By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
updated September 29, 2021
With peerless seafood, outdoor activities for every taste and level, and acres of gorgeous golf courses, Mississippi's Gulf Coast offers a state of perfect relaxation.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a place where visitors can explore at a pace that encourages photography, relaxation, and reconnecting with friends and loved ones in a charming, welcoming environment. With 62 miles of beautiful coastline and 14 coastal communities, there’s plenty to discover. Here, a taste of the incredible food scene, craft breweries, natural wonders, casinos, art, history, and beautiful golf courses of the region.
Eat your way across the gulf coast
For some travelers (including myself), eating is a major part of the fun of a weekend getaway. Options range from the kind of comfort food you might expect, such as the legendary Gulf shrimp; local BBQ joints serving pulled pork, chicken, and ribs; traditional gumbo; and classic red beans and rice to exciting recipes and approaches that may be new to some visitors - get ready to try pond-raised catfish at Aunt Jenny’s Catfish, in Ocean Springs, chargrilled oysters at Bayou Caddy Oyster Bar, in Bay St. Louis, and much more.
Just about anywhere you travel along the Mississippi coast, you’ll have an opportunity to indulge in the tradition of frying fresh-harvested shrimp and oysters and local BBQ recipes that evolved largely out of the Mississippi tradition of community barbecues in which huge amounts of succulent, smoky meat were cooked for hours for hungry party-goers. Perhaps most enticing of all is the fusion of the Gulf Coast’s unique culinary traditions to be found at eateries both small and large across the region: Some tasty examples you’ll want to try include shrimp and crab au gratin, at Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi, beautifully presented sushi dishes made with fresh Gulf seafood at Ichiban Sushi and Hibachi, in Ocean Springs, and crabmeat-stuffed redfish at Front Porch Cafe, in Pass Christian.
Raise a glass
Of course, with all that great food, visitors will want something to wash it all down. The Mississippi Gulf Coast’s craft brewery scene will reward thirsty travelers with carefully sourced grains, imaginative local brewing processes, and world-class brews on tap.
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, in Kiln, is Mississippi’s oldest and offers a wide assortment of craft brews, including the lightly refreshing Lazy Saison Belgian-style pale ale, Jefferson Stout, and the adorably named Southern Hops’pitality India pale ale. Biloxi Brewing Company’s award-winning flagship brew is Black Gold, a traditional Irish stout with a super-rich texture and flavor; the company has also introduced a Black Gold Breakfast Blend that gets its eye-catching name from its use of coffee in its unique flavor; for a lighter quaff, try the golden Biloxi Blonde or the Salty Dog, which is flavored with sea salt and coriander. Chandeleur Island Brewing Company, in Gulfport, gets its inspiration from the coast’s warm weather and sunshine; its refreshing Surfside Wheat Ale and Freemason Golden Ale are perfect for waterfront sipping; its darker Curlew’s Toasted Coconut Porter delights the palate with notes of coffee, chocolate, and toffee.
GET OUT IN NATURE
While not all travelers are hardcore “adrenaline junkies,” there are many exciting yet totally manageable activities that get you out on the beautiful waterways of the Mississippi coast, including private boats, ferries, and kayaks, or, for enjoying the water from shore, bicycle rentals and easy walking tours.
On the Coast, you’ll enjoy the opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing, and, of course, there is the Gulf Islands National Seashore with its six barrier islands, which offer varying degrees of adventure, each with its own special personality. Want to relax on warm sand beside gentle surf? The string of islands are home to several gorgeous beaches, and the islands serve as a literal barrier, keeping Mississippi’s 62 miles of coastline calm and inviting.
Immerse yourself in the natural history and wildlife of the Coast at the brand-new Pascagoula River Audubon Center, the “gateway” to the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. Here, visitors learn about the local environment and ecology and about the extraordinary river itself, which guides can help you explore on a two-hour boat tour. In fact, nature tours abound along the Coast, with miles of recreational trails that include hiking trails, blueways, nature parks, and boardwalks. To see more on your weekend, rent bicycles or book a boat cruise (options range from historic schooners to shrimp boats to sightseeing ferries). Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking the waterways with an outfitter such as Paddles Up that keeps it easy and fun.
casinos: gaming and so much more
Sure, the Gulf Coast’s 12 casinos offer 24-hour gaming and the fabulous entertainment you’d expect, but they also offer culinary creativity, shopping, and world-class spas. Centered mostly in the Gulfport-Biloxi area, with one in Bay St. Louis and one in D’Iberville, the Coast’s casinos are, for some visitors, the most convenient base of operations thanks to the range of services and attractions all under one roof.
explore local art & history
Want to take a walking tour of a historic Coast town and drop by the folk and antique museum or the meticulously maintained classic train depot? Bay St. Louis offers that and more. Craving a vibrant art museum named for one of the Coast’s most influential artists? Head to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs for the art and the fun special events that make it a community anchor. Each one of the Gulf Coast’s 14 communities boasts an artistic legacy and heritage that will keep visitors engaged and send them home having learned something new. From the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum to the galleries lining the streets to history tours and the superb Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, the Coast has an alluring institution just waiting for you to discover.
hit the links
When it comes to playing golf amidst gorgeous coastal vistas, in close proximity to first-rate watering holes, and in a relaxing environment for both the casual and the serious competitor, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers something for every taste.
It often comes as a surprise to golf enthusiasts who haven’t yet visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but many of the region’s courses were designed by some of the biggest names in the sport, including Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The area boasts well over a dozen courses with spectacular Gulf Coast views, including ample budget-minded options, with golf packages that include lodgings in local hotels, casinos, and condos starting at well under $100/night.
Speaking of affordable lodging, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers lodgings that are ideal for couples, families, and groups, ranging from comfy bed-and-breakfasts and inns to luxury hotels, casinos, condo rentals, and golf and spa resorts. From charming small towns to bustling urban centers.