Although north Mississippi has historic cities like Oxford and Tupelo, one of the best vacation spots in the US South can be found in the southernmost part of the state. Known as the “Secret Beach,” this tri-state area has a 62-kilometer stretch of coastline, with a large stretch of undeveloped sand – and this is far from the only tourist attraction.
Places like Biloxi and Gulfport imbue the region with big-city charm combined with world-class attractions. Meanwhile, nearby cities like Bay St. Louis and Pascagoula offer a glimpse of the Magnolia State’s colorful side.
No matter where you choose, amazing seafood restaurants, famous museums, and beautiful natural scenery await you along Mississippi’s Secret Coast. Without a doubt, it is the smallest refuge in the south.
Luxury Accommodation and Accommodation
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino
The Mississippi Coast is famous for its casinos around the world, but few establishments can match the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. The resort has 85,000 square feet of entertainment space, 1,740 guest rooms, and more than 10 on-site restaurants.
Whiskey Pass Christian Hotel
For those looking for a quiet getaway on the edge of Harrison County, Hotel Whiskey Pass Christian offers accommodations near Pass Christian Harbor. As the name implies, this fun place is perfect for spirits aficionados, with the Whiskey Prime restaurant offering a wide range of spirits along with American fare.
Elegant suites, outdoor fire pits, and an upscale restaurant all await guests at the Pearl Hotel, one of the most spectacular venues to grace downtown Bay St. Louis. In the evenings, the Hinge pub is a great place for craft drinks and local beers, while the outdoor pool is perfect for cooling off after a day in the sun.
Almanet Hotel & Bistro
The Almanett Hotel & Bistro is a great base for exploring downtown Gulfport, just steps from the waterfront. In addition to luxurious suites, the resort also offers ample opportunity to explore classic Mississippi cuisine, with fried fish, jumbo shrimp, and jambalaya all appearing on the hotel’s restaurant menu.
With four floating rooms and a lush natural garden, The Beatnik offers a modern and sophisticated take on hospitality in the Magnolia State. Although the beach is about 10 minutes south of the hotel, guests are allowed to swim in the outdoor pool or enjoy the fire pit on cold nights.
Best Things to Do
Go bird watching
The Secret Coast has a pristine coastline, which serves as one of the best bird watching spots in the south. Popular shorebirds like American oystercatchers, brown sandpipers, and black swimmers can be found in three states, while inland areas like the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge’s Fontainebleau Nature Trail are top destinations for the beautiful Secret Coast forest.
Go to the Animal Park
In addition to free-roaming wildlife, Mississippi also has some amazing zoos. Gulfport’s Mississippi Aquarium houses crocodiles, sea turtles, and North American river otters in a polished environment that will debut back in 2020. Also in the north, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies has been an important part of sea turtle and cetacean rehabilitation for many years and provides stingray crocodiles and alligators.
Check out Craft Beers
The Secret Coast is home to a thriving brewery. Gulfport’s Chandeleur Island Brewing Company is a top-notch brewpub, while beer lovers can find some of Harrison County’s best ales, lagers, and seltzers at Fly Llama Brewing. But no tour is complete without sampling the Southern Pecan brown ale from Lazy Magnolia Brewing.
See Art Scene
The area is home to world-class museums such as the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and the ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, as well as smaller venues such as the Alice Moseley Museum and the River Art Gallery.
“Art is a big part of our coast. We are home to the famous George Ohr and Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and were home to Peter Anderson, Ocean Springs’ most famous potter,” says Janice Guido, Secret Coast native and owner of Bay Life Gifts. Travel + Leisure. “His Shearwater studio is still open and making pottery with his family today. There are many painters, watercolorists, and artisans of all kinds across the waterfront and galleries full of original paintings.”
Go to the Casino
Coastal Mississippi is home to 12 casinos with 24-hour gaming. “Tourism started in the early 1800s with people coming to the beaches, but it continues today with the gaming industry,” Guido said. “Our casinos are beautiful places – they attract thousands of people every year and they all have famous golf courses. There are about 30 courses scattered around three different regions. And then there are the games. Most casinos today also have beautiful places.” Island View Casino Resort, Palace Casino Resort, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and IP Casino Resort Spa are just a few in the area.
Guido recommends Gulfport restaurants for Southern Coast cuisine overlooking the water. Guido said: “One of my favorites is The Chimneys Restaurant. They have amazingly prepared trout almondines, gumbo, and amazing turtle soup. It’s authentic Southern dining. ”
Steve’s Marina Restaurant
The area has excellent food. “I love Steve’s Marina Restaurant in Long Beach—a local favorite built on the rocks overlooking the water. They have fresh-fried oysters and shrimp and fresh-fried flounder and seafood,” says Guido.
A recent addition to the local scene, Thorny Oyster has become popular for its complex cocktails and beautiful interior design. While the menu includes many complex cocktails, the place has mastered the art of Southern cuisine, offering refined dishes from bouillabaisse to gulf shrimp and grouper ceviche.
Ground Zero Blues Club
When it comes to hearty Southern cuisine paired with great music, it’s hard to beat Ground Zero Blues Club. A new addition to the popular Clarksdale bar of the same name, this funky spot is perfect for a taste of Secret Coast music, crawfish grills, pulled pork sandwiches, fresh beer and cocktails to go.
Located in the heart of Pascagoula, Juanita’s Kitchen combines traditional Mexican cuisine with local Mississippi flavors, serving healthy meals in a comfortable and casual atmosphere. For an early departure, the appetizers are a great way to start the day, while the limited-edition plates range from shrimp chimichangas to catfish po’boys.
Best Time to Visit
While there’s never a bad time to visit the Secret Coast, Guido says winter offers the best weather without having to fight for a spot on the beach. “January, February, and March are the best times to be at the beach,” says Guido, “with average temperatures around 68, so you can play golf year-round.” We have a lot of visitors from up north, from Wisconsin and Michigan, who know about us. You can usually find good prices in your hotels and have a good weather. ”
How to Get There
Newcomers to the Mississippi coast are faced with two options: fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and cross the Louisiana border into the Magnolia State, or head there with a ticket to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT). While both locations have their share of positives, Guido will always sing the praises of the Harrison County Airport. “I’d be remiss not to mention it: I’m from MSY a lot, but I love my little GPT plane,” he says. “It’s smaller, security is easier, and American and Delta fly there so there are a lot of airlines.”
Visitors to the storied city of Biloxi You can get a taste of its New Orleans-esque charm with a trip to the Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum, where the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum showcases the evolution of Mississippi’s maritime industry over the years. In the evenings, visitors can tap into Biloxi’s thriving gaming scene at places like the Palace Casino Resort or attend a Mississippi Sea Wolves game for some fun.
Bay St. Louis
To fully immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Bay St. Louis, grab a coffee at the lovely Mockingbird Cafe and then head west. Visitors are welcome to stop at Waveland Beach to enjoy the local bird life and continue to Buccaneer State Park, a scenic coastal area with camping, disc golf, and its own 4.5-acre water park.
For those who want to explore the depths of the Secret Coast, Alabama-nearby Moss Point is a must-see. Visitors are welcome to book an airboat tour with the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in search of wildlife, while the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is nearby for birders and nature lovers.
How to Travel
Reliable public transportation is available as the Coast Transit Authority, a three-tier provider that has been operating for nearly half a century. However, as with many areas in the US South, a rental car is a must to explore the area, giving visitors the opportunity to see the most remote parts of the region and extend their vacation to one of the Mississippi’s neighboring states.
“A lot of people associate it with a trip to New Orleans, it goes hand in hand with the beach,” says Guido. “Or if you’re in Ocean Springs you can combine it with a trip to Alabama. In Hancock County, you’re only an hour from New Orleans. At the far end of the east coast, you’re about fifty miles from Mobile.”