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Top-10 Mississippi Gulf Coast trip tips

13 October 2008

This week we continue our on-going series of Top-10 trip tips by visiting Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Earlier this month we provided insights and advice on planning your next trip to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Now, with the help of Janice Jones, the manager of media relations for the Gulf Coast's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, we turn to a lesser known, but emerging gambling destination.

10. Bring the entire family

Make visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast the best family outing you've had in years. Stennis Space Center is an absolute must. Young and old can test a space shuttle main engine and feel the shake, rattle and roar of the engine, pilot the space shuttle, and walk through the International Space Station. From April to October, take the kids a step back in history to Ship Island and a tour of Fort Massachusetts (circa 1866). Watch the playful bottlenose dolphins as you enjoy the 11-mile round trip to the undeveloped barrier island. Explore and enjoy tranquil beaches for hiking and shelling. Discover many varieties of plants and wildlife, including many species of migratory birds. And most of all, relax on some of the finest beaches as you bask in the warm sun and pristine waters.

9. Free your inner artist

Two artists whose works have been shown at the Smithsonian call the Mississippi Gulf Coast home, Walter Inglis Anderson and George E Ohr, the "Mad Potter of Biloxi." The Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs showcases the work of an American Master. In Biloxi, the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art is currently exhibiting in the historic Glenn Swetman House. It will be moving to its permanent home in Biloxi by late 2010, a museum campus designed by Frank Gehry. When planning your trip to the Ohr Museum, call and ask about making a pinch pot or painted tile to take home as a souvenir.

8. Explore history

The history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast goes back more than 300 years. Visit Mary Mahoney's Old French House, Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis Home, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, the Glenn Swetman House, or a 1930's bungalow converted to a restaurant. Take a trip on the Biloxi Tour Train for a ride through historic Biloxi and learn the history of the city from the early days to present.

7. Go shopping

Ocean Springs and Bay St Louis feature historic shopping districts mixed with area attractions and restaurants. Take a Coast Area Transit bus, $1 for a single ride or $5 for a day pass, and visit Edgewater Mall in Biloxi or Prime Outlets and Crossroads shopping Center in Gulfport.

6. Golf anyone?

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to more than 20 golf courses designed by well-known course designers Donald Ross, Davis Love III, Mark McCumber, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Pate, and Tom Fazio. The Bridges Golf Club and The Preserve Golf Club have been honored by Audubon International and Grand Bear and Fallen Oak were just named among the "Top 100 Courses You Can Play 2008-2009" by Golf Magazine.

5. Fun in the sun

The mild climate of the Mississippi Gulf Coast lends itself to outdoor opportunities almost any day of the year. Twenty-six miles of man-made beach, sail boating, and eco tours will give you a good excuse to work on your tan. While you may not want to swim in the cooler months, the beach is still very inviting for a stroll along the waters edge. Gulf Islands Water Park in Gulfport gives you 5 water slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool to keep you cool late spring to early fall. And then there is the Fishing! Located on the Gulf of Mexico and an abundance of rivers and tributaries ending on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, fresh and saltwater fishing opportunities seem never ending. Book your own charter by calling the captains directly or, for a small fee, use a booking service that can package your room with your fishing trip.

4. Plan your trip around your hobbies

Are you an antique car collector or just like to watch them cruise? Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast the week leading up to Columbus Day to experience Cruisin' The Coast, the world's largest block party. Is history your favorite subject? Fall Muster at Beauvoir, The Jefferson Home allows you to relive the sights and sounds of the War Between The States era the third weekend in October. If speed is your thrill, Smokin' the Sound each spring will surely get your heart to racing. Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB Web site, and review the Calendar of Events prior to your trip. With seafood and art festivals and special events and even Olympic style horse shows, you will find that something extra to make your trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast more memorable.

3. Casino hopping

Park your car; save your gas! The quickest and easiest way to get from one casino to another in East Biloxi is to hop aboard a Casino Hopper, operated by Coast Area Transit. Not only is Hopper riding free, but you'll always have a designated driver so you can sit back, enjoy the ride and relax.

2. Dine like a local

Visit some of the local's favorite hang outs and restaurants. You've never experience Southern hospitality until you dine on true gulf coast cuisine – and at no extra cost. For example, start your day with a hardy breakfast at Triplett-Day Drug Store, serving customers for over 50 years in an old fashion soda fountain atmosphere, with their array of old photos depicting the history of Gulfport. For a light lunch, visit Darwell's in Long Beach. Their wacky, entertaining décor and excellent sandwiches and salads will lift your spirits while you explore the small quaint towns along the coastline. When you need a little afternoon break, stop by Shaggy's Bar and Grill overlooking the small craft harbor in Pass Christian. There's always a seagull or two waiting to greet you as you watch the fishing boats return to harbor. And for that special evening, fine dining is limitless – Mary Mahoney's Old French House, Vrazel's, ConFusion and Saluté, to name just a few. Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB Web site for additional dining options,

1. Make your reservations in advance

Rooms fill up quickly for the holidays and huge events such as Cruisin' The Coast, Mardi Gras, and when large convention groups are in town. Be sure to visit our Web site,, for booking information and a list of hotels. Remember that Sunday through Thursday stays always offer you lower rates.

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