Local writer Margaret Littman takes you through the top Biloxi beach hotels for Gulf Coast relaxation and top-notch casino entertainment.
The grey and white seagulls lined up at attention on a pylon, facing west. There were dozens of them, not scanning for abandoned picnic scraps, but soaking up the setting sun. Nearby, sand mounds sprouted beach grass, at least five feet high, providing the backdrop, their silver fronds swaying in time to the sound of the waves on the shore, illuminated by the sunset.
That was my welcoming committee to Biloxi, Mississippi.
In Biloxi, the restaurants, hotels, and shopping centers tower above the north side of Beach Boulevard, allowing for unobstructed stretches of the lapping Gulf waves and white sand. Later I learned that it’s Biloxi’s topography, specifically the small barrier island called Deer Island, that attracts wildlife. It’s not just seagulls, but also roseate spoonbill — a pink bird that looks like a cross between a pelican and a flamingo — hellbender salamander, pelicans, dolphins, and in the summer, even manatees will lumber through nearby rivers and bays.
With the sun beneath the horizon, my greeters flew away, and Biloxi’s lazy beach vibe effortlessly morphed into a late-night party scene accented by a string of casinos. When beach time ends, indoor entertainment begins, often with a pull on a slot machine and a cocktail in hand.
Such is Biloxi’s appeal with bountiful casino buffet portions balanced by the rarity of seeing a roseate spoonbill. Whether you’re headed here to take in the salt air or try your luck at the tables, you can experience it all with a stay at one of these Biloxi beach hotels.
Golf, Gamble and Get Out on the Gulf
While many of Biloxi’s vacation destinations face the Gulf of Mexico, the IP Casino Resort & Spa gets its waterfront amenities from being located on the Back Bay. This location gives you the best of both worlds: Bay access for boating, yet just a few blocks away from the Gulf’s inviting beaches.
Inside, you’ll find all the attractions that one would expect of a casino resort. The casino features both card tables and slots. Dining options run the gamut from a full buffet with a carving station and a poolside American eatery to a coffee shop and a sports bar with 65 different TV screens and a plethora of burger choices.
For live entertainment, check out the resort’s Studio A. The lineup rotates between country music, classic rock and oldies, and comedy. Upcoming performers include Trace Adkins, the Oak Ridge Boys, The Temptations, and Jeff Foxworthy.
Biloxi's Frank Gehry
History and Architecture
The resort has a gallery nearby at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum. This Frank Gehry-designed museum is an architectural marvel on Beach Boulevard as well as a great place to learn about Biloxi history.
Hotel IP Casino Resort & Spa
A Historic Charmer
As you drive up to the White House Hotel, you’ll feel like you’re arriving on the set of Gone With The Wind, thanks to its magnificent live oak trees, enormous front porch, and staff waiting to attend to your every need. With its historic Biloxi roots and a location about a mile away from the bigger, showier casino resorts, White House is perhaps the area’s most serene resort getaway.
In contrast to its genteel feel and oversized black-and-white photographs documenting Biloxi’s past, White House is a renovated oasis, with a large open lobby and bar, with modern furniture designed to make working or uploading vacation photos a breeze. This comfortable, open lobby space features furniture with built-in USB ports and outlets as well as speedy WiFi.
A horseshoe-shaped bar separates the lobby from the full-service restaurant. The bartender makes a mean old fashioned, with an artful balance of bitters and citrus. Try one before heading to a secluded booth at Cora’s restaurant to feast on Gulf-caught seafood. The Sunday brunch is popular with hotel guests and locals alike, in part because of its unlimited Bloody Marys and Mimosas for $10.
Take the whole family to lounge at the pool while looking out at the Gulf or play games on the large expanse of grass that circles the hotel, all while listening to the tide and smelling the salt air. When you’re ready for full-on beach time, just walk across the street.
Stepping into the Ugly Past
Jefferson Davis Presidential Library
The Jefferson Davis Presidential Library is an eight-minute drive west on Beach Boulevard. Davis, of course, was not a U.S. President, but the head of the Confederate States of America. This historic site is a trove of information about the Confederacy, and learning about it can be helpful for understanding the South’s complicated past.
White House Hotel
Everything seems bigger at Beau Rivage, one of the swankier, larger-than-life casinos on Biloxi’s Gulf Coast. With more than 1,700 rooms and an on-site concert venue right on the beach, this is the kind of resort you don’t ever have to leave. The refreshing second-story outdoor pool has adjacent cabanas for shade — a welcome respite from the hot Mississippi sun—plus poolside food and bar service so that you don’t have to get up to refill your cocktail. Just sit and enjoy the view of the Gulf from the pool.
If you check in before your room is ready, you can download the hotel’s app and still get access to the on-site amenities while you wait. You’ll get an alert when your room is ready.
Where To Find It
Walk the half-mile west to the cast-iron Biloxi Lighthouse. Built in 1848, it has weathered many a storm. After taking a hit from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the lighthouse was restored to the tune of $400,000. It sits in the middle of Beach Boulevard (US 90) and is open for tours.
More Beach Hotels and Resorts
The Parrot Head Lifestyle
Is there anyone who knows how to kick back and relax better than Jimmy Buffett, the man behind Margaritaville Resort Biloxi? Buffett grew up on the Gulf Coast (in neighboring Alabama), so he knows a thing or two about its charms. (Yes, of course, you can enjoy a margarita or two at this resort.)
The resort, which does not have a casino, is particularly well-designed for kids. The rooftop water park, which is open only to hotel guests, includes a lazy river and water slides. On rainy days, head to Escape, an indoor virtual-reality arcade with a volcano climbing wall and a ropes course.
The water is shallow in this section of the Gulf of Mexico, so you can feel safe letting your small children roam around a bit.
Inspired by the surrounding Gulf views, Margaritaville’s décor is dotted with sea glass and calming coastal tones.
A 24-hour gym lets you burn off the calories from your cheeseburger in paradise.
Margaritaville Resort Biloxi
Smoke-Free Casino Oasis
Located on Biloxi Bay, Palace Casino Resort is in walking distance to both the Bay and the white sand beaches of the Gulf. While Biloxi has nine different casinos in town, Palace is the only one that’s smoke-free.
Thanks to a multi-million-dollar renovation, the resort is now void of the smoke scent that permeates some other casinos. Breathe deep and take in a vaguely floral smell, pumped in as many of the Las Vegas casino resorts do.
Palace guest rooms are decorated with images of lighthouses and other local staples. Be sure to take advantage of the hotel’s coastal location and take in those expansive water views of either the Bay (to the north) or the Gulf (to the south).
The focus at the resort’s Pure Spa is relaxation, and masseuses are trained in some lesser-known techniques, including cupping, reflexology, and Kansa — an Indian massage designed to remove wrinkles from the skin. Any of the massage treatments can be offered in the couples’ treatment room for two people.
Palace Casino Resort
Sand, Sounds, and Couples Time
If your ideal beach vacation means sun all day and rock music all night, then the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi is your kind of resort. The rock music theme carries through this Gulf of Mexico complex with nine restaurants, ranging from pizza and steakhouse dining to fusion Asian and the typical multi-taste casino buffet with fried catfish and Gulf seafood.
The on-site music venues live up to both the Hard Rock name and the legacy of the musicians who have their guitars and other memorabilia hanging throughout the high-rise. The resort also includes Rock Spa (an Aveda spa and salon), a 24-hour fitness center, casino, and a pool with a swim-up bar. While kids are welcome to stay here, the loud, late-night Hard Rock lifestyle and hotel vibe may be better enjoyed by grown-ups. Those under 21 are not allowed at the Tequila Sunday swim parties by the pool.
Rock Out at the Hard Rock
Take advantage of the Hard Rock’s deep music resources by asking the staff to outfit your room with a turntable and vinyl to play during your stay. If you’d rather make your own music than listen to others, there’s an option to check out a Fender guitar (with headphones, so you don’t bother other guests) for your own late-night jam sessions.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi
Pool Party Time
Harrah’s Gulf Coast is a full-service casino resort, owned by one of the largest casino operators in the country. The resort complex includes standard-size guest rooms, some of which have views of the Gulf or of the Bay, and is decorated in purple and beige jewel tones. Harrah’s offers a true resort experience with enough restaurants to choose from if you don’t want to venture out. There’s a coffee shop, several fast-food outlets, a high-end steakhouse, and a traditional casino buffet with Asian food, Gulf-caught seafood, and salads and sandwiches.
The casino is jumpin’, but the real action takes place on the pool deck. The pool itself is standard size and shape, albeit it with good views of the beach and the Gulf tide. Day passes to the pool are available to locals and visitors at other resorts, so the pool area is busy with folks enjoying the ample cabanas for shade, dancing water fountains, a poolside bar, and music thumping over the loudspeakers.
Harrah's Gulf Coast
From the Pool to the Beach and Back Again
Golden Nugget’s location in the heart of downtown Biloxi, south of Beach Boulevard, provides guests easy access to Gulf-front beaches, with unobstructed views of the lapping tide, flying seagulls, and other wildlife.
Other beach resorts try to emulate their natural surroundings in their décor, with muted palettes and seashell art. But at Golden Nugget, everything is a little louder and a little bit flashier. Your room is likely to be awash in vibrant colors and the common areas dotted with neon. They leave the pastels to someone else.
Though the beach is close by, this is another one of Biloxi’s hotels where the pool is a serious star. Cabanas make relaxation in the shade a dream come true, floating day beds do the same in the pool itself. If you prefer a little more action while frolicking outdoors, there’s a swim-up bar and poolside gambling.
As is traditional in a full-service casino, Golden Nugget has a live music venue, a full-service spa with a salon, shopping, and several restaurants, including the international chain, Morton’s the Steakhouse, and the casual, southern-themed Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, plus an Asian noodle eatery and a coffee shop
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