3 Towns Along Coastal Mississippi To Not Miss

by Marika Flatt on April 25, 2024 in Travels,

Southern Living magazine has announced the winners of their “The South’s Best” honorees for 2024.

Coastal Mississippi communities claimed the top spot in several categories: Ocean Springs took the top honors as The Best Small Town in Mississippi, with Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, and Pass Christian also nominated in that category. Biloxi was voted The Best Waterfront Town in Mississippi. And Gulfport was voted one of The South’s Best Cities on the Rise.

The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs was also named The Best BBQ Joint in Mississippi.

I spent the first six years of my life in Mississippi and have had relatives there my entire life. But an area that I always long to return to is Coastal Mississippi, comprising 26 miles of beaches, several counties and towns. You can get a wide variety of flavors, both figuratively and literally, along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

A welcome sign, visit Bay St. Louis for hospitality. Photo Marika Flatt.

3 Towns to not miss in Mississippi:

  • Spend some time in the little community of Bay St. Louis, renting a golf cart and enjoying being so close to the beach.
  • Head on down to Biloxi, the largest town on the coast, for some bay fishing, delicious food, and some R&R.
  • Do not miss the adorable town of Ocean Springs. With its walkable main street, lined with shops, museums, breweries, and restaurants, it’s straight out of a Hallmark movie!
Get out early for bay fishing around coastal Mississippi. Photo Marika Flatt.

Highlights of Coastal Mississippi:

  • “Play Coastal!” in three coastal counties encompassing 12 communities.
  • Enjoy 62 miles of shoreline including 26 miles of white sand beach with unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • Biloxi to Pass Christian (pronounced Pass Kris-chee-ann) is the longest man-made beach in the world.
  • Once the seafood capital of the world, indulge here in the freshest gulf-to-table seafood – everything from oysters to shrimp to catch of the day! Vestige in Ocean Springs is a two-time James Beard finalist for Restaurant of the Year. 
  • Looking for F&B– find everything from fine dining to “toes in the sand” beachfront bars!
  • Luxury casino resorts like the Beau Rivage, an MGM property celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024, abound, including: The Scarlet Pearl, the IP, The Palace, Island View, Golden Nugget, and Harrah’s. 
  • Coastal Mississippi features two luxury family-friendly resorts: Margaritaville and Centennial Plaza. Margaritaville has the largest indoor arcade in the region as well as Paradise Pier, a new beachfront amusement park. 
  • You’ll find 12 casinos, 2 of which offer a smoke-free environment, and luxury boutique hotels for the perfect romantic getaway. 
  • Golfers will enjoy 2 dozen world-class public and private luxury golf courses.
  • Wander the Gulf Island National Seashore, spanning 160 miles across the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • Learn new knowledge at multiple museums, including the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Shearwater Pottery, and the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art
  • Find live music at bars and restaurants along the coast. 

Follow our Coastal Mississippi itinerary…

Enjoy style, comfort and space at The Bay Town Inn. Photo Marika Flatt.

The Bay Town Inn is the perfect place to stay in Bay St. Louis, which was named one of the 10 Best Small Coastal Towns in America by USA Today. The Inn was recently featured in Southern Living magazine and was recently nominated for Best Bed & Breakfast in Mississippi by Mississippi Magazine! We loved the one-bedroom suites, perfectly sized with a living area, kitchen, bathroom and separate cozy bedroom. Beachfully decorated, with a pool in the center of the inn, and yummy muffins delivered to your door for breakfast. What more could you ask for? 

Before heading out on your self-guided Bay St. Louis tour, enjoy lunch at the Parrot Head Bar and Grill. Order a local craft beer paired with a Frenchuletta sandwich (their take on the Cajun muffuletta) or the Peanut Butter Burger (seriously, it’s a local fave!)

Bursting with detail and color, the 100 Men Hall in Bay, St. Louis, Mississippi, is an attraction not to miss. Photo Marika Flatt.

Hop on a golf cart to take a spin around Bay St. Louis! Bodega Adventure Rentals has 4-person golf carts. Check out these cool sites: 100 Men Hall, St. Augustine Seminary & Grotto, The Angel Tree, and Bay St. Louis Train Depot. Also cruise down the beach, enjoying the coastal homes. 

After an afternoon of exploring, relax with an appetizer and a refreshing drink (ask for a “fancy drink” and you’ll get a colorful cocktail) at Dan B.’s. Enjoy a beautiful bay vista while you nosh and sip on their patio overlooking the water.

A new local favorite is the place for dinner… Thorny Oyster’s chef Jeffrey Hansell takes a bold approach to fresh, local, coastal fare. Enjoy creative seafood dishes, raw bar specialties, modern takes on classic dishes, and a vibrant drink menu. We sunk our teeth into a traditional shrimp & grits, paired with a delightful buttery chardonnay.

Relax before turning in for the night at Rags To Riches, a double themed bar. Downstairs is a casual sports bar right in front of the beach, while upstairs is a cozy setting with an impressive wine list. 

The Mockingbird Cafe makes a house feel like a home with their cute exterior and even cuter interior. Photo Marika Flatt.

Pick up a delicious coffee or tea and a croissant at cozy Mockingbird Cafe. There is a reason the ‘bird is called The Living Room of the Bay! With its artistic outdoor courtyard and its interior coziness, savor a cappuccino with a hearty brekkie sandwich. 

For those early birds, Bay St. Louis in the morning hours of dawn, pre-fishing has a sunrise you won’t forget. Photo Marika Flatt.

Bay fishing is at its best along Coastal Mississippi. Climb aboard with Captain Ronnie Daniels for a half-day of fishing off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With 20 years of fishing experience and knowledge, he can help you find bull red, a box full of speckled trout or simply a day of sightseeing around Mississippi’s Barrier Islands. 

Caught with the help of Captain Ronnie Daniels, celebrate a successful catch! Photo Marika Flatt.

Back on land, Captain Ronnie will prepare your catch of the day for the freshest gulf-to-table lunch at Shaggy’s. With a view of the water on their outdoor patio, sip on a local craft beer or fruity cocktail while you munch on smoked fish dip or fried green tomatoes. Then, enjoy your very own fish (choose blackened or fried) cooked up to perfection with fried sides.

Fun and unique windows reveal unique perspectives to view the sea life at the Mississippi Aquarium. Photo Marika Flatt.

The Mississippi Aquarium, which only opened in 2020, is a fun family afternoon activity. Check out their beavers named Elvis and B.B. King, their 99-pound alligator, their 60-year old snapping turtle named Scrub, and other fun marine life. 

Apart from snapping turtles, beavers and alligators, other wildlife roam the aquarium with opportunities to view them up close. Photo Marika Flatt.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the high-rise Beau Rivage Resort & Casino has everything you need for a relaxing stay. Standing tall above the Gulf of Mexico, its rooms are inviting after a busy day. Pamper yourself with an hour-long full-body massage at the spa. Afterwards, stick around to refresh your body and soul in the hot tub, steam room and sauna. 

Fun and quirky, Fly Llama is also unique and rare for their brewing. Photo Marika Flatt.

Enjoy craft brews and super fun art at the eclectic downtown brew pub Fly Llama. Its owner, David Reese, was recently given the title of Master Cicerone. In the world of craft brewing, it is the highest level of expertise; he’s one of only 28 in the world! 

Experience The Beau Rivage in Biloxi as they celebrate 25 years. Photo Marika Flatt.

Have dinner at Half Shell Oyster House in Biloxi. While you can have the freshest oysters prepared in the most creative ways, you can also treat yourself to dishes featuring chicken, steak and pasta. And, the desserts are divine too!

For a casual dining experience, Greenhouse Biloxi is a cozy cafe nestled in the heart of downtown Biloxi. Explore their full breakfast menu, where everything is crafted from scratch – from biscuits, to buns, to coffee syrups. 

Gulf Hills Golf Club (a 9-hole course) has been an important part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast golfing community for over 70 years. The 8th Hole (previously the 17th) was once regarded by Golf Digest as one of the top 5 most beautiful and challenging in the entire Southeastern Region. The course is not crowded so it is a prime spot to take a new golfer because there’s plenty of time to play. Playing a shorter 9-hole course gives you plenty of time for all the other activities around Biloxi. 

Bacchus on the Bayou is part of a group of locally owned restaurants who have been serving up delicious Cajun cuisine with a Mississippi Gulf Coast flare for over a decade. Crowd faves are their Sea & Land Salad, a Cajun Cordon Bleu, or a Bacchus Burger. Enjoy the view of the water on their outdoor patio for a relaxing lunch. 


Get the chance to see gators up close and snap a photo on their guided tours. Photo Marika Flatt.

If you’re up for a half-hour drive to see an alligator in the wild, Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in Moss Point sends you out on an airboat for a 30-minute guided tour. You’ll see a handful of gators there, but afterwards, head into the penned area to walk among 100 gators (you’re safely separated by a fence.)

Spend time wandering through quaint Ocean Springs — named Best Coastal Small Town by USA Today in 2022. Known for shopping, dining, and nightlife, I would recommend planning a half-day to just wander. 

If you’re into art and history, walk through The Walter Anderson Museum of Art. Anderson was a prolific artist in many mediums who spent time in nature while creating his works of art. Anderson would row his little boat 11 miles out to Horn Island to sketch and paint, staying for days at a time. You’ll also learn about his crazy life, checking himself into a mental hospital, followed by his eccentric escape. 

Lost Spring Brewing Company was established in 2021 by four friends who wanted to expand, improve and share their craft, while creating an experience. Their commitment to craftsmanship shows in each beer they brew, wine they procure and cocktail they create. They often have live music within their inviting covered patio.

Mosaic offers famous recipes from all over the world and presents them in tapas sizes so you can experience different flavors while sharing with everyone at the table. We feasted on six choices, shared among four of us, while sipping a cool glass of wine, entertained by an acoustic show. 

Start off the day strong with a healthy, hearty breakfast full of fresh and familiar comfort foods and fruits. Photo Marika Flatt.

Salt & Ivy is an ideal spot for breakfast, in the lobby of the Beau Rivage. Enjoy coastal-inspired dishes served in a bright atrium setting. Served with the sweetest Southern charm, start with a plate of seasonal fruit, followed by a hearty fried chicken & waffles or a healthier avocado toast. Go Southern with biscuits & gravy or more traditional with a ham & cheese omelet. 

Watch our recent TV segment to learn more about Coastal Mississippi!

Travel Writer Marika Flatt and family at the Mississippi Aquarium. Photo Marika Flatt.



 Cover photo courtesy Coastal Mississippi.

Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002, and can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, such as KVUE, Daytime (FOX), San Antonio Living, Good Morning Texas, and KXAN!  Marika spent five years as the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard pre-Covid. She is a happy girl blending the beach with business!