Oxford (Mississippi)

Oxford is a historic, picturesque town in North Central Mississippi. With its scenic town square, acclaimed restaurants, unique boutiques, oak-shaded neighborhoods, and friendly people, Oxford is the model Southern town. Named after Oxford, England in hopes of attracting a university, the town was selected as the home of the University of Mississippi in 1848, which dominates life here today.

Peabody Hall

Understand

Oxford is the home of the University of Mississippi, affectionately known as "Ole Miss," and is in Lafayette County. It also served as the inspiration for Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner's fictional Jefferson (Lafayette County being Yoknapatawpha), the locale of many of his novels. Oxonians and University members like to describe the town with the motto "We may not win every game, but we never lose a party." Locals also, "partially" jokingly, refer to the Square as the "Center of the Universe." Many residents see Oxford as a small town New Orleans, calling it the "Little Easy." It is widely known throughout the South for its Southern charm, Old South feel, party atmosphere, and its beautiful women, whom even Hugh Hefner called the finest in the world. Oxford is also considered a literary center with many writers calling it home. Also being home to the Ole Miss School of Law and a federal courthouse, it is often said that everyone in Oxford is a "lawyer, writer, or both." As if to prove this point, famous author John Grisham still owns a house in Oxford and visits frequently.

The Square is the center of downtown and is the main location for the town's best restaurants, shops, bars, and scenery (of the Old South architecture and gorgeous Southern belles). Chain restaurants, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, and other national retailers are located on the fringes of town. However, most locals are staunchly anti-chain. They actively protested the arrival of Applebee's and the Wal-Mart Supercenter, even voting out the old mayor because she did not do more to stop it. Therefore, to truly enjoy Oxford, you must visit the Square and eat and shop at locally-owned establishments. Otherwise, you are wasting your time visiting and are missing out if you only come for a football game. Immerse yourself in the town to see why Reader's Digest proclaimed, "If Oxford didn't exist, it would have to be invented."

As National Geographic Traveler wrote, "Sophisticated little Oxford is waiting for you."

Get in

By plane

The closest airports with airline service are in Memphis, 70 miles to the north, and Tupelo, 45 miles to the east. Memphis is a major hub for Delta Air Lines and is thus the preferred airport. Tupelo has daily flights to Memphis and Atlanta.

University-Oxford Airport, also known as Clegg Field, offers service to private planes, including jets. The airport has a 5,600 foot runway with a brand new terminal and aviation full-services.

By train

For passenger service, the nearest Amtrak stops are on the City of New Orleans line in Memphis, TN and Greenwood, MS . The train will take you to Chicago or New Orleans.

By car

Major highways in the area are as follows:

From Memphis or Jackson (Miss.) take I-55 to Batesville and exit MS Hwy 6 EAST. Take the Old Taylor Rd. or Coliseum Dr. exits to access the University. Exit at South Lamar Blvd. to get to the Square and downtown. Oxford is approximately 25 miles from Batesville. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to travel to Oxford from Memphis, about 2.5 hours from Jackson, and about 45 minutes from Tupelo. A shorter route from Memphis and Jackson is Hwy 7, but this road is two-lane. However, from the eastern suburbs of Memphis, it is faster to take Hwy 78 to Hwy 7. From downtown, the airport, and Southaven, I-55 to Hwy 6 is faster.

By bus

Get around

Currently, the public transportation is called the O-U-T. It has several lines that run through all of the major points around town. The best way to get around is by foot, as Oxford is a beautiful town to walk and parking is scarce downtown and on campus. The second best way is by car. Once you find a place to park on campus, stay there and walk everywhere you want to go. The same applies to downtown. Once you figure out how to navigate the square (it will take awhile) and the surrounding one-way streets, you can find a place to park by cruising the back alleys. If you park illegally, you will get an expensive ticket.

Do not drink and drive as the cops keep a watchful eye on the byways, not to mention you are risking your life and the lives of others. You can avoid this by walking home, hitching a ride (it's easy to find a ride from a friendly stranger on the Square), or calling a cab. Currently, Angel Taxi offers its services for $10 anywhere in Oxford and the immediate area. Another up and coming taxi is Oxford Taxi, started in 2010.

Taxi

Car rental

Limousine service

Oxford is a certified Bicycle Friendly Community. There are many bike paths open to the public, however, many car drivers are not fans of cyclists. It is best to stick to sidewalks and watch when crossing intersections.

Bicycle

See

Oxford is an historic town best seen by foot. Begin with the antebellum buildings on campus, the Courthouse Square, and Rowan Oak. Soak up the town and meet some of the locals while you are at it!

Lafayette Courthouse during Double Decker Festival
Rowan Oak, Home of William Faulkner
The Lyceum
Barnard Observatory

Do

Oxford features a regular rotation of notable speakers, art exhibits, plays, musical productions, conferences and concerts in the Grove. The Ford Center has a regular rotation of a variety of performing arts. The Lott Leadership Institute sponsors well-known speakers, such as Supreme Court justices, senators and royalty. Recent speakers include John McCain, Antonin Scalia, and the King of Jordan. The Ole Miss Community Calendar has a current list of most upcoming events. The biggest event of the year, other than football games, is the Double Decker Arts and Music Festival. A favorite of many is the weekly Thacker Mountain Radio Show, where area musicians perform in front a live audience. If culture isn't your thing, the area features several golf courses, the huge Sardis Reservoir, a few state parks and recreation areas, and even a couple of day spas.


Major Special Events

Learn

The University of Mississippi is a comprehensive research university and is home to a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa. It also is listed in The Student Guide to America's 100 Best College Buys and The Student Guide to America's Best College Scholarships. UM also ranks 50th on Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's list of best college buys for in-state tuition and 46th for out-of-state tuition. Also in town is a branch of Northwest Mississippi Community College. The local public school system is excellent and diverse. The two local high schools are Oxford High School and Lafayette High School .

Work

By far the major employer is the University of Mississippi, but other employers include FNC, Inc. (a banking systems and data/analytics management firm) and many local banks. Oxford is also a regional healthcare center with constantly growing healthcare facilities. A variety of jobs are may be found at the Baptist Memorial Hospital - North Mississippi. The free Daily Mississippian and the daily Oxford Eagle have updated help wanted ads.

Buy

You will find a variety of locally-owned shops downtown where you can purchase designer clothing, custom crafted pottery by Gail Pittman and McCartys of Merrigold, Mississippi , local artwork, local music albums, and a variety of other upscale wares. In fact, the shopping magazine LUCKY features Oxford as a small town with big city shopping. Most stores will allow their customers to have charge accounts, which makes it convenient for students to send the bill home for payment.

Eat

For a town of only 20,000 (35,000 when school is in session), Oxford is blessed with a wide variety of dining choices. Home to the Southern Foodways Alliance, Oxford has evolved into a "mecca....which draws professional food scholars as well as amateur eaters" according to Food & Wine writer, Pete Wells. City Grocery, 208, and Ravine are highly recommended for upscale fine dining. For more casual fare, you can't go wrong with Boure or Ajax. For a true Mississippi experience, you must eat at Taylor Grocery or Yocona River Inn.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

. No reservations, and they frequently quit taking names by 7PM on the Friday of football weekends.

Drink

Cold beer is not sold in Oxford, except for bars and restaurants. Either purchase your cold beer at the county line on Hwy 6 or Hwy 7 as you are coming into town, or ice it down. An often told myth is that Oxford does not sell beer cold because the mayor once owned the local icehouse. Open containers are also not allowed in the city limits, but as long as you pour it in a cup, you are fine. If a cop sees a beer can or liquor bottle, he will pour out all of your supply. However, if you have it in a cup, you will not be bothered unless you are extremely unruly. This especially applies to the Ole Miss campus and The Grove. Just keep it in a cup and pour discreetly. Due to antiquated Southern laws, the Ole Miss campus is wet on liquor only (no beer allowed), except east of Gertrude Ford Boulevard (the old railroad bed), where both liquor and beer are allowed. In any case, alcohol is not allowed in plain view and must be kept in a cup.

Remember, bars in Oxford close early. Monday-Wednesday they close at midnight. Thursday and Friday they close at 1:00AM. They close at midnight on Saturdays except on game weekends, when they are open till 1:00AM. Still, most bar goers don't go home and go to bed but instead head to the infamous "late-nights," parties at someone's home or apartment. Despite police efforts to crack down on late-nights, they are still going strong, sometimes numbering into the thousands of partiers. Word spreads about the location of late-nights earlier in the night at the bars. Be sure to secure your beer or liquor for the late-night before you go out, because they will have stopped selling by the time the bars have closed (12AM most days, Sunday it's a "dry" city).

The Chevron at University and South Lamar, called "Chicken-on-a-Stick" because of the drunk food it serves by the same name, is a very popular stopping point between the bars and the late-nights and has achieved legendary status. Several other convenience stores carry the same food minus the tradition. If you are too drunk to drive and have no other way home, you can almost always find a ride at Chicken-on-a-Stick (the Chevron) just after the bars close.

The City Grocery Bar, or "The Grocery," is located above its namesake restaurant and tends to attract a mix between locals, writers, lawyers, and older college students. The Downtown Grill also has a great upscale bar popular with preppy students and the older crowd alike. "The Grill," as it is commonly referred to, frequently features live jazz and other types of music.

If you prefer a more casual place, you can't beat Parrish's. Located just down from The Grill, it features great local bands and many blues artists from the region. Never a cover charge and the friendliest bouncers ever - not that they can't or won't still turn a drunken frat boy into a human shoe horn.

The bar in the basement of the Rib Cage has cheap beer and is a good place to watch a game.

The eclectic crowd prefers The Jubilee Lounge, which is the most democratic establishment in Oxford. Be sure to check out their photobooth. Another alternative place is Two Stick, but it attracts a wide variety of people from the Greeks to the womens studies majors, perhaps because it also serves sushi and often has live music.

The best place to hear live music is either Proud Larry's, Two Stick, or Parrish's, which all have local and regional artists frequently.

The Levee is also 18-and-up, is the young preppy students. 1008 Jackson Avenue, +1 662 236-3666 Located just off the Square next to Henry's Jubilee Lounge. Musicians be warned, the crowd is not there to listen to you.

There is one other bar that is popular with the 18-21 crowd--Illusions, which is frequently referred to by its former names Nighttown or The Billiards Club. Pick up a free copy of the Daily Mississippian or the weekly Local Voice for drink specials and band listings.

Sleep

While Oxford has no luxury hotels yet, two boutique hotels are under construction just off the Square.. One, (The Ava, under construction just off the Square on Jackson Ave., next to the pedestrian/bike bridge) will feature a Viking Culinary Arts Institute, spa, and fine dining. Until they are built, the closest you will get to luxury is to stay at a bed and breakfast. Oxford has a large number of hotel rooms for a town of its size. However, if you are coming for a game weekend, nearly all the rooms are presold as a package deal for the season. Occasional rooms do open up though, but chances are slim. The next closest town with motels is Bruce (24 miles) Batesville (25 miles) to the west, Holly Springs (30 miles) to the north, Pontotoc (20 miles) to the east, Grenada (40 miles) to the south, and Senatobia (40 miles) to the northeast. Many visitors choose to stay in downtown Memphis in order to experience Beale Street and only come in for the game, or they stay in Tunica at a casino. However, it can be very difficult to get in, out, or around Oxford on Game Day. A viable option is to rent an RV in Memphis and stay on campus for free. You can park your RV and walk wherever you need to go the whole weekend. If you are staying in Oxford, the Downtown Inn and Suites and the Inn at Ole Miss are the most highly recommended because of the quality of the rooms, the services, and the great locations.

Bed & Breakfast

Cabins & Cottages

Motels / Hotels

Stay safe

Oxford is a very safe town, with the court dockets mostly full of minors-in-possession, public drunks, and DUIs. Oxford Police are always nearby and allow little slack for disruptive behavior. The town is safe to walk at any time of night, with only the most basic precautions necessary.

Cope

Game Day

Homecoming 2012 - Ole Miss vs. Auburn

Oxford is very crowded on football game days. Football is a religion here, and fall Saturdays are the sabbath. Therefore, expect heavy traffic, hotels that fill months in advance, and no available reservations at restaurants. Officially, the Grove opens for tailgating at 6PM Friday night. However, the crowds can overwhelm security as early as 4PM Friday night, and all the good spots in the Grove will be gone by 8PM. Most tailgating is concentrated in the Grove, but it takes place everywhere on campus. The Circle, next to the Grove, has more of a family atmosphere. Officially, liquor but not beer is allowed in the Grove, but all alcohol must be kept in a cup and out of plain view.

The Grove - Ole Miss vs. Texas - 9/15/2012

Churches

If your weekend visit to Oxford necessitates a visit with the Deity, there are many local worship options. Some of these houses of worship have enough historic value to warrant a purely secular visit any day of the week. True to its Deep South locale, Oxford is replete with Baptist and Methodist churches, but other faiths are by no means left out in this cosmopolitan university town. Here is a very small sampling of Oxford's larger and historic religious buildings and bodies:

Baptist

Catholic

Episcopal

Methodist

Presbyterian

Unitarian-Universalist

Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Go next

Routes through Oxford

Greenville Batesville  W  E  Pontotoc Tupelo


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, December 08, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.