"The past is never dead," said William Faulkner. "It is not even past."

The author's famous quotation could be used as a slogan for his home state's tourism department. With a legacy of turbulence and grandeur, Mississippi's history takes center stage for visitors. You can see the antebellum homes created by the riches of the slave era, then visit the sites of the Civil War battles that brought an end to the plantations. You can learn about the great stories and songs that seem to grow from the state's troubles—everything from Faulkner's Southern Gothic fiction to the raw blues of Robert Johnson.

Or, if you prefer neon to magnolias, you can go to the casinos. Mississippi's more recent history includes a boom in gaming establishments, and although they may be less romantic than the state's pillared mansions, they draw a lot of travelers. There's gaming to be found throughout the state, and the Gulf Coast and Tunica County have benefited from a virtual second wind—and windfall—thanks to the revenue generated from casinos. Mississippi is now the third-leading gaming destination in the country after Nevada and New Jersey. Although many tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels along the beach were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005, most of the Coast's casino-hotels are back open.

Mississippi's short but attractive shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico shouldn't be overlooked, either, as it offers both developed resort areas and the quiet preserves of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. When planning your trip, make sure to detour around the Highway 90 bridges over Biloxi Bay and the Bay of St. Louis. New bridges are under construction to replace those destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

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