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Summer dreamin' in the great outdoors
by Malcolm White
Jun 28, 2013 | 57 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
So many of us spend our days in front of computers or otherwise cooped up inside. This time of year, however, beckons us outdoors to feel the sun on our skin and the grass under our feet. Our lungs long for the fresh air that seems to blow a little cleaner right here in Mississippi. Well, summer is finally here, and it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy our state’s natural wonders. Whether you’re teeing off at one of the state’s 170-plus golf courses, enjoying a boating excursion at the lake or on the Mississippi Gulf Coast or hiking at one of our magnificent state parks, you couldn’t ask for better weather or more options.

Mississippi’s golf courses balance technically-challenging with fun-to-play while being affordable and easily accessible, too. Award-winning courses are located statewide from Tunica and Choctaw to Hattiesburg and Biloxi. In fact, Tunica and the Gulf Coast combine to form the nation’s largest gaming destination after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Top Mississippi courses include designs by Fazio, Nicklaus and Palmer. Other standouts include courses crafted by Jerry Pate, Mark McCumber, Davis Love III, Hale Irwin and Bob Cupp. Want to watch world-class players at their best? The Sanderson Farm Classic in Jackson and Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic on the Gulf Coast offer PGA and Champion events, respectively.

Fishing, boating, hiking, bird-watching and more…. Mississippi’s unspoiled natural settings offer a variety of outdoor recreational options. A national wildlife refuge, the DeSoto National Forest and 10 state-owned wildlife management areas are located throughout this southernmost part of the state. Biking on the 300-mile Mississippi River Trail is a great adventure through the home of the blues. The 33,000-acre Ross Barnett Reservoir, on the northeast side of Jackson, provides a huge area for fishing, boating and water sports. In southeastern Mississippi, enjoy a variety of offerings at the three coastal preserves and seven wildlife management areas along the last unimpeded major river system in the continental U.S., the Pascagoula River, also known as the “Singing River.”

The 40-mile Longleaf Trace from Hattiesburg to Prentiss is a favorite trail that attracts hundreds of runners, cyclists and equestrians each year. And the nearly completed, 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail, which spans Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw counties in northeast Mississippi, is slated to open later this summer. From the Cypress Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway to the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, birdwatchers will enjoy seeing the red-cockaded woodpeckers and orange-crowned warblers. In addition to leisurely walking and biking along the 20-plus miles of beautiful beaches from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi to Ocean Springs, there are also extreme outdoor experiences to be had on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with parasailing and skydiving.

And our sportsmen know that Mississippi is a winner for the abundant opportunities for hunting around the state. Outdoor Life magazine recently named Mississippi as one of its Top 10 states to hunt whitetail trophy. Known for its white-tailed deer, large flocks of turkeys and coveys of quail, the Pines Region of the state offers nearly 200,000 acres of land open for public hunting and other activities. The state’s premier location for waterfowl hunting and opportunities for deer, turkey and dove can be found in the Delta.

Whatever you can dream of doing in the great outdoors, Mississippi has it. Our state can’t be beat for the options available for leading an active lifestyle or just enjoying time outdoors with friends and family. Of course, if your idea of summer fun is lounging in a hammock on a breezy porch with an ice cold glass of sweet tea, we can handle that, too. So come on y’all; let’s get outdoors!

(Malcolm White is tourism director for the Mississippi Development Authority.)
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