By Brian Jewell - Group Travel Leader
Exciting things are happening in Mississippi.
This Southern state is abuzz with energy over new attractions and tourism experiences, some of which opened late last year and others that are coming online this year or early in 2019. These and updated museums, plus a beach resort with a famous name, are giving groups new reasons to plan tours to the state.
In Jackson, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened side by side in December and have already proven popular with visitors. The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience in Meridian pays tribute to many of the famous creators and entertainers from around the state, as well as the communities that shaped their voices. And the upcoming Catfish Row Museum in Vicksburg will tell stories of this river city’s unique history and culture.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast had several notable openings as well. In Biloxi, the new Margaritaville Resort is a coastal property full of Jimmy Buffett-inspired activities and dining options. And the Infinity Science Center in nearby Pearlington just debuted a $9.8 million overhaul complete with interactive exhibits.
Margaritaville on the Coast
Because beach music superstar Buffett is a Mississippi native, it’s only fitting that his Margaritaville brand should have a home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Last year saw the opening of the Margaritaville Resort, a 371-room, 23-story resort in Biloxi themed around the music and culture that made Buffett famous.
Though many people know Biloxi for its gaming properties, Margaritaville has no casino. Instead, the city was built with families in mind and features a wide variety of activities for people of all ages. A 55,000-square-foot indoor entertainment center features a 48-foot-high rock-climbing wall in the shape of a volcano, as well as ropes courses, golf simulators, bowling alleys and a “cloud coaster.” Outdoors, the pool complex features a 450-foot-long lazy river, a splash pad and other amenities.
Adult groups will find plenty of fun at the resort as well, including a variety of dining options themed around concepts from other popular Buffett songs. Favorites include the Landshark Bar and Grill, the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar and Doe’s Eat Place.
In Pearlington, a town on the Gulf Coast just across the border from Louisiana, the Infinity Science Center just unveiled a new $9.8 million overhaul that added several new immersive experiences for visitors.
Among the most popular of the new exhibits is Deep Ocean Explorer, an interactive simulator that lets visitors virtually dive into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico using joysticks and monitors to see dolphins, turtles and other sea life. A new 3D theater shows films about earth and space, and the Hurricane Prediction Lab allows visitors to try their hand at measuring atmospheric conditions and monitoring hurricanes in a digital environment. New outdoor features include a butterfly garden and a boardwalk through forests and wetlands.
The funding for the museum overhaul was provided by BP as part of its continuing efforts to help the Gulf Coast tourism community recover from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
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