By Emma Kent
There’s a particular brand of Southern charm that can only be found walking along a sidewalk of a quaint downtown. To set the scene: historic storefronts, friendly folks chatting and shopping, and of course, somewhere to eat a delicious meal. In New Albany, that scene lives on Bankhead Street, where restaurants, shopping and history are all on display.
And while the downtown area is thriving, there’s more to New Albany if you know where to look.
Hit the Tanglefoot Trail for a walk or bike ride. The northern trailhead can be found downtown. The Tanglefoot spans nearly 44 miles south to Houston through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area.
You could spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours on the trail as there are picnic areas to stop at and numerous small towns to explore along the way.
Another New Albany spot for nature-lovers is the Park Along the River. The park features paved walking paths, a playground and picnic areas along the Tallahatchie River just outside of downtown. The park is also home to the annual Tallahatchie Riverfest.
THINGS TO DO
When we visited earlier this spring we spent time browsing the downtown shops, which include a number of antique stores, gift shops and boutiques.
Just a few minutes away from the main drag sits Riverside Antiques. The looming brick building may appear slightly abandoned from the outside, but inside it’s an antique-lover’s paradise.
They have everything – and I mean literally everything – from vintage signs to furniture to light fixtures and appliances. You may have to do a little digging, but there are certainly treasures to be found at Riverside.
New Albany is known for its antique stores, so don’t miss other spots like Bab’s Something Different and Re-Designing Women.
Be sure to make a stop at Buff City Soaps to smell the shop’s handmade soaps and beauty products. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the store’s employees in the process of making soaps and bath bombs. On average, they make around 210 bars of soap every day in-house.
Keep your eyes peeled for historical markers throughout the downtown area as you walk, as most of the buildings along Bankhead and Main streets are on the National Historic Register as part of New Albany’s Historic Downtown district.
The Union County Courthouse, in particular, features a beautiful domed roof and is currently undergoing a restoration thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Although William Faulkner made his home in Oxford later in life, he was actually born in New Albany. Look for his birthplace marked by a sign from the Mississippi Historical Commission.
For more history, try out the Union County Heritage Museum just a few minutes from downtown. Visitors can explore the history of Union County from the prehistoric era to the modern age.
Regardless of where your day trip takes you, you can’t go wrong starting at AC’s Coffee downtown to fuel up for the day. AC’s has all of the usual coffee shop staples plus some original creations. We opted to keep it simple with a cappuccino and vanilla latte.
For lunch, we stopped at longtime New Albany establishment George’s. Specializing in fried chicken, George’s menu features classic All-American fare right down to the paper boat the food is served in.
While their specialty is chicken, the burgers are also delicious. And definitely spring for one of their homemade milkshakes.
Other restaurants worth checking out include The Rainey for a more upscale dining experience, Ciao Chow for a Southern take on Italian fare, Tallahatchie Gourmet, the Vintage Market for sandwiches and Two Sisters Cafe for classic Southern cuisine.
If you’re downtown and just need a snack, grab a sweet treat at Sugaree’s Bakery and walk to nearby Cooper Park to see the Coca Cola mural. We enjoyed a break from all of our shopping in this little green space with a Sugaree’s lemon bar.
Before leaving town, swing by Stokes Super Market. Most of the store’s items will be similar to your average grocery store, but the produce section boasts unique finds including a wide variety of peppers, dried hibiscus flowers and multiple types of mangoes.
Stokes also carries a large selection of Mexican candies and cookies. For foodies and cooks, it’s definitely worth a stop.