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  • Biloxi Lighthouse Beach Blvd Credit Coastal Mississippi small
  • Umbrellas Beach Ship Island Courtesy Tate Nations Coastal MS small
  • Hiking Coastal Mississipppi CREDIT Coastal Mississippi
  • Harbor Pass Christian 2020 Courtesy Bacchus on the Beach Coastal MS
  • Mary Mahoneys Table Credit Coastal MS small
  • Walter Anderson Museum of Art Credit Coastal Mississippi small
  • Biloxi Schooner Credit Coastal Mississippi small
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    Coastal Mississippi,

    Mississippi

    Coastal Mississippi

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    The Secret Coast

    As travelers seek to discover new experiences, cultures, lifestyles, cuisine, and places, regularly using terms such as “hidden gem,” “undiscovered,” and “unexpected,” Coastal Mississippi – The Secret Coast is perfectly poised to surprise and delight as a region that offers all the relaxation, adventure, space to roam, and variety that travelers want without the overexposure that they don’t.

    Coastal Mississippi is made up of 62 miles of scenic coastline and 12 different communities along the Gulf Coast. It’s temperate climate, along with its astounding natural beauty and rich, unique culture, makes for the perfect year-round destination. There is an incredible amount to do, see and experience across Coastal Mississippi: from outdoor activities, such as kayaking, boating, fishing and hiking, to a wide variety of attractions, museums, festivals, world-class gaming, and championship golf courses. When it comes to food, this is the place to be! From quaint coastal seafood spots to sustainable and fusion fine dining, The Secret Coast has it all. In short, Coastal Mississippi checks all the boxes: great food, great weather, great prices, great people, and a great way of life.

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    Coastal Mississippi Articles

    Road Trips

    6 road trips stops along the underrated Gulf Coast

    On a recent road trip with my family from Pensacola, Florida, west along Interstate-10 through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, I got a taste of all I’ve been missing out on in the Gulf Coast. I’m pretty sure this stretch of Interstate-10 and the backroads branching off make for the the most underrated road trip in the South. Read on for a six great stops to make during a road trip along the surprising Gulf Coast. ALABAMA Meet sloths and lemurs at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo There is so much to love at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama, it’s hard to know where to start. Dubbed “The little zoo that could” for how it’s survived three major hurricanes (and now the pandemic, too), this beautiful and largely open-air facility offers phenomenal animal encounters you hardly find everywhere, including the chance to hand-feed sloths for just $19.95 per person (in addition to zoo admission, which is $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids ages 3 to 12). Whatever you do, don’t miss the zoo’s butterfly exhibit, featuring a jaw-dropping collection donated by a local resident that’s housed inside a room designed to look like a field research tent. Hundreds of incredible butterflies and moths (some with patterns on their wings that look just like snake heads, to scare off predators) are the stuff of pure wonder. Even if you’re not visiting the zoo itself, you can still have lunch on a spacious deck overlooking the grounds at The Safari Club (no zoo admission required), where a menu of delicious wood-fired pizzas, Gulf Coast seafood and more awaits. For a bike ride through Gulf State Park, Alabama Home to bobcats, bald eagles, alligators, owls and many more animals, Gulf State Park (free admission) has 28 miles of paved trails and boardwalks that are a blast to explore by bicycle. The park even has a free bike share program you can access with your smartphone. And you can rent tandem bikes and trailers for pulling kids along the trails, too, through Beach Bike Rentals in Orange Beach, Alabama (all rentals come with helmet and locks, starting from $25 for the day). When you’re not paddling through the coastal habitats, make time to relax at Gulf State Park’s two miles of white sand beaches and check out the Gulf State Park Campground, one of the best places to put up a tent or pull in with an RV in the state. Shrimp boats at sunset. Credit: Coastal Mississippi. MISSISSIPPI Hang out in the adorable town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi Continuing west along Interstate-10 into Mississippi, plan to spend a night or longer in the adorable coastal town of Ocean Springs, where a stay at the new-in-2020 Beatnik hotel (rooms from $157 per night) is nothing short of revelatory. The property has just four cabins decorated in mid-century boho style, each with a private patio complete an outdoor shower and hammock. There’s a communal plunge pool and fire pit, too, where guess gather for socially-distanced drinks at sunset. Stroll along Front Beach, the town’s small sandy beach, or visit the many outdoor galleries and cafes in Ocean Springs’ compact downtown. The best spot for a delicious and budget-minded breakfast is undoubtedly The Greenhouse on Porter, right next to the Beatnik, with heavenly housemade biscuits slathered with honey butter. Mississippi Aquarium Brand new in August 2020, the Mississippi Aquarium (admission $29.95 per person, $24.95 for kids ages 3 to 12) in Gulfport houses over 200 species of animals and native plants within indoor and outdoor exhibition areas overlooking the Mississippi Sound in downtown Gulfport. Among the many interesting animals you can see here are bottlenose dolphins, cow nose rays, American crocodiles and green-winged doves. Visitors age 10 and older can even get into the water with SeaTREK ($79.95 per person), a two-hour experience during which you don a helmet and enter one of the aquarium’s habitats to see fish, sharks and rays upclose from a perspective that’s similar to a scuba diver’s vantage point. LOUISIANA Go deep into Honey Island Swamp on a bayou tour with Cajun Encounters in Slidell, Louisiana This Florida girl got an education on the difference between the Everglades and freshwater bayou habitats during a fascinating tour by boat into Honey Island Swamp in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish with Cajun Encounters (from $57.50 per person, $37.50 for kids ages 3 to 12). We spotted wild boars sloshing around the bald cypress tree-filled bayou (essentially a flooded forest, as the guide explained it), learned all about the mythical bayou swamp monster called Letiche and even visited a floating village that looked like something straight from a Swamp People episode. Private and group tours are available. Take a family-friendly hike with Canoe and Trail Adventures in Covington, Louisiana Prefer to stay on dry land when exploring the bayou? A Louisiana Master Naturalist is your guide during hikes that can be as easy or adventurous as you like with Canoe and Trail Adventures in Covington, Louisiana (the company also offers paddling tours and canoe and kayak rentals). I loved exploring trails maintained by local Boy Scouts troops at Northlake Nature Center with our guide, Chad Almquist, who showed my kids how to scoop up crawfish and tiny minnows using nets in the shallow bayou waters. Our hike led us along boardwalks and trails through wetlands and hardwood forests where we scouted for salamanders under rocks and spotted native birds (private tours from $49 per person).

    Inspiration

    Coastal Mississippi provides adventure and variety for the budget traveler

    There is an incredible amount to do, see and experience across Coastal Mississippi: from outdoor activities, such as kayaking, boating, fishing and hiking, to a wide variety of attractions, museums, festivals, world-class gaming, and championship golf courses. When it comes to food, this is the place to be! From quaint coastal seafood spots to fine dining, we’ve got it all. In short, Coastal Mississippi checks all the boxes: great food, great weather, great prices, great people, and a great way of life. With 55 percent of frequent travelers saying they primarily travel to discover new experiences, cultures, lifestyles, food, and places, regularly using terms such as “hidden gem,” “undiscovered,” and “unexpected,” Coastal Mississippi – The Secret Coast is perfectly poised to surprise and delight as a region that offers all the relaxation, adventure and variety that travelers want without the overexposure that they don’t! Ocean Springs Front beach. Credit: Alex North Photography Here is a brief overview of what The Secret Coast has to offer: Outdoor activities. We offer some phenomenal outdoor experiences, such as world-class golfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, birding, fishing, boating our many waterways, Schooner sails, and even a 70-minute shrimping trip, that is an absolutely wonderful excursion for the entire family, and shows you exactly how shrimp and other marine life live and end up on our plates! Have some fun in the sun and explore the barrier islands that sit just miles off Coastal Mississippi. With white-sand beaches and beautiful Gulf waters, the islands are an ideal day trip. While all of the barrier islands offer something unique that is worth exploring, Ship Island is the most accessible to travelers thanks to its ferry service out of Biloxi and Gulfport.Our culinary scene is booming: the Mississippi Coast has a huge variety of gastronomic offerings, from beach seafood shacks serving the freshest Gulf seafood, to fine dining (including two James Beard nominees!) and fusion cuisine. There is something to satisfy every taste bud, and there are plenty of hands-on opportunities to experience the very essence of Coastal Mississippi’s culinary scene.Culture fix at the world-renowned Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (designed by famous architect Frank Gehry!), and discover the beautifully eccentric world of the illustrious Anderson family at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and Shearwater Pottery Workshop and Showroom. Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis boast wonderfully artsy, walkable downtown areas amongst the ancient live oaks, where you can wander in and out of shops, galleries, bars and restaurants all day long. Festivals held across the Coast throughout the year, showcasing the region’s crafts, artisan-made items, local delicacies, seafood, talented musicians and much more. To get to the moon, you must go through Mississippi first! The INFINITY Science Center is NASA's official visitor center for the Stennis Space Center, and offers a blend of space, Earth science, engineering and technology content, spiced with innovative programming, that leverages expertise from the area's leading-edge research and test operations. This combination guarantees an experience you will not find anywhere else.Coastal Mississippi offers an array of lodging options to cater to any preference, from luxury casino resorts and international hotel brands, to boutique hotels and Coastal bed-and-breakfast inns.For those on a budget, this is the place for you: Forbes and similar outlets have released the states where $100 goes the farthest, and Mississippi topped the list. There are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of free things to do in the area, as well as reasonably priced offerings or ways to save as you explore are around every corner, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast Attraction Pass, priced at $45, valued at $80. Credit: Coastal MississippiRoad Trip Across The Secret Coast Highway 90 runs all the way from West Texas to East Florida, but the most beautiful part is right here in Coastal Mississippi. Scenic Highway 90 takes you right by the Gulf of Mexico and a 26-mile-long beach (view video HERE), all the way from Waveland, MS to Moss Point, MS, across two stunning bay bridges and right past many historic sights worth seeing. On your Highway 90 journey between the Louisiana and Alabama borders, you will pass through several beautiful and unique towns, all offering their own charming personality: Waveland The only city on the Gulf Coast to prohibit commercial buildings on its beachfront, Waveland offers miles of unobstructed beach views of the Gulf of Mexico. Buccaneer State Park offers relaxing, small-town beach camping, a beachfront waterpark, and a host of nature-based activities, such as birding, crabbing, and kayaking. Bay St. Louis Considered “a place apart”, this quaint seaside town was named one of the ‘Coolest Small Towns in America’ by Budget Travel and was also recognized as a top 10 small beach town by Coastal Living Magazine (2010). From friendly folks to historic buildings, this unique city embraces the heritage of our region. Pass Christian View unforgettable historic homes and magnificent oaks during your visit to “The Pass”. The area’s unique way of life is defined as relaxed and resolute, casual and carefree. If you’re aiming to find a friendly and laid-back atmosphere, Pass Christian offers it in large doses. Pick up a one-of-a-kind antique or gift from a range of local retailers or grab a locally-brewed coffee at Cat Island Coffeehouse, with an incredible view of the Mississippi Sound. Long Beach If you’re searching for beautiful scenery and a calm southern getaway, Long Beach is the perfect place for you. Ride through this bicycle-friendly town and rent kites for the little ones while at the public beach. Stop into any of the local eateries to experience an eclectic array of culinary delights – many served up with an incredible view of the Mississippi Sound. Gulfport Offering a plethora of parks and water recreation areas throughout the city, up-close-and-personal adventures with marine life, zip-lining tours through the coastal canopies, and an array of dining and entertainment options, Gulfport has something for everyone. Take a boat excursion out to Ship Island, a fishing charter to some of the best spots, or simply stroll around Gulfport’s beautiful harbor and eclectic downtown area, featuring an ever-evolving public art scene in an old fishmonger’s alley. Coming soon to Gulfport: Mississippi Aquarium! Biloxi Once known as the “Seafood Capital of the World”, Biloxi offers both revival and relaxation in equal measures. Jet-ski in the Gulf of Mexico, take a Shrimping Trip or a sunset sail on a Biloxi Schooner, or relax with your toes in the white sand and enjoy the beautiful views of the Mississippi Sound. Catch a Biloxi Shuckers baseball game and sample some locally-brewed coastal cold ones, or challenge your friends to a game of blackjack and watch a headliner show at one of the casinos. The options are endless. Biloxi Schooner. Credit: Coastal Mississippi. Ocean Springs Known as the City of Discovery by locals and visitors alike, this historic coastal town is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a whole host of experiences. A quaint, Main Street community nestled amongst centuries-old live oaks on the scenic shore of Coastal Mississippi, Ocean Springs boasts a rich history, artistic flair, lush landscape and small-town appeal. Colorful and sophisticated, this community is known for its arts and festivals. It is home to the Ocean Springs Art Association representing more than 300 local artists, the largest annual fine arts festival in the state, Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and Shearwater Pottery. With over 200 independent shops, galleries, restaurants and nightlife, this community captures southern, small-town charm with its walkability, white sand beaches, and year-round activity. Pascagoula Mississippi’s Flagship City boasts incredible antebellum architecture and a rich 300-year history. Pirate Jean Lafitte, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Zachary Taylor, and Jimmy Buffett all spent time in Pascagoula and considered it home, a hideaway or a respite throughout the years. Visit La Pointe-Krebs House, circa 1718, in all its rugged splendor with a panoramic view of Krebs Lake. Spend the afternoon at Scranton Nature Center at I.G. Levy Park, featuring a variety of exhibits. Or simply relax with a picnic at Beach Park for the day, overlooking the Mississippi Sound. Moss Point Home to some of the most beautiful and unique natural habitats, Moss Point is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Visit the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, located along the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48, and discover the amazing world of Coastal Mississippi’s abundant native flora and fauna by kayak or on a River, Marsh & Bayou boat tour. Anna Roy is the Public/Media Relations Manager for Coastal Mississippi. This piece was produced for Budget Travel's Rediscover America series.

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