I told you a few weeks ago that I would be occasionally writing about quick getaways within driving distance of Tippah County that you may want to experience now that COVID restrictions are easing, to stimulate not only the State economy, but to stimulate some FUN in your life that only travel can provide. Well, this week, I’m writing about one such weekend jaunt! On our way back to Ripley from Laurel, Mississippi (where we went in August for a quick weekend getaway), FGG and I stopped in Meridian, MS, to eat at the famous Weidmann’s Restaurant, as per the suggestion of a Facebook friend. It did not disappoint. More on Weidmann’s later in the column, but first: let me tell you a little bit about Meridian and some things that make it special.
My first impression of Meridian is that it is a super cute city which features great shopping, restaurants, museums, art, culture, and things for kids to do. The nickname of Meridian is “Queen City” because it was the second largest city next to Jackson, Mississippi’s capital(“King”). Did you know that country singer, Jimmie Rodgers, was born in Meridian? Some consider him to be the Father of Country Music! Music is a big deal in Meridian, as well as food, the arts, outdoor activities, and shopping. Although we were only in Meridian for Sunday Brunch, I have already planned a weekend getaway there using visitmeridian.com from which I also got the content for much of this week’s column.
Something you must do in Meridian, in addition to eating at Weidmann’s is to visit the Denzel Carousel. It’s a Meridian civic treasure.
Riders can choose among 20 horses, two deer, two antelope, two giraffes, a lion, a tiger, and two double-seat chariots. Craftsmen at the Dentzel Carousel Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hand carved each wooden animal and chariot all the way back in 1896. The carousel eventually debuted at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The City of Meridian then bought it in 1909 for $2,000. Today, it would be worth more than a million dollars. (It’s not for sale.)
Also in 1909, the city built a carousel house from Dentzel blueprints to house its new showpiece. The square exterior looks deceptively plain. Inside you’ll find lots of retro charm, particularly from the octagonal clerestory’s soaring wooden rafters and band of windows.
The building is the only one of its kind left standing, and the carousel itself is the only two-row stationary Dentzel carousel known to survive. After all these years, it retains its original horses and chariots and even most of its original “scenery” oil paintings, as well as a painted advertisement that reads: “G. A. Dentzel builder of the latest improved carrousel 3635-41 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia Pa.” (“Carrousel” is the original French spelling.)
The carousel and its house are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are also official Mississippi and national landmarks.
Operating hours for the Dentzel Carousel vary seasonally:
· June–July: daily, 1–5 p.m.
· April–May, August–October: Saturday–Sunday, 1–5 p.m.
· November–March: Saturday, 1–5 p.m.
Groups sometimes rent the carousel for private parties. You can call 601.485.1802 to confirm that it’s open to the public. The carousel is at 1802 Carousel Drive in Highland Park. Adults must accompany riders who are 3 years old or younger. Rides cost 50 cents; tours of the carousel and shelter cost $1.
Besides visiting the Dentzel Carousel, you’ll have your pick of memorable experiences when visiting Meridian. Visitmeridian.com has a calendar of upcoming events and allows you to plan a trip based on your personal interests and length of stay. There are different categories on the site you can click on, depending on what types of experiences you would like to have while visiting. Want to go antiquing? There’s a link for that to help you plan your trip. Prefer to have a fun family weekend? The website has got you covered with lots of ideas for visiting Meridian with little ones. Prefer an outdoor adventure? From historic trails to hiking and biking opportunities, visitmeridian.com offers so many suggestions!
There are many fun upcoming community events in Meridian for families and adults, so whether you stop there on your way to or from Laurel, as we did, or if you make Meridian your final destination, the site has got you covered with activities, no matter how long you decide to stay.
Some interesting upcoming events to plan a trip around include a variety of family fun, music, art, and, my personal favorite: FOOD! Details regarding each of these events may be found at visitmeridian.com For a list of all Meridian events, visit the Community Calendar page: http://meridiancommunitycalendar.com/ LeAnn Rimes will be in concert there the Saturday after this column is published. There’s a Fall Festival, Haunted Firehouse, Blues Music Events, Fun workshops for kids at the Children’s Museum, and a farm-to-table even all on the calendar.
It’s time to tell you about the Sunday Brunch experience FGG and I had at the famous Weidmann’s Restaurant. As I mentioned earlier: it did not disappoint! Weidmann’s offers Affordable Southern Cuisine in an historic setting. Mississippi’s oldest restaurant (established in 1870) serves up some of the best food in the South. Steeped in tradition, Weidmann's is famous for their Black Bottom Pie and for having a peanut butter crock on every table.
Many of the recipes of the original Weidmann’s have been revived as well as new classics which are enjoying local popularity. The restaurant has been featured in many books, magazines, cookbooks and television shows. Another Weidmann’s tradition is the vast collection of photographs of celebrities, employees, and local guests.
On each table at Weidmann’s is set with a handmade peanut butter crock and an assortment of crackers. This tradition dates back to the 1940’s, when legend has it there was a shortage of butter due to the WWII. A guest mentioned to Henry Weidmann that peanut butter would be a good replacement to accompany the crackers. Well, let me tell you: FGG and I are both trying to stay on a keto diet (no sugar), but we said to heck with that and ate every bit of the peanut butter in the crock! YUM! The restaurant now has a local potter in Meridian making the crocks by hand, and they are available for purchase.
The vibe inside Weidmann’s is definitely antique chic. Exposed brick walls, high ceilings, the gorgeous wood floors, large windows, and the beautiful, old, carved bar give the interior character. The Original Works of Art on display in the restaurant are all by local artists. Meridian is very fortunate and proud to have such a vast community of artists. Most pieces are available for sale from which 100% goes to the artist.
So, as I mentioned, we were there for Sunday Brunch. Brunch is served Sunday from 11:00am until 2:00pm.
See the full menu at www.weidmanns1870.com
FGG and I ate at the bar (our favorite place to sit). Alexis, our bartender, knew the entire history of the restaurant, and had encyclopedic knowledge of the menu. She made great keto-friendly suggestions! We enjoyed a bowl of crab bisque, which was the Soup of the Day. The soups are made fresh every morning.
Then, we got Bacon Cheeseburgers, which were DELICIOUS. Eight ounces of chopped sirloin topped with applewood smoked bacon and sharp cheddar cheese and served with a fried green tomato, lettuce, and comeback sauce did not disappoint, for a mere $11.95 per person!
Molly, the manager, made sure to have servers serving brunch pass by me so I could snap a picture. I was able to see the Southern Breakfast plate as it passed by, and it looked delicious! It included a biscuit served open faced, topped with fried green tomatoes, and smothered with a sausage gravy, served with sausage and two eggs for 14.95.
The service and food was top-notch, even to FGG’s high standards (he enjoys fine dining all over the country, and said the food was great there). We will be back!
210 22nd Avenue
Meridian, MS 39301
Meridian is a really hip-storic city that’s piqued my interest, and, hopefully, I’ve inspired you to “take a spin” and check it out (Dentzel Carousel pun intended). Can’t wait to explore more next time!
Have you been to Meridian? What did I leave out that visitors should definitely see or do? If you end up taking a road trip to Meridian, be sure to holler at me on The Little Mrs. FGG's social media (tik tok, instagram, Facebook, and YouTube). Have fun making the memories that only travel can provide!