“Where there is positivity, there is possibility” – a motto we live by here in Tupelo. It’s what drives us to look after each other and keep smiling through the tough times. To celebrate our can-do attitude, we’ve created a trail dedicated to our positive thinkers and do-ers. Find out what inspires them to build better tomorrows in Tupelo and see what lessons they can teach you to take home and work toward making your community better for the future.
Know someone in Tupelo who deserves a spot on our list? Tell us about them in the comments section below or via our social channels.
TRAIL STOP 1: Elvis Presley's Childhood Home
Visit the birthplace of the man that changed music forever.
Elvis Presley was born in East Tupelo, where he grew up dreaming of becoming a superhero. Right from the start, he knew that more positive tomorrows are not a given; you have to make them. While money was scarce in the two-room house built by his family, love and support were not. The community’s tight-knight nature meant that young Elvis was constantly surrounded by positivity and musical inspiration – from songs at church to the Blues-men in the adjoining neighborhoods, and the country music radio programs he enjoyed with his family.
Positive Takeaway: Dreams can come true, no matter where you start.
TRAIL STOP 2: Tupelo Hardware Company, George Booth III
Visit a family business built on positivity (and the place where Elvis bought his first guitar!)
For George Booth, family history and a spirit of generosity inspired his return to Tupelo six years ago. Founded by his great grandfather in 1926, working at Tupelo Hardware Company has always been part of his plan. “I’ve always appreciated Tupelo’s community and wanted to be able to give back by helping to sustain the business. As the place where Elvis bought his first guitar, Tupelo Hardware is a unique combination of a hardware store and tourist attraction,” he says.
Positive Takeaway: You can go home and make a difference
TRAIL STOP 3: Adam Morgan's Blue Canoe
See where music dreams come true.
Adam Morgan, the owner of Blue Canoe, helps musicians take the next steps in their careers. When he’s not shining a spotlight on new talent, he’s using his multiple venues to help support other local restaurants. “Our restaurant community here works hard to build each other up …rather than trying to undercut anyone,” he says. “The positive culture we’ve created is rare, and I’m really proud of that.”
Positive Takeaway: Helping each other lifts us all.
TRAIL STOP 4: Music Bend/Veterans Park, Tyson Quinn with Real Men Stand Up
Visit one of the local parks that inspires Tyson Quinn to think positive.
“The Tupelo Spirit is a sense of pride in your community. It doesn’t take long for someone who visits to feel our spirit,” says Tyson Quinn of Real Men Stand Up. Since starting his mentoring organization in 2015, Tyson and his team have helped thousands of young men in the community, providing encouragement and support when they need it most.
When you’re visiting Tupelo and the Elvis birthplace, Tyson recommends The Music Bend Trail which is convenient for a reflective walk. “When I was younger, I loved to go to the overlook at the Elvis birthplace and just sit for hours looking across the city,” he says.
Positive Takeaway: We all have a role to play in helping the next generation grow and flourish.
TRAIL STOP 5: Queen's Reward Meadery with Jeri Carter
Head to McCullough Boulevard for a glass of soul-warming mead.
Jeri Carter blazed a delicious trail when she started Mississippi’s first meadery. She attributes her success to Tupelo’s positivity and can-do attitude. “Tupelo is an amazingly supportive environment for small businesses. This encouragement is contagious, and when you get to participate in encouraging others, the positivity grows,” she says.
Positive Takeaway: Blaze a new trail and encourage others.
TRAIL STOP 6: House of Pig with Clay Coleman
Enjoy delicious BBQ and classic Southern hospitality served up at Clay’s.
Clay Coleman was a Tupelo local who passed away from Covid in 2020. For Clay, life was better in a tight-knight community. It’s what inspired him to serve up his award-winning BBQ to customers, day after day, week after week. “There’s just something about living in the South, Tupelo in particular,” he once told us. “The sense of community is something you can feel. People you meet are warm, caring, and generous with their resources and time. Life by no means is easy, but it’s easier when you have a community like this.” The Tupelo community rallied around Clay’s family and restaurant after his death. His legacy of good food and community holds strong today.
Positive Takeaway: Life is better when we help and support each other.
TRAIL STOP 7: Robins Field with Frank Dowsing
Visit the field where Frank Dowsing carved a place in history as the first African-American to play football for Tupelo High School and one of the first to play at Mississippi State University.
Those who knew Frank Dowsing remember him as a standout athlete, student, and all-round positive person. In 1967, Dowsing was one of five African-American students who chose to attend the all-white Tupelo High under the “Freedom of Choice” desegregation plan, and the first to play football. He earned all-conference honors in football, basketball, and track, and graduated sixth in his class. His stellar efforts on and off the field broke all racial barriers, cementing his place in Mississippi history as a pioneer in race relations. Dowsing is a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Positive Takeaway: Have a brave spirit, work hard, and turn your dreams into reality.
TRAIL STOP 8: Talbot House Bakery & Cafe with Becky Weatherford
Grab a bite to eat in a place that gives back to the community in more ways than one.
Talbot House Bakery & Cafe has a mission beyond baking. Everything they sell, from cinnamon rolls to loaves of bread, directly benefits a woman in early recovery from substance abuse. For founder and director Becky Weatherford, Tupelo had all the right ingredients to ensure the initiative could succeed and help women in recovery change their lives. “The space was donated and the community has been so kind to us.”
Positive Takeaway: Create better tomorrows, not only for yourself, but for those who need them most.
TRAIL STOP 9: Downtown with Keep Tupelo Beautiful
Take a walk around town to admire the efforts of Keep Tupelo Beautiful.
Keep Tupelo Beautiful works to improve our community by preventing litter, promoting recycling, and engaging in beautification projects. The community organization encourages all residents to be responsible for improving the city’s scenic beauty and quality of life. For director Kathyrn Rhea, the initiative reflects the sense of positivity that shines across Tupelo, “everyone cares about their quality of life.”
Positive Takeaway: Keep Tupelo Beautiful reminds us to treat our homes, and the places we visit, with care and respect.
TRAIL STOP 10: APlus Barber Shop with Aaron Washington
Visit a place that gives customers much more than a fresh new cut.
Aaron Washington believes that getting a haircut is not merely a chore, but an experience where your time is valued. How Aaron cares for his customers shines through in everything he does, especially when it comes to Tupelo’s next generation. In fact, the Tupelo barber gives away free haircuts to any child who comes in and reads a book before school starts.
Positive Takeaway: Care for and inspire the next generation.
TRAIL STOP 11: Blackland Prairies with Chickasaw Inkana Foundation
Help protect and preserve Chickasaw heritage and culture.
Tupelo and North Mississippi are the heart of the Chickasaw homeland. Over the past decade, the Chickasaw Nation has worked hard to strengthen ties with the homelandand are one of the only displaced Native American communities that has begun to invest in the place from which they were removed. Today, the Chickasaw Nation works across Tupelo to preserve sites and artifacts and provide education about the Chickasaw people. The Nation’s Chickasaw Heritage Center will be a must-visit for cultural and ecological education when it opens in the near future.
Positive Takeaway: Lessons from our past can build us a foundation for a better future together.
Are you preparing to explore Tupelo soon?
Bookmark our Transformational Trail and check out our other trails.