Why stick with the same old beach spots when Mississippi has a coastline of lovely towns and beaches? Before you plan your next getaway, consider visiting some of these places:
LONG BEACH: Located only one hour from New Orleans between Gulfport and Pass Christian, Long Beach moves at a pace that takes the frantic out of your getaway. Things to do?
Want to get in some serious fishing? Whether you’re into inland, deep sea, or salt water fly fishing, Capt. Scott Simpson knows where you can haul in the big ones. Rates range from $450-$600 for 4-6 hours and up to 4 people. Long Beach Real Food is a superb farmers market with seasonal produce, plus meat and dairy products; eggs; seasonal flowers; handmade soaps and lotions; jams; jellies; syrup; honey; homemade breads and baked goods; spices; pickles; and seasonal plants. This time of year, they’re open Saturdays from 9am-1pm. West Railroad Merchants Mall houses a gift shop, art gallery, and antique shop. Local eateries run the gamut and include spots like Ziggy’s on Jeff Davis Avenue with casual outdoor dining as an option; Harbor View Cafe, also on Jeff Davis, with breakfast, lunch, dinner, excellent seafood platters, and homemade desserts. East Beach Boulevard is another restaurant-packed area. Nearby you’ll find the Tuxachanie National Recreation Trail, a 22.8-mile rails-to-trails conversion hiking path. And you might want to plan your trip to include Saturday, May 5, the date for Long Beach‘s 13th Annual Kite Fest at Long Beach Harbor.
Accommodations: Among other options, Long Beach has a Holiday Inn Express directly across from the beach on Hwy. 90 and an out-of-the-ordinary guest quarter: McCarter Lane Guest Housing (phone 228/297-7229). McCarter Lane Guest Housing is actually a private guest house that accommodates up to 5 people. It’s fully furnished, including wireless internet; cable TV; a king bed in one bedroom and 3 single beds in the other; a well-equipped kitchen, dining room, laundry room, and bath, plus a private patio w/grill. Guests are also welcome to enjoy owners Tonda and Norman Yandell’s pool and deck. Rates begin at $105 a night or $580 weekly. Rv-ers will enjoy Plantation Pines RV Resort (228/863-6550).
More info: Visit Long Beach‘s website.
GULFPORT: Gulfport is the state’s second largest city and is packed with things to see and do, like Gulfport Premium Outlets, a collection of 70 awesome shops from Banana Republic to Coach. If you have kids or grandkids, though, warmer weather has to include a water park, right? Gulfport‘s Gulf Islands Waterpark has areas specifically geared toward big kids and adults; kids of all ages; and just the wee ones. There’s a wave pool, lazy river, 6-lane downhill racer, and Li’l Pelicans’ Bay – 11 areas in all, plus pavilions, concessions, and more. Open May to September – check their website for specific dates. Admission prices are: $28.99, 42″ tall up; $19.99, under 42″. Racing fans will get a kick out of the Gulfcoast Motorsport Park, a 1/8-mile dirt track running a variety of events; check the website for schedules. Admission: adults, $15; kids 6-12, $10, 5 & under, FREE. The Center for Marine Education & Research (228/896-9182) contains 2,000 square feet of exhibits and is open to the public weekdays and weekends for morning and afternoon sessions; reservations are required – one seriously cool place! Admission: $8, adults; $6, kids under 12. The little ones will love the 1,500 square foot Gaston Point Splash Pad, and parents will appreciate the FREE admission. The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center is rated in the top 50 children’s museums in America. Play areas include an 1890’s town; wetlands; grocery store; and many more. Admission: $8, adults; $5, military & seniors; $3, anyone after 3pm weekdays; $5, anyone on Sundays. Take a FREE tour of the School & Carnival Supplies Factory. Tours are offered Monday thru Saturday at 10am and 2pm daily. Take the ferry out to historic Ship Island and Fort Massachusetts while you’re at it. The 1-hour trip each way usually includes dolphin sightings; roundtrip rates: $27, over age 10-adult; $25, seniors; $17, ages 3-10; FREE, under 3.
Accommodations: There are plenty of quality chain hotels around, but you’ll also find several noteworthy independents, two of which are: (1) The Almanett (ph. 228/865-9901) featuring 5 stunning guest rooms, all with fabulous ocean views, plus a 1-bedroom private luxury cottage. Rates vary by season; and (2) the Magnolia Plantation Hotel (ph. 800/700-7858), which includes 40 guest rooms, 16 of which are full suites, in a beautiful lakeside country setting. Don’t miss the afternoon tea. Golf packages available.
More info: Visit the Harrison County Tourism Commission‘s website: www.GulfCoast.org.
PASS CHRISTIAN: Pass Christian has a great harbor with a park for kids, a sand beach, and a fishing pier. Blue Skies Gallery is chock full of original art from paintings to pottery to jewelry. Shaggy’s Harbor Bar & Grill boasts an impressive menu with an oyster bar including charbroiled oysters and oyster nachos. Dr. Pepper Charters can help you scratch that fishing itch by arranging the exact trip you have in mind; they also offer sightseeing cruises. Fish Tales Fishing Charters offers Cat Island/Smugglers Cove excursions in addition to fishing trips. Mark your calendar for the 34rd Annual Tour of Homes on Sunday, May 6 from 2-5pm. Check the website for more info to be added soon.
Accommodations: Oak Crest Mansion offers five guest suites plus a 2-bedroom carriage house, with rates starting at $110 nightly; a full breakfast is included. Inn by the Sea is actually a condominium complex with 73 units in a gated beachfront location. Rates vary per unit size and location. The historic (1848) Blue Rose is a breathtakingly gorgeous all-inclusive wedding venue which also accommodates overnight guests.
More info: Visit Pass Christian’s Chamber of Commerce website.
Find out more about all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast at: www.GulfCoast.org and www.VisitMSCoast.org.