By Lisa Evans
ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Lisa Evans shares what there is to experience in Coastal Mississippi, the Secret Coast. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker, Podbean, or SoundCloud.
Coastal Mississippi – I’ve not heard of that, some might say. Where is it, and what is there to do? Many years ago, the above sentence could easily have been something I might have uttered. Then a funny thing happened. I visited the area once and fell in love. Ten years later, I relocated and have spent close to the last ten years in my adopted home. Allow me to tell you why.
Natural Beauty and Outdoor Adventure
Coastal Mississippi is the ‘landmass between Louisiana and Alabama.’ While that is indeed the truth, it is so much more. It is an area located on the Mississippi Sound, part of the Gulf of Mexico. It is an area that has some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets you can imagine. It is an area that has a multitude of attractions and unique places to visit. It is affordable with much diversity. It is the Secret Coast.
If you love outdoor adventure and discovering nature, we’ve plenty to keep you busy. With sixty-two miles of Coast and twelve cities to choose from, you will find plenty to keep the nature lover in you satisfied. If boating, fishing, or kayaking is your joy, we have an abundance of rivers, bayous, and open water to satisfy your spirit.
The Pascagoula River Audubon Center serves as the portal to the largest free-flowing river in the lower United States. Here you can kayak in the river, watching the osprey and eagles overhead. Maybe a snowy egret is hunting for its next meal. Perhaps attend their Hummingbird Festival in the autumn. You might also get lucky as I was and get to touch these beautiful birds and feel their heartbeat.
Maybe take the ferry service out to Ship Island, part of the Gulf Shores National Seashore. Wander about the island, swim in the warm waters, tour Fort Massachusetts, or see a ghost crab. Board an actual shrimping vessel and learn about the diligent crews that bring in the Gulf shrimp everyone loves. The possibilities are endless!
Museums and History
Has anyone ever told you about the Mad Potter of Biloxi? Have you ever seen a fabulous painting by someone named Walter Anderson? Are you a history buff and want to learn about the Confederacy? Perhaps you enjoy music history and are interested in learning more? You’ll find all that here in Coastal Mississippi.
George Ohr was the Mad Potter mentioned above, and you can see and learn all about him at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. Walter Anderson, as well as his accomplished brother Peter, were natives of this area. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art is a stunning showcase of Walter Anderson’s work, and Shearwater Pottery does the same for his brother.
Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, is a historic site honoring the first and only president of the Confederacy.
If you admire music and its history, you will thoroughly enjoy exploring points along the Mississippi Blues Trail, like 100 Men Hall. Once one of the stops along the Chitlin Circuit, history seeps from these walls. Imagine standing on the stage where legends such as BB King and Etta James were. I did so, and I can tell you it was incredible.
Unique attractions, fun, and festivals
Coastal Mississippi has fun things to do for all ages and varied interests. If you love gaming but not the hustle and bustle of more prominent, more well-known gaming destinations, give us a try. Within the boundaries of our area, we have eleven different casino resorts. Casinos also bring world-class entertainment, spas, fine dining restaurants, and renowned golf courses and tournaments.
Are you looking for something for the whole family? The Mississippi Aquarium is one of the area’s newest attractions. Overlooking Jones Park and the Mississippi Sound, you will not only be able to see, and sometimes touch, a variety of sea creatures, there is also an outdoor aviary and other outdoor exhibits.
You may want to try a Mystic Ghost Ride or Krampus Creepy Christmas out on the water. A Twisted Tiki Boat ride through the Sound. See an actual rocket launcher at INFINITY Science Center. Head to Ocean Adventures Marine Park. Try Axe Throwing or miniature golf. Laser Tag or Go-Cart racing. The list goes on and on and allows visitors to try numerous experiences.
Coastal Mississippi is widely known for its festivals. There is always something going on. For Winter, try the Gulfport Harbor Lights Festival, which has over a million lights throughout Jones Park. Springtime brings the annual Crawfish Music Festival at the MS Coast Coliseum. Summertime brings July 4th celebrations throughout the Coast along with the Seafood Festival. For Fall, the annual Cruisin’ the Coast car show brings over 10,000 classic cars to our area. You can also catch the Peter Anderson Festival along the streets of Ocean Springs.
You cannot speak about Coastal Mississippi without talking about food. With our proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, we have quite literally the best and freshest seafood available. One cannot describe how beautiful a picture it makes to drive along the beach on the opening day of the season and see the shrimpers and their hard-working crews dotting the landscape of the water.
If you feel like eating something other than seafood, be assured we can accommodate. Southern BBQ, Asian, steakhouses, coffee houses, Mediterranean, Mexican, and farm-to-table restaurants. Whatever you wish for, you can find somewhere along the Coast. All served with a smile and Southern hospitality.
Coastal Mississippi is truly the Secret Coast. Don’t pre-judge the area because of something you may have seen or heard. Once you visit for the first time, you will realize – as I did – this area transcends any stereotype and has so very much to offer. Put Coastal Mississippi on your radar for a future visit – we’ll welcome you and make sure you’ll want to visit again. More at https://www.gulfcoast.org/
Lisa Evans is a freelance travel writer and photographer. She has always enjoyed the outdoors and nature and often includes them in her writing and photography. History is another passion – every place has a story to tell if only you find it. This love of history, along with her admiration for beautiful, poignant photographs pushes her to author stories and take photos to instill a desire in her readers to explore the world and discover new places. Lisa is a member of TravMedia, IFWTWA, and Travel Writer’s University. She has written for various publications. More: www.writerlisa.com