Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Biloxi’s Southern Hospitality



Photo by Rob Hainer

“Occasionally Down But Never Out” Could Describe Biloxi And The Mississippi Coast. They Call Themselves “Resilient” And So They Are – Surviving Hurricanes And The Oil Spill. But They’re Back On Top With Glittering Casinos, Beautiful Beaches, Charming Small Towns And A Booming Tourism Industry. And They Coat It All With That Famous Southern Hospitality.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

A History Lesson

The first tourist to Biloxi was Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, who landed on the coast in 1699 … the first European, but certainly not the last. By 1720, there was enough activity in the area to qualify as a settlement but it wasn’t until 1838 that Biloxi was officially incorporated.

Although many early buildings have fallen through decay or disaster, there are still remnants of early days with several buildings claiming birthdates in the 1730s. A brochure guides visitors to interesting historic sites in downtown Biloxi.

Pelican in Gulfport Small Craft Harbor at sunrise // Photo by Earl Ohmaha

Perhaps the most famous old house in Biloxi is Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederacy. In 1877, Davis, then 69, was looking for a place to retire and write his memoirs. A family friend owned Beauvoir and invited Davis to work there. Upon her death, she left the home to Davis, who lived there with his wife and daughter until he died. Mrs. Davis eventually sold Beauvoir to the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a home for veterans and their widows. It later became, and is now, a house museum and presidential library.

Big Blows

Biloxi and environs have experienced two horrendous hurricanes in the past half-century. In 1969, Camille came ashore with 210-mph winds and a 24-foot storm surge. Many businesses, attractions and homes were washed away. In 1992, the state legalized gambling and the gaming industry put the town back on its feet.

In 2005, disaster struck again with Hurricane Katrina. Katrina’s winds were slower than Camille’s but the storm surge was worse – 34 feet. Who can forget the sight of Robin Roberts in the wreckage of her hometown in nearby Pass Christian? Destruction and job losses were devastating, but the casinos bet on recovery and rebuilt within the year.

Bad PR, rather than oil damage, during the 2010 BP disaster slowed the tourist influx again. Oil was largely absorbed by barrier islands. The gaming machines at the casinos kept the economy going and now things are back to normal – a new normal but very attractive.

The Beau Rivage from the Gulf // Photo by Elaine Warner

Cha-Ching

The gaming machines spin and ding 24 hours a day at many of the 12 casinos in Biloxi and nearby towns. Most have headliner entertainment. Jack and I stayed in the huge Beau Rivage, a beautiful hotel/conference center/casino. We were particularly impressed with the fantastic flower arrangements throughout the facility.

Hard Rock is full of memorabilia from stars and Margaritaville is one big party with a definite beach theme. All casinos have a variety of eateries. The IP boasts two AAA Four Diamond restaurants. The Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the Hard Rock has a reputation for fine beef. The outdoor patio at Margaritaville overlooks the beautiful Biloxi marina and is a great choice during nice weather.

​Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant in Biloxi features a variety of margaritas including “Off to See the Lizard” – a melon margarita // Photo by Elaine Warner

Just Coasting

The Mississippi Gulf coast is 62 miles and three counties wide. We explored over 40 percent of it traveling from Pass Christian to Gulfport, Biloxi and Ocean Springs. All of these towns were badly damaged by Katrina but all have rebuilt and have interesting stops to offer.

The Pass Christian Soap Company was a great recovery story. Started in owner Paula Lindsay’s kitchen, the company had grown into larger quarters and was experiencing good growth before Katrina. Was the company all washed up after the hurricane? Nope. Thanks to faithful customers and great products, they rebuilt bigger and better. Pass Christian bath and body items have been featured in national TV and magazine stories and were included in nominees’ swag bags for the 2009 Grammys.

Another interesting stop was Oak Crest Mansion Inn. Floods have washed away records, so there are various stories about the house’s history. Most tie its first owners to the Dixie mafia and claim the house was involved in production and distribution of booze during Prohibition. Rumors say there are tunnels under the property leading to Bayou Portage and a liquid highway for liquor.

Its most recent owners purchased the house in 2007 and, a million dollars and a year later, opened the property as a bed and breakfast. The furnishings are luxurious and the breakfasts legendary. And it’s a beautiful setting for weddings.

We channeled our inner Dr. Doolittle in Gulfport at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. This cool multi-purpose organization – education, research, conservation and rescue – includes a hands-on museum and dolphin encounters.

Visitors enjoy dolphin training sessions at the Institute for Marine Animal Studies, Gulfport //  Photo by Elaine Warner

Ocean Springs, five miles east of Biloxi, features tree-lined streets and interesting shops and boutiques. It’s also a mecca for art lovers. A good deal of the credit falls on a large and unusual family – the Andersons.

Two names you’ll hear often are Peter and Walter, born in 1901 and 1903. Peter founded Shearwater Pottery, still in business and still in the family. Walter, his brother, was an artist who worked in many media. Many of his works can be seen in the wonderful Walter Anderson Museum of Art – both the pottery and the museum are must-sees. Contemporary adaptations of Walter’s works can be purchased at Realizations, a great little shop owned by members of Walter’s family, in the old railroad depot.

 

Mississippi Hospitality

Our trip had many highlights but one of the highest was a deep-sea fishing trip with Captain Kenny Barhanovich. The weather was perfect; the seas gentle. Several of us caught fish – a couple of jack crevelle and several Spanish mackerel. The fishing was slow but the day was so glorious, we didn’t care. We breathed deeply, enjoying the combination of salt and warm fall breezes. The name of the boat perfectly described our experience, indeed, the entire trip; Miss Hospitality.

Fishing aboard the Miss Hospitality // Photo by Elaine Warner

For more information, visit gulfcoast.org.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

New Orleans Bound: Heading Down to the Big Easy

Steamboats to street musicians, incredible food and a perennial party atmosphere – the Crescent City is a prime destination year-round.

Off to See the Wizard in the Myriad Gardens

In her ongoing travels through Oklahoma, author and photographer M.J. Alexander goes over the rainbow to OKC for a screening

Culinary Cruises: Haute Cuisine on the High Seas

To find new heights of delicious refinement, head to sea and explore the improved dining possibilities on luxury cruises.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2018

No Events
No Events
No Events
No Events

More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
View map »


Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags