Come vacation in our history. Settled in the 17th century by French colonists, the Coast’s past was as exciting as its present. And you’re invited to journey back and see for yourself!
To help you uncover all of our historic gems, we put together a 3-day itinerary of must-see, must-experience attractions. Enjoy.
19th Century Breakfast
Don’t dive into history on an empty stomach. In a building originally constructed in 1868, Mockingbird Café has a menu almost entirely made from scratch and walls covered in unique local art. Try the biscuits and frittatas for breakfast, with a nice cup of coffee. You’ll want to be wide-awake for what’s next.
The Party Museum
New Orleans isn’t the only town that knows how to Mardi Gras. The Bay St. Louis Historic Train Depot, built in 1928, houses our very own Mardi Gras Museum. Fill up on Fat Tuesday fun facts and history. Then marvel at the Carnival costumes designed by Carter Church. Admission is free.
Down By the Bay St. Louis
One of Southern Living Magazine’s ‘50 Best Places in the South’, Bay St. Louis boasts a charming, 300 year-old community you have to visit. Take in the architecture with a walking tour. Or rent a bike, if that’s more your speed. Just be sure to stop and take your picture by Old City Hall and Shoofly Oak. What’s a Shoofly Oak? You’ll see. Download the guide here.
Lunch with a View
It’s hard to beat the sights and eats of Harbor View Café. On a beautiful wraparound porch, try the fried green tomatoes and eggplant fries. And save room for dessert. The red velvet cake is a crowd and taste bud pleaser.
A Tale of Two Saints
St. Rose de Lima Catholic Church and St. Augustine Seminary & Grotto both held key roles in breaking down racial barriers. In 1868, St. Rose originally opened its doors as the first school in Bay St. Louis to teach African American children and today it is an active church with one of the best Southern Gospel Choirs in the country. St. Augustine is the oldest U.S. Roman Catholic Seminary to train and ordain African Americans. Now that’s some history you can feel good about.
Antiquity at its most Appetizing
What started as a pair of 19th century Acadian cottages, The Sycamore House is now an elegant restaurant with two dining rooms and a Live Oak-shaded courtyard. Husband and wife chefs, Michael Eastham and Stella LeGardeur serve up a creative menu of delicious gourmet items like the crabmeat and mushroom cheesecake. Reservations suggested!
Call it a Nightcap
End Day One with a drink at Hurricane Hunters Bar. Located in the 200 North Beach restaurant, which was built originally in 1903 as the offices of the SeaCoast Echo newspaper, the bar sells hurricanes from Category 1 to 5. CAUTION: The higher the category, the later your start will likely be tomorrow.
Rise and Breakfast
For a quick start to your day, get your morning biscuit and jelly for just 99 cents at Port City Café. With incredible comfort food and a throwback atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with breakfasting in both the Biloxi and Gulfport locations.
Step Into the Past
Swing by Beauvoir and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library, the 51-acre estate on the Gulf Coast where Jefferson Davis lived and wrote his memoirs, “Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.” This National Historic Landmark houses the restored mansion, Library and museum, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier.
A Historical Highlight
The Biloxi Lighthouse is a 64-foot centerpiece of our coastal past. Built in 1848, it was one of the first cast iron lighthouses in the South and is notable for several female light keepers. Because of its steely build, it was able to weather Hurricane Katrina and is now considered a symbol of strength in the region. Tours available daily.
Greats in the Graveyard
Visit the beachfront section of the Biloxi City Cemetery to see gravesites dating back to the 1800’s. Permanent residents include George Ohr (AKA The Mad Potter of Biloxi.) and root beer pioneer Edward Barq.
Drop Anchor in the Past
Pay a visit to the USS Biloxi mast. Nicknamed “The Busy Bee”, this 10,000-ton vessel carried 1,200 officers during WWII. The Busy Bee was busy indeed, completing one of the longest continuous tours of combat of any warship on record. On Oct 29, 1946 the ship was decommissioned and broken up for scrap, but you can still see the ship’s superstructure, Purple Heart display and other historic markers at the Harbor. If you can wake up early enough, the USS Biloxi’s location is a perfect sunrise destination.
Take a Big Seat
Originally a 35 foot advertisement for the Furniture Factory, our Magnolia State Rocker is the “World’s Largest Rocking Chair.” It sits proudly along the Coast and makes for quite the family photo opp.
Lunch Along the Coast
For classic Italian and Gulf fresh seafood, visit Salute Italian Restaurant. Locals love the Tomato Basil Soup and Seafood Ravioli. If you’re hungering for a view to go along with your meal, dine at The Chimneys. Their gorgeous Gulf sights pair nicely with the Grilled Tuna Steak. And if you happen to be craving fried shrimp, get on over to White Cap Restaurant. The portions are on the really big side, so bring a really big appetite.
The Past Has a Scenic Route
After visiting the USS Biloxi, continue your WWII remembrance with a visit to Pass Christian War Memorial Park. These beautiful, Gulf-front grounds honor the young, local men who served in the Second World War. Stop by the Victorian Gazebo and take in the mature Live Oaks during your visit.
Then drive back in time through the Pass Christian Scenic Drive Historic District. Named to the National Register in 1979, this district allows you to take a drive back in time past 130 commercial and residential buildings, both original and restored, located on a gently sloping ridge overlooking the Mississippi Sound. Make room on your camera phone. Lots of room.
Indulge Your Inner Seafoodie
Let beautiful marina views set the stage for an evening of delicious dining. Steve’s Marina Restaurant serves local seafood with signature made-to-order sauces like Crabmeat Chandelier. Or try the surf and turf at Cora’s Restaurant & Bar. This elegant gourmet restaurant is located in the historic White House Hotel, which was originally built in the 1890s and gorgeously restored to accept diners and hotel guests today. (For more on seafood, check out our Seafoodie Itinerary.)
Raise a Glass to the Past
Toast Day 2 on the Coast at Big Mike’s Speakeasy. Open all week, Big Mike’s brings a Roaring 20s atmosphere to the Gulf. Imagine sipping an expertly crafted cocktail on a deck overlooking Gulfport Harbor. Now make that daydream a reality.
Breakfast For the Road
At Crazy B’s Coffee & Confections, enjoy a hot, iced or frozen coffee with a muffin or ham and cheese “kolache” to go. You’ve got one last big day ahead of you and it’s packed.
History at Sea
Pay a visit to Seaman’s Memorial and pay your respects to the Mississippi Merchant Mariners who proudly served in both war and peace times. Then take a trip to Ocean Springs Museum of History at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts & Education. Here, you’ll discover The City of Discovery’s vast history, learn about the original Native American inhabitants and development of the seafood industry, and learn how the town’s buildings influenced architecture as we know it. Admission is free.
Tea Off Your Afternoon
While in Ocean Springs, try the homemade delights of Martha’s Tea Room, like “Neno’s Sweet Chicken Salad” – a secret family recipe handed down through the generations. Then take tea either inside or out on the large front porch.
An Afternoon Memorial
Pay tribute to the 668 Mississippians killed during Vietnam at the MS Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Here, you’ll find the main mast of the USS Mississippi CGN-40 and a monument honoring the Mississippi submariners of the USS Tullibee.
Delicious Dining Finale
Housed in one of our country’s oldest homes, Mary Mahoney’s restaurant was originally constructed in 1737 by French colonist Louis Frasier. At one point in time, it even served as headquarters for Governor Jean Baptiste Bienville, who commanded the entire Louisiana Territory from the home. Today we strongly suggest ordering the escargot. And the stuffed snapper. And, well, everything.
Or for something a little more casual, pay a visit to Scranton’s Restaurant, housed in a historic 1920’s building that was once the town’s firehouse and city hall. While you’re there, take a look inside the old town vault, touch the bars of the town’s original jail cell or view the red door that once lead to the firehouse. And then be sure to try their signature Shrimp & Grits, served with a zesty mushroom shrimp sauce.
Last Call for Fun
For a cozy atmosphere with cold beer and live music every night, make The Julep Room – located under Aunt Jenny’s Catfish – the final stop on your itinerary. The building’s main structure is over 150 years old and The Julep’s been hosting music for over 60 years. Rumor has it Elvis himself frequented one of the corner tables. You could say the bar has a long-standing history with good times.