Love Seafood? Here's How to Celebrate National Shrimp Day
In anticipation of the day created to recognize America’s favorite seafood, National Shrimp Day on May 10, Coastal Mississippi has curated a variety of ways travelers can celebrate all month long. The region, which produces nearly three-fourths the nation’s domestic shrimp, has many unique experiences for seafood enthusiasts, from learning how to find your own fresh catch to exploring the history of the seafood industry.
“It’s always a good time to eat delicious Coastal Mississippi shrimp, but National Shrimp Day and the entire month of May is an exciting time to celebrate our Coastal Mississippi shrimping heritage through our nationally renowned culinary scene, annual events and most importantly, the start of the shrimping season,” said Pattye Meagher, Director of Communications and Engagement at Coastal Mississippi Tourism. “We’re excited to welcome new and returning travelers to the region to jumpstart the summer and experience the best of our premier seafood destination.”
While indulging in Gulf-to-table cuisine, travelers can also visit the many diverse towns along 62 miles of coastline, like Ocean Springs or Biloxi, once known as the "Seafood Capital of the World," to quaint towns like Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis, you’ll find just the right place to celebrate National Shrimp Day in Coastal Mississippi this May.
Where to Eat: New and Award-Winning Restaurants
Fresh seafood is one of the best parts of visiting the Gulf Coast, especially the bountiful delicacy of shrimp. The region produces 69 percent of the nation’s domestic shrimp, and 90 percent of species in the Gulf of Mexico nest in the Mississippi Sound. While there is an endless supply of seafood dining favorites, travelers can consider these new and award-winning locations:
- The home of “The Original” surf & turf on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Captain Al’s Steak & Shrimp serves up American Fare, where shrimp and steak reign supreme – even in their bloody marys. Their goal of serving the freshest steaks and shrimp has made Captain Al’s a family tradition since 1993. If you’re feeling adventurous order the Shrimp Blast Bloody Mary (this over-the-top cocktail comes complete with one dozen shrimp).
- Beach Blvd Steamer, located next to Island View Casino & Resort, is a shrimp enthusiasts’ paradise. With multiple dishes, including the highly prized Royal Red Shrimp, only caught at depths up to 3,000 feet, it’s no surprise this restaurant has received high praise from their patrons.
- Located in Ocean Springs, Bacchus on the Bayou recently opened in March, serving delicious Cajun cuisine with a Mississippi Gulf Coast flair. From handcrafted cocktails, the freshest seafood and oysters to their famous pork chop, Bacchus has everything to satisfy your tastebuds.
- For the ultimate toes-in-the-sand experience, look no further than Sea Level in Pass Christian, where the Grilled Blackened Shrimp Tacos are just waiting to be paired with ice-cold beverages.
- If you like your crustaceans with a kick, visit Thorny Oyster in Bay St. Louis, where the BBQ Shrimp swim in a delicious broth of lemon, Worcestershire and cracked black pepper. Or you can enjoy their famous bouillabaisse of shrimp, clams, mussels and fry bread.
Where to Celebrate: Gulf Coast Events
May marks the countdown to many of the region’s most awaited annual events – whether travelers are looking for family-friendly events, breathtaking views of the coast’s watercrafts and more, Coastal Mississippi is ready to deliver. The annual events of May, include:
- To celebrate Biloxi's culture, heritage, and legacy, the Annual Blessing of the Fleet, which began in 1929, marks the beginning of the fishing season for shrimp fishermen and invokes a safe and prosperous season. On May 28, a variety of boats will form at the west end of the Biloxi Channel and begin to parade east – creating a breathtaking view of ships for all the coast to see.
- For sport anglers who want to experience the best fishing on the Gulf Coast, the 37th Annual Gorenflo’s Cobia Tournament begins on May 20 with cash prizes and fishing experience for all levels.
- Catered towards friends and families in its 7th year, the Annual Pirate Day in the Bay is a two-day event starting on May 19 with an adult pub crawl and a scavenger hunt. Then, on day two, families can enjoy a cardboard boat race, kids walking parade, pirate costume contest and more.
- For live jazz music echoing over the Mississippi Sound, travelers can grab a seat on the lawn of Pass Christian’s War Memorial Park for Jazz in the Pass and watch four different acts from 12-8 p.m. on May 28. The best part? The event is free for everyone!
- To finish off the month from May 31 to June 4, the Annual Jeepin the Coast will take place across the destination. This five-day event invites all jeepers to the Gulf Coast to roam around the beautiful soft sand beaches, experience beautiful views, and attend a weekend full of events, such as live entertainment and scavenger hunts.
Where to Learn: The History of the Seafood Industry
Taking a trip to Coastal Mississippi isn’t complete without experiencing the fresh air and sunshine of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Visitors will find numerous ways to explore Coastal Mississippi’s rich history and culture of life on the water through informative, fun excursions led by veteran boat captains or by exploring many dedicated museums and cultural centers.
- The Biloxi Shrimping Trip allows visitors to partake in their very own shrimping expedition. Passengers are taught the best practices for setting a shrimp net and insights on each sea creature caught in its path. On May 8, Captain Mike Moore’s boat, the Sailfish, turns 70 years old. To celebrate, the Biloxi Shrimping Trip is launching its “70 Days of Giveaway,” where passengers can participate in exclusive prize drawings throughout the summer, starting on May 1.
- Established in 1986, The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum's purpose is to preserve and interpret the maritime history and heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Visitors will find an array of exhibits, artifacts and an extraordinary collection of photographs that tell the story of Gulf Coast culture.
- For a tranquil sail along the Biloxi Beachfront, hop aboard the Biloxi Schooner, a recaptured piece of history with an authentic replica of a Biloxi oyster schooner sailing experience. This unique way of enjoying The Secret Coast can accommodate up to 44 guests with a professional captain and crew.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and Experience Columbus is inviting residents and visitors to honor the people who’ve spent the last year doing it all. Celebrate the mother figure in your life with everything from unforgettable experiences to locally made, hand-crafted gifts that are sure to bring a smile to any face this holiday.“Those who play such an important role in our lives of guiding and taking care of us deserve appreciation and celebration, and Columbus is full of unique and memorable ways to make this Mother's Day your best yet,” said Sarah Townes, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer at Experience Columbus. “Experience Columbus makes it easy for everyone to show their gratitude by highlighting some of the region’s best attractions, restaurants and artisanal gifts with local flare.” Shop Local for the Perfect Gift Get mom something to unlock her inner foodie with artisanal cocktail mixers from Simple Times Mixers, locally distilled pineapple rum from Echo Spirits Distilling Co. or handmade cured meats from the mother and son owned North Country Charcuterie. For a much-needed relaxing day at home, visitors can pick up several local bath and body goods from Tiki Botanicals, Glenn Avenue Soap Company and Penn & Beech Candle Co. Find Activities for All Ages Family stroll outside in Columbus, Ohio by Chris Hardy - Unsplash Columbus Modern (CoMo) Dance Company will host its 11th annual outdoor springtime performance at the Mothers Day Tea in the Garden on May 13–14. This free event is a CoMo favorite and the perfect outing for mom and the whole family. Modern dancers perform within the Topiary Park’s plant sculptures that recreate the impressionist painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. Tea and cookies will be served at intermission. This Mother’s Day, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites guests to decorate a flowerpot and plant a flower to give as a gift from 11 am–2 pm. Afterwards, enjoy a complimentary performance from Magpie Consort, a mixed-voice choral ensemble based in Columbus that will present selections from their upcoming summer repertoire, Sounds of Summer. Take the mom in your life to the Columbus Museum of Art where admission is free on Mother’s Day. Visitors can also enjoy special discounts on memberships during the month of May. Understory is kicking off the 2023 market season with a special Mother’s Day Market on May 13. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m., shop from over 40 local makers and artisans in the Understory top floor events space and terrace. There will be a full bar set up on the market floor for drinks, and guests are welcome to head downstairs to enjoy brunch in the Commons and Patio beginning at 10 a.m. The best science museum in the country, COSI, has a new traveling exhibition, Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures. Visitors are invited to explore the archaeology of ancient Egypt and view King Tut’s tomb and treasures as they were discovered in 1922. The reproduction of the burial treasure, in its original archaeological context, provides an insight into the historically unique discovery of the Pharaoh’s tomb in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. With 1,000 objects, graphics, movies and an audio guide, the monumental complete context is presented in an educational, exciting and entertaining way. Have a Relaxing Brunch There are few things more synonymous with Mother’s Day than a delicious brunch, and many of Columbus’ best restaurants will be offering special menus and events to celebrate moms this year. Columbus' favorite Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group has special brunch menus at their 16 restaurant concepts throughout the city. Explore the City's Budding Culinary Scene The Short North Arts District in Columbus by Uche Chilaka - Unsplash Why stop at brunch? Columbus has several new fine dining restaurants. Acclaimed Columbus Chef Avishar Barua has a full plate. Just six months after opening Joya’s, a Bengali American daytime café in Old Worthington, he has opened the doors to a new restaurant in Columbus’ Brewery District. Agni, named after the Hindu god of fire, offers a menu built around foods prepared over an open flame. Pulling from fond memories of Midwest backyard barbecues, the Top Chef Season 18 contestant is serving up a five-course tasting menu that includes dishes such as Bengali Shrimp Taco, Dry Aged Rohan Duck and Caramelized Chai Pudding. Agni is not the only new restaurant to open in the past month. Downtown, Chef Josh Dalton of Veritas opened Speck in February. The restaurant, which offers a modern interpretation of Italian cuisine in a vibrant and eclectic setting, has quickly become one of the hottest reservations in town. In Columbus’ historic Trolley District, more carefully restored historic buildings are opening with a new purpose. Joining East Market food hall is the Columbus Brewing Company Beer Hall, which features multiple bars and dining areas, 24 taps and globally inspired food. The 13,000 square foot building, which dates to the late 1800s, was originally used as a mechanic’s shop to repair the trolleys that ran down Broad Street and throughout Columbus. Towering 28 stories over High Street in the vibrant Short North Arts District is the city’s new and tallest rooftop lounge, Stories on High, which offers 360-degree views of the city with floor-to-ceiling windows and two expansive outdoor terraces. Columbus is also celebrating the news that acclaimed restaurateur BJ Lieberman of Chapman’s Eat Market (named in The New York Times’ 2021 Restaurant List) and Ginger Rabbit Jazz Lounge, was recently named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category for the 2023 James Beard Awards.
Palm Springs on a Budget
Celebrity playground or golfer's paradise? Gay resort or hideaway for the filthy rich? Since the Roaring Twenties, the sunny, well-watered oasis of Palm Springs, about a hundred miles due east of Los Angeles in the Colorado Desert of southeastern California, has been widely known for all of the above, with oodles of glamorous eateries and posh resorts catering to a well-heeled clientele. What's not nearly as well known is that the town of Palm Springs itself (as opposed to neighbors like Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage) attracts plenty of working-class Americans with some of the country's best resort bargains and prices generally well below destinations such as Provincetown, Key West, and Miami Beach. Rates are lowest in summer, of course, thanks to temps of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (being dry heat, though, it can still be perfectly fine for those into a not-too-active holiday). But even in peak season (generally January through May), when daytime temps hover around a delicious 70 to 80 degrees, you can score spiffy double rooms as low as $70, and every other eatery along chic Palm Canyon Drive will fill your plate for $20 or less. One tip: if possible, plan your visit during the week, as year-round weekend hordes from LA, San Diego, and elsewhere send room rates north. Take in the Views Palm Oasis at Agua Caliente Indian Reservation by Michael Kirsh - Unsplash So what's there to do here besides shooting the links, hanging out by the pool, or watching the cactus grow? Apart from that spectacularly dry and sunny weather year-round (the prime reason folks started coming all those years ago), you can drive in a single afternoon from snow-capped mountains to sandy wilderness to lush green oases... and back to the "historic district" (meaning early- to mid-twentieth-century) with its clean-cut Mexican-village look. For an awesome view over the valley, jump on the Aerial Tramway's rotating tram car; tickets are $29.95 per adult, with discounts for kids and seniors and annual passes available. Enjoy views of pristine wilderness during its 8,000-foot climb up the side of Mount San Jacinto. Once at the Mountain Station, enjoy two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, a gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails. Stop by the dramatic Indian Canyons reserve ($12 adult admission) for canyon trails as well as ranger-led interpretive hikes. For classic Western vistas, head to Andreas Canyon, where water springs up from the sand surrounding native palms (where do you think Palm Springs got its name?). Tee Off for Less For many a visitor the great outdoors means one of the 100-or-so local golf courses. Most are predictably pricey, ranging from $50 to $250 in season (less otherwise) for one round including a cart; you can save up to 50% off, however, by buying unsold next-day tee times through Stand-by Golf. Explore Local Museums Marilyn Monroe statue outside the Palm Springs Art Museum by Susi Kleiman - Unsplash Head to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens ($8.50, kids $4.25), a natural habitat where eagles, mountain lions, and other native fauna flourish. Back downtown, check out the Palm Springs Desert Museum ($16 for an adult ticket) with one of the western United States' most impressive collections of natural history and western and modern art. The museum also hosts free admission on Thursday nights from 5-8pm, though reservations are required and limited. For an additional ticket ($5), visitors can also explore the Architecture and Design Center. The sculpture garden is free. While tickets are a little pricier at The Palm Springs Air Museum ($22 for adults), admission is free for kids under 12 and active service members (plus their immediate family). The living history museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of static and flyable aircraft from WWII through the War on Terror. Also not to miss, 2023 will see the opening of the brand new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, a captivating look at to the culture of the Cahuilla Indians—who to this day own (and lease out) much of the area. The new cultural plaza will feature a new Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, as well as a spa that celebrates the sacred Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, gardens and an Oasis Trail. Step Back in Time Pioneertown was established in 1946 when Dick Curtis shared his dream for a "Living Breathing Movie Set." Seventeen investors contributed to the development of this functioning 1880s-themed town to serve as a filming location, vacation destination, and permanent residence for people working in the entertainment industry, ranchers, and desert lovers. As the golden age of Western films came to an end, so did the abundant production work in town; still, the community has always remained committed to keeping Pioneertown alive. Today, Mane Street in Pioneertown still retains its charm and Old West image. Pioneertown is open and free to the public 365 days a year. Visitors are welcome to come enjoy the sites any day of the week but weekends are when the town really comes to life. Camp sites are available for campers and horses at the Pioneertown Corrals on a first come first serve basis, but visitors can also check out the Pioneertown Motel. Book Affordable Accommodations Mountains near Palm Springs by Venti Views - Unsplash If you don't mind more motel-like surroundings, head to the pleasant, three-story Vagabond Inn. There's admittedly not much in the way of landscaping or shade around the pool and hot tub, but you can cool off in a little poolside coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch goodies at low prices. Even during peak spring and summer dates, rates start around $85 per night. The Motel 6 (at 660 S. Palm Canyon Drive) boasts a great location walkable to downtown, a heated pool and hot tub, and sleek rooms with pickled wood and the standard amenities. Rates are available around $70 per night. Named after a cactus that looks like a dried-up twig, the even prettier Ocotillo Lodge rents out condos in the lodge as well as nearby private houses. The condos are low-slung 1950s-style casitas, each with full kitchen, huge bath, separate bedroom, and even a large-ish patio. Prices start at $153 per night. Find Cheap (Yet Delicious) Eats Restaurants are also a remarkable bargain, with scads of stylish eateries up and down Palm Canyon Drive vying for your dollar. Most have shaded sidewalk tables, under pergolas and vines, cooled in summer by fine misting systems and creating a fancy resort feel that would not be out of place on the Riviera-only here you'll pay a third of the price and you don't even have to speak French. For Mexican, Las Casuelas Original serves up everything from nachos and fresh guacamoles, to salads, frijoles, enchiladas, and much more—and all for a great price, even the steak platters are under $30. For a funky musical experience, the Village Pub (266 S. Palm Canyon Dr.) has both live bands and a multinational menu, as well as budget-friendly brunch options, an assortment of appetizers and shareable plates, sandwiches and more. After dining, stroll along Palm Canyon Drive's chic shops, cafes, and restaurants. It's a downtown blissfully free of billboards, junky shops, and burger joints—truly a boon in a world of crassly overdeveloped resorts.
Kickoff Summertime at this Festival by the Smoky Mountains
With the Smoky Mountains rising over a vast network of lakes and rivers, Loudon County, Tennessee, is the road less traveled to the National Park and the preferred location for those looking for the ultimate mountain lake vacation. This picturesque and charming destination situated between Knoxville and Chattanooga is the most scenic and least congested route to the Smokies from I-75 and I-40 East. There’s no better time than the summer for celebrating the natural beauty, talent and tastes of eastern Tennessee. Get a little more out of your mountain getaway by adding a stop before or after to a beloved local festival, or even a concert series. Lenoir City Arts & Crafts Festival The quintessential summer-at-the-lake season kicks off in early June with the Annual Lenoir City Arts & Crafts Festival, a beloved event with a long-standing history in Lenoir City. This year marks the 60th celebration of the festival, which began in 1962 as a community fundraiser. Started by the Lenoir City General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), today the festival has raised more than half a million dollars for charities. This year's event will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, 2023, at Lenoir City Park. While free to the public, a $3 donation is requested at the entrance. More than 225 artists and vendors from all over the Southeast and beyond will be featured at this year’s event. Items range from ceramics and glassware to metal work and jewelry, to baskets, woodwork and much more. Food and beverage vendors add to the enjoyment with tasty treats for all. Lenoir City Park overlooks Fort Loudoun Lake and the Smoky Mountains. It’s the outdoor centerpiece of the charming, historically preserved downtown of Lenoir City, which is a short distance from historic Loudon, Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee. A "chalk walk" will also be featured this year, a competition event where participants can decorate an 4' x 4' area of sidewalk with chalk and pastels. Prizes will be awarded by age group, and there will also be a kid's corner for the youngest festival goers to draw for fun. Lakeside Concerts Summer concert series in Loudon County - courtesy of Visit Loudon County In addition to June's arts and crafts festival, Lenoir City also hosts Rockin' the Docks. Twice each summer thousands gather at Fort Loudon Lake to enjoy live bands, delicious food and activities for children followed by fireworks and more. Nightfall brings musical headliners and a fabulous fireworks display. This year’s Rockin’ the Docks festivals will be held May 27 and July 1. “We are thrilled to be hosting the 23rd Annual Lenoir City’s Rockin' The Docks,” says Zack Cusick, Director, Lenoir City Parks and Recreation. “We will be bringing live music, food and a spectacular fireworks show for Memorial Day and July 4th weekends. We would like to invite everyone to come by land or water to celebrate these two holiday weekends with us at the Lenoir City Park cove!” Saturday, May 27 - Concert to feature Hillbilly Jedi as the headliner; RMS Band and Ethan Vincil as the openers.Saturday, July 1 - Concert to feature WIMZ Garage Band as the headliner; RMS Band and Cole Sitzlar as the openers. Beyond the Festivals Golfing near the Smokies - courtesy of Visit Loudon County Along with discovering Loudon's authentic historic downtowns, art and antiques, contemporary and traditional restaurants, days are filled with boating, canoeing, fishing, waterskiing and simply exploring the land itself on foot or bike. If golf is your game, Loudon County is a great place to tee up. The area is home to several top-rated courses.Don’t miss a visit to Sweetwater Valley Farm (17988 West Lee Highway, Philadelphia, Tennessee 37846), a working dairy farm and cheese producer where visitors can sample and see the process.Stop by the award-winning Tennessee Valley Winery (15606 Hotchkiss Valley Road, Loudon, Tennessee 37774), where free tastings are offered at one of the oldest operating family-owned wineries in the state.Pick up barbecue at Calhoun's (4550 City Park Drive, Lenoir City, Tennessee 37772; 865-988-9838); the restaurant is dockside, overlooking Fort Loudoun Lake and one of the area’s largest marinas. From a slate of wing flavors to juicy brisket sandwiches to award-winning smoked ribs and salmon, Calhoun’s has a fix for any barbecue craving.
Top Places to Visit for Cinco de Mayo
In the US, Cinco de Mayo is most often used as just another good reason to gorge on tacos and margaritas at your favorite local Mexican restaurant, but there's a lot more to this celebration than most people understand. While the holiday is not as big of a celebration in Mexico, it does commemorate an important victory over their foreign adversaries during the French-Mexican War. Across North America, several towns schedule parades, festivals, and other cultural events, making it the perfect time of year to delve into Mexican history and heritage. Denver, Colorado Union Station in downtown Denver by Owen Lystrup - Unsplash The Denver Cinco de Mayo "Celebrate Culture" festival spans a full weekend each May, and features a parade along with fun events and great food. Venues are set up for Folklorico dancers, special attractions, and live musical acts playing mariachi, salsa, and cumbia. Denver's celebrations are particularly suited for families and young kids; there is a special children's carnival with crafts and activities, rides, and a small petting zoo. Visitors can also attend the chihuahua races, a green chili cook-off, taco eating contests, and the lowrider car show. San Antonio, Texas The Alamo by Gower Brown - Unsplash History lovers will appreciate the landmarks that San Antonio has to offer; in particular, The Alamo, the famous Roman Catholic mission and fortress, as well as the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, a Spanish fort. Head to the Historic Market Square for authentic Mexican cuisine as well as Tex-Mex options. Shop from artisans in El Mercado, where visitors can find artwork, pottery, leather goods, clothing, and more. Just outside of the city, Traders Village hosts a Cinco de Mayo event with free live music and carnival rides. Albuquerque, New Mexico Items for sale in Old Town Albuquerque by Brett Wharton - Unsplash Head over to the National Hispanic Cultural Center to view incredible visual art, peruse their library or archives of historical and literary works, and learn more about Mexican heritage in New Mexico. There's also the South Broadway Cultural Center—"one of Albuquerque's best-kept secrets"—where visitors can attend workshops and classes, live performances, and cultural events. This year, the city is also hosting a Cinco de Mayo bar crawl with participating cantinas featuring Mexican-inspired drinks, live music, and dancing. For a more family-friendly option, the Cinco de Mayo Folk Art Festival with be held on May 7th. Featuring more than 40 uniquely talented local artisans, there will be plenty of opportunities to view and purchase artwork, jewelry, or pottery. The outdoor event will also include food, live music, piñatas, and a kids craft table where children can make their own Mexican-inspired art. Puebla, Mexico Curious about the origins of Cinco de Mayo? Head to the source: Puebla, Mexico. It was here that the Battle of Puebla took place during the French-Mexican War. A heavily outnumbered Mexican army defeated the invading French troops; now, each year, the holiday commemorates this event and Mexico's successful defense of their sovereignty. Visitors to the town can watch a reenactment of the Battle of Puebla, attend a street party full of music and street tacos, see extravagant floats at the town's Cinco de Mayo parade, and listen to the sounds of mariachi.