48 Hours of Adventure: How to Have an Unforgettable Weekend on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Mississippi Gulf Coast Biloxi.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Biloxi. SEWinds
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Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is rich with culture, cuisine, and a uniquely varied landscape. At the very least—if you’re passing through the Magnolia State between Alabama and Louisiana along the 62 miles of coastline—do yourself a favor: exit Interstate 10 and opt for the scenic Highway 90, which takes you along the water’s edge and offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. But, of course, you want to do more than drive by. This stretch of the Gulf Coast offers travelers a wide variety of options for a memorable weekend getaway. Here are just the basics on how to get the most out of 48 hours on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Where to Get Caffeinated

The Mockingbird Cafe in Bay St. Louis boasts fine art along with some excellent biscuits.
The Mockingbird Cafe in Bay St. Louis boasts fine art along with some excellent biscuits. Andrea Wright

From east to west, we’ve listed our favorite places to get your caffeine fix. Just outside Pascagoula, the quirky beach café Delo’s Heavenly House of Coffee is one of the area’s best-kept secrets, and most find this hidden gem by accident. Don’t let its tiny, unassuming exterior fool you—you’ll discover some of the best-quality coffee, along with the friendliest customer service inside.

You can’t visit the South without getting your biscuit fix, and what better place than Ocean Spring's Greenhouse on Porter, home of the Great Biscuit Springs Biscuit Competition? For just a dollar, you can get their simple house biscuit. For a bit more, try one of their other options: sweet potato, gluten-free, or their “special” biscuit, which changes daily, and includes only the finest seasonal ingredients. Want a little culture with your coffee? Just across the bridge in Bay St. Louis, art lovers will adore the eclectic Mockingbird Café boasting local pieces on its three-sided gallery. It’s also where you can find healthier options, although you may be tempted by their flaky, buttery rosemary biscuits.

Coast Roast Coffee and Tea in Gulfport features a vintage royal roster, in which the shop roasts its own beans. It also serves several creative coffee and non-coffee beverages, including nitrogen-drip coffee, which is served in a cold mug and looks more like Guinness as it comes out of a tap.

What goes better with coffee than donuts? The TatoNut Donut Shop in Ocean Springs is anything but a dud spud. TatoNut (as in “potato”) uses potato dough to create mouth-watering travel-worthy delectable creations that keep locals and tourists coming back for more.

Where to Find Adventure

Just beyond the beach, the Gulf has a unique blend of biomes, including both wetlands and woodlands that offer hundreds of ways to work off those tasty treats you’ll consume during your stay. Here are just a few to entice you.

Paddling on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.
Paddling on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. ClayJar.com

Paddle and explore wildlife among the various blueways, like Jourdan River Blueway’s coastal floodplain and riverine ecological system, or Red Creek Blueway’s coastal blackwater stream, where you’ll traverse along red clay shelves. Get out in open waters with the help of Biloxi Bay Kayak Rentals or reserve your spot for a nighttime SUP session at Paddles Up in Ocean Springs.

You can also explore the Pascagoula, the largest free-flowing river in the United States, which features a wide variety of ecosystems from marshlands to forest. The Pascagoula River Audubon Center sits amid the 70,000 acre preserve that's ripe for exploring. Take a guided two-hour river and swamp tour by boat, explore on your own via kayak, or simply check out the interpretive center for more info on the area.

Spend the day hiking and exploring nature along the many trails at Gulf Islands National Seashore through diverse biomes. From Bay St. Louis to Pass Christian, get the best of both worlds: paddle the Lower Wolf River and then hike the Bells Ferry Trail or the Possum Walk Trail.

Pack your gear and head to the Ship Island Excursions ferry to spend an entire day snorkeling just off the state’s finest beaches at Ship Island. You can snorkel among the wide variety of marine life or simply enjoy lounging on the sand. With no automobile traffic and few crowds, it's one of the best places to get away from it all. You can also take some time to explore Fort Massachusetts, a preserved brick fortification that was built following the War of 1812 to protect the country's shoreline. Tours are available to discover more about its fascinating history.

For more adventure on the water, charter a fishing boat through Southern Sports Fishing Charters in Biloxi. Head out on the VI fishing vessel for a multi-day angler’s adventure among the Chandeleur Islands that will earn you some serious bragging rights.

Another option for those interested in observing wildlife is the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Point, Mississippi. Hiking, fishing, hunting, birding, nature photography, and paddling are all options amid the 18,000 of acres that contain an eclectic combination of natural habitats, including pine savannahs, salt marshes, bays, and bayous.

If wheels are more your speed, pedal the Pascagoula Historic Bike Trail for a unique tour of the historic city. Stops along the trail include the Round Island Lighthouse, the Orange Street Historic District, and the Ingalls Shipyard Iron Gates.

The Live Oaks Bicycle Route features a 15.5 mile round-trip from the Davis Bayou Area to the town of Ocean Springs. If you prefer to get off-road, the South Bethel Trails features more than 20 miles of singletrack that's perfect for mountain biking.

Where to Unwind

Keep the adventure going once the sun goes down, starting at any one of the local live music venues. Blues or jazz are a great accompaniment to dinner and drinks at the 13th St. Jazz Bistro. Let the ocean breeze soothe you as you catch the sunset at the Sky Bar on the roof of The Reef in Biloxi. Sky Bar showcases local talent with a great beach vibe and inspiring gulf view.

Sip quality, craft brews at Chandeleur Brewing Company, which uses only malted barley, hops, and local ingredients. If you’re more in a wine-and-dine mood, pop a bottle at Corks & Cleaver Wine Bistro to pair with gourmet fusions of Mediterranean and Spanish cuisines.

Test your luck at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi.
Test your luck at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. Wikimedia Commons

Wanna get lucky? The gulf is home to dozens of casinos. The famous Hard Rock Hotel and Casino or the swanky Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi are winners, and both also host legendary entertainment in state-of-the-art theaters where you can splurge with your winnings.

Where to Get a Good Night's Rest

Away from the beach, you can explore some excellent natural settings on the Mississippi coast.
Away from the beach, you can explore some excellent natural settings on the Mississippi coast. Natalie Maynor

The Mississippi Gulf has no shortage of places to stay for any type of traveler. Visit here to see all your options from bed & breakfasts to hotels and condos. Some options for adventurous travelers include:

The Front Beach Cottages offer charming little cabanas built in the 1940s with ultra-stylish, modern-yet-cozy interiors, plus guest bikes to explore the area. The historic Carroll House Bed & Breakfast is located in a home built in 1890 in the heart of Old Town Bay St. Louis, just a few blocks from the Gulf.

Looking for traditional southern charm? The Grand Magnolia was originally built in 1894, and the Queen-Anne-style inn has been completely restored to its original grandeur. Located in the historic downtown of Pascagoula, the inn is just blocks away from shopping, restaurants, and art galleries. Or just grab a cup of coffee and relax on the wrap-around porch, where you're surrounded by century-old oak and magnolia trees.

The Inn at Ocean Springs presents a slightly more all-inclusive option for the perfect vacation. They offer culinary workshops, excursions, and will even organize your own private picnic in the park. If that’s not luxurious enough, in Pass Christian, you’ll find Oak Crest Mansion for a posh bed-and-breakfast experience.

Originally written for Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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