It honestly exceeded my expectations. The Mississippi Aquarium was larger than I anticipated, (I was expecting it to be much smaller) and it was done with such excellence.…
The Secret Coast
Coastal Mississippi is referred to as the Secret Coast because it’s often overshadowed by its neighboring states.
But I really like to share hidden gems after I visit a destination, so let’s just keep the secret between us.
What’s great about this region is that it’s very drivable and you can visit multiple Mississippi coastal cities that each have such a distinct personality.
Coastal Mississippi Beaches
Let’s start with the obvious.
A big reason that vacationers come to Coastal Mississippi is the beaches that span 62 miles along the Gulf of Mexico.
The beaches also overlook the Mississippi sound and include 12 cities and three coastal counties.
The water is pretty shallow from Biloxi to Gulfport which means that you can feel a little more relaxed while your kids play in the water.
My boys loved finding little “islands” to toss a ball back and forth from and enjoyed spending a lot of time in the water.
As a Midwest girl, I was just happy to be near the ocean with white sand between my toes and water warm enough for me to get in.
Things to Do in Biloxi, Mississippi
Take a Shrimping Trip in Biloxi
(693 Beach Boulevard Biloxi Small Craft Harbor Biloxi, MS)
Biloxi is known as the Seafood Capital of the World.
The best way to learn more about the shrimping industry is to go out on a shrimp boat with Biloxi Shrimping Trip to learn more about the process.
You can channel your inner Bubba Gump and get a new appreciation for the people behind the shrimping industry during your educational cruise.
Biloxi Shrimping Trip takes you on a 70-minute Living Marine Adventure Cruise in the Mississippi Sound!
During the cruise, you will learn more about the region, observe the process for releasing the net, and then discovering the marine life caught in the net.
The crew put the net in the water and after a period of time, he pulled the net up and talked about all of the sea life that he found in the net.
The seagulls timed it perfectly with a gentle reminder when the 20 minutes was up and it was time to pull up the net.
We also got to hold lots of shrimp, crab, and a few small fish.
The captain showed us the three different types of shrimp (pink, brown, and white) that each has a different length of antennas.
If you get thirsty during the cruise you can purchase drinks that can be delivered by the most adorable furry helper/shipmate.
Walk the Dock of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor
On the other side of the parking lot, you will find lots of shrimp boats at the dock.
I love checking out the boat names and trying to wrap my mind around the work that is done on these boats.
Make sure that you check it out before or after your shrimp boat tour.
Tour the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum
115 1st Street, Biloxi, MS
If you want to understand more about the region’s maritime history and the seafood industry this is the museum.
It will give you a greater appreciation for the labor and equipment used to shape the industry.
The Outreach Manager from the museum, Corey Christy walked us around the museum. He pointed out special points of interest and his favorite pieces on display.
A few of the museum exhibit displays that stood out to me were the shrimp peeler, invented by a teenager (which caught my boys’ attention), and the oystering exhibit.
It showed images of how young the kids were who were part of the workforce before labor regulations for minors were set in place.
The Nydia Exhibit in the Grand Hall is also really impressive. It definitely deserves a closer look!
The museum is like a real-life “ship in a bottle” displaying Nydia, a boat that was built in Biloxi in 1898.
As you walk from the ground level to another floor of the museum, you can really appreciate the size of the sail of this beautiful boat from different vantage points.
If you are a fan of classic boats you will love the wooden boat gallery. If you are a fan of art there are special exhibits on display at the museum as well.
This is definitely the museum to visit if you are curious about the evolution of the seafood industry and want to learn more about why Biloxi became the Seafood Capital of the World.
Things to Do in Ocean Springs, MS
Ocean Springs is a great community to explore during your visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The downtown is charming with lots of local shops and great places to eat….more about that later.
The two streets to look for are Washington Avenue and Government Street. They have a high concentration of shops and places to eat.
Tour the Walter Anderson Museum of Art
510 Washington Avenue, Ocean Springs, MS
The museum is located close to everything in the heart of downtown Ocean Springs. You can easily walk to it before or after you grab a bite to eat.
We were given a tour by Tony Difatta (Education Director.)
He really helped us understand more about the life of artist Walter Anderson. Walter felt most at peace and drew his artistic inspiration from spending lots of time alone in nature.
His work and several pieces that are significant parts of his story are displayed at the museum.
There is the bike that he rode cross country and the small boat that he would take to an offshore island.
A few of the highlights of our visit were a visit to “The Little Room.”
It felt like such a gift to see in person after learning more about the story behind the room.
(I’m saving some of the secrets for when you visit. Make sure that you find out what was found in the chest)
Another highlight was viewing the 3,000 sq. ft Ocean Springs Community Center murals. Walter Anderson painted them in 1951 and thankfully they still have been preserved.
You really need to pause to take in all of the intricate details and incredible artistry. The museum changes out the collections on display and also features other artists which will give you more reasons to return.
Places to Eat in Ocean Springs, MS
Washington Avenue Ocean Springs, MS
Eat Breakfast Inside a Greenhouse
404 Porter Avenue, Ocean Springs, MS
If I didn’t have the address I would have driven right past it…actually confession, I did drive past it, but in my defense, I couldn’t see the greenhouse from the road….and I’m so glad that I found it!
Because who doesn’t LOVE a great biscuit??!!
My biggest breakfast dilemma is that I want BOTH sweet AND savory. At The Greenhouse on Porter, you don’t have to choose.
You can get one of each!
Sweet and savory biscuit options are made and change daily. If you order a biscuit plate it comes with a side of fruit or spiced pecans (think candied pecans )
I tried the savory (Cumin roasted tomato biscuit with rainbow chard fluff) and the sweet (strawberry biscuit with sweet fluff and pecan crumbles)
My boys opted for the biscuits served with Nutella.
If you bring teenage boys be prepared to order a few extras after your first order.
While you are enjoying your sweet or savory biscuits you relax inside the greenhouse. It has a larger seating area and board games available if you want to relax while you eat.
Be on the lookout for a cat named Marigold who is featured regularly on their Instagram account.
There are lots of clever printed signs throughout the greenhouse that are available for purchase. The venue is also available to rent out for special parties and events.
Lunch at Maison de Lu
626 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs, MS
During our visit, we opted for outdoor seating at Maison de Lu. We started with Crab Cakes served with house-made remoulade as an appetizer.
My son ordered the Grilled Chicken BLT. I ordered the Shrimp Po Boy dressed with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. My other son ordered the Crab Po Boy that was on special that day.
The White Chocolate Bread Pudding is a MUST!
I’m not even sure if my boys had ever tried/liked bread pudding prior to our visit but they will remember it now.
We shared one served warmed with ice cream on top. Every single bite was consumed… and maybe a little fought over toward the end.
Stop for a Sweet Treat at Pop Brothers
If you are in the mood for a cold treat, an artisan popsicle from Pop Brothers is the perfect cure.
They offer customers lots of creative options and the hardest part is deciding which one you want to try. Several of the flavors have large chunks of fruit or cookies in them.
For example, my son ordered the Nutter Butter Cookie that had a whole nutter butter cookie inside!
Dog lovers will appreciate that they even have two kinds of pooch pops.
There is a nice seating area for customers to consume their treats before they start melting.
They have more than one location in case you want to try another flavor while you are visiting one of the other cities nearby.
Other Nearby Attractions in Ocean Springs
3500 Park Road, Ocean Springs, MS
There is no entrance fee to visit this park (there is a fee to use the boat launch) and you will find plenty to see and do during a visit.
I always recommend stopping at the visitor center first for a lay of the land. They are great at offering recommendations of areas in the park that you don’t want to miss.
While inside take a few moments to check out the exhibits to help guests learn more about the local ecosystem.
After stopping at the visitor center and getting a map we went to several sections of the park.
This is a great place to go fishing, hiking, biking, bird watching (check out the eagle’s nest) and you can even camp here.
We hiked a few trails but the best part about our visit was that we saw two alligators in the wild!
Great Places to Eat in Gulfport Mississippi
Our first meal of the trip was at Shaggy’s that was a short walk from our hotel. The outdoor seating provided gorgeous views of the Gulf while we dined.
The indoor dining also has big windows but I’d rather be outside any day if given the choice. I prefer to hear the sounds revolving around the ocean.
We started with the Jalapeño hush puppies because I love any opportunity to eat something with jalapeños in it.
For lunch, I opted for the highly recommended “Royal Reds.”
What makes the Royal Red Shrimp a favorite is their texture that tastes more like lobster and has a sweeter flavor than regular shrimp.
This type of shrimp is red when it’s raw and found in the deepwater of the Gulf. I’m so grateful they were discovered because they are delicious!
My older son ordered the North Drop Tuna. It’s made with a 6 oz tuna steak with edamame rice, avocado, soy glaze, shaggy’s nom nom sauce & black sesame seeds. My younger son ordered the Beachside Quesadillas.
This restaurant was a wonderful introduction to the amazing food in the area.
Half Shell Oyster House
2500 13th Street Gulfport, MS
Located in downtown Gulfport, Half Shell Oyster House is a great option for dinner during your visit.
*The lighting wasn’t the best for photography but I still wanted to show you what we ordered because the food was fantastic.
We started with a few delicious appetizers including more Royal Reds (Cajun boiled, large Royal Reds shrimp served with hot drawn butter.)
We also tried the Tuna and Crab Stack.
It was made with Yellowfin tuna, crabmeat, and avocado tossed with Asian spices. Garnished with soy glaze, sriracha lime mayonnaise, and sesame seeds and served with wonton chips.
and the Crab and Shrimp Dip (A combination of Gulf shrimp, lump crabmeat and cheese. Topped with a Parmesan, herb and panko crust. Served with toasted French bread.)
I had a hard time picking a favorite so I would recommend all three if you are debating on what to try. The Tuna and Crab Stack was definitely an unexpected delight by our table.
Notable Sides to try-Sweet Potato Crème Brulee (it tastes like dessert), Grilled Asparagus topped with Gorgonzola Butter, and the garden salad.
For entrees, we tried the Seafood Pot Pie. The dish was made with Gulf shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat, corn, peas and carrots in a traditional pot pie filling with a golden buttermilk crust.
It was served differently than I anticipated but the crust made the dish!
We also tried the Shrimp Orleans because you can never have too many shrimp.
The Shrimp Orleans is made with Gulf shrimp sautéed in their original New Orleans style smoky Cajun sauce. It’s also served with sliced French bread.
My non-seafood-loving son (I’ve tried to convert him) ordered the Chicken Alfredo which is his favorite food.
27th Ave Bistro
1310 27th Avenue Gulfport, MS
We started with a few appetizers. The eggrolls and the crab dip were a hit with the table.
The wings and the Crawfish and Shrimp lasagna were also delicious! (Don’t judge it by its looks because it tastes wonderful)
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the chocolate dessert or the red velvet cheesecake.
2510 16th St, Gulfport, MS
If you need a caffeine boost, I highly recommend stopping by Coast Roast Coffee & Tea that uses 100-year-old roasters for their coffee.
My boys found milkshake flavors that they loved and I enjoyed a hazelnut mocha.
The coffee shop is very welcoming with indoor seating and garage doors that can open for more fresh air.
There is also an outside bar where you can order your drinks and a drive-thru if you don’t want to order inside.
Stroll Through Fishbone Alley
Alley between 26 & 27th Avenue and 13th & 14th Street
I LOVE discovering street art when I visit a city. I was so happy when I learned that Gulfport had an alley filled with street art.
This alley is the perfect spot for a photoshoot and an Instagrammer’s dream.
Take a Scenic Drive on I-90W
On our way out of town heading toward Bay St. Louis, we took I-90W.
The highway takes you along the water with scenic views.
I don’t think that I have ever seen oak trees so close to the ocean which made the drive even more beautiful!
Where to Eat in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
I wish I would have had more time in Bay St. Louis but my first recommendation is a MUST!
Breakfast at Mockingbird Cafe
110 South Second Street, Bay St Louis, MS
The Mockingbird Cafe is not only incredibly charming inside but it’s also home to the BEST chocolate chip muffin that I’ve ever had!
Seriously, soooo good!
They have also taken a big stance against plastic pollution by partnering with Plastic Free Gulf Coast.
When you order to-go items they come in a biodegradable cup, container, or bag along with no plastic straws.
You will also find great coffee, homemade pastries, and cool eclectic art throughout.
Visit the Angel Trees of Bay St. Louis
The beautifully carved trees are located throughout the city.
We only had enough time to visit the trees on Demontluzin Ave but you can also find them on Second St., One Beach Blvd., and near Century Hall.
Stay by the Beach at the Courtyard by Marriott- Gulfport
During our visit, we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott – Gulfport Beachfront. It’s located at 1600 East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport, MS.
You are steps away from the beach at this location. All we had to do was walk across the street and we were on Gulfport Beach.
We were within close proximity to several great restaurants and a short drive from everywhere we visited.
You can find discounted rates on hotels here.
Explore the My Gulf Coast Travel App
Ready for a Road trip?
The My Gulf Coast is a free travel app that helps users locate attractions, restaurants, shopping, and other points of interest that can be found at each Shrimp Sign posted along Highway 90.
More Information on Coastal Mississippi
You can find additional information from the Coastal Mississippi website.
Disclosure: I was hosted by Coastal Mississippi All opinions are my own.