To Elvis fans, Tupelo is Ground Zero. It's where the King spent the first 13 years of his life, learning to love music, buying his first guitar, and performing for the first time in front of a crowd. "Elvis cool" is everywhere in town, from Tupelo event venues to a larger-than-life-size statue of Elvis' Homecoming to Tupelo that reigns over the historic downtown district.
The community in the hills of northeastern Mississippi is also the headquarters to the Natchez Trace Parkway, the historic 444-mile highway linking Natchez with Nashville that began as a trail traveled by Indians and wild animals about 8,000 years ago and is now a national scenic byway.
Tupelo Regional Airport, just west of Tupelo, is served by Seaport Airlines, which offers direct flights to Memphis and Nashville daily.
The two main meeting venues in Tupelo are part of the downtown renaissance that is now the Fairpark District, surrounding City Hall with a mix of retail, dining, entertainment, and residential elements. The BancorpSouth Conference Center offers a conference hall that is divisible by six; it can handle a meeting for up to 1,350 people or a banquet for 700. Adjacent to that facility is the BancorpSouth Arena, which offers seating for 10,000 people or (using a movable curtain) an auditorium configuration for meetings of 500 to 3,000; an arena floor that accommodates 170 exhibit booths or a banquet for 2,000; and five rooms totaling 5,600 square feet that can handle a meeting for up to 550 people.
In addition, the Tupelo Furniture Market has seven 100,000-square-foot halls that can each seat 10,000 people theater-style or 2,000 for a banquet, and the Lee County Agri-Center Complex has a total of 151,000 square feet of space. The Elvis Presley Birthplace, part of a 15-acre park with various exhibits, has a 10,000-square-foot Event Center, which can host groups of up to 350 people in a great hall, a meeting room, a theater, and a number of outdoor spaces.
Hotel venues in Tupelo include the 158-room Hilton Garden Inn, which is near the BancorpSouth facilities and can host a meeting for up to 75 people, and the 65-room Clarion Inn and Summit Center. The Clarion can accommodate up to 365 people in its largest meeting room, and with neighboring 49-room Rodeway Inn, offers a total of 114 guest rooms on one campus. The 79-room Candlewood Suites has a small meeting room, seating eight and the 121-room Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites has meeting space to handle a group of around 200 people.
When groups are looking for a unique off-site facility for a reception, meal function, or special event, Tupelo delivers. Along with the new Event Center at Elvis' Birthplace, there is the Gumtree Museum of Art, a National Register of Historic Places circa 1905 bank building that can host a reception for 250 people; the classically Victorian Tupelo Garden Club home, which can host a reception for up to 50 people inside and up to 500 in the gardens; and the Tupelo Automobile Museum, which can host a group of up to 400 people among more than 100 antique and classic automobiles. The 200-acre park setting of the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, complete with over 300 exotic animals, is popular for team-building events that can even include an overnight camping experience in the Chickasaw Indian Village. There are also some distinctive restaurant venues, such as the rooftop at Park Heights Restaurant, which can host an event of 125 guests overlooking downtown.
Because of its tourism draw connected to Elvis, Tupelo has a more abundant restaurant scene than most towns its size, with more than 100 eateries. Romie's Grocery offers guests the chance to "Put a Little South in Ya' Mouth" with its homemade plate lunches, and South offers upscale soul food and southern-inspired cocktails, while at Sweet Tea & Biscuits Cafe the emphasis is on fresh, local ingredients and dishes your grandmother would make. And Cafe 212, Tupelo's lunch hot spot, has an eclectic, fun atmosphere featuring the works of local artists.