Our favorite secret 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 that you hit Front Beach and one of the best spots to watch US Gulf Coast sunsets.
And that is just Washington Avenue. There are many other streets and amazing things to do in Ocean Springs Mississippi.
Perhaps you are an Ocean Springs aficionado and already know all that.
Whether you are (and do) or are visiting for the first time, here are our favorite 8 secret things to do in Ocean Springs MS.
Secret Places to Stay in Ocean Springs
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 our Best Places to Stay in Ocean Springs
Seeing Spectacular Oak Trees is One of the Best Things to Do in Ocean Springs Mississippi
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 our 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
US Gulf Coast 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 our Fun Things to Do in Biloxi.
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).
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.
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.
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 our 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.
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.
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 spots, including a couple 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. What are your favorite secret things to do in Ocean Springs MS?
See also Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gems