8 Great Secret Things to Do in Ocean Springs Mississippi

My favorite things to do in Ocean Springs Mississippi include savoring spectacular oak trees and sunsets, romantic experiences, seeing amazing art, and much more.

Ocean Springs is a stellar small beach town in Coastal Mississippi—a 90-minute day trip from New Orleans and an hour drive from Mobile Alabama.

Washington Avenue through downtown Ocean Springs is the most romantic street along the US Gulf Coast. Disagree? That is OK—let me know which street you think is more romantic.

For starters, Ocean Springs Washington Avenue is draped with dozens of gorgeous southern live oak trees.

Washington Avenue is also lined with locally owned and operated small businesses, including art galleries, clothing stores, restaurants, bakeries, and more.

One of the best US Gulf Coast art museums is on Washington Avenue and a few blocks after is Front Beach and one of the best US Gulf Coast sunset spots. And my favorite romantic place to stay in Ocean Springs is on Washington Avenue tucked beyond Bright-Eyed Brew Company.

And that is just Washington Avenue. There are many other streets and amazing things to do in Ocean Springs Mississippi.

Whether you are or are visiting for the first time, here are my 8 favorite things to do in Ocean Springs.

Secret Places to Stay in Ocean Springs

secret things to do in Ocean Springs MS include this gorgeous patio
The Inn at Ocean Springs patio Ocean Springs MS

The Avenue Suite at the Inn at Ocean Springs is a wonderful secret romantic spot to stay in Ocean Springs. It is the second suite behind Bright Eyed Brew, steps from Washington Avenue yet tucked away for quiet moments and a romantic retreat.

While we love the proximity of the Avenue Suite to Washington Avenue, just a couple of blocks away is one of the most romantic hotels in North America. There, at The Roost, we suggest the Monarch Suite with its incredible spacious shower and 200-year-old antique bath tub.

Another favorite secret place to stay in Ocean Springs in Front Beach Cottages. There are four separate themed cottages and we enjoyed staying in the cottages named Key West and Bellande.

For more incredible Ocean Springs lodging, see my favorite places to stay in Ocean Springs

Seeing Spectacular Oak Trees is One of the Best Things to Do in Ocean Springs Mississippi

Ocean Springs MS Washington Avenue oak tree canopy
Ocean Springs MS Washington Avenue oak tree canopy

Now that we have a special place to stay in Ocean Springs out of the way, the next order of business is seeing the magnificent trees there. As you can see above, the oaks along Washington Avenue are majestic, beautiful, and love showing off for visitors.

While driving through the oak tree tunnel is always a thrill, be sure to park and explore Washington Avenue. I love that the sidewalks are uneven and mangled by the oak tree roots. That creates another opportunity for a romantic Ocean Springs moment—hold your partner’s hand so that neither of you trip on the uneven areas.

Government Street (the other main Ocean Springs downtown street) and surrounding streets offer prime chances to see more phenomenal live oak trees. It is such a wonderful area to stroll.

But my favorite Ocean Springs tree is the Ruskin Oak. The Ruskin Oak is several hundred years old and located on a private residence on Ruskin Avenue. Please make sure you admire the tree from the street, PLEASE!, and not trespass on their property.

secret things to do in Ocean Springs MS: Ruskin oak tree
Ruskin oak tree in Ocean Springs MS

Other secret places in Ocean Springs to see outstanding oak trees include Lover’s Lane, Evergreen Cemetery (see below), along Front Beach, and Gulf Hills.

One notable downtown Ocean Springs secret spot is the giant oak tree outside Mosaic. Note how the building with Lee Tracy Boutique was built around the tree.

Walter Anderson Museum of Art

The museum itself is one of the most popular things to do in Ocean Springs but there is so much to see at Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA). And much of it is new. I bet you have not seen it all and there are surely some secrets at WAMA that you did not know about.

Walter Anderson Museum of Art Little Room
Walter Anderson Museum of Art Little Room

WAMA recently completely a building renovation and now can display its extensive inventory to the public through clear protective glass. It is fascinating to see items on display on the floor as well as see what is happening behind the scenes.

Also, another potential secret, look up at the ceiling windows. The museum recently upgraded them to filter sunlight in order to protect the fragile artwork.

When visiting WAMA,  I love experiencing the Community Center and Little Room.

The Little Room was Walter’s creative getaway space and is 360º decorated with his vivid depictions of nature. A small section of Walter Anderson’s Little Room is shown above.

No one but Walter ever entered the Little Room during his life and it is fascinating to see such an intimate sanctuary. McCool Travel tip: WAMA sometimes host Little Room Sessions with local musicians.

The Community Center mural is astounding and one of my favorite places to visit in Ocean Springs. Walter Anderson spent nearly two years creating this masterpiece which outlines his version of Coastal Mississippi’s seven seasons. Do not miss it!

community center mural at Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs
360º mural at Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs

But that is not all. WAMA recently installed a street mural (June 2022) on Washington Avenue in front of the museum and opened a Creative Complex across the street.

McCool Travel tip: Art lovers should also visit Shearwater Pottery and Charnley Norwood House (aka Bon Silene).

Biloxi Bay Bridge Mosaic Mural

Another spot in Ocean Springs MS for art lovers is 120-foot-long mosaic art tile installation at the foot of the Biloxi Bay Bridge. This is the longest mosaic artwork in Mississippi, designed by Elizabeth Veglia, and features contributions from four local artists. This beautiful mosaic artwork features vibrant coastal Mississippi nature and animal scenes.

Biloxi Bay Bridge mosaic art by Elizabeth Veglia
Biloxi Bay Bridge mosaic art by Elizabeth Veglia

Also check out the bronze plaques on the bridge, appearing every 1/10 mile. See more photos of the Biloxi Bay Bridge plaques and other Ocean Springs art spots here.

McCool Travel secret tip: a walk across the bridge any time is wonderful and views of the sunrise are spectacular from the top of the bridge. See Fun Things to Do in Biloxi.

Evergreen Cemetery

The Evergreen Cemetery is a phenomenal six acres of hilly and oak tree filled property on Old Fort Bayou. Also called the Old Ocean Springs Cemetery, it is worth visiting to see those magnificent oaks, for walks, or just serene reflection.

Find the Evergreen cemetery from downtown Ocean Springs by driving north on Washington Avenue across Bienville Blvd, turn right on Iberville Drive, and then left on Sunset Avenue.

Notable persons buried in Ocean Springs Evergreen Cemetery include Walter Anderson and brother Peter Anderson. Hannah Tracy Cutler (abolitionist and suffragette), and Rev. Dr. Jesse Trotter (Civil Rights leader).

gorgeous oak at Evergreen Cemetery Ocean Springs MS
gorgeous oak trees at Evergreen Cemetery Ocean Springs MS

US Gulf Coast secret spot: Nearby, on the drive to Evergreen Cemetery, is a historic marker at Marble Springs Park. When mineral springs in Mississippi were popular in the 1850s to 1920s, Marble Springs was the most famous one. Marble Springs and other nearby springs helped inspire the name of the town—Ocean Springs.

Ocean Springs Harbor

Just a few blocks from downtown Ocean Springs is a spot hardly any visitors go to. And probably few local residents also.

At least I felt that way on several visits to Ocean Springs small craft harbor. I have paddled around the Ocean Springs harbor and seen less than a handful of shrimpers preparing their boats to go out or cleaning them after an early morning shrimp run.

It is one of my favorite places for Kayaking in Mississippi on the Gulf Coast.

one of best things to do in Ocean Springs is paddle in the Ocean Springs harbor
paddle in Ocean Springs MS harbor

The Wilbur Speakeasy Room

The Wilbur itself might be a secret for most Ocean Springs visitors. It is a small craft cocktail bar located in The Roost, a couple of blocks off Washington Avenue. But even while in The Wilbur, not everyone knows that there is a secret speakeasy room.

visit the secret Al Capone room at The Wilbur in Ocean Springs
Al Capone room at The Wilbur in Ocean Springs

While at The Wilbur, in the speakeasy room or not, order a flight of rum, whiskey, or even red wine. Fun to sample different products!

McCool Travel tip: For more celebrity nostalgia in Ocean Springs, book the Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite at Gulf Hills Hotel & Resort. It is a three-bedroom, four bathroom, 2,000 square foot space where Elvis himself stayed for several summers. It features a main public entrance through the hotel lobby but also a secret stairway to sneak in your favorite groupies for clandestine rendezvous meetings.

Other Secret Things to Do in Ocean Springs

OK, there are waaaaaaaaay more than eight secret things to do in Ocean Springs Mississippi, so this will be a catch-all category.

Did you know that Ocean Springs is home to a National Park? Actually, even better, a National Seashore. Gulf Islands National Seashore protects the magnificent upper US Gulf Coast and actually covers two states—Florida and Mississippi.

Coastal Mississippi barrier islands included in Gulf Island National Seashore are Ship Island, Cat Island, Horn Island, Petite Bois Island, and Little Petite Bois Island. Visit the islands by private boat or the scheduled Ship island excursion (from Biloxi or Gulfport).

But on solid land in Gulf Islands property there is also much to do. The park headquarters in Ocean Springs features an education facility (in conjunction with University of Southern Mississippi), visitor center, and magnificent campground.

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mississippi Gulf Coast
Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Ocean Springs Farmers Market is well worth a visit on Saturday mornings. Local vendors provide fresh produce, flowers, hot sauces, sweet treats, crafts, and more. Buy some fresh flowers for your hotel or vacation rental from Kumi Omori. Her flowers are from her own yard in Ocean Springs and later for dinner visit Vestige, where she masterfully creates the desserts and breads along side her award-winning husband, chef Alex Perry.

Ocean Springs Farmers Market
Ocean Springs Farmers Market

There is also a smaller farmers market on Wednesday afternoons at The Collective on Porter Street.

And, wow, I waited until now to mention my favorite Gulf Coast sunset places, including some in Ocean Springs.

McCool Travel note: the gorgeous wall mural in the first photo can be found at The Lady May restaurant on Washington Avenue.

Your turn. Let me know your favorite things to do in Ocean Springs.

See also Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gems

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