Travel with Terri to Mississippi’s Secret Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a very special place to me. It’s in my home state and where I have made so many wonderful memories though out the years. It’s even where I took my first family vacation!

Many people don’t seem to know a lot about this deep south jewel. This “Secret Coast” has astounding natural beauty and is honestly, the perfect year-round destination. There is an incredible amount to do, see and experience across the entire Coast of Mississippi: from outdoor activities, such as kayaking, boating, fishing and hiking, to a wide variety of attractions, museums, festivals, world-class gaming, and championship golf courses. And when it comes to food, this is one of my favorite places! Here you will eat the best and freshest seafood on the planet!

There are 62 miles of scenic coastline that offers an array of unique, breathtaking natural landscapes, and the options for outdoor exploration and activities are endless. For something a little different take the Biloxi Shrimping Trip that exposes you to the spectacular world of sea life – caught on a real shrimping expedition. We learned so much about catching, cooking, and eating this delicious southern delicacy, Mississippi Gulf Coast Style. It’s a fun and educational trip that has been entertaining visitors worldwide since 1954. This is a living marine adventure cruise.

Another epic boating trip is a Ship Island Excursion.This has been a Gulfport staple for 95 years! It’s all about relaxation, recreation and history. It’s an affordable, family-friendly adventure and one of the most popular outdoor attractions on the Secret Coast. There are lots of cruise options and times available. One of my favorite cruises is going out to Ship Island for the day where these barriers islands have white sand and beautiful blue water. On this trip, we took the dolphin cruise and saw many bottle-nose dolphins. One day, I would also like to try the Sunset and Cocktail Cruise.

From the region’s fascinating gumbo of culture and communities, to its rich maritime heritage and vibrant art scene, The Secret Coast boasts a multitude of museums and galleries. I have two favorites: first is The Walter Anderson Museum of Art that is located in historic Ocean Springs. This fabulous museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of artist-philosopher Walter Anderson. This is a nationally accredited fine arts museum and has Walter Anderson’s paintings, drawings, murals, block prints, sculpture, carvings, and writings of coastal plants, animals, landscapes. The museum even has a secret room of Anderson’s that was discovered after his death. This artist has a most unusual and fascinating life story!

My other favorite, is the the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. This was established to preserve and interpret the maritime history and heritage of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It accomplishes this mission through an array of exhibits on shrimping, oystering, recreational fishing, wetlands, managing marine resources, charter boats, marine blacksmithing, wooden boat building, net-making, catboats/Biloxi skiffs, shrimp peeling machines and numerous historic photographs and objects. It’s really educational, interesting and demonstrates just how the seafood industry built Biloxi.

The Secret Coast also offers an abundance of exciting and unique experiences for visitors of all ages. From water parks to coastal ‘fun in the sun’ at the beaches, or hands-on, educational attractions.

For example: You should definitely see the new Mississippi Aquarium that just opened last year in Gulfport. It has both indoor and outdoor habitats with more than 200 species of animals and 50 species of native plants. They do a great job of telling the incredible story of all of Mississippi’s aquatic resources from the Delta to the coastline and the remarkable connection that ties all of the state’s natural resources uniquely together. The Aquarium will provide visitors many opportunities to be entertained and fully immersed in the aquatic wonders that Mississippi has to offer.

Now my favorite – the culinary scene. This fabulous coastal foodie industry is booming, offering a vast array of gastronomic delights. From quaint, fun seafood spots offering Gulf-fresh seafood with a view, to sustainable fine dining and fusion cuisine, there is something to satisfy every taste bud and budget.

I have so many favorite restaurants here, but one that is very iconic is Mary Mahoney’s. I’ve been eating here with my family since I was a little girl. It’s where you can enjoy an elegant meal in one of the South’s most unique restaurants, centered around one of the oldest homes in America. Dine in an elegant New Orleans style courtyard under the canopy of a centuries old live oak, where for 50 years, presidents, dignitaries, celebrities, and millions of others have experienced the rich history and legendary cuisine of Mary Mahoney’s. Great care has been taken to preserve the charm and character of this landmark, with its exposed brick walls, heart-pine floors, and open fireplaces. Here you will enjoy superb food and drink in an atmosphere rich with the legacy of history. This 1737 Old French Restaurant is one of the deep south’s best!

And know there’s always something to do after a great dinner here. Soak up the atmosphere in one of the charming, walkable downtown districts that offer vibrant nightlife scenes and first-class live music at popular coastal locales. My favorite for listening to live music is at Mosaic in downtown Ocean Springs. Or, on a much larger scale, enjoy a thrilling evening at one of 12 world-class casino resorts that offers headliner entertainment! There are always lots of exciting entertainment and nightlife options.

In fact, you should check out the monthly festivals and events held all across the Secret Coast throughout the year, showcasing the local crafts, artisan-made items, delicacies, seafood and talented musicians. One of the most popular annual festivals is the Anderson Arts and Craft’s Festival, the largest fine arts festival in the state. Another fun event is Crusin’ the Coast that has more than 8,000 classic cars crusin’ up and down the streets of the Gulf Coast!

Well…I think the word is out about Mississippi’s Secret Coast and it checks all the boxes: great food, great activities, great attractions and great people – they have it all. You should plan on spending some time here… I honestly cannot wait to go back!

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