On the eastern edge of the Mississippi Delta, a rural landscape defined by the changing whims of water, little Greenwood, Mississippi, grew into “cotton capital of the world,” thanks to its prime shipping location on the Yazoo River and its fertile soil, a rare earth from which blues legends sprung up alongside cotton fields. Today Greenwood has bloomed beyond its agricultural roots and is beloved as the birthplace of the blues as well as for its culinary culture and a friendly welcome.
A few steps into the sleek, shiny lobby of The Alluvian hotel, and you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that you’d teleported to some major metropolis. Gleaming marble under foot, swank décor, and stellar service might not match your idea of what to expect at a hotel in small-town U.S.A. Yet this sophisticated property, located downtown, is working hard to change that fact and setting a new standard for comfort and style in a boutique hotel. After a complete renovation, The Alluvian opened in 2003 in the shell of a historic hotel that had shut its doors in the late 1980’s.
The guest rooms are as impressive as the lobby, including touches like amply sized bathrooms, plush robes, Aveda toiletries, and Kuerig coffee makers with a selection of gourmet k-cups to choose from, all amid rich colors and clean-lined contemporary furnishings. The real stars are the comfy, cozy beds decked in 300-thread-count linens covering soft, over-stuffed mattresses.
A variety of soothing, tranquil treatments designed to engage all five senses while rejuvenating body and soul are on tap at The Alluvian Spa. Indulge in services like the Deep South Cleanse facial, the Delta River Rock massage, or a therapeutic bath like The Muddy Waters, a deep-cell purification that removes toxins and impurities and then is followed by a short massage. A full-service hair salon with mani and pedi offerings is also onsite at the spa.
LEARN AND LAUGH
Whether you’re a seasoned home chef looking to hone your culinary skills or more of a “take out” and “eat out” person who’s in need of a tutorial on the basics of boiled water, The Viking Cooking School is a treat. The school’s motto: “Live, Laugh, Cook, Eat!” is an accurate description of what you’ll encounter during one of its hands-on cooking classes, with heavy emphasis on the “laugh” part. In gleaming, state-of-the art kitchen classrooms equipped with top-of-the-line Viking Ranges and appliances, expert instructors and notable chefs teach how to prepare everything from pizza to sushi to decadent desserts in a relaxed atmosphere. Choose a late afternoon class and enjoy the fruits of your labor for dinner.
Visit The Museum of the Mississippi Delta to dig into the area’s distinct character at this treasure trove of yesterdays. Formerly called Cottonlandia in honor of the crop’s crucial role in the economy, the museum tells the Delta story with exhibits of agricultural tools, artwork, artifacts, and antiques.
Next hop in your car and travel a portion of The Mississippi Blues Trail. Greenwood considers itself the birthplace of the blues, and there’s no better place to uncover the stories behind the sounds of this uniquely Deep-South music genre. Eight Trail markers are in and around Greenwood, highlighting significant spots like B.B. King’s birthplace, the home of WGRM radio, and the final resting place of Robert Johnson (the blues icon famous for selling his soul to the devil at a Delta crossroads in exchange for his musical talent).
In the front of the Viking Cooking School facility is the Viking store. Stock up on supplies at this cook’s paradise overflowing with bowls, pots, pans, handy gadgets, colorful whisks, cute kitchen towels, and other culinary accessories. Then walk down the street to find an array of gift shops and charming boutiques scattered throughout downtown. Don’t miss Fincher’s, Inc. (which stocks some of the famed names in Delta pottery), The Mississippi Gift Company (full of local art and other magnolia-state-made items) and Turnrow Book Co. Grab a cup of coffee and sit for a spell with a book or magazine up in this book nook’s cozy loft.
Opened in 1933, the Crystal Grill is a Greenwood institution and is most famous for its authentic tamales and its “mile-high” pies, thanks to copious amounts of sweet, airy meringue.
The Delta Bistropub, a laidback spot downtown, serves regional favorites with a twist. Bell jar pendant lights illuminate funky artwork lining exposed brick walls, and you’ll find creativity on your plate too. Look for dishes like the fried Mississippi catfish sandwich with sriracha coleslaw that put a spin on comfort-food classics.
Enjoy some private time with your food in the small, curtained rooms with one table each that line a wall of Giardina’s, a new take on an old place, originally opened in 1936. Southern staples like fried green tomatoes are elegantly dressed with lump crabmeat and warm “comeback sauce.” Finish on a sweet note with the Delta Delight, a thin butter cake swirled with cream cheese and topped with roasted pecans and vanilla ice cream.