These Coastal Mississippi hidden gems for your next Mississippi beach getaway vacation include several dozen secret and local favorite Mississippi Gulf Coast restaurants, beaches, attractions, hotels, and more.
Coastal Mississippi is only a one-hour day trip from New Orleans or Mobile Alabama but fantastically different from those two bigger neighbors. On several Mississippi Gulf Coast trips, I set out to find as many fun, cool, and happy Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gems and secret spots as I could along the 62 miles also called The Secret Coast.
While I expected to find maybe two dozen compelling places, my list keeps growing. At this point, my list far exceeds the original 51—but who is counting? Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast and enjoy these Coastal Mississippi hidden gems—and discover your own!
51+ Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gems on The Secret Coast
Please note that everything on this list is not a secret to everyone. In fact, some of these places are popular but still worth mentioning so that future visitors will enjoy them. As Yogi Berra once said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Yes, your favorite Coastal Mississippi secret spot may one day not be a secret but please realize there are 10,000 more hidden gems to discover along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Thank you to Coastal Mississippi and its partners (lodging, dining, and attractions) for hosting me on several occasions. Special thank you to the extraordinary Public/Media Relations Manager Anna Roy for helping me explore and discover Coastal Mississippi secret places.
Secret Mississippi Gulf Coast Sunset Spots
OK, there are countless Coastal Mississippi locations to watch glorious Gulf Coast sunsets every night. Here are a few special secret places I found.
- Biloxi Bay Bridge, Ocean Springs. The photo at the top of the article and below was taken from the pedestrian walkway next to the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Before driving over the bridge, exit near McElroy’s on the Bayou and drive to the parking area; this is also the way to drive to Lovers Lane (see above).
- DaBayou Bar & Grill, Ocean Springs. For nice sunset views across the bayou, bring some friends (or just a special one) and grab an outside table at DaBayou Bar & Grill 30 minutes before sunset. PS DaBayou is in the midst of re-branding to The Bayou Restaurant and Tiki Bar.
- Henderson Point. Between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian is an area called Henderson Point. The wide, white sand beach is usually not crowded and a great place for a romantic sunset.
Secret Coastal Mississippi Sunrise Spots
- Bay St. Louis. Let’s say you are an overnight guest at Bay Town Inn—a great place to stay in Bay St. Louis. To see a nice sunrise, walk to the water, turn right, walk past the railroad tracks (less than 1/2 mile) and pick a spot on the wall or down by the water. Try both, because they offer different views of the sunrise!
- Beau Rivage, Biloxi. If you score a high floor room facing east at Beau Rivage, the sunrise views are spectacular. Two of the three mornings I stayed there, the fog was very thick, which made the scene eerie and fun. See the below photo for the third morning sunrise view.
- Biloxi Bay Bridge. Park near the Ocean Springs Yacht Club about 25 minutes before scheduled sunrise and stroll onto the 1.6 mile Biloxi Bay Bridge. You should be near the highest point a few minutes before the sun emerges on the horizon and you will likely see jumping dolphins, shrimp boats, and plenty of other early birds.
- Front Beach, Ocean Springs. OK, truth is Front Beach is wonderful for sunsets and I could have included it above. I really like going to Front Beach though for sunrises. Pelicans and other birds are waking up, dolphins are jumping around, and the US Gulf Coast is starting to stir. It is a great time of the day.
Secret Coastal Mississippi Adventures
- Biloxi Shrimping Trip is super entertaining and informative. Dave, the first mate, has everyone laughing within a few minutes and he has the bravest children (of all ages) touching sea critters before the end of the excursion. The Biloxi Shrimping Trip is definitely one of the most things to do in Biloxi. #BigShrimpin
- McCoy’s Swamp and River Tour, Pascagoula. Operating from the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, McCoy’s Swamp & River Tour is a fun and informative Coastal Mississippi adventure. Look for eagles, ospreys, and other wildlife along one of USA’s most pristine wilderness environments.
- Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, Gautier. The only place on this list of Coastal Mississippi secrets north of I-10 is Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR. Here you can hike among pine forests, see orchids and carnivorous plants (cool!), and maybe glimpse a rare Mississippi sandhill crane or two.
- Paddles Up, Ocean Springs. Paddles Up is a fun adventure and clothing store in Ocean Springs but they also rent SUP and kayaks and operate yoga classes and guided trips. I have enjoyed a guided SUP tour and a solo kayak trip from Ocean Springs harbor and a guided kayak trip from the Biloxi Schooner Pier to Deer Island. Tell Amanda I suggested you visit!
- Pascagoula River Audubon Center kayak trip. Another Coastal Mississippi adventure possibility is to rent a kayak from Pascagoula River Audubon Center. I brought along a half and half po’ boy from Bozo’s and had an excellent #LiquidRoadTrip experience, highlighted by gator and sandhill crane sightings.
- Wolf River Canoe & Kayak, Pass Christian. Allow 2-5 hours for a #LiquidRoadTrip along the Wolf River. Bring a cooler with your own drinks and food, and let Wolf River Canoe & Kayak provide the boat and directions. Look for petrified stones along the river banks on this Coastal Mississippi adventure.
- Ship Island. Stroll secluded beaches, explore an undeveloped barrier island, and swim in clear Gulf of Mexico water on Ship Island, 11 miles offshore. Ship Island Excursions operates ferries from Biloxi and Gulfport harbors, mid-March through late October.
Secret Tree Spots in Coastal Mississippi
The Friendship Oak in Long Beach is magnificent and the most well-known tree along Coastal Mississippi. Bask among the dozens of other live oak trees near it on the campus of University of Southern Mississippi. The Mississippi Gulf Coast has hundreds of beautiful oak trees and here are some of my favorites.
- Lover’s Lane, Ocean Springs. The street is lined with old oaks. The biggest and most majestic one came down a couple of years ago and I have a pen made from its wood. See the rest before they perish!
- Moss Point. Moss Point, just north of Pascagoula, has many gorgeous oak trees. At least one street has a nice oak tree canopy.
- Old Spanish Trail, Pass Christian. Walk, bike, or drive (slowly) along Old Spanish Trail (East Scenic Drive) to admire the nice waterfront homes but mostly the gorgeous oak trees.
- Ruskin Oak, Ocean Springs. Stroll or ride on Ruskin Avenue and see dozens of giant oak trees. The oldest is the Ruskin Oak but note that it is set back on private property.
- Anthony’s Under the Oaks, Ocean Springs. Some beautiful oak trees surround Anthony’s in Ocean Springs and the adjacent The Julep Room. This is also a nice setting to watch sunsets over the Old Fort Bayou.
- Mary Mahoney’s, Biloxi. Whether or not you choose to eat here, visit Mary Mahoney’s for the gorgeous oak tree covering the entry way.
Secret Mississippi Gulf Coast Public Art Spots
- Ruth’s Roots, Bay St. Louis. Ruth’s Roots is a super funky and colorful community garden with live animals, games, relaxation areas, a free library, donation area, and, of course, a public garden.
- Fishbone Alley, Gulfport. Fishbone Alley runs between two rows of buildings in downtown Gulfport. Many restaurants back up into Fishbone Alley, making it a lively destination on weekend evenings. The huge “Make It Funky” painted wall is one of my favorite things to see in Coastal Mississippi but the entire alley is colorfully painted—even the electricity and water meters!
- Biloxi Bay Bridge Mosaic, Ocean Springs. Mosaic tile artist Elizabeth Veglia installed the 120 feet long (longest mosaic artwork in Mississippi) with contributions from four local artists. This beautiful mosaic artwork features vibrant coastal Mississippi nature and animal scenes.
- Tree art. All along the Mississippi coast, oak trees that are aged, dead, or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (or other reasons) have been lovingly given new lives by local artisans. Trunks and branches of the magnificent oak trees are transformed into animals, angels, or other creations. The first carved tree I remember seeing is in front on the INFINITY Science Center. Just a few days before I visited, lightning struck the oak tree. An eagle was already carved into the remaining tree and more was to be done. Anyone see the completed project?
Secret Coastal Mississippi Museums
- Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum. See spectacular and lavish Mardi Gras krewe costumes, read about area Mardi Gras history, and get local information at the Mardi Gras Museum inside the Bay St. Louis Visitor Center.
- Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, Biloxi. See hundreds of historic items from Coastal Mississippi’s lengthy history as Seafood Capital of the World at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. I loved the building setting on Biloxi Bay, its two Biloxi schooner models, and the shrimp peeling machine.
- INFINITY Science Center, Pearlington. Learning about science is fun at Infinity Science Center, which also is the official visitor center of NASA’s Stennis Space Center. At INFINITY, design flood cities, create hurricanes, ride in Apollo 11, do a deep immersive ocean dive and rescue operation, and pose with the most powerful engine ever created.
- Charnley-Norwood House, Ocean Springs. Frank Lloyd Wright fans, architectural aficionados, and well everyone will appreciate the Charnley-Norwood House (aka Bon Silene). The house was designed by Louis Sullivan (father of the skyscaper) and perhaps his newly hired apprentice (Frank Lloyd Wright) and is possibly the first ever Modernist house.
- La Pointe-Krebs House & Museum, Pascagoula. Visit La Pointe-Krebs and walk through the oldest house in Mississippi and oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. Wow. Construction elements that are unique along the US Gulf Coast are evident and on display.
- Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum. The Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum in Biloxi opened in late 2019. Let me know if you visit as I have not even been there yet.
Secret Coastal Mississippi Art Museums
- Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi. Driving along highway 90, the ultra funky buildings designed by Frank Gehry first attract your attention. Visit the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum to view the collection of Mississippi Gulf Coast potter George E. Ohr and also fascinating and informative displays of the overall culture heritage of Coastal Mississippi.
- Shearwater Pottery, Ocean Springs. Visit the Shearwater Pottery studio to see individually hand-crafted pottery, where the descendants still use technique developed by Peter Anderson in 1928. While products from the website are shipped all over the world, the studio here in Ocean Springs is the only official retail outlet.
- Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs. While the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs focuses on the artist/philosopher Walter Anderson, the museum also incorporates works from Shearwater (founded by Walter’s brother Peter Anderson) and other Coastal Mississippi artists.
Secret Coastal Mississippi Breakfast Spots
- Greenhouse on Porter, Ocean Springs. They call themselves Biscuit Springs for a reason. Smartly, Greenhouse on Porter creates different savory and sweet biscuits each day, encouraging daily visits. I know I would if I lived in the area! Sit in the greenhouse and snap a picture of Marigold, the resident cat with her own Instagram account.
- KnuckleHeads, Ocean Springs. Occupying a gas station just a little past the main downtown Ocean Springs section of Washington avenue, KnuckleHeads is a popular place with craft draft beer and eclectic southern entrees. When they have crawfish, order them! For breakfast, empanadas and burritos hit the spot!
- Le Cafe Beignet, Biloxi. The Shrimp & Grits at Le Café Beignet might be second best in Mississippi, after (of course) Chef Austin Sumrall’s version at White Pillars. Those are two of the best Biloxi restaurants!
- Mockingbird Cafe, Bay St Louis. The tagline at Mockingbird Cafe is “Happiness is Homemade.” I love that, plus their “Skip the Plastic” policy, but most of all their food. Whatever breakfast item you order (pulled pork and grits is one suggestion), opt for the side of potatoes. They are so good!
Secret Casual Places to Eat in Coastal Mississippi
- Bozo’s Grocery, Pascagoula. Remarkable po’ boy in a “locals only” environment that is also welcoming to visitors. I recommend ordering the half oyster, half shrimp po’ boy at Bozo’s.
- Le Bakery & Cafe, Biloxi. Amazing French bread combined with ethnic fusion leads to interesting and tasty options at Le Bakery & Cafe. I tried a yellow coconut Thai curry chicken po’ boy that I still dream about. Gotta go back soon!
- Mikey’s on the Bayou, Ocean Springs. Grab a seat on the outside porch of Mikey’s on the Bayou and enjoy a dozen local raw oysters for $7 while overlooking the bayou. So nice!
- Serious Bread, Bay St. Louis. Come to Serious Bread in Bay St. Louis for the artisan fresh breads but stay for the incredible chicken salad. I call it the deconstructed chicken salad sandwich stop! Also in BSL, I enjoy the pizza at Brooklyn Pizzeria (but I want to know your favorite Coastal Mississippi pizza places!).
Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gem Restaurants
While the above two categories specifically covered breakfast and casual dining, the following are some of my favorite Coastal Mississippi restaurants.
- Eat Drink Love, Ocean Springs. The roast beef sandwich and fresh salads at Eat Drink Love are remarkable. Try the current infused spirit if you dare at this small boutique eatery located in The Roost in Ocean Springs.
- Fatsumo, Pass Christian. Try the creative and fresh sushi in an off the beaten path location at Fatsumo in Pass Christian. Perhaps most impressive to me was that one of Coastal Mississippi’s top chefs told me Scott Meinka at Fatsumo is a rock star chef.
- Vestige, Ocean Springs. Gastronomy gem Alex Perry recently received a semifinalist nomination for the James Beard Award in the Best Chef: South category. Perhaps Vestige is not a secret but still—GO THERE! His creations awaken all the senses—powerfully colorful and vivid flavor combinations. An example from my most recent visit was the black-eyed pea miso paste salmon.
- White Pillars, Biloxi. If French Hermit oysters from Deer Island are on the menu, order them! Chef Austin Sumrall always delivers delicious locally inspired dishes and says these oysters can be served within two hours of leaving the water. Speaking of dishes, White Pillars serves their beautiful offerings on Satterfield’s Pottery plates from Oxford, Mississippi (I love them!).
- McCool Travel note: Vestige and White Pillars are owned and managed by two of Best US Gulf Coast Restaurants and Chefs.
Coastal Mississippi Lodging Hidden Gems
- Front Beach Cottages, Ocean Springs. Located on a quiet residential street and a quick ten minute walk to downtown Ocean Springs or the beachfront, Front Beach Cottages is a fun place to stay in Coastal Mississippi. Choose from four separate cottages (I tried Bellande and Key West) and use their complimentary bicycles and kayaks to explore the area.
- The Grand Magnolia Ballroom and Suites, Pascagoula. The Grand Magnolia in Pascagoula is a nicely renovated historic inn. If you can, stay in The Little Gem as I did, which is the room used by Jimmy Buffett before his latest concert in his birth town of Pascagoula.
- Gulf Hills Hotel and Conference Center, Ocean Springs. The Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite at Gulf Hills Hotel is a three bedroom, 2,000 square feet suite with vintage Elvis Presley memorabilia. Bring your entourage!
- Hotel Pass Christian. There are 10 total rooms at Hotel Pass Christian but the four oversized suites have full kitchens, wet bars, and private patios!
- The Inn at Ocean Springs. Located in the heart of downtown Ocean Springs right on Washington Avenue, is the convenient, romantic, and uber-cool The Inn at Ocean Springs. Avenue Suite is set behind Mackey Suite, but both are elegantly furnished, luxuriously appointed, and freshly updated as of March 2019. Also check out the not-so-secret award winning The Roost (its sister property), about two blocks away.
For all of our suggested top places to stay along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, see Best Coastal Mississippi Hotels.
Miscellaneous Secret Coast Funness Along the Mississippi Coast
- 100 Men D.B.A. Hall, Ocean Springs. The 100 Men D.B.A. Hall traces its history to 1888, was a stop on the Chitlin’ Circuit, and is recognized with a Blues Trail Marker. Inside the hall, learn more about the history of the Debating Benevolent Association—which did much more than host music; their main purpose was to assist members and the community with health and burial issues.
- Biloxi Brewing. Located a block from MGM field, Biloxi Brewing is a perfect stop before or after a Biloxi Shuckers game or any time. McCool Travel NOTE: Biloxi Brewing is now closed. Please support your favorite small business so that they do not suffer the same fate.
- Biloxi Lighthouse. After breakfast at nearby Le Cafe Beignet, climb the 57 steps of the Biloxi Lighthouse to a grand view 64 feet above Coastal Mississippi. Because the structure is cast iron, tours are only at 9, 9:15, and 9:30 in the morning; it gets too hot inside after that. Request a tour from the gorgeous Biloxi Visitors Center building. After your Biloxi Lighthouse adventure, walk across the street to Biloxi Beach and see the Biloxi Wade-In 60th anniversary exhibit.
- Cat Island Coffehouse and Pass Christian Books. Housed in the same building, Cat Island Coffeehouse serves up drips and treats while Pass Christian Books feeds the mind. The building offers a loft with an immense collection of books by Mississippi authors and outside seating to enjoy those drinks and reads.
- Cemetery. What? A cemetery listed as funness? Yes, indeedy, I enjoy visiting cemeteries for walks, scenery, and history. I will not list all the Mississippi Gulf Coast cemeteries (in fact, tell me your favorite in the comment section) but I found the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and Cedar Rest Cemetery in Bay St Louis and Old Biloxi Cemetery in Biloxi (of course) to be quite photogenic.
- Hops and Growlers, Ocean Springs. I love Hops and Growlers for many reasons but one is the grit beer. Hope they have it when you visit. If not, they have at least 15 other craft beers to sample.
- Jimmy Buffet beach, bridge and childhood house, Pascagoula. All Parrotheads should visit Jimmy Buffett’s childhood home in Pascagoula, followed by the renamed Buffett Beach and Buffett Bridge.
- Robin’s Nest. Located in Pass Christian, hometown of Robin Roberts—one of the hosts of Good Morning, America—Robin’s Nest in the Pass is a gallery gift shop celebrating the creative spirit and featuring artisan crafts, jewelry, and gifts.
- UFO Sighting, Pascagoula. Called the “best documented case of alien abduction,” in October 1973 two men in Pascagoula claimed to have been carried aboard a space craft, examined by creatures, and then returned to where they were taken. Visit the sign describing the encounter; the newest #SecretCoast hidden gem, dedciated on June 22, 2019. Find it in the Lighthouse Park boat launch parking area.
- Waffle House, Biloxi. Yes, I actually suggest you visit a Waffle House. I typically steer people AWAY from chain restaurants, however, I love this WH storyline. Much like my beloved ibis friends in South Florida, Waffle House locations in Coastal Mississippi and other US Gulf Coast locations are hurricane barometers. As Anna Roy told me, “Waffle House was the first business to reopen and serve the community [after Hurricane Katrina]. The Waffle House Index is now an informal metric used by FEMA to determine the potential scale and effect of approaching storms.” The coastal Biloxi Waffle House was destroyed and only rebuilt after meeting rigorous zoning changes. Anna Roy said, “the $1.7 million beachfront establishment is the most expensive restaurant in the company’s 64-year history.” Read about another unique Waffle House I recommend you visit.
- The Wilbur, Ocean Springs. Located inside The Roost, The Wilbur is a beautifully designed craft cocktail bar. Make sure you visit the Al Capone speakeasy room. Also visit nearby Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs to see where a fisherman found Al Capone’s wallet in June 2005.
Coastal Mississippi Instagrammable Locations
In addition to the 62 miles of sugar sand beaches, the Make It Funky sign in Fishbone Alley, and countless other Mississippi coast scenes, the following are some potentially cool Secret Coast Selfie Spots.
- INFINITY Science Center. Take a selfie at the INFINITY Science Center with the Saturn V Rocket, the most powerful engine ever made.
- Sharkheads, Biloxi. The giant shark mouth surrounding the entrance door at Sharkheads is a fun Coastal Mississippi selfie spot.
- Souvenir City, Biloxi. Enter Souvenir City through the oversized gator mouth but not until you take a few selfies for your Instagram account.
Wow, indeed I listed more than 51 secret spots in Coastal Mississippi. How many of these Mississippi Coast off the beaten path locations did you know about? Or been to?
Please leave a comment with any other Coastal Mississippi hidden gems I should explore.
Resources about Coastal Mississippi:
Coastal Mississippi (formerly Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast), official local tourism agency
Before your next Mississippi Gulf Coast trip, please read these articles about things to do in Coastal Mississippi:
- Fun Things To Do On The Mississippi Gulf Coast
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Restaurants: Coastal Mississippi Dining Guide
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Hotels: Fun Lodging Along the Mississippi Coast
- Margaritaville Resort Biloxi: Fun Lodging Along the Mississippi Coast
- Complete Guide to Kayaking in Mississippi on the Gulf Coast
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