outdoor lunch spot on 61 South. It’s also a place that specifically seems to enamor a younger crowd. To make a fun day of this trip, one could sit for a meal and wander around the humble market. However, other ways exist to increase the value of a drive to The Tomato Place and make the experience more special. They sell a variety of fresh, frozen smoothies and have the best boiled peanuts this side of the Mississippi River. Take youngins out for a smoothie and allow them to pick out locally sourced ingredients. Various affordable breads, bagels, vegetables, fruits, and other goods exist. There are often even plants for sale and other unique items. After allowing children to pick out a fresh ingredient, take it home and help them prepare a simple recipe using their ingredients. A homemade tomato sandwich is always a delicious option.  This is a fun way to make a simple trip into a creative, bonding activity.

  • Sports Force Park and playground

Even if your child is not enrolled in sports, Sports Force Park off of Halls Ferry is open to the public. During gaming seasons, find out what events are scheduled and take kids to view a baseball or soccer game. Enjoy concessions if desired, and be sure to stop by the playground near the entrance. The newer, well-kept playground at the Park offers many stimulating activities for children.

  • 61 Coffee and the Attic Gallery

For parents of artistically inclined children, this is an artsy outing sure to please everyone. Toddlers may not be as suitable for this one due to their curious and explorative nature, but older kids will surely have a good time. Stop by 61 Coffeehouse before noon, where Mom and Dad can grab that well-earned cup of fresh, hot coffee, and kids can grab a slice of cake or a healthy snack. Handmade puzzles and games in the coffee shop are ideal for older children and parents to do together while having their snacks. Comfortable seating is available, and there is a glorious display of artwork. While there, ask about what’s going on at The Strand Theater. After, head upstairs and feast your eyes on a wonderful variety of artworks and creations from local artists. Oftentimes, there are interesting trinkets and handmade objects that children love to have as souvenirs if it’s within the budget. If not, take in the sights and end the trip with a romp in the city park next door.

  • Box sledding down a hill

The only requirement for this fun activity is dry grass on a good hill and cardboard boxes. There are decent hills located between Catfish Row and Washington Street. There are also good hills between the Convention Center and Washington Street. Or, any hill you find around the city when the weather is dryer will do just fine. Flatten cardboard boxes and make turning them into the best sleds possible challenging. Round up your crew and take turns sledding down hills on the boxes. Experiment with which techniques make for the fastest sledding experience. Box sledding on dry grass is a must in the South, where snow is a rarity.

Animal Shelter

Momma Mia at the shelter

  • Volunteering at the animal shelter

Volunteering at the City of Vicksburg Animal Shelter is a great option if you’re looking for ways to get children more involved in the community. Children can enjoy playing with or walking puppies, giving them treats, or simply offering love to the cats and dogs. With assistance from a responsible adult, spending a half hour or more taking smaller dogs or puppies out for a walk can be a very beneficial activity for both the animals and the children.

In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to have fun on a budget outside of Vicksburg, such as Two Dollar Tuesdays at the Jackson Zoo. If you’re looking for ways to make a memorable day out of staying in the city, this list will surely provide entertainment to both children and adults.

  • What are your favorite things to do?

In the comments, please share your favorite things to do in Vicksburg, and we’ll add them to the list.


This story was edited to reflect additional information discovered after it was published. A line mentioning the YMCA and a local gym was deleted.

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