The Unspoken Charms of Mississippi’s Coastal Towns

Ship island Mississippi sunbathing

Ever thought Mississippi’s best-kept secrets were merely its sandy shores? Think again. For those who, like me, find a little more solace in quaint towns than bustling beaches, you’re in for a treat. A wealth of tranquil coastal charms await beyond the sun and sand, so don’t be quick to judge Mississippi’s coast as just a beach destination.


A Bounty Beyond the Beach

Admittedly, I’m atypical regarding seaside escapes; pass me the peaceful corners where fresh seafood is the catch of the day and unique havens beckon with open arms. The temporary closing of waters due to an algae bloom wasn’t a damper but an open invitation to explore Mississippi’s coast—affectionately dubbed “The Secret Coast“—without the usual crowds.

Here stands a string of twelve historic, heartwarming towns fringing the Gulf of Mexico, filled with activities ranging from Minor League Baseball and buzzing casinos to top-tier museums and delectable dining options. And yes, should you desire a splash, the waters of Ship Island or sunset cruises are still within easy reach.


62 Miles of Hidden Treasures

The Mississippi coast isn’t just pristine shores; it’s a 62-mile stretch teeming with history and culture. While the beaches beckon for casual strolls and bird-watching, each town along the way has its story to tell.

Bay St. Louis: Artistry on the Rise

Aptly recognized by Yahoo as “the Best Hidden Gem Destination in MS,” Bay St. Louis is a hive of creativity. Every second Saturday, the town buzzes with artists and admirers alike. Charming bed and breakfast options like Bay Town Inn are perfect for an intimate, regional experience, and cafes such as Mockingbird Café serve specialty coffees and treats like their famed Deep South biscuits.


Pass Christian: Relaxed Coastal Nobility

In Pass Christian, it is pronounced “Pass Chris-tee-ann,” laid-back luxury awaits. Park and unwind at Hotel Pass Christian or explore boutiques and the fantastic Pass Christian Books. The town is punctuated with green spaces like the Ricky Levy West Harbor Park and War Memorial Park, perfect for leisurely outdoor days.


Ocean Springs: An Artists’ Retreat

Housing the acclaimed Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs celebrates artistic flair in every corner. Are you looking for serenity? The Roost Boutique Hotel provides a quiet respite with a bustling bar scene steps away for when the night calls. You’ll also find the best shopping on Coastal Mississippi in this darling town. 


Long Beach: Quaint and Quintessential

Long Beach’s downtown is a compressed treasure trove featuring historical sites like the Bankhouse Coffee, which is in a 1917 bank building. The place prides itself on preserving its original charm, offering a unique spot for coffee enthusiasts.


Gulfport & Biloxi: Cultured Coastal Hubs

Museum-goers and sports fans find solace in Biloxi’s diverse offerings, from the Ohr-Okeefe Museum of Art’s unique exhibitions (housed in a sensational Frank Gehry building) to exciting Minor League Baseball Biloxi Shuckers games at MGM Park. Coastal Mississippi’s gambling scene is off the hook, with nearly a dozen places to enjoy slots, table games, world-class hotels, and ultimate gaming.


The Beau Rivage is our top pick for lodging and gambling. You’ll be in the lap of luxury at this address. Take advantage of the supreme dining and entertaining, as well. 


And if it’s island time you’re after, Ship Island Excursions provides the perfect sea escape. The barrier island remains part of the Gulf Island National Seashore, so the beaches and surrounding lands are protected far into the Gulf of Mexico.


Pascagoula: Nature’s Final Frontier

Finally, in Pascagoula, industry and nature harmoniously coexist. Engage with the local habitat paddling down the river, or absorb knowledge at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. Welcome the weekends with a visit to the Pascagoula Round Island Lighthouse, and wind down at the Grand Magnolia Ballroom and Suites for a truly refreshing stay.


Magnolia State Magic Awaits

Mississippi’s coastal towns are rich with stories, flavors, and experiences that don’t yell for attention but whisper for you to come closer. This hidden side of the Magnolia State invites travelers to look for the nuances of place and a sense of discovery in tranquil, unspoiled settings.

Whether you’re seeking artistic inspiration, a historical pilgrimage, or simply the pleasure of quiet beaches and tucked-away treasures, Mississippi’s secret coastal towns are waiting to share their tales.


This article was originally written by Chere Coen in 2019. It has been updated by staff in 2024.

Read more of her posts:

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