Vicksburg, perched high above the Mississippi River overlooking the farmlands of Louisiana to the west, is a place heavily flavored by its history. The city's pivotal role in the Civil War is honored in the 1,800-acre Vicksburg National Military Park, where the fate of the nation was decided in 1863, and its days as a center for antebellum life are evidenced by the preservation of the many historic homes, buildings, and churches. Today, the historic downtown area is alive with Vicksburg event venues, restaurants, specialty shops, art galleries, and a variety of arts and entertainment options that include four casinos on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Jackson-Evers International Airport, 50 miles from Vicksburg, is served by Delta, US Airways, American Eagle, and United Airlines. Vicksburg Municipal Airport and the Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport, both less than 10 minutes from downtown, serve private planes. Memphis and New Orleans are approximately 200 miles to the north and south, respectively.
The centerpiece of meeting venues in Vicksburg is the Vicksburg Convention Center. The two-level convention center includes a 17,000-square-foot exhibit hall that can seat 2,400 theater-style and 1,250 for a banquet and eight meeting rooms, the largest of which can handle 480 for a meeting session. The Vicksburg City Auditorium can seat 1,350 theater-style.
In addition, hotel venues in Vicksburg feature casino hotels, large antebellum homes with meeting and special event space, and even a retreat located on a 17,000-acre privately owned nature preserve along the Mississippi River. The hotels with the most meeting space are the 117-room Battlefield Inn, which can handle a meeting of 450 people, and the 80-room Holiday Inn, which completed an extensive renovation in 2012 and has meeting space for up to 400.
Vicksburg has a number of possibilities for the planner looking for unique venues. The Southern Cultural Heritage Center, a city block on which stand five buildings dating to the early 1800s, is on the National Register of Historic Places and can host a special event for up to 250 people. In addition, the Old Courthouse Museum can handle a seated dinner for up to 125; Wilsonwood Lodge, set on a private 12-acre lake surrounded by 150 wooded acres, can host a banquet for up to 30; and several of the dozen historic homes in Vicksburg that offer tours also have space for private events. One of the homes with the largest capacity is the 33-room Cedar Grove Mansion & Inn, an antebellum estate situated on five acres of gardens that can host a banquet for up to 300 people.
For dining, Vicksburg offers many chain restaurants that are group friendly but also some distinctive alternatives. Roca Restaurant and Bar is a fine-dining restaurant overlooking the 18th hole at the Vicksburg Country Club that is famous for its steaks, Billy's Italian Restaurant wins consistent raves for its pizza, and Martinez Mexican Restaurant is known for serving up good Mexican food at good prices. Three local favorites — for their ambience and authentic regional cuisine — are Rusty's Riverfront Grill, serving up dishes like fried green tomatoes and lump crab from its setting on the banks of the Mississippi; Walnut Hills Restaurant, known for its fried chicken, creamed potatoes, and biscuits; and Cafe Anchuca at Anchuca Historic Mansion, with specialties like shrimp and grits and chocolate pecan bourbon pie.
Two new historic attractions have opened on the waterfront, both of which can be used for receptions. The Old Depot Museum, which opened in 2011 in the Levee Street Depot after a $2.4 million restoration, is home to an extensive collection of model trains, riverboats, and automobiles as well as a model that provides an overview of the battle of Vicksburg. And the $25-million Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site offers a glimpse at what life was like along the river in years past.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user: Ken Lund