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Looking for things to do in Coastal Mississippi? You may be surprised at just how much the area has to offer. From shrimp boat excursions to art galleries and museums, there is no shortage of family friendly things to do in Coastal Mississippi.
Thanks so much to Sun Country Air and Coastal Mississippi for hosting this fun girl’s weekend!
Table of Contents
Things To Do In Coastal Mississippi
- Biloxi Lighthouse Pier
- Downtown Ocean Springs
- Walter Anderson Museum Of Art
- Downtown Bay St. Louis
- Betsy Ann Riverboat Sunset Tour
- Biloxi Shrimping Trip
- Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum
- Infinity Science Center
- Artsy Buildings & Murals
When Sun Country Airlines recently expanded to include non-stop flights from Ft. Myers, FL to Gulfport, MS, I jumped at the chance to visit Coastal Mississippi. I’d always heard it was a fun place to visit but never had the chance to experience it first-hand.
I knew it would be a blast because it was a girls weekend with my friend Hannah from Eat, Drink & Save Money. It turned out to be even more fun than expected. Not only did we find tons of fun things to do but we also found some of the best places to eat in Coastal Mississippi too!
There’s so much to do in Coastal Mississippi and now that Sun Country Air makes it so easy to get there, I’ll have to go back more often! It’s a really great getaway, whether it’s for a girl’s weekend, a romantic getaway or a family vacation. Ready to explore? Here’s what you won’t want to miss…
Things To Do In Coastal Mississippi
Biloxi Lighthouse Pier
You can’t go to the beach and not hang out on the pier, right? The Biloxi Lighthouse Pier is a great place to relax and enjoy some coastal scenery.
We didn’t get there early enough to tour the Biloxi Lighthouse but it’s definitely on my to-do list when I go back, especially if I’m traveling with the kids. They’d love it and and even I’ve never been in a real lighthouse before!
If you’re planning a visit this Biloxi landmark, tickets for the tours are reasonably priced at $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12. Tours run every morning, weather permitting.
Downtown Ocean Springs
Love strolling through small towns with lots of shops and restaurants? If so, you’ll want to visit downtown Ocean Springs. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and there’s no better way to start than with drinks and appetizers on the patio of Maison De Lu.
Afterwards we wandered through the town, peeking into all the shops along the way. My favorites were the ones that featured creative decor and I discovered these fun crafts when I peeked into a back room at Layton’s Gift Shop.
From pretty dresses to coastal decor, these shops had a little bit of everything.
You can’t leave Ocean Springs without peeking in to the old-timey Lovelace drug store. The inside is set up to look like 50’s soda shop inside and I felt like I’d stepped right on to the set of Happy Days!
Walter Anderson Museum Of Art
If you like museums, you’ll want to pop into the Walter Anderson Museum Of Art. Dedicated to artist and philosopher, Walter Anderson and his two brothers, the museum features paintings, drawings, sculpture, carvings and more.
Anderson was a pretty fascinating character and known for riding his bicycle on journeys that took him across New York, Tennessee, Texas and Florida. He also loved visiting Horn Island, his own private oasis off the Coastal Mississippi mainland. It was an important place to him and is featured quite a bit in his art.
Anderson didn’t like the spotlight and most of his work was kept secret until after his death. His wife didn’t even discover the “Little Room” until after his death. She opened the door to find thousands of paintings and drawings in a large wooden chest and murals covering every wall.
If you’re spending the day in Ocean Springs, this is a fun stop, though more for adults and older kids than families with young children.
Downtown Bay St. Louis
Next, head to Downtown Bay St. Louis for even more unique shops and restaurants.
I absolutely loved this little town. Everything was very folksy, from the storefronts to the mailboxes. Like Ocean Springs, there were plenty of shops and restaurants and it’s another fun place to just wander around.
As we walked towards the water, we discovered the beautiful Angel Trees that can be found throughout the town. Live oak trees have been transformed into beautiful works of art by chainsaw sculptor Dayle K. Lewis. This area was hit hard by Katrina in 2005 and one of these trees was even used as a life raft by three survivors of Hurricane Katrina and their dog.
I also loved the rustic look of the restaurants along the water and Dan B’s turned out to be a great hide out when afternoon showers hit.
It was our lucky day because they also happened to have a live band playing. There’s no better way to spend a carefree Sunday afternoon than with live music and a bottle of beer!
When the rain let up a little, we went back out and stumbled across a whimsical place known as Ruth’s Roots.
We went in and discovered something new and interesting in every direction! It was filled with gardens, large colorful mosaics, bunnies and chickens, a small bee hive and even a friendly dragon.
It was later that I learned the story behind this magical place. Ruth’s Roots was opened in 2016 by Elise Dino, a former teacher turned youth court judge. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of troubled teens and started this farm to table agricultural operation to give them purpose and help turn their lives around.
The park pays tribute to Ruth Thompson, the late wife of Jim Thompson. The couple had run Ruth’s Bakery in this spot until it was swept away by Hurricane Katrina. When Elise approached Jim with her idea for the property, he generously donated the land.
While this is a fun place for adults to explore, it’s a must-see if you’ve got the kids with you! Mine would have absolutely loved it!
Betsy Ann Riverboat Sunset Cruise
One of my favorite things to do in any coastal town is to take a sunset cruise. If you’re in Biloxi, the Betsy Ann Riverboat is the one you want.
First things first, we needed boat drinks. Algae blooms have become a recent problem for the area due to fresh water intrusion from the Mississippi River, and most destinations along the Gulf Of Mexico are faced with Red Tide periodically. The owners of the Betsy Ann decided to make the most of it and turn lemons into lemonade…or in this case, cocktails. (Enjoying fun cocktails turned out to be another one of my favorite things to do in Coastal Mississippi).
Seeing Biloxi from the water gives you a whole different perspective and colors reflecting on the Beau Rivage as the sun went down were picture perfect.
The Betsy Ann is owned by Michael White and his wife, Dayna. Though White is a native of Coastal Mississippi, his career pulled him away for a bit. He never forgot his dream of being a boat captain and finally realized it with the Betsy Ann. I can’t say I blame him. Who wouldn’t want to look at this every night?!
If you play your cards right, you may even get to drive the boat!
We really enjoyed our sunset cruise and if you’re looking for fun things to do in Coastal Mississippi, you’ll definitely want to check it out.
Biloxi Shrimping Trip
I almost felt bad telling my hubby that I was going on a shrimping trip, since he loves shrimp more than anyone I’ve ever known! As a shrimp lover myself, the Biloxi Shrimping Trip excursion was one of the things I was most excited to do during our visit.
Because of the nutrient rich waters of the Mississippi Sound, Coastal Mississippi shrimp is said to be some of the most flavorful shrimp you can find. As expected, I learned a lot about shrimp that day. In fact, I’d never even heard of Royal Red Shrimp but apparently they’re the creme de la creme of the shrimp world. I’ve got to find some!
I also couldn’t get over the size of these shrimp. They were huge and it was a little strange holding a live one for the first time!
I started to get a little hungry!
Of course, the waters contain more than just shrimp and we learned about the other sea life as well. The seagulls stalked us every step of the way. I think they were looking for some lunch too.
One of the best parts of our shrimp boat excursion was our guide. He was hilarious and made the experience both entertaining and informative!
We even made a few dolphin friends along the way. I never get tired of seeing dolphins in the wild and these guys tagged along for awhile!
While we were there later in the day, if you hit the docks in the morning, you can buy shrimp straight off the boats. Not only will it be fresher than anything you’d find at the grocery store, it’s a lot cheaper too.
If you’re visiting the Coastal Mississippi, you really shouldn’t leave without a boat trip of some kind! They were some of our favorite experiences and it’s a really fun way to learn more about the Gulf Coast.
Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum
This place is a treasure trove of information if you want to learn more about the maritime history of Biloxi.
There were exhibits on everything from shrimping and oystering to marine blacksmithing and net making.
I thought these old lanterns were pretty cool too.
If you’re planning to visit any of the museums while you’re there, keep in mind that most are closed on Sundays.
One of the most popular things to do in Coastal Mississippi is to spend time gambling at the casinos. I’ve always loved Vegas so I couldn’t wait to check out the area’s casinos.
The Hard Rock Casino isn’t hard to find…just look for the giant guitar on the side of the road. We took a walk around and while I expected to see all the memorabilia on the walls, the robot bartender was a cool surprise.
We stopped into The Sugar Factory and thought about ordering one of their fancy, Insta-worthy drinks. The line was too long so we skipped it this time but that’s just another reason to go back, right?
Next we checked out the Beau Rivage and it was like finding a slice of Vegas right there in coastal Mississippi. They had live entertainment and shows, upscale shopping, restaurants and nightlife and more. Oh, and you can gamble there too!
If smoke bothers you, head over to the Island View Casino. We did some gambling here because it was closest to our hotel but I really appreciated the fact that my clothes didn’t smell like smoke when I left. The dealers were a lot of fun and we had a great time (especially since I left with a little more than I came in with!).
INFINITY Science Center
The INFINITY Science Center was high on our list of places to visit but unfortunately we ran out of time. It looks fascinating though and I’d love to go back and visit with my girls.
INFINITY serves as the official NASA visitor center for the Stennis Space Center, which is NASA’s largest rocket engine test facility. With over 72,000 square feet, it features a mix of exhibit space and hands on activities for all ages.
Visitors can walk through a life size replica of the International Space Station’s Destiny Module, check out an F-1 rocket engine, walk the boardwalks to explore different ecosystems and so much more. They can even “experience” hurricanes and the surface of the sun in the Immersion Theater.
INFINITY also offers programs geared towards STEM education. I love this because as a former teacher, I know kids always learn the most through hands-on education!
Admission to the INFINITY Science Center also includes a guided bus tour to the Stennis Space Center. Visitors can learn more about the history of the center and its current role in our space program. This is another museum that’s closed on Sunday so plan accordingly if you’re going to visit.
Artistic Buildings And Murals
There was a lot to love about Coastal Mississippi but the murals really stood out for me. Whether they were painted on the side of a building or covering a beach shack, they were original and fun and of course, very Instagram worthy! The beach shack was definitely one of my favorites.
This mural of Frida Kahlo was so bright and colorful that it really stood out.
One thing we saw throughout Old Town Bay St. Louis were “All Are Welcome Here” signs. It was on murals, in store windows and pretty much everywhere went as we walked through town.
We thought it must have some meaning and discovered that the slogan and signs were created by a local business owner in 2016 in response to a controversial bill that had passed. She created this slogan to let visitors know that their town welcomes everyone with open arms. It’s a wonderful message to send and I’d love to see this adopted everywhere!
We were on our way to the airport when Hannah asked me to turn around. I couldn’t figure out why at first, but then I saw the angel wings. Of course we had to stop for pictures!
It was the perfect final shot as we headed to the airport to fly home!
How To Get To Coastal Mississippi
If you live in Southwest Florida, Sun Country Airlines makes it super easy to get to Coastal Mississippi. Their new direct flights from Ft. Myers to Gulfport gets you there in no time flat.
At just $49 each way, these flights are super affordable. Airfare is always the biggest issue when traveling with a family of four and with prices this low, it’s totally a non-issue! Plus, now I can plan even more girl’s weekends!
Every seat has it’s own USB port and free entertainment that can be streamed right to your device. If you’re tall, or just like to have a little extra leg room, you can upgrade your seat selection to “Better” or “Best” to get 2″ to 4″ more space. I LOVE this option and will take it any chance I can get. The best seats also offer preferred boarding, seats that recline 150% further and a free cocktail.
This may have been my first time flying Sun Country Airlines but it definitely won’t be my last!
Where To Stay In Coastal Mississippi
Before we could start exploring, Hannah and I checked in to the The Courtyard By Marriott/Gulfport Beachfront.
The staff here was super friendly and check-in was a breeze. Our room was clean and bright and had a great view overlooking the Gulf (just give me any kind of water view and I’m happy).
Rooms here are equipped with all the standard amenities, including refrigerators. That’s always a must-have when traveling with kids but it also came in handy when we wanted to bring home leftovers from dinner.
The cafe downstairs had a cool retro look to it. They sold Starbucks in the morning and cocktails at night…the perfect combination, right? There was also a little shop in the lobby in case you got the munchies late at night.
The pool out back wasn’t huge but my kids wouldn’t care. They’d be perfectly happy playing in this pool all day long, and I’d be happy lounging in one of those chairs watching them.
There were so many other things to do in Coastal Mississippi that I may have to come back several times more to do them all! Have you been? What are some of your favorites?