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Exploring the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Disclosure: I visited The Mississippi Gulf Coast as part of a 12-day multi-state press trip. We were hosted throughout our trip. This leg was hosted by Coastal Mississippi but as always, all opinions are my own

When you ask people about their favourite beach areas to visit, you rarely hear “the Mississippi Gulf Coast”. This has zero to do with the quality of the beaches! It’s one of the reasons that Coastal Mississippi is known as the “Secret Coast”.

No more secrets! I am here to show you all the beauty, delicious food and fun that the Mississippi Gulf Coast has to offer. Coastal Mississippi is worth a solo trip or as part of a multi-stop girls’ trip like we did. Either way, this gorgeous spot is not to be missed.

While the coast of Mississippi may look small, there are over 62 miles of coastline, 3 counties and 12 gulf communities that have something for everyone.

Where to Stay

Visitors to the Mississippi Gulf Coast are spoiled with choices for where to stay. From glitzy casino resorts to homey bed and breakfast to discount lodging to boutique hotels to campgrounds, you will find something that fits every budget and taste. We were lucky enough to stay at The Roost in Ocean Springs, MS.

The Roost is a small boutique hotel made from a historic building. Each of its rooms is designed to offer a luxurious and eclectic experience. I adored the mix of over the top luxury and natural finishes. Lounging on my comfy king size bed made it hard to want to get up and explore Ocean Springs. Don’t worry, I persevered with the help of the in-room custom coffee.

The Roost is steps away from the beach so you can take in amazing sunrises (we all know I didn’t though, right? I love my sleep WAY too much). It’s also within walking distance of the shops and restaurants in Ocean Springs.

Want to hit the casinos in Biloxi? It’s a quick trip over the bridge and you are there. They have a restaurant (Eat Drink Love) and a speakeasy-themed bar called The Wilbur on-site so you can stay in or explore.

The entrance to the Wilbur bar at The Roost Oceans Springs

Things To Do

You can find a huge list of things to do (and deals!) over on the Coastal Mississippi site. Here are a few of the things that we did while we were in the area. Many of the things we did were included on the Coastal Mississippi Attractions Pass. It is $45 and never expires so it is a great way to see everything Coastal Mississippi has to offer!

Pascagoula River Audubon Center

Immerse yourself into the natural beauty of the Pascagoula River at this gorgeous (and inexpensive) Audobon Center. Start at the interpretive center and then explore the boardwalks through the wetlands surrounding.

While you are there, borrow a pair of binoculars and see how many different birds you can spot. Also, keep your eyes peeled for alligators and all sorts of creatures. This is a very family-friendly stop and a great place to stretch your legs on a road trip.

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (OOMA) is a gorgeous campus designed by Frank Gehry. It features the pottery of the Mad Potter of Biloxi, George Ohr as well as other exhibitions that cycle through the facility.

While we were there, Passing: Adrienne Brown-David was on exhibition. The portraits are mostly of the artist’s daughters. I found them beautiful and haunting and so very ALIVE. Gorgeous.

Make sure to check the website before you go as their exhibits change often. It is a gorgeous place to walk around even if you are not *that* into art.

Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum

Do you know how oysters are harvested? Neither did I until I took a quick spin through the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to spend a ton of time but I still learned a ton.

Biloxi Shrimping Trip

Ever wondered what going shrimping is like? Well, this isn’t a REAL shrimping trip because you don’t have to get up at 3 in the morning. It is a fun way to learn about shrimp, shrimping on the gulf coast and have a fun afternoon on the water.

Do you know how to tell the difference between a white shrimp, a pink shrimp and a brown shrimp? You will after this trip! Plus you will get up close and personal with the different kinds of seafood the gulf coast is known for. This trip is good for people of all ages and I think kids would definitely get a kick out of it.

Walter Anderson Museum of Art

No trip to Ocean Springs should be complete without a visit to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art or WAMA. The museum strives for the preservation and celebration of the art of artist-philosopher Walter Anderson (1903-1965).

I had never heard of Walter Anderson before I visited the museum. I left with amazement and appreciation of his talent and ability to portray the natural landscape around him as well as his own thoughts and spirituality.

Explaining the life of Walter Anderson and his struggle with mental health would be a blog post on its own. Let me just say this… Go. You won’t be disappointed. It is a gorgeous museum and you will likely gain a new artist to love.

I highly recommend taking a tour of the museum. Part of the museum is the Ocean Springs community center which Walter Anderson painted the interior of. It is easy to miss the nuances of the murals without someone to explain them.

Explore Bay St. Louis

The Angel Tree in Bay St. Louis

On your way to Biloxi from the west, you go through a small town called Bay St. Louis. It’s a quaint little town right on the coast. It’s worth a stop for a bite to eat at Mockingbird Cafe (see below) and a walk around the little shops. Make sure you head to the water to see The Angel Tree.

Shopping in Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs is a delightful little town with restaurants and shops to explore.

Where to Eat

Vestige – Ocean Springs

Vestige is a contemporary Southern restaurant owned by James Beard Semi-Finalist Alex Perry and his wife Kumi Omori. Chef Perry changes the menu often and includes inspirations from his childhood in Ocean Springs as well as from Japan, his wife’s home country.

Our meal at Vestige was delightful. Vestige is inviting and the food is fresh and delicious. I veered away from my “all the seafood, all the time” tack on this trip and ordered the pork. It was perfectly done and delicious.

We had a great chat with Chef Perry after. I love to hear about people who leave their hometowns, spread their wings and then return. Vestige is a great find and I can’t wait to see what Chef Perry does in the future.

The Greenhouse on Porter – Ocean Springs

Biscuits may be one of my favourite parts of Southern food. Light and fluffy pillows of deliciousness that melt in your mouth…what’s not to love? When we arrived at The Greenhouse on Porter I realized a few things: it used to be a greenhouse, the building is actually green and they are all about the biscuits.

In fact, they are so much about the biscuits that they were running a competition between different sweet and savoury biscuit flavours their customers had dreamed up. Of course, their competition used a bracket. In the South, we take our tournaments seriously, ya’ll. During the tournament, you could buy a tray of the day’s competitors and vote for your favourite.

Biscuit tournament at The Greenhouse on Porter

While I loved the tournament idea, I wanted to see what the normal biscuits were like and I needed a bit of protein. I ordered a sweet potato biscuit with a side of ham. It was suggested that I should add pimento cheese. I love pimento cheese but I wasn’t sure so I didn’t. The lady who suggested it dropped a small ramekin of cheese by our table so I could try it. OMG. Sweet potato biscuits with ham and pimento cheese may be my new favourite thing.

Also, I am going to be making a sweeter sweet potato biscuit next time I make my sweet potato casserole. How good would those leftovers be made into biscuits?

Eat Drink Love – Ocean Springs

Eat Drink Love is the coffee and lunch shop that is part of The Roost (see above). It serves fresh soups, sandwiches and a selection of hot appetizers. They also have a large selection of take and bake items that people can pick up for dinner. I know I would take advantage of that OFTEN if I lived in the area. Yum!

Bright-Eyed Brew Company – Ocean Springs

I love visiting local coffee places when I travel. You meet the nicest people and get to try local coffee favourites. Bright-Eyed Brew Company makes fantastic coffee that is a bit different from the norm. My pumpkin rosemary latte was delish plush I got a fantastic silicone travel mug that I used for the rest of the trip.

Patio 44 – Biloxi

Patio 44 is a local chain in the Gulf Coast Region. We had a great dinner there and got to try some delicious local specialties that even I (the Southerner) had never tried before. Must-tries include the Pea Sautee and the Seafood Trio Bread.

The pea sautee includes field peas, applewood bacon, okra, tomatoes, roasted garlic aioli and sweet cornbread. It is a delicious appetizer/salad/I don’t know what you would call it other than delicious.

The Seafood Trio Bread is a decadent creation with crab, shrimp, and crawfish, garlic and herb spread and melted cheese in a toasted baguette.

Plus, they had a delicious (and spicy) version of my fave, shrimp and grits.

Mockingbird Cafe – Bay St. Louis

Mockingbird Cafe is a cute and delicious cafe in Bay St. Louis. They serve up fresh and delicious food for the perfect lunch. I loved their homemade potato chips and their curried chicken salad.

Have you been to the Mississippi Gulf Coast? Many haven't and here's why you are missing out! #Hosted #SecretCoast

Overall, I was surprised and delighted by the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Growing up in Alabama, Mississippi was somewhere I drove through not somewhere I visited. Obviously, I missed out. I can’t wait to return to spend more time in the area and see what else Coastal Mississippi has to offer.