The Great River Road

The Delta’s largest city, Greenville (pop. 34,400) is one of the largest river ports in the state, but instead of cotton-shipping wharves, its levees are now lined by floating casinos. Hwy-1 through Greenville takes top honors for the least attractive strip of gas stations and minimarts along the GRR, but appearances can be deceiving, as the city has some fine cultural traditions, from the anti-Ku Klux Klan editorializing of Hodding Carter’s Delta-Democrat Times during the 1950s and 1960s to the great steaks and hot tamales served up since 1941 at Doe’s Eat Place (502 Nelson St., 662/334-3315). Despite being granted a James Beard “American Classic” award in 2007, Doe’s is still housed in the same big white building it started in (follow North Broadway to the brick churches, then turn toward the river). It’s known for good food and good spirits throughout the state—and all over the South. Several other Doe’s Eat Place restaurants have opened, including one in Little Rock, Arkansas, that was made famous by former president Bill Clinton. Though Doe’s looks homespun, its prices are not; steaks will set you back a good $19 or more.

For faster, more affordable food, stop for breakfast at Jim’s Café (314 Washington Ave., 662/332-5951) or try the chili-cheese combos at Gino’s Hamburgers & Catfish (128 W. Reed St., 662/378-9655), off South Main Street.

Second to Clarksdale in the Delta blues galaxy, Greenville comes alive in mid-September during the annual Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival (662/335-3523). For accommodations, look along US-82 near the junction with US-61, east of town.