Robin O'Neal Smith

Coastal Mississippi, often referred to as “The Secret Coast,” spans 62 miles overlooking the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. Three coastal counties of Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson, and 12 communities make up The Secret Coast.

During a recent trip to The Secret Coast, we had the opportunity to experience various activities as we traveled along the coast. Here are a few of our favorites that mature travelers can enjoy. 

Many of the activities listed during our visit to the Secret Coast of Mississippi were hosted by Coastal Mississippi or the individual destinations listed. All opinions are my own. 

1. Visit Bay St. Louis

Just 51 miles from New Orleans, Bay St. Louis is a quaint seaside town full of friendly people, fantastic eateries, and lots of heart. It offers an array of restaurants, galleries, and plenty of photo opportunities.

The town was destroyed when the eye of Hurricane Katrina landed in 2005 but has since been rebuilt. The rebuilding is a testament to the resiliency of the people living there. 

The town is walkable and there are bike paths, birding spots, hiking trails, and the historic St. Louis Bay Bridge. 


Desert at Fields Steak and Oyster Bar in Bay St. Louis.
Robin O’Neal Smith

2. Dine At Fields Steak And Oyster Bar

If you only have time to eat one meal, eat dinner at Fields Steak and Oyster Bar. Located in the heart of downtown Bay St. Louis, Fields offers eclectic and unique dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Chef Lauren Joffrion is impressive, and her creations are delicious. 

We enjoyed a “Date-night Special” that included a steak for each of us. My side dish was fried Brussels sprouts. The sprouts were shredded, fried with bacon, and then topped with a maple mustard glaze. Honestly, I would return to this restaurant just for the Brussels sprouts. Our dessert, Chicory Coffee Panna Cotta, had a fudge brownie crust and was topped with torched marshmallows and drizzled with salted caramel. 

Field’s is one restaurant you don’t want to miss.

Ruth's Roots Community Garden in Bay St. Louis.
Robin O’Neal Smith

3. Walk Through The Gardens

Make a stop at Ruth’s Roots Community Garden and be awed by what you see. The garden exposes community members, visitors, and local youth to agriculture and nature while offering plenty of space for relaxation, personal growth, expression, and an opportunity to help others.

Art is everywhere in and around the garden. Seasonal vegetables, fruits, and herbs are planted each year. Chickens, rabbits, worms, butterflies, and honeybees live in the garden. 

Bay Town Inn Bed & Breakfast
Robin O’Neal Smith

4. Stay At The Bay Town Inn

Spend the night at the Bay Town Inn. It is a beautiful bed and breakfast just across the street from the beach. They have 10 guest suites, all decorated in coastal themes. When we visited, we stayed in the spacious Lighthouse Suite. It had a luxurious beach vibe with a comfy queen bed, sofa sleeper, full bath, an open-plan kitchen area, and a private deck overlooking the saltwater pool and grounds.

The Southern hospitality is welcoming. When we arrived, fresh cookies were waiting for us on the counter. 

Pro Tip: Park your car and forget it. You can walk to everything from the Bay Town Inn.

The Angel Trees in Bay St.Louis.
Robin O’Neal Smith

5. Pay Tribute By Visiting The Angel Trees

Several oak trees died as a result of Hurricane Katrina. A chainsaw sculptor carved the trees into the shape of angels. The Angel Trees are located throughout the city, and one tree across from the Bay Town Inn on Demontluzin Avenue was used by three Katrina survivors and a dog as a life raft until they were rescued.

Nikki Moon, the owner of the Bay Town Inn, was one of them. Viewing the Angel Trees is a moving experience. 

Tunnel at the Mississippi Aquarium located in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Robin O’Neal Smith

6. Visit The Aquarium

The Mississippi Aquarium, located in Gulfport, Mississippi, opened in August 2020. The indoor and outdoor complex tells the story of how all the state’s natural resources are uniquely tied together. 

My favorite things to see at the aquarium were the underwater tunnel and the circular wall of fish. Entertaining for all ages, plan to spend two to four hours at the aquarium. 

7. Wander Through Fishbone Alley 

A funky little alley in downtown Gulfport featuring original local art, Fishbone Alley, backs up to several restaurants and bars. Many coastal artists have “left their mark” with colorful panels, murals, and shutters. It is a great place to get a taste of the culture! 

Onion Rings at Patio 44.
Robin O’Neal Smith

8. Eat Lunch At Patio 44

Serving classic and new Creole-style dishes utilizing many ingredients from the Delta and Gulf Coast regions, Patio 44 is a wonderful place for lunch or dinner. You can enjoy delicious food and premium cocktails in a comfortable atmosphere. 

9. Hit The Beach

The nation’s longest manmade beach runs along the coast of Mississippi. You can enjoy soft white sand for 26 miles, including public beach access, water adventures, and many photo opportunities. 

Pro Tip: Many of the pull-offs along the beach have changing rooms. Some have showers, too. 

Shrimp boat, Biloxi Shrimp Trip expedition.
Robin O’Neal Smith

10. Take A Shrimp Tour

Have you ever wondered how all those delicious shrimp you eat are caught? Learn all about shrimp, how they are caught, processed, and more during a 70-minute Living Marine Adventure Cruise. The Biloxi Shrimp Trip makes the pride and heritage of the area come alive as you learn about the breathtaking world of sealife.

When we participated in this entertaining and educational Shrimp expedition, I got to hold the shrimp and some of the other sea catch brought in with the shrimp in the nets.

This is a fun excursion you don’t want to miss. Plan approximately two hours for this adventure. 

Pro Tip: Watch for the dolphins that follow alongside the boat. 

11. Learn How Shrimping Got Its Start At The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum

The beautiful building with walls of glass showcases the history of the local maritime industry. At the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, visitors enjoy an extraordinary collection of priceless artifacts and photographs, which explain the history and growth of how the area became a world-renowned seafood processing center. 

Plan to spend several hours enjoying this museum.

Pro Tip: Take time to watch some of the videos playing throughout the museum. They tell a fantastic story. 

Upscale meal at Mary Mahoney's Old French House.
Robin O’Neal Smith

12. Enjoy French Elegance At Mary Mahoney’s

Mary Mahoney’s Old French House is an upscale and elegant restaurant in one of the oldest homes in America. This unique restaurant serves delicious food, and eating there is a lovely experience you won’t want to miss when visiting Biloxi. 

13. Discover Some Amazing History At Beauvoir

Beauvoir was the seaside retirement estate of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America. A restored antebellum home dominates the complex. Also on the grounds are the Confederate Museum, the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, a historic cemetery, and the Presidential Library. 

Sculpture hanging on the wall in Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
Robin O’Neal Smith

14. Visit The Walter Anderson Museum Of Art

A must-see when visiting Ocean Springs is the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. An elusive artist, Walter used art to understand and interact with the world around him. A man of many talents, he created thousands of works of art. You can view watercolors, block prints, wood carvings, ceramics, and sketches at the museum.

The museum has self-guided and guided tours. Learn about the life of Walter Anderson, his contributions to the world, and the tragic end of his life. Plan several hours to see all the exhibits. 

Pro Tip: Don’t miss “The Little Room” in the museum. 

French inspired meal with Rack of lamb at Maison de Lu.
Robin O’Neal Smith

15. Dine At Maison De Lu

The French-inspired menu at Maison de Lu in Ocean Springs offers something unique and memorable using fresh ingredients from the area. 

We enjoyed dining alfresco. The restaurant provided terrific service and the meal was scrumptious. 

16. Dance The Night Away At Mosaic

If you want to listen to some live music or dance the night away, visit Mosaic in Ocean Springs. It is a cozy restaurant and patio that features tapas, drinks, and live music.

Room at the Hemingway Boutique Hotel.
Robin O’Neal Smith

17. Sleep At The Hemingway Boutique Hotel

Snuggled in the heart of downtown Ocean Springs, The Hemingway is a boutique hotel with four gorgeous rooms and suites carved out of a historic bank building. 

From The Hemingway, you are within walking distance of more than 100 eateries, bars, galleries, and shops. 

Pro Tip: Be aware there are steps to all the rooms, and there are no elevators. 

German chocolate cake treat at French Kiss Pastries.
Robin O’Neal Smith

18. Treat Yourself To Breakfast Or A Dessert At French Kiss Pastries

We visited French Kiss Pastries for breakfast, and I delighted in the sinfully delicious German chocolate cake with gooey coconut pecan icing. 

Sandwiches are also available, but who wants a sandwich when you can have a sweet treat?

Vibrant pink flowers at Pascagoula River Audubon Center.
Robin O’Neal Smith

19. Explore Nature At Pascagoula River Audubon Center

Adventure, fun, and education await at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. Explore nature and bayou habitats on the nature trails, bird feeders, critter tanks, and bayou pier. 

They also have kayak rentals, a beautiful art gallery, a gift shop, and more!

Shrimp meal at Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli.
Robin O’Neal Smith

20. Taste Fresh Seafood At Bozo’s Seafood Market And Deli

You can’t visit an area world-renowned for its seafood and not enjoy eating some fresh seafood. Bozo’s Seafood Market and Deli has everything from shrimp, crawfish, and clams to myriad fish selections. They also serve Po Boys

Pro Tip: Portions are large, you might want to share. 

Whatever you choose to do along Mississippi’s Secret Coast, just know it is pretty much perfect for the mature traveler. 

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