Nineteen thousand residents and 20,000 students enable OXFORD, an enclave of wealth in a predominantly poor region, to blend rural charm with a vibrant cultural life. Its central square is archetypal smalltown America, but the leafy streets have a vaguely European air – the town named itself after the English city as part of its (successful) campaign to persuade the University of Mississippi, known as Ole Miss, to locate its main campus here.

East of the university, in town, life revolves around the central square. Here you’ll find Neilson’s, the oldest department store in the south – little changed since 1897. You can pick up a cool pair of heels in one of the boutiques, have a quick lunch or join students sipping espresso on the peaceful balcony of the splendid Square Books.

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