Explore Meridian through a child’s eyes with these four fun-filled destinations: the Mississippi Children’s Museum, the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum, the Dentzel Carousel, and the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience. Don’t worry; adults will enjoy them, too.
Meridian is easy to visit. Its founders believed that “meridian” meant “junction,” and the city does sit at the junction of Interstates 20 and 59. Amtrak’s Crescent Train stops in Meridian on its journey from New York City to New Orleans and back. Look for festivals near Union Station.
Ride the Dentzel Carousel
Who can resist the delights of a carousel ride? Mount a horse, a lion, a tiger, or a giraffe and whirl away to the carillon music. Meridian’s Dentzel Carousel is the only two-row stationery Dentzel model still extant. Yes, that means that the animals’ paws or hooves remain grounded, but this carousel is fast. You don’t need the additional motion. You’ll grin with delight the whole time you’re on board. As you spin, enjoy the paintings around the carousel. Most of them are original. The carousel house is the only one built from Dentzel blueprints.
After you ride the carousel, get wet in Highland Park’s splash pad and swimming pool.
Carousel horses are scattered around Downtown Meridian. They raise funds for Hope Village for Children. The Around Town Carousel Abound horses offer the perfect selfie station.
Enter a World of Pure Imagination
From the tightest of inner spaces to the great outdoors, play, learn, and imagine at the Mississippi Children’s Museum of Meridian. A gigantic brain dominates the view at the entrance. Climb through the brain on the Brainiac Climber to explore how it controls everything its human does. Learn how your daily choices affect your brain. Wind down to sleep in the Goodnight Moon exhibit, based on the classic children’s book.
Release your imagination in My Storybook Factory. Perform in Our Lady’s Playhouse, or join the stage and sound crew. Read and reenact a book in the library, a tribute to the classic story The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Watch for the flying books!
Explore the outdoors in My Fantastical Garden. Crawl through tunnels, play in the water, and build a sand castle.
Appreciate Steam Power at the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum
The Soulé Steam Feed Works is the only remaining steam engine factory in the United States. Listening to the delightful belt-driven machinery sounds, smelling the machine oil, and watching the gears turn delights the senses. The Soulé company didn’t update its plant unless it was necessary, so much of it still remains as it was in the 1900s. However, more is on display beyond the Soulé engines. Printing presses, a broom-making machine, a sock-knitting machine, and others show how products were made before the electronic age.
Interact with machines and makers during the museum’s events, including the Maker Faire Meridian and the Soulé Live Steam Festival. At Christmastime, the museum produces snow. Ride the miniature train.
Spark Creativity to the Max
Call the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience “The Max.” A constellation of Mississippi’s stars shines in the Hall of Fame rotunda. After you visit the hall of famers, head into the exhibits. They are magical, like entering a Harry Potter movie. Move a plate and a recipe appears. Words flow from paper in a typewriter onto a desk. Musicians who had never shared the same stage jam together. All at guests’ commands.
The electronic wizardry is not the only interactivity. Pick up puppets and create your own story, just like Mississippian Jim Henson did with the Muppets. Use blocks to recreate famous Mississippi paintings. Design quilt blocks with colored pencils and paper. Relax as music flows around you.
Where to Eat and Stay in Meridian, MS
You haven’t been to Meridian unless you’ve eaten at Weidman’s (pronounced WIDE-man’s). Indulge in the ultimate childhood confection, peanut butter on crackers, offered free at your table. Get your hands and face dirty while you eat the pulled pork at Squealer’s Bar-B-Que. Meridian has a place for you to stay. More than 2,000 rooms await you, under every flag imaginable.
Pack up the kids and come to Meridian!
Visit Meridian hosted my visit, but all the opinions are my own.
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Article written by Destination Expert Roxie Yonkey of Roxie on the Road
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