A list of 29 fun things to do in Coastal Mississippi, ranging from Bay St. Louis to Ocean Springs, and everywhere in between.
Coastal Mississippi is the name given to the towns running along the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico in the southern part of the state. Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, and Bay St. Louis are some of the towns of the area that offer incredible scenery and a host of fun adventures for you and your family to experience on your next vacation or weekend getaway. Here are 29 things to do in Coastal Mississippi that are sure to please.
Suppose you haven’t been to this intriguing part of Mississippi. In that case, you may soon forget you are even in that particular state as you enter a laid-back part of the country with a slower change of pace, subtle but stunning beauty running on the edge of the shimmering Gulf waters. Many may even be surprised to find palm trees along the coast of Mississippi.
1. Explore the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art
Big surprise…there is a Frank Gehry collection of buildings in Coastal Mississippi. Housing the “Mad Potter of Biloxi” George E. Ohr’s artwork, Center for Ceramics, Beau Rivage Gallery or African American Art, and a series of rotating exhibits and art installments is the complex known as the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. There is an interpretive center to explore Gulf Coast cultural heritage from an African-American standpoint with notable films running continually, a wonderful gift shop, a welcome center, and pod galleries.
If you aren’t familiar with Frank Gehry, he is responsible for the Guggenheim, Biomuseo, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Museum of Pop Culture buildings, amongst dozens of others. George E. Our is considered America’s first art potter. His sculptural and abstract handmade work is stunning and easily recognizable, even fifty years before the Abstract Expressionist movement began.
2. Stroll Downtown Gulfport
You’ll wander streets lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings in this part of town. My favorite shop is Riley’s Children’s Apparel, where I’ve picked up a few things for my granddaughter, and Bella Grace Jewelry & Gifts for scented candles, gourmet foods, and jewelry.
In an old fishmonger’s alley, pay close attention to Fishbone Alley, a public art area with incredible, vibrant murals and displays.
3. Eat Snowballs
Drive straight to the water at Pass Christian Harbor to find Sea Level, a seafood shack on the waterfront serving the best snowballs in town. I am crazy for pineapple, watermelon, or Tiger’s Blood, all with cream (condensed milk), but you can’t go wrong with these easy-to-eat frozen treats.
Sea Level also has lunch items, including a variety of tacos, sandwiches, and hot dogs. Take advantage of the free outdoor games while you are there and the covered picnic tables with ultimate harbor views.
4. Have a Fantastic Dinner
Located in the Pearl Hotel in Bay St. Louis is Thorny Oyster, an upscale eatery with an exquisite wine and craft cocktail list and mind-blowing fresh seafood offerings. This is one seriously gorgeous restaurant with a waitstaff who has been adequately trained and takes pride in their jobs.
I skipped the main entree and instead had a Wedge salad and bowl of Lobster Bisque, which I highly recommend. The bisque was fantastic, with a rich broth and buttered lobster pieces. My husband chose Red Snapper Almandine; a luscious and elegant meal served over garlicky baby bok choy. We shared the peach and blueberry crisp for dessert—the perfect way to end a wonderful dining experience.
5. Explore the Children’s Museum
Gulfport’s Lynn Meadow’s Discovery Center is a 15,000 square-foot facility with exciting hands-on exhibits and play spaces. You can even partake in adults’ and kids’ cooking classes, as well as seasonal camps and sessions. We are sure your little ones will have a ball at this wonderland.
Indoor hands-on exhibits include a Super Colossal Climbing Structure, Dolan Avenue Depot, Little Pet Vet, and To Market, which was our fave. The fun doesn’t stop outdoors—play house in the tops of 100-year-old trees, learn all about building on Kids Street, and explore Bear Creek.
6. Learn More about Mardi Gras
The Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum is a darling little stop for learning about the culture of Mardi Gras, when and how Coastal Mississippi started practicing it, Krewes, and a look at dozens of gorgeous hand-stitched costumes and headgear. You can even try on several Mardi Gras props for your own fun-filled pictures.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.
7. Learn About Conservation at the Mississippi Aquarium
One of the newest Coastal Mississippi attractions is the beautiful and unique Mississippi Aquarium, offering many exhibits and displays inside and out. Built on a waterfront 5.8-acre complex in nearby Gulfport, the aquarium habitats (salt and freshwater) house 200+ animal species and various native plants.
Your ticket includes daily activities such as a croc talk, dolphin training session, aviary feeding, and “meet a biologist,” for example. Conservation efforts are clearly explained and at the helm of this world-class facility.
The North American river otters were my favorite residents at the aquarium, but you’ll also see birds, snapping turtles, crocodiles, stingrays, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and nurse sharks. Check online for the calendar of events, yoga, summer camps, and birthday party opportunities.
8. Sip a Cup of Joe
Bankhouse Coffee in Long Beach is a popular spot for enjoying a great cup of freshly roasted coffee. The shop is located in an old Masonic lodge, which was also a bank (see the huge safe in the back!) adding extra charm to its vibe. Bankhouse serves Coast Roast, roasted on vintage (and gorgeous!) roasters. Try the robust and full-bodied cold brew…it’s magical.
9. Stay in a Boutique Hotel
The lovely upscale Hotel Pass Christian is an excellent place to call home on your Coastal Mississippi visit. Check-in is a breeze, and rooms are clean, spacious, and well-appointed with magazine-shoot-looking details.
Our second-floor suite was so gorgeous that we hated to even sit on the picturesque pieces of furniture. Everywhere we turned was something extraordinary and eye-catching—beaded chandeliers, whimsical prints, colorful fabrics, bright-colored accent pieces, and regal pillows. The bedroom was huge and offered access to the porch overlooking the water, plus held a coffee maker with specialty coffee pods.
The bathroom had a deep soaking tub and separate shower, and again, loads of space. We traveled with our pet and she loved the thick rug to lay on. We would definitely stay at this glamorous hotel again.
10. Browse An Incredible Art Collection
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs turns out to be many’s favorite art gallery after their visit. Walter, a native of Coastal Mississippi, left his mark through earth-toned colors, nature, and motifs, an art form that makes his works so easy to recognize. The museum has a fantastic collection of his works, but none so impressive as the Community Center, which took him years to paint the wallpaper-like murals that will leave you speechless.
Besides watercolors and block prints, Anderson also excelled at wood carvings, ceramics, and sketching. He was inspired by the natural beauty of the Magnolia State’s coast.
11. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Shaggy’s is exactly where you’ll do just that—eat, drink, and be merry. Shaggy’s is a locals’ and visitors’ favorite with three locations to choose from in Coastal Mississippi. The fun and funky restaurant decor and vibe will reel you in while offering a spectacular spot for watching a gorgeous Gulf of Mexico sunset.
Shaggy’s menu features seafood dishes, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, salads, and elevated bar eats. I love the Fried Shrimp with jalapeño hush puppies and grilled veggies. My server brought out sides of remoulade, cocktail sauce, and tartar, each of which was 10/10 delicious. Add a frozen or fruity drink and you are set!
12. Shop Downtown BSL
Bay St. Louis has some really cool shops that are all within walking distance of each other. 211 Main has all your beach needs, including sunscreen, sunglasses, and BSL signature clothing, which Bay-Tique has some cute ladies’ apparel and accessories. Browse the funky finds at 220 Main Street and the vintage treasures at Magnolia Antiques.
Fleurty Girl is my favorite, chock full of New Orleans-inspired souvenirs, stickers, food products, as well as gifts and baby items. You will actually find this shop in New Orleans, too.
13. Visit a First-Class Casino
My last visit to Coastal Mississippi was my first time exploring most of the casino offerings, and Island View Casino Resort was one of the best. This stately and neon-clad museum was super clean, inviting, and had a nice mix of old-school and video slots. The vibe was truly first-class, and we loved it. Plus, there is a 24-hour coffee shop with excellent pastries and sweet-tooth cravings.
We spoke with several gamblers who were just happy to see a self-serve buffet back in business.
A second favorite was Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel. I wasn’t familiar with this one, but as we drove by one night and I saw the jaws-dropping rainbow Dale Chihuly chandeliers in the window, I made a point to visit the following afternoon. Treasure Bay is another super clean, appealing, and comfortable casino.
Unlike the bigger casinos in town, these smaller ones have a homey feel that made us want to hang out and keep spinning the reels. Treasure Bay has 800 slot machines, five restaurants, and more than 25 table games, plus those magnificent matching Chihuly pieces. There is also an RV park.
14. Pay Homage to Mississippi Aviators
A hidden gem in the city of Gulfport is the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum. This growing museum, painstakingly put together from a passionate curator and contributions, has an arsenal of educational and fun things for kids and adults. There are STEM-interactive exhibits, such as 14 touch tables with aviation games and related content, flight simulators, live-action flight games, and a super cool theater that replicates the inside of an airplane.
Stroll through the Mississippi Aviation Hall of Fame and see several planes and flight exhibits and photo-ops.
15. Lunch at the Lady May
One of Ocean Springs’ newest dining options is The Lady May, on Washington Avenue. The Lady May is an adorable eatery with an Instagram-worthy patio and a unique menu with Southern favorites, classic dishes, and specialty items. The Biscuits & Jelly Board on the brunch menu is a must, served piping hot with a trio of jams and jellies (mango habanero was my fave). This appetizer deserves a medal!
For lunch, try the fresh and full of delicious ingredients salads, such as Cranberry Pecan (chicken, goat cheese, honey balsamic) and Mango Sriracha (seared tuna, avocados, honey-lime vinaigrette). Or, you can go for something more hearty like the Louisville Slugger burger with red onions, garlic aioli, and cheddar cheese. The burgers come with your choice of side dish, and while the shoestring fries looked amazing, I went for the baked macaroni, which was unlike any I’ve ever had. I nearly licked the plate.
17. Put Your Toes in the Sand
Spend your day at the beach. Coastal Mississippi has 62-miles of shoreline, accessible from pretty much anywhere along Beach Boulevard on Highway 90. Here you can splash in the Gulf of Mexico, work on your tan, enjoy a good book, or build picture-perfect sandcastles.
Make your beach day even more fun by renting a boat, bird watching, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, or taking a sightseeing cruise. I thought the beaches at Long Beach and Bay St. Louis looked the most inviting.
A fun day trip would be a boat excursion to nearby Ship Island, part of the National Park’s Gulf Islands National Seashore.
18. Get Out on the Water
And the best way in my book is on a jet ski or kayak, both available to rent at Life’s a Beach Rentals. Other items include Polaris slingshots (the new rage), bikes, chairs and umbrellas, mopeds, scoot coupes (those cute little colorful beach cars), aqua cycles, and paddleboards. There are two Biloxi beachfront locations to choose from—one by the lighthouse and one by Sharkheads Souvenirs.
Military discounts are offered, as well as competitor’s coupons welcomed. That’s cool.
19. Indulge in a Tasty Breakfast
Grilled biscuits and delicious breakfast meats, omelets, and pancakes are on the menu at Fill Up with Billups in two locations: Pass Christian and Biloxi. On my last visit, I had a breakfast sandwich with grilled ham, eggs, and cheese, plus a side of cheesy grits. I would definitely order this same meal again, as it was full of flavor, filling, and grits just don’t get any better than this. My husband enjoyed his Belgian waffle and classic breakfast items.
20. Catch an Amazing Sunset
You have to stop and appreciate a Coastal Mississippi sunset, no matter where you are. Restaurants are super busy during these hours as diners want the primo tables for watching the beautiful event. If I may recommend one, Shaggy’s in Biloxi is where I took this photo. I was one of the dozens waiting for the grand finale along the beachfront.
21. Get a Load of This Swimming Pool
The Golden Nugget Biloxi Hotel and Casino isn’t just another pretty face and kick-ass casino. It also has the most appealing and coolest swimming pool and outdoor area of all the casinos I’ve visited on the coast. The H2O Pool + Bar is so intriguing; it makes me want to stay there just to hang out at this cool enclave. This award-winning pool and tropical oasis, with 100 chaise lounges, hot tub, 20 daybeds, and 20 cabanas, also has a swim-up bar feature. Piña colada, please.
Fun Fact: Though temporarily closed, this area has pool-side gaming under normal circumstances.
22. Experience Greenhouse on Porter
Years ago, I took a food tour and tasted the great biscuits (sweet and savory) made by Greenhouse on Porter. I was hooked. Thank goodness, I visited both locations (Biloxi and Ocean Springs) on my latest trip to experience the tasty little biscuits firsthand.
The feta biscuit with roasted cherry tomatoes was scrumptious, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed the oatmeal raisin sweet option. You can also get coffee, wine, beer, and other food items, but the biscuits reign supreme.
23. Come Camping
Bring your RV to Coastal Mississippi and stay at Cajun RV Park in Biloxi. This spacious campground is within walking distance to casinos, the white sandy beaches, and Biloxi Beach Boardwalk, and offers 130 large sites. Besides the gorgeous fire pit focal point with seating all around, there is a swimming pool, playground, two lighted pavilions, and a dog park.
FYI: This park offers complimentary coffee and Danish in the lounge each morning. You can also wash your RV or vehicle onsite for $5. That’s a steal!
26. Rent Bikes
Coastal Cruzr Bike Rentals is a good way to see a lot of Coastal Mississippi, plus a great way to incorporate exercise while you are playing tourist. Coastal Cruzr Bike Rentals is Mississippi’s first bike-share program. The bikes are beautiful and easy to ride, with comfortable seats and a little back basket to hold your belongings. To ride, simply download the MOVATIC app and follow the instructions to start pedaling your way around the scenic landscape.
27. Take an Art Class
The Gulfport Art and Cultural Center is housed in the historic Carnegie Library. Here, you will find a terrific selection of locally-produced artworks for sale (ceramics, jewelry, books, paintings, etc.), but you can also take a variety of art classes, such as pencil drawings, pottery, and watercolors. The Gulfport Arts Center also has many children’s classes and art camps.
28. Sip Cocktails at Mosaic
A popular restaurant and beer garden in Ocean Springs, Mosaic is an awesome place to sit outdoors on the stylish patio and enjoy delectable craft cocktails, beer, and wine. Mosaic’s menu includes tapas and small plates, with the Argentinian Empanadas (beef filling) being my fave. Specialty mojitos pair perfectly with the hand-held bites, but I prefer the peach bellini.
Be sure to take a peek inside and admire the gorgeous furnishings. Live music is a big draw.
29. Add to a Blessing Box
Not only can you get a finger-lickin’ good pastry and tasty beverage at Dolce Bake Shop in Long Beach, but you can also give back to someone in need through the sweet little Blessing Box at the front of the property. These “take what you need” community service ministries are showing up all around the country.
Dolce Bake Shop pastries include macarons, cupcakes, cookies, gourmet shakes, and edible cookie dough. Yum!
Coastal Mississippi: A Destination Worth Exploring
You’ll find a plethora of fun things to do in Coastal Mississippi when you visit these welcoming, relaxing, and laid-back communities. For more information about itineraries, lodging, or attractions, you can call Coastal Mississippi’s toll-free number for help: 1-888-467-4853 or visit their dedicated website.
Thanks to Coastal Mississippi for hosting me on a familiarization trip and including my hotel and some meals. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.