This northern Mississippi county has a long history and a longer list of reasons to visit

There’s something special about getting away from the daily grind, escaping our cares in the soothing peace of the open countryside. And yet, who has time to journey well into the wilderness to find such a getaway? The good news is that groups looking to get away from it all can do so – all within mere minutes of Memphis and its international airport.

Nestled along Mississippi’s northern border, DeSoto County and its communities (Hernando, Horn Lake, Nesbit, Olive Branch, Southaven and Walls) offer a warm Southern welcome to groups looking for a relaxing stay. There are lots of things to do, from enjoying the county’s famous restaurants to following the Mississippi Blues Trail to going on a shopping expedition.

Things to Do in DeSoto County


You can do serious hunting at Tanger Outlets in Southaven, where stores ranging from Michael Kors and Coach to Krispy Kreme guarantee a happy day spent in retail therapy. There’s also the open-air mall of Southaven Towne Center.

Hernando’s Courthouse Square does double duty as a historic district and place to shop. Venture a little way out and you’ll find Anderson’s Pottery and Joseph Eckles Stoneware for handmade pottery.

After shopping, what’s next? Given that this county takes its name from the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, you might want to absorb some of the region’s historical treasures. The aforementioned DeSoto County Courthouse, with its Mississippi River murals and spot on the National Register of Historic Places, is a convenient starting point. Also check out the DeSoto County Museum, which includes a restored log cabin from the 1840s.

Maybe a more active style of historical research is your group’s thing. DeSoto County has several stops along the Mississippi Blues Trail, Freedom Trail and Mississippi Mound Trail. You can also chart a course toward the homes of two music legends: Circle G Ranch (Elvis Presley) and Lewis Ranch, the former home of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Lewis Ranch

Lewis Ranch

If your group just wants to be outdoors, head to Arkabutla Lake, a 33,000-acre water playground with three beaches and opportunities for sailing, fishing, camping, hiking, biking and picnicking. Other parks offer green space as well, and the county maintains several championship-level golf courses.

Agritourism options include seeing the nation’s largest importer of fine bonsai (miniature living trees) at Brussel’s Bonsai
Nursery, picking berries at Nesbit Blueberry Plantation and exploring the many activities offered by Cedar Hill Farm. Also check out the two farmers’ markets in Hernando and Olive Branch.

Dining in DeSoto

BBQ (Memphis-style)

BBQ (Memphis-style)

It won’t take long before hunger begins to gnaw at your group. Don’t worry; you’ll be well-served by a generous selection of
restaurants. You’d expect to find traditional Southern fare, good old American faves, steak and seafood, and Memphis-style BBQ here, and you won’t be disappointed. But don’t forget the Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and fusion restaurants, nor the local bakeries and ice cream shops for that sweet tooth.

Group-Friendly Places to Stay

There are a large number of global and national chain hotels waiting to host you, including Hilton and Marriott. But for a truly DeSoto experience, check out the local inns, which offer a perfectly comfortable finish to the day.