Most people equate Starkville with one thing – Mississippi State. Yes, Starkville is Mississippi’s college town but there is so much more to do here! So if you’re wondering what to do in Starkville then you’re in the right place.

This one day in Starkville itinerary is perfect if you’re visiting town for a football or baseball game or maybe you’ve come to visit your college student and want to do some exploring with them while you’re here.

Extend your stay and make a weekend out of the trip! With a quaint downtown area, the college itself, and plenty of outdoor opportunities, you won’t run out of things to do.

My trip to Starkville was part of a larger Mississippi road trip where I explored all the things to do in Hattiesburg, Ridgeland activities, and went fishing in Grenada. It started with a trip to the Alabama beaches where I tried tons of breakfast restaurants in Gulf Shores.

Whether you’re just heading to Starkville or it’s part of a larger trip through Mississippi, here is my recommendation on what to do in Starkville for one day!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for keeping Stuck On The Go going! I was hosted by the Greater Starkville Development Partnership for this trip. All opinions are my own.

What to Do in Starkville, MS: One Day Itinerary

I spent about 24 hours in town and this almost follows my itinerary exactly. I’ll be honest, I wish I had more time to explore because there are definitely a few things I couldn’t get to!

That only means you should spend a couple of days in town instead of just one. 😉

Breakfast at Nutrigroove

From acai bowls to smoothies to avocado toast, Nutrigroove delivers on healthy yet delicious foods. They also have some of the best coffee I’ve ever tried.

I am not a fan of cold brew or cold coffee drinks in general but I had the white chocolate mocha Hawaiian coffee with vanilla sweet cream cold foam on top and holy moly. It was divine.

It wasn’t overly sweet but the flavor was just right. Then came my acai bowl. I had the silly billy bowl and again, delicious. I added peanut butter to it for some extra protein.

The silly billy was topped with granola, honey, hemp hearts, strawberry, banana, and kiwi. The bowl is huge and super filling.

The food isn’t the only cool part about Nutrigroove though. The building itself is pretty neat. It has a funky vibe with mismatched furniture, indoor & outdoor seating, and is located in the Cotton District.

Walk the Scenic Trails at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge

Once you’ve fueled up with a healthy breakfast, take about a 30-minute drive out to the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.

If there’s only one piece of advice that you take from this guide of what to do in Starkville I hope it’s this – DO NOT miss Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. It is stunning.

The drive is a little long, but if you can do it I highly recommend getting out here for sunrise. I came out here twice – once for sunrise and another time later in the day to explore more trails.

Cypress Cove Boardwalk was by far one of my favorites. It’s a short drive past the refuge Visitor Center. Stop in the Visitor Center to pick up a map showing where the trailheads are and check out the exhibits while you’re there.

When I visited at sunrise, Cypress Cove is the first place I visited. The boardwalk is only about 500ft long and it takes you out among bald cypress trees at the edge of Bluff Lake.

At the end of the boardwalk, I saw a Great Blue Heron sitting on a log in the water and feeding. It was so serene just to watch it that morning. Watch for alligators and turtles here as well.

Sunrise at Cypress Cove is a photographer’s dream so I was in heaven.

The Bluff Lake Boardwalk is also a popular trail and that one is almost 1,000ft long. There isn’t as much room for parking here though.

This boardwalk winds through the trees and ends with a view of Bluff Lake and the rookery. In the summer the rookery is where egrets, herons, and ibis will nest so it’s very popular with bird watchers.

Just across from the Visitor Center is the Webster Memorial Oak Grove and Overlook. I almost didn’t stop for this one but I am so glad that I did.

The trail is very short and leads to a two-story observation deck where the lower level is wheelchair accessible.

Watch your step though because when I was there and went to the second level, there were a few broken boards.

There is an amazing view of Loakfoma Lake from the observation tower though. If you visit in the early morning or later in the evening then you’re likely to see wildlife here like bald eagles, alligators, or wading birds.

Morgan Hill Prairie Trail is a short trail that leads to an overlook of Loakfoma Lake. You can see beautiful wildflowers here and in the spring and summer butterflies are very common.

The path is made of small gravel and was well-maintained so I was comfortable walking through in shorts. I just mention this because in some wildlife refuges the trails can get overgrown so I was a bit nervous.

If you’re short on time then I would recommend the Cypress Cove Boardwalk and Webster Memorial Oak Grove Trail. Those made the biggest impression.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have more time then you can check out some longer trails like the Beaver Dam Trail or the Scattertown Trail.

I wasn’t personally able to do either of those so can’t offer additional insight but again, I recommend stopping by the Visitor Center and asking one of the officers what the status of the trail is.

I know that those trails are more popular in cooler weather since that usually means fewer bugs and the trails are a bit less overgrown.

Other than walking the trails, you can also kayak, canoe, and fish at Noxubee but from November to March they don’t allow boats out on the lake.

You’ll have to supply your own kayak or canoe though because there are no outfitters nearby.

Noxubee Wildlife Refuge was established in 1940 for the conservation of migratory birds. This means their number one mission is focused on maintaining their habitat.

Lunch at Restaurant Tyler

grilled chicken salad

After a beautiful morning out at the refuge, head back into town for a delicious meal at Restaurant Tyler. The building itself is beautiful and the food was fresh and satisfying.

The walls are exposed brick and the floor is made from retro-style black and white hexagon tiles so it gives things a historic feel.

They serve lunch and dinner and have a Sunday Brunch that you’ll want to arrive early for if you don’t want to wait for a table.

Lunch was pretty casual but I think the atmosphere is a little fancier for dinner so you’ll want to dress up a bit. Nothing crazy – just don’t come in with a t-shirt and shorts for dinner.

I was dressed in my hiking clothes at lunch and fit in just fine. Since I had been on a road trip and eating out for three meals per day, I decided to go with something light and got the house salad with grilled chicken.

While the salad was delicious and exactly what I needed, I am very sad that I missed out on the Delta Catfish. Honestly though, all of the Blue Plates looked amazing.

This would be a great dinner option too if you’re looking for something unique like the catfish eggroll appetizer or lamb gnocchi entree.

Visit the Shops Downtown

buildings along University Drive in downtown Starkville

I cannot stress enough how adorable this downtown area is. Stop by the Starkville Visitor Center at 200 East Main Street where you can get a guide to all the shops downtown.

You can also just walk around and check things out as most places are close together. Many shops are located along University Drive between Washington Street and Montgomery Street.

For cute clothes and gifts, I loved Occasions, L.A. Green, and George-Mary’s. Someone on Instagram also recommended I Just Have to Have It when I posted about Starkville.

Magnolia Soap & Bath Co is a small southern franchise and they also have a shop on the corner of Jackson Street.

Disc and That has fun outdoor games and carries all kinds of products for disc golf. The Starkville Area Arts Council also recently opened an Artist’s Store where you can purchase products made by local artists. It’s located at 122 East Main.

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Campus

self guided walking tour brochure

If you go by the Mississippi State Welcome Center, you can pick up a small brochure for their self-guided walking tour.

The brochure will have the major points of interest shown in a map view as well as information about each building on the back.

The tour starts at the Cullis Wade Depot where you can visit the Cullis and Gladys Wade Clock Museum. Crazy how many clocks they had collected!

Another popular stop here is the Depot Art Gallery. They were between exhibits when I visited so I didn’t go up and see it.

If you love architecture then you’ll enjoy checking out Montgomery Hall and Lee Hall. Two points of interest that I would recommend not to miss are the Mitchell Memorial Public Library and MAFES Sales Store.

At the library, you’ll find the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library which contains personal papers and memorabilia that belonged to Grant.

There’s also a John Grisham room for anyone who is a fan of the New York Times bestselling author. He is a Mississippi State graduate!

The MAFES Sales Store is managed by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and here you’ll find their famous cheese.

Edam cheese is very popular – Edam is most similar to Gouda – but cheddar cheese is what they sell the most of.

Ice cream is also a popular seller at the store. All items are made on campus by the Agricultural and Forestry Department which makes this place unique.

Love exploring college towns? Check out Boone, NC and Williamsburg, VA.

Dinner at TASTE Italian Kitchen

pasta and shrimp dish

For Italian food lovers, a meal at TASTE should not be missed. The interior of the restaurant is elegant and this would be a great date night spot or if you’re trying to satisfy the tastebuds of a group.

Their menu is massive and they have such a variety of options that everyone should be able to find something they like!

Flatbreads and pasta dishes are very popular here but they also have fish, chicken, pork, and steaks on the menu for anyone not in the mood for Italian.

I had their lasagna and everything about it was perfect. Even the portion size was just right. Paige with Visit Starkville had the Shrimp Gamberetti and also sang its praises.

They also have a variety of craft cocktails and a very large wine list to choose from.

Other Things to Do in Starkville, MS

The Cotton District

The Cotton District is within walking distance from campus and it’s where many students and faculty live.

Its name comes from the cotton mill there and most of the housing was used for mill employees. There are some shops here now but it’s also just a cute area to walk through and admire the buildings.

The Historic Mill which was originally built in 1902 is now used as an event space for conferences, weddings, and such.

Starkville Community Market

The Starkville Farmers Market is so much more than a place to come buy fresh produce. It’s a fun event for the whole family!

On Saturday mornings from spring to fall the market is held at Fire Station Park which is conveniently located between campus and downtown. 

You’ll find produce from local farms, baked goods, plants, crafts, and so much more. They also have different kinds of demonstrations each week and activities for kids.

Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum

If you’re interested in local history then you may want to visit this museum in town. The building itself is historic as it’s located in a renovated 1874 Mobile & Ohio railroad depot.

They have permanent exhibits featuring items from Oktibbeha County as well as memorabilia from people from the area.

There are also rotating exhibits that change throughout the year. You’ll want to check the dates and hours that the museum is open because they are not open daily.

Chadwick Lake

Chadwick Lake is located on campus by the Joe Frank Sanderson Center. There is a one mile long trail that surrounds the lake so it’s a popular place for people to come walk.

It’s also a great place for a picnic if you want to come out and enjoy some nice weather. It’s even pet-friendly!

Attend an Event or Festival in Town

Starkville hosts many annual events that are very popular! In spring, summer, and fall, there is a wine tasting and shopping event called UnWine Downtown.

The King Cotton Crawfish Boil is always a crowd favorite and it happens every spring. Sales and Ales (summer) is similar to UnWine Downtown but with beer instead of wine.

The great fall weather is perfect for festivals so you have the Bulldog Bash, Cotton District Arts Festival, and Downtown Pumpkin Palooza.

The Starkville Christmas Parade and Rotary Classic Rodeo are fun events during the winter months.

Make sure to check out Starkville’s Annual Events page to see if you can plan your visit for a fun festival.

Where to Stay in Starkville, MS

hotel room bed and nightstand

I stayed at the La Quinta Inn and cannot sing their praises enough. The hotel is relatively new and my suite was clean and spacious. If you’ve never stayed in a suite, I highly recommend it.

What sets them apart is the staff – everyone was so friendly and helpful. If I come back to Starkville, I would definitely stay here again.

It’s also conveniently located near downtown and campus so you won’t have a long commute either way.

👉🏻 Book your stay at the La Quinta Inn here. 👈🏻

FAQs on What to Do in Starkville, MS

What is Starkville, MS known for?

Starkville is known as the home of Mississippi State University and is nicknamed Mississippi’s College Town. It’s also the county seat of Oktibbeha County.

What is Starkville, MS near?

Major cities near Starkville include Jackson, MS, Birmingham, AL, and Memphis, TN but there are many other smaller cities nearby. These include Grenada, Tupelo, Columbus, and Meridian in Mississippi and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

How far is Starkville, MS from the coast?

Starkville is about four hours from the Mississippi Coast and towns like Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. Mobile, AL is about 3 hours and 40 minutes and Gulf Shores, AL is almost 5 hours.

If you’re interested in heading to New Orleans then that’ll be about a 4 and a half hour drive.

What colleges are in Starkville?

Mississippi State University is located in Starkville and it has a total enrollment of almost 23,000 students.

What county is Starkville, MS in?

Starkville is located in Oktibbeha County that’s in the northern half of the state toward the eastern side.

Other towns in the county include Sturgis and part of Maben. The county is heavily agricultural-based.

trees and grass emerging from a lake

Wrap Up: What to Do in Starkville, MS With One Day

I hope you find this guide helpful when you’re visiting Starkville! If college sports brought you to town, I definitely recommend sticking around to explore more.

When you’re planning out what to do in Starkville, MS I would say the can’t-miss things are Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, checking out some of their amazing restaurants, and the MAFES Sales Store on campus.

This would be the perfect couple’s trip or a girl’s getaway – especially with all the great shopping opportunities!

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