In April, we planned to fly to Puerto Rico for our fifth anniversary, but we had to cancel with Covid-19 cases rising in the United States. After restaurants and stores began to open back up and regulations became more lenient, we decided to travel somewhere close to home to celebrate and spend some one-on-one time together. The coast of Mississippi was recommended to us by friends and family, so we planned a spontaneous trip and left two days later.
Day 1 was our travel day. We arrived in Biloxi around 2:00 p.m. We stayed in a local hotel; however, I would prefer to stay somewhere different in the future. There are a few condominiums and some dreamy bed and breakfast spots around Biloxi and Ocean Springs. The Roost in Ocean Springs is absolutely gorgeous and the prices are comparable to the hotels in Biloxi. If you’re not looking to visit the Casinos, The Roost appears to be a wonderful option for a stay in Mississippi.
After checking into our hotel room, we threw on our swimsuits and prepared to explore a nearby beach. We drove down Beach Boulevard and visited the Biloxi Lighthouse. It’s situated directly in front of a pier. We spent an hour strolling down the beach and sitting on the pier, taking in the smell of the salt water and the sight of the gentle waves lapping against the shore. The Biloxi lighthouse has withstood many storms and multiple hurricanes. It serves as a beautiful metaphor for the resilience of the Biloxi people. In spite of the damage done from these storms, the people of Biloxi have continued to rebuild their city and preserve its history.
Following a brief afternoon at the beach, we returned to our hotel and cleaned up for an evening in Ocean Springs. Downtown Ocean Springs is well worth the eleven minute drive. Government Street is home to a food truck park, boutiques, and a large number of restaurants. While we only had time to visit one Ocean Spring restaurant, my mother-in-law recommended several other options that I’ll include for you. We ate dinner at Murky Waters Blues & Barbecue, a local staple. We both selected the pork sandwich and were pleased with both the service and the quality of our meal. Murky Waters is known for having live music; however, we were unable to experience that aspect since the world is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. Following our meal, we walked down to French Kiss Pastries to taste one of their renowned European pastries. Their glass case was mostly empty at this time of day, so our options were limited. We shared a delicious turtle cheesecake. I would have liked to have tasted one of their traditional French pastries, so I hope to return in the future. After speaking to the employee there, we discovered that the best times to arrive are opening time and 4:00 p.m. when they restock the pastries. We took an additional hour to stroll through downtown Ocean Springs past the shops and boutiques and even discovered Marshall Park, a little park packed with history. Additional restaurants that came highly recommended are Charred, Phoenicia Gourmet, The Grocery, Glory Bound, Mosaic, Blue Dog Bistro, and Tatonut. Essentially, you can’t go wrong with a meal on Government Street. We ended the night with a drive to Diberville for some shopping followed by a movie in our hotel room.
We began day two by sleeping in and heading to The Reef for an early lunch. While the food wasn’t as good as our other stops in Mississippi, it was worth the visit for the ambiance. The Reef sits on stilts and has beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. I recommend the shrimp basket. We followed our lunch with a drive to Gulfport to embark on one of my favorite parts of the trip, a dolphin cruise. We booked with Ship Island Excursions. They also offer a trip to West Ship Island, where you can explore historic Fort Massachusets and lounge on its national park beach. Unfortunately, the national park was not open at this time, but we thoroughly enjoyed the dolphin cruise and highly recommend it for those looking for a relaxing 1 1/2 hours on the water. The ferry is stocked with snacks and drinks and supplies both bathrooms and ample seating. There are plenty of opportunities for dolphin sightings and photos. You can sit in the sun or in the shade, and we did a little of both. It was the perfect way to spend our second afternoon in Mississippi. Following our time in Gulfport, we drove back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We ate dinner at Half Shell Oyster House, and it was absolutely incredible. If you try nothing else from this review, I hope you give this restaurant a chance. Half Shell Oyster House has some of the best seafood I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of seafood. I’m a Cajun from South Louisiana. I had the seafood pasta, shrimp and crawfish sauteed with portabella mushrooms. It’s tossed with linguini and Creole Alfredo and topped with lump crabmeat. My husband had the shrimp and grits, smothered in bacon cream sauce. We also split a side of sweet potato crème brulee, that tasted like a dessert. This was, hands down, my favorite Biloxi experience and one of my favorite seafood experiences. Half Shell Oyster House is truly exceptional, and I look forward to returning.
After dinner, we parked near Sharkheads, a local souvenir shop, for a stroll on the beach. The water was shallow for long distances, so we waded far out into the water without getting our clothes wet. It was especially beautiful to watch the sun set in this way, gentle waves moving around our calves and sand beneath our toes. After about an hour of wading and walking along the shore, we headed into Sharkheads to find a souvenir for our little man, who was having his own mini vacation at his grandparent’s house. It was a cute spot with plenty of options for a traditional souvenir. We originally planned on ending the night with milkshakes at The Yard, but they closed early this evening. This spot comes highly recommended by friends of ours. While we ended our evening at this point, there are additional activities that I’d love to experience on our next vacation to Mississippi. I’d love to eat at the Sugar Factory within the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, wander through the George Ohr Museum of Art, and take a ferry to West Ship Island.
I didn’t expect to enjoy Mississippi as much as I did. I was a bit skeptical, since I’m more accustomed to the Alabama and Florida beaches. However, Mississippi really is the “Secret Coast,” as locals call it. There’s a certain charm to the beach-side cities; and the cuisine, in itself, is worth the drive. If you’re looking for a quick getaway with your family this summer, make it a vacation to the Secret Coast and experience its allure for yourself.