This is all about our family’s pit stop at Vicksburg National Military Park on our epic road trip from Northwest Louisiana to central Florida. To say it was a long haul is an understatement! Somehow none of us bailed shipped (although at times there were rumors of mutany). We survived by planning out cool pit stops along the way like this one…
Did you know that the Vicksburg National Battlefield was a huge turning point in the Civil War?
It was one of the last Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi River. With this Union victory, the war and slavery were soon over. For that reason, we wanted our kids to see this historic site and also because both his family and my family had taken us when we were kids.
Plus, this was a good place to stop for a break on our epic Louisiana to Florida road trip!
Mississippi Welcome Center
If you are driving into Vicksburg, Mississippi on Interstate 20, there is a welcome center right on the Mississippi River. It was a great potty break for us and a place to stretch our legs. There is a railroad line that tunnels right under part of the parking area and passes over the Mississippi which happened while we were there. It was a cool thing to watch!
Stop at the Visitor Center
Next up we stopped at the Vicksburg National Military Park battlefield. When you first arrive at the park, you will need to go into the small museum at the park entrance for a day pass (or annual pass) which varies per vehicle you are driving or even if you just want to walk the park. Click here for entrance information. There are also some free days during the year which is also found on this same link. You will be given a brochure which will include a map of all the monuments and more information. There are also restrooms, a small museum, and video you can watch about the battlefield.
Explore the Battlefield
Be prepared to spend anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on how much you like to learn about history. We got in and out of our car a bunch so we almost spent 3 hours there! My youngest was so excited about seeing cannons in real life that we spent a bunch of time running out in the fields. I enjoyed seeing all of the different monuments and the artistry in the sculpture and the architecture of some of the structures.
Visit the USS Cairo Gunboat & Museum
Another stop in the park is the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum. I can remember seeing this as a child and was a nostalgic moment for me. Plus, the engineering and craftsmanship that went into this giant outdoor display was amazing. It was neat that they didn’t completely rebuild the boat but left it open in some places like a skeleton so people can see where the steam engines were, living quarters, etc. I like for my kids to get to see and understand the build and engineering of things.
The museum was not very big but packed with lots of information and items they found when they lifted the boat out of the river after so many years. I found all of the stuff they recovered to be so interesting. Note: There are also bathrooms here.
Are you interested in genealogy? In the foyer of the museum area was a touch screen where you can look up people if they are buried in the two Civil War cemeteries on site and cemeteries in town. There were a couple people with my husband’s family name. Who knew! If we had time, it would have been neat to find where they were buried and visit long lost relatives’ resting places.
Vicksburg National Cemetary
The Vicksburg National Cemetery is adjacent to the parking lot for the USS Cairo Gunboat & Museum. From the page on the National Parks Service website, “Vicksburg National Cemetery embraces 116 acres, and holds the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers, a number unmatched by any other national cemetery.” We were ready to get back on the road as time seemed to slip by quickly as we learned more about our nation’s history so we skipped driving through this part of the park but holds so many long silent stories it’s overwhelming.
The whole visit to Vicksburg National Military Park was informative and a great pit stop on our long haul drive from Louisiana to Florida! Our kids enjoyed having time outside after several hours of being confined in the car. We all were amazed by the craftsmanship of the Illinois monument and saw an overabundance of ladybugs as we entered the structure. All three kids (and us grownups) seemed fascinated with the gunboat and it’s construction. Plus, how cool is it that we can walk up to canons?!
I highly recommend the Vicksburg National Military Park as a great place to visit for all ages to learn about US history and all just a good place to stretch your legs during a long haul trip. 🙂 Have you ever visited a national battlefield? Let me know in the comments below.
If you are feeling down or depressed for more days than not, please seek medical attention. If you are feeling like you cannot go on, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat here>>> https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ Or visit the suicide prevention lifeline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/