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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.

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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.

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
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Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

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Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
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Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

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Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
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Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

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RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Delta Dental

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This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
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Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

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Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
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Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
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