Eclectic Ocean Springs: a little beach town with a big personality

POSTED 3:04 PM, JUNE 9, 2016, BY , UPDATED AT 03:10PM, JUNE 9, 2016

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WGNO) – Round up the kids, pack the car and head for Ocean Springs, where you’ll find activities to excite everyone in the family. Your athletic teenagers can play volleyball on the beach, while the younger ones build sand castles or play chess on a giant chessboard painted on the sidewalk. (A box nearby holds the pieces, and instructions for access are posted.) Mom and dad can swim, relax or play horseshoes.

For something special, rent one of four city-owned fire pits and the party can last until 10 p.m. Just $25 gets you a beach bonfire permit—and the sturdy brick pits are large enough that the whole family can gather around to roast marshmallows. Travel Girl Tip: Submit your permit application at the City Clerk’s Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or apply online.

There’s lots to do away from the beach as well. If you’ve ever been to Woodstock, N.Y., or watched The Andy Griffith Show or Mayberry R.F.D., you may feel some similarities as you wander the streets of Ocean Springs. There’s a passion for art that permeates this city, thanks to the Anderson family and Annette McConnell Anderson, the family matriarch who insisted that her three sons follow her passion for the arts. Walter Anderson took the lead, and his legacy is in the spotlight at the museum named for him, a “must see” for any art lovers visiting Ocean Springs. The Little Room is a favorite for locals and visitors, an intimate space covered in murals that was once Walter Anderson’s studio.

Pottery that reflects the colors of nature is another Anderson family legacy. Peter Anderson was the master potter at Shearwater Pottery for more than 50 years, and his children continue the craft. The workshop is an excellent place to pick up a meaningful souvenir, and if you really want to see his work in all its glory, attend the annual November festival that’s held in his honor. This year, the Peter Anderson Festival is November 5-6.

“The Anderson family kind of got this area started as an art community. They moved in here and their mother was very serious about the kids learning art,” explains Corey Christy, the communications director at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA).

Shopping, dining, music and nightlife all have starring roles in downtown Ocean Springs. If you like to shop, you’ll find endless temptations.

“We have shoe shops, jewelry shops, clothing shops, children’s shops—and most of them are locally owned. You name it, it's a fun place to find a little bit of everything you need,” says Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Whether you choose shopping, beach time or an art-filled afternoon, the prevailing spirit of Ocean Springs is always man’s harmony with nature.