An insider’s guide to the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast - A Guide

Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast - An Ultimate Guide

Mississippi’s coast inspires awe, from the deep-blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the lush and placid bayous. Rich with history and decked with natural beauty, our coastal region is fast becoming a popular destination for both vacationers and those looking for a fresh start.

Whether you yearn for a long day of deep-sea fishing or a scenic afternoon hike along a forest trail, there are many ways to enjoy the natural wealth of the Gulf Coast. Seasonal festivals and other events celebrate the coast's culture, strengthening the bonds that link communities through art, music, and delicious seafood.

Food festivals make it easy to get a taste of the coast, but you might find it hard to stop! The Gulf Coast has a lively and multicultural food scene that combines traditional Southern food with Mexican, Japanese, and other cuisines.

Our coastal communities proudly showcase their history through iconic architectural styles and modern development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Historic hotels and charming B&Bs make any stay a one-of-a-kind experience.

Visit during Mardi Gras or an average weekend—there’s always a party on the coast. Gulf Coast nightlife ranges from high-class casinos and rollicking dance clubs to private, laidback local bars where you can escape for the night.

Hiking on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Endless Attractions, Both Inland and Offshore

If there’s one word to describe the Gulf Coast, that word is complete. From bustling Biloxi to tranquil Waveland, there’s no shortage of attractions to fill your schedule.

Outdoor adventures abound on the coast

Limitless adventure awaits on the Gulf of Mexico.  Take a deep-sea fishing trip, have a family picnic on Ship Island, or learn to scuba dive in the coral-studded waters. The region’s numerous bayous and rivers offer even more fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching opportunities.

Inland adventurers will have plenty to do in the Gulf Coast’s many nature preserves. You can hike along the bayou on a trail shaded by oaks and pines, spend a peaceful afternoon on a freshwater lake, or get together with friends for a game of disc golf.

If clearer waters are your preference, water parks like Buccaneer Bay offer another great way to enjoy the sunny weather. Our coastal towns also feature family-friendly activities like ziplining and camping.

Connect with Mississippi’s history

Communities on the coast have long histories, and you can visit some truly incredible hideaways preserved for hundreds of years.  When you visit the LaPointe-Krebs house in Pascagoula, you’re entering the oldest standing structure in Mississippi- over 200 years old!

Local historical societies run small museums like the Gulfport Museum of History, housed in a former railroad depot. These preserved and renovated locations are the perfect opportunity to touch Mississippi’s history.

Explore the work of past and contemporary artists

Many coastal towns have galleries and shops where you can view and purchase local artists’ work. You can find delicate glasswork, beautifully decorated pottery, and other gorgeous art pieces to remind you of your time on the coast.

Ocean Springs, the Gulf Coast’s art hub, is decorated with public art pieces, including murals by Walter Inglis Anderson. One of the region’s most famous artists, he is also the subject of the town’s Walter Anderson Museum of Art, which displays his and other artists’ work.

Learn about science through Gulf Coast museums

The Gulf Coast offers many museums showcasing the region’s history, ecology, and contributions to science.

One of the most notable museums is the INFINITY Space Center, near Diamondhead, which engages visitors of all ages in learning about Earth, space, and ocean sciences. It also serves as the visitor center for Stennis Space Center, a prominent NASA rocket-testing facility.

Mississippi Antebellum Home

The Gulf Coast's Historic Hotels & Charming B&Bs

No matter where you land on the MS Gulf Coast, you’ll have your pick of hotels and B&Bs in historic architectural styles, like Creole cottages and neoclassical mansions.  Let's examine a few of these places in more detail.

Historic hotels make for a memorable stay

Iconic local hotels like the Hotel Pass Christian or the White House Hotel in Biloxi guarantee a unique lodging experience. Enjoy modern amenities while you admire the craftsmanship and style of these iconic landmarks.

The Gulf Coast also offers enchanting B&Bs, like the Bay Town Inn in Bay St. Louis.  They promise a quiet, relaxed stay and frequently have quick access to the waterfront.

Many historic homes are available as vacation rentals if you're seeking the utmost privacy in a gorgeous beachside bungalow.

Gulf Coast Fried Oyster Platter

Gulf Coast Cuisine Spans Many Traditions

Local culture shines in the Gulf Coast’s many culinary traditions. From seafood-focused Cajun and Creole dishes to Asian and Mexican favorites (and even fusions between them), our coastal chefs are the class of Mississippi.

Cajun and Creole food dominate

Unsurprisingly, traditional Southern dishes play a prominent role in the Gulf Coast's food scene. Creole and Cajun restaurants thrive on the fresh oysters, shrimp, crawfish, and other seafood caught right on the gulf.

You'll find comfort at every corner, from tiny beachfront joints to fine dining restaurants like The Oak Room in Diamondhead.  You’re never far from a plate of fried oysters or shrimp étouffée.

Cultural richness is a highlight of the food scene

But you'll also find more than just Southern classics along the coast. Mexican, Japanese, and Vietnamese restaurants are typical, and some standouts like Vestige fuse multiple traditions to create new and unexpected dishes you won’t find anywhere else.

Whether you’re craving tamales, sushi, or a bowl of pho, you’re sure to find something to hit the spot. If you pick your destination wisely, you'll get a breathtaking view of a bayou or the gulf, as outdoor and balcony seating is a common perk.

Local cafes and restaurants can’t be beat

The Gulf Coast has a wealth of small, locally-owned cafes and restaurants you won't find anywhere else.  Quirky spots like Pass Christian’s Cat Island Coffeehouse doubles as a bookstore.

Gulfport’s cultural fixture, Chandeleur Brewing Company, has a strong sense of character that will stick with you long after you wave goodbye.

These small businesses embody the local heritage and hospitality that makes our region so popular.  So, if you want to truly experience everything the coast has to offer, don’t overlook the little guys.

MS Gulf Coast Events - Cruisin' the Coast

Hotrods, Carnivals, and Art are Coastal Mainstays

Many of our distinctive events are unique to the MS Gulf Coast.  Between seafood festivals, fishing competitions, and other gatherings that bring communities together for days-long parties, you won’t want to miss a single one.

Fishing and hotrods highlight coastal competitions

One of the largest and most anticipated events in Mississippi, Cruisin’ the Coast parades hundreds of hot rods and other classic cars up and down the coast. Known as America’s Largest Block Party, the yearly event brings live music, food vendors, and all the other fixings for a guaranteed good time.

Another major event is the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. This week-long fishing competition sends dozens of teams of anglers onto the gulf in the hopes of netting millions in prizes.

Get your fill of food and festivals

Practically every Gulf Coast town features its food festival. You'll often find crawfish and barbeque competitions or best-of-the-city competitions for local restaurants.  Revelers make a whole day of it, with live music, carnival games, and other events that fill the streets until the sun sets (and a while after).

Ocean Springs is a hot spot for arts festivals like the Mississippi Songwriters Festival and Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival. These events attract artists from across the state to share their work in concerts and pop-up shops.

Celebrate Mardi Gras on the Gulf Coast

If you thought the Gulf Coast knew how to party, wait until Mardi Gras comes around! Even the smallest towns, like Pass Christian, have multiple parades that feature creative floats, live music, special events, and plenty of beads and knickknacks to catch.

Our region has a long history of carnival celebrations and notable krewes. The people of Biloxi have been celebrating Mardi Gras for over a hundred years, and Waveland’s all-female Krewe of Nereids is one of the oldest on the Gulf Coast.

Whether you prefer the raucous excitement of night parades or a more family-friendly daytime procession, you’ll surely have an unforgettable time once the horns start playing and confetti starts to fly.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Nightlife

Embrace the Gulf Coast’s Thriving Nightlife

Gulf Coast locals love a good time. Between casino nightlife and headliner musical events, we consistently draw big crowds.

For those seeking a more tranquil evening, you’ll also find plenty of places to spend a quiet night out.

Casinos, clubs, and concerts are the norm

It’s no secret that casinos rule the nightlife on the coast, especially in Biloxi and Gulfport. Waterfront casino resorts like Beau Rivage and Island View Casino Resort have huge table rooms and packed slots floors, so you’re sure to find a game that catches your attention.

Gulf Coast casinos also have lounges and bars where you can have a drink and take in the ambiance. These often have fantastic oceanfront views, making them a great destination to cap off a day of excitement.

If you’re in the mood for music, you’re in luck. Major musical artists regularly swing down the coast, performing at casinos and other venues. Larger cities on the coast also have nightclubs where you can dance the night away.

Step away from the party at a local bar

But if the party scene isn’t your thing, or you need a break from the excitement, it’s always easy to find a place to relax. Many downtown areas have distinctive dives where you can sit back and enjoy live jazz or blues.

Beachside establishments Parrish’s Restaurant & Lounge in Long Beach are excellent places to unwind.   They offer excellent vantage points to watch the moon rise over the gulf and let the day's stress melt away.

Gulf Coast Living - Residential Houses

Living on the Gulf Coast - Popular Home Styles

Altogether, the coastal counties of Mississippi have a population of roughly 399,000. The population declined significantly following Hurricane Katrina but has recovered.  In some communities, the number of residents has grown well beyond their pre-2005 levels.

Similarly, the real estate market has been heating up as people rediscover the Gulf Coast. Hancock and Harrison counties had median home sale prices increase by over $15,000 between 2022 and 2023.  The overall median sale price for the state has been on the rise in the last five years.

MS Gulf Coast home sellers consistently get upwards of $200/ft for newer homes.

Success of post-Katrina revitalization projects

Hurricane Katrina's landfall in western Mississippi changed the Gulf Coast forever. Some towns were left with only the foundations on which their homes were constructed. The massive damage inflicted by Katrina posed a severe challenge for communities that already had small populations.

In the more than a decade since Katrina, the Gulf Coast has experienced a hard-earned revitalization. While some rebuilding efforts continue even today, other Gulf Coast communities have moved beyond recovery and into growth.

Historic architectural styles of the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast’s long history lends itself to various architectural styles. Standard designs include Creole houses with pitched roofs and shaded porches, neoclassical homes with stately white columns, and homes with double-gallery facades that evoke New Orleans.

Pass Christian has over 100 historic homes that showcase Jeffersonian and Creole architectural elements.  Other communities have expertly preserved homes on the market exhibiting many styles.

Modern homes create growth opportunities

Many Gulf Coast communities are on the rise, with increasing populations and housing needs. As such, new homes with all the benefits of modern construction are now available across the entire region.

If you’re looking for the perfect place for a new beach house, the coast still has undeveloped waterfront properties on the gulf and the region’s many bayous. Some communities, like Waveland, have restrictions on commercial development along the beach, ensuring you can enjoy your share of the coast in peace and privacy.


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