Revel in the Outdoors - Visit Meridian

Revel in the Outdoors

Revel in the Outdoors

Lakes Make for Good Bird-Watching

Meridian-area birders usually have the best luck at Bonita Lakes and Okatibbee Lake. Bald eagles live year-round in the 6,883-acre Okatibbee Wildlife Management Area that surrounds Okatibbee Lake

To learn more, visit 
Okatibbee Creek Audubon Society

Many visitors — and residents — love Meridian for what’s around it: the great outdoors. They splash, boat, and fish at Dunn’s Falls, Bonita Lakes, Okatibbee Lake, and other bodies of water. They hike, hunt, ride horses, drive four-wheelers and RVs, look for birds and other creatures, explore with their dogs, picnic, and camp. They connect with nature and feed their souls.

Meridian is a great place to get outdoors. The city limits encompass the 3,300-acre Bonita Lakes Park. It’s a peaceful, lightly developed place for paddling, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, exercising, picnicking, or just listening to the birds and feeling the sun on your face. 

You can even bring your dog (with a leash) or your horse: over 20 miles of equestrian trails wind through the trees and along the lakes. The Lauderdale County Agri-Center, next to the park, offers public riding, horse stalls, and RV hookups when its 125x250-foot arena isn’t occupied by other events. Bonita Lakes RV Park, also next to the park, provides recreational vehicle camping (and a pool).

Driving around the three lakes (or bicycling; the roads have bike lanes), you’ll see lots of picnic tables, gazebos, and swings overlooking the tranquil scenery. Playgrounds and workout stations cater to more energetic visitors. The lakes are also the site of the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show.

Waterskiers love the 3,800-acre Okatibbee Lake. A number of public boat ramps with courtesy docks provide quick and easy access to the water. Hikers and campers enjoy four campgrounds in the area, offering everything from primitive tent camping to lakeside cabins and a full-service RV park.


Some of the area’s best white-tailed deer hunting and largemouth bass fishing can be found at the lake. Check with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks ( for current regulations, plus locations for obtaining a license.

Fine-tune your aim at Binachi Shooting Sports. It offers sporting clays and skeet shooting, plus 3-D archery and field archery courses. Target shooting is also available outdoors at Battlefield Shooting Club and indoors at The Range at 601 Sports.

Dunn’s Falls, a 65-foot waterfall, is 15 miles southwest of Meridian and worth the drive. A stream that was diverted in the 1850s to provide water power for a factory created a picturesque waterfall that tumbles down a cliff into the Chunky River. The factory is gone, but an 1857 vintage gristmill, moved here from Georgia, stands in its place. The millrace, waterwheel, and mill machinery remind us that, not so long ago, entrepreneurs had to create their own power instead of simply flipping a switch.

1-Day Stay

Start a soul-soothing day with a pleasant 20-minute drive to Dunn’s Falls, a lovely, Instagram-ready wildlife refuge and historic site. Spend the morning letting the sound of falling water wash your cares away. You can walk down from the cliff top to wade in the Chunky River. Then pick up a takeout lunch at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and picnic at Bonita Lakes Park. Don’t forget dessert; you’ll walk it off on the nature trails or the walking/jogging track around the lakeshore.

Visitors — including a few joyful dogs — descend the winding stairs to play in the waterfall and the clear, shallow waters of the Chunky. A few stay atop the cliff, settling down at benches or picnic tables and enjoying the soothing sound of falling water. 

Those who like to keep active, even on vacation, have plenty of choices. For example, Northeast Park includes tennis courts, softball and soccer fields, a newly built, all-inclusive playground, a walking track; and plenty of parking, all well-lit. For a full list of sporting venues click here.

Owners of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles can tackle trails featuring everything from mud and sand to rocks and tree roots, plus a couple of dirt pits. That’s all available for a reasonable fee at Meridian OHV Park. 

If you prefer to watch someone else do the driving, head to Whynot Motorsports Park for slip-sliding dirt track action, including frequent special events. Or go to Battlefield Dragstrip in Collinsville, which hosts Friday-Saturday drag racing spring through fall. 

Whether you like a wild ride, a peaceful escape, or anything in between, Meridian can supply it.

Make it a Weekend

Go straight to the expert: Visit Tony’s Southern Sportsman. Tony Creel can outfit you with any outdoor gear you need. Even better, he’ll share his vast hunting and fishing knowledge and set you up for a great weekend. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can ping a few indoors at The Range at 601 Sports. Duck into The Simmons-Wright Company a few miles east of Meridian in Kewanee for a nice lunch in the middle of a still-operating old-time country store. Take in some sideways-sliding, wheel-spinning Saturday-night fun on the dirt at Whynot Motorsports Park.

Whether you want to work on your aim or just have a little fun, try the sporting clays and skeet shooting at Binachi Shooting Sports.