Things to Do in Clarksdale

The Pinetop Perkins suite at the Shack Up Inn

The Pinetop Perkins suite at the Shack Up Inn (photo by Austin Britt).

Stay at an Authentic Place

Clarksdale has many unique, authentic places to stay when you visit the birthplace of the blues and rock ‘n’ roll.  On the outskirts of Clarksdale at the historic Hopson Plantation, the Shack Up Inn (documentary film about it here), and The Shacksdale USA Motel offer a one-of-a-kind experience in real sharecropper shacks that have been updated and remodeled for comfort and convenience.  Visitors from all over the world stay and keep coming back here.

A room at the Hooker Hotel

A room at the Hooker Hotel.

In Clarksdale’s downtown Arts & Culture District, The Delta Cotton Company, The Hooker Hotel, and the Lofts at the Five and Dime feature home-style living in overnight accommodations.  These accommodations come with apartments and suites in various bedroom configurations and are decorated in authentic original Delta art by area artisans.

The Clark House

The Clark House.

The Clark House, The White House, and The Delta Bohemian Guest House are just blocks away from downtown Clarksdale, and they too feature home-style living in an overnight/weekend package.  The Clark House was once the original home of Clarksdale’s founding family.  Young Tennesse Williams was inspired by both lifestyle and character here, and all of these places are decorated authentically in Delta art and artifacts as well.

A full list of Clarksdale lodgings is in this section of the City website.

Abes BBQ, a Clarksdale tradition since 1924.

Abes BBQ, a Clarksdale tradition since 1924.

Dine on real Southern Food

The food in the most Southern place on earth is just that; real food with a lot of soul.  Abe’s BBQ, The Ranchero, and Rest Haven are age-old favorites.  The restaurant at the Ground Zero Blues Club specializes in food that won’t give you the blues, and there are many other Southern food choices as well.

More recent popular attractions are Yazoo Pass, a unique bistro and a gathering place for locals and tourists for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Levon’s Restaurant and Bar, with it’s ever-changing  New Orleans style menu.

Ramon’s is a Clarksdale tradition with an Italian flair, Hick’s Famous Hot Tamales, and The 301 Issaquena Sports Bar both have the revered Delta take on hot tamales, and bar-b-que too.

A full list of Clarksdale restaurants is in this section of the City website.

Charlie Musselwhite ofen plays in Clarksdale.

Charlie Musselwhite often plays in Clarksdale (photo by THEBLUESMOBILE).

See Live Music

Clarksdale features live music seven nights a week.  You’ll see established blues artists, today’s bluesmen, rock ‘n’ roll, and roots music in various venues across town.  The talent will range from nationally known acts, fun bar bands, to tomorrow’s up and coming stars.

The most authentic experience is at Reds Lounge, a real juke joint, and a deep blues night there is a must.  Ground Zero Blues Club attracts an international audience of authentic music lovers and some who might want to see if owner

Clarksdale favorite, "Super Chikan" regularly plays here, (photo Darrin Phegley / The Gleaner)

Clarksdale favorite, “Super Chikan” regularly plays here, (photo Darrin Phegley / The Gleaner)

Morgan Freeman might just be around.  Hambone Gallery has an active music attraction as well, and the original art combined with the live music in the gallery is a true art and cultural treat.

There is an inspired music scene on the outskirts of town at the historic Hopson Plantation as well.  The Shack Up Inn, The Shacksdale USA Motel, and the Hopson Commissary are good time places to be when the music is cooking.

An ancillary benefit of seeing music in Clarksdale, such a small town, and you can get almost anywhere in five minutes, or less.  What this means is on any given evening, you can go to every venue… to see and experience some of all of the live music in town.

A full list of the live music venues in Clarksdale is under the Activities & Music button on the City website.

The Delta Bohemian Tour is a private educational joy ride.

The Delta Bohemian Tour is a private educational joy ride (photo by Delta Bohemian).

Take a Clarksdale Tour

Yes, you can drive by to see the plantation area where Muddy Waters lived. You can go to Lyon where Son House came from, or pass by The Riverside Hotel where Rocket 88, the first rock ‘n’ roll song was born.  However, to get a real understanding and keen appreciation of the art and culture that happened here, and why, a private tour of Clarksdale is an educational must.

A few private tours are available.  Delta Bohemian has a private jeep tour, complete with music, and beverages of choice.  Local historian Robert Birdsong gives his tour out of your car, and it’s a treasure trove of three-plus decades of intensive research into all things Clarksdale.  (Just ask him about the “Crossroads,” and marvel at what you hear).

For an educational thrill ride, contact Delta Bohemian here.  Robert Birdsong may have time for a tour, and when he does, it’s a very special treat.  Contact Robert at Hopson Commissary 662.624.5756 (he may be running the bar ) or at 662.645.6061.

The Delta Blues Museum (photo by Ken Murphey).

The Delta Blues Museum (photo by Ken Murphey).

Go to a Museum

There are two unique Clarksdale museums that add much to a visitor’s experience.  The Delta Blues Museum is found in the old Clarksdale train station freight depot alongside the very railroad tracks that carried Delta blues and bluesmen to Chicago.   There one can see a portion of the cabin where Muddy Waters lived, and the famous Muddywood Guitar made and donated to the museum by Z.Z. Top.

The Rock and Blues Museum.

The Rock and Blues Museum.

The Rock and Blues Museum is full of a whimsical array of memorabilia starting in the 1920’s that spans fifty years of American music.  There one can follow the evolution of the blues into rock ‘n’ roll One may also have the pleasure of meeting Theo Dasbach.

The North Delta Museum (662.383.2233) in nearby in Friars Point, MS houses Mississippi Delta, Mississippi River, military and prehistoric Indian artifacts and more.

Across the Mississippi River in Helena, Ark, about 30 minutes away is the Delta Cultural Center.  There the rich history of that side of the Delta is brought to life through engaging exhibits, historic properties, and educational programs.

The Grammy Museum Mississippi is about a half hour away in Cleveland, Mississippi and the B.B. King Museum is less than an hour away in Indianola, Mississippi.

The Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale.

The Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale.

See the Library

The Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale was built from money donated from Andrew Carnegie, who helped build 1,689 libraries across the country from 1883 to 1929 (2,500 total were built, including those in Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and more).  The original grant for Clarksdale was issued in November 1911 for $10,000, and the library has been continuously serving the public since construction.

ZZ Top donates the custom "Muddywood" guitar to Sid Graves at the Carnegie Public Library.

ZZ Top donates the custom “Muddywood” guitar to Sid Graves at the Carnegie Public Library.

The original location of The Delta Blues Museum, the library today is a treasure trove of things to do, enjoy and learn.  It provides information opportunities for education, culture, recreation, computers, videos and more.  There is a public meeting room; the library offers office, computer, copying and faxing services, and is known for its helpful and important children’s education and improvement services.

Among the fun and inspiring things to see are the library’s archaeological artifacts, its book, genealogy and paperback collections, exhibit cases, and its Mississippi Room.   Large print volumes and talking book services are available for those in need as well.

More about the Carnegie Public Library here.

Owner Roger Stolle behind the counter at the Cat Head Blues Store.

Owner Roger Stolle behind the counter at the Cat Head Blues Store.

Shop Locally

A number of local stores in Clarksdale’s historic downtown Arts & Culture district are popular stops for visitors and offer original art and unique things from Clarksdale.  The Cat Head Blues Store is a must for music fans.  It has an important book and records inventory with important choices to add to anyone’s music collection.  There’s terrific original roots art, posters, blues mementos, and talking the blues with the owner and cultural historian, Roger Stolle, is perhaps the best music experience memento of all.

Hambone Gallery owner Stan Street with Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant at his store in Clarksdale.

Hambone Gallery owner Stan Street with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant at his store in Clarksdale.

Pull up a stool at the Hopeless Case Bar at Hambone Gallery and talk to owner Stan Street.  He is another authentic information treasure to talk to and get to know.  His gallery is full of Stan’s inspiring original roots art, there’s plenty of it, and live blues, roots, folk music and more can be seen at Hambone several nights a week.  The Tuesday night blues jam series is a down-home must.

Oak & Ivy specializes in living arrangements for the home.  It’s an artful gift shop, and floral design is their specialty.  Delta Creations offer a range of unique things from Clarksdale.  From artful floral arrangements, antiques, original art and wonderful novelties, its exciting to walk-in and explore.

Cat Head Blues Store,  Hambone Gallery,  Oak & Ivy,  Delta Creations (30 E. 2nd, 662.621.1414).

The Quapaw Canoe Company.

The Quapaw Canoe Company.

Experience the Mississippi River (real close)

There are a number of nearby places where visitors can cross the levee and get close enough to get a toe into the Mississippi River.  Can you channel Huckleberry Finn?  Friars Point and Helena are just two places that will get you there.

The best way to experience the Mississippi River is taking a canoe ride on it from the nationally recognized Quapaw Canoe Company.  This is the authentic, hands-on, educational Mississippi River experience of a lifetime.  Heading up the Mighty Quapaws– the river canoe adventurers are often called, is acclaimed Quapaw owner and Mississippi River expert, John Ruskey.  The tours are safe, superbly guided, and are offered in a host of packages and time periods to suit any visitor and river enthusiasts desires.

Quapaw Canoe Company river tours here.

A hunting lodge near Clarksdale.

A hunting lodge near Clarksdale.

Experience a Delta Hunt

For hunting enthusiasts, there’s nothing like hunting in the Mississippi Delta.  To most, it’s as authentic a hunting experience as it ever gets.  A cherished tradition on the Delta land since it’s first settlement in the early 1800’s, duck, quail, dove, geese, pheasant, chukar, deer, wild turkey and more are hunted and harvested here. There’s no better way to get up close and personal to the Delta land, and very often the Mississippi River as well.

The Mississippi Delta has the greatest waterfowl flyway in the country.

The Mississippi Delta has the greatest waterfowl flyway in the country.

Duck hunting in the Mississippi Delta is as good and plentiful as hunting ducks ever gets.  The Delta is the biggest waterfowl flyway in America, more than twice as plentiful as any other U. S. flyway.  Duck and waterfowl in the Delta migrate annually to the area’s cypress bottoms, rivers, oxbow lakes, and farming fields.

From Ducks Unlimited, a list of Mississippi hunting guides, tours, hunting services, outfitters and more, here.

There are 32 places to fish around Clarksdale.

There are 32 places to fish around Clarksdale.

Go Fishing

The Delta fishery management region covers an eleven county area in western Mississippi that contains the majority of The historic Mississippi River floodplain offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities and other outdoor activities. Many large oxbow lakes created by the Mississippi River can be found both inside and outside the Mississippi River levee, and hundreds of smaller oxbow lakes created by other rivers are scattered throughout the region.

There are 32 lakes, oxbows, reservoirs and streams to fish around Clarksdale.  These lakes and small oxbows provide excellent fishing for crappie, bass (large and small mouth), bream, bluegill, catfish and many other fish species.  Also within the Delta fishing experience are breathtaking wildlife views amid ancient cypress forests and dripping Spanish moss.  To many ardent fishermen, it is down-home fishing like no other, and yes, pro bass tournament fishing is much found here too.

Delta Fishing via State of Mississippi Wildlife website, here.  The Mississippi River Anglers Association, here.  Mississippi Fishing Guides, here.