Before You Go
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Summer’s swan song, coastal style
As the final days of summer wind down, head to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast for great beaches, casino action and hot deals

Published: Jul/Aug 2002
By Lynn Grisard Fullman

Golf courses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast can accommodate everyone./ Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB photos
As summer days begin to slip away, bargains begin to appear along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where packages and discounts offer savings to late-summer travelers.

The 26-mile stretch of beaches along Mississippi’s Gulf of Mexico makes an appealing destination, with 12 resort casinos, more than 20 golf courses, 237 restaurants and 42 cultural attractions. There are places to fish, shop and sunbathe, plus museums focusing on Mardi Gras, the sea and the area’s link to seafood.

Wonderful water

The bottle-nosed dolphin is one of several sea creatures featured in the Marine Life Oceanarium. / Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB photos
From moss-draped Bay St. Louis through Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi and Ocean Springs, water is the big draw. Enjoy swimming, sailing, parasailing, boating and fishing. For those with less energy to expend, walk along a marsh and spot a sunning alligator. At the Gulf Islands National Seashore, study a magnolia up close.

With more than 200 species of fish in these gulf waters, almost anyone who wets a line wrangles in something. Rent a boat, toss a net from the beach, or drop a crab trap from a pier. Float along the stillness of a brackish bayou and throw out a line, or take a shrimping trip.

The area’s ties to the sea also are evident at several attractions. Aquariums at the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center in Biloxi let the curious learn about marine life from live exhibits of coastal marine animals.

Biloxi’s Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum highlight the coast’s seafood history. At Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, the ocean and its inhabitants come uncommonly close. Cavorting dolphins mesmerize visitors with their antics.

Historic homes and more

Several of the Biloxi’s historic homes are open to the public. Jefferson Davis’s final home, Beauvoir, today is a museum with exhibits relating to Davis and the Confederacy. On the grounds are the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Confederacy and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library.

Tullis-Toledano Manor remains one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s unique examples of antebellum architecture. The Father Ryan House, today a bed-and-breakfast, was once home to the Confederacy’s poet laureate, Father Abram Ryan. Housed in the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s only remaining pre-Civil War hotel, the Mardi Gras Museum houses a collection of costumes and related exhibits.

Visitors seeking a look into the future enjoy NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, where rocket engines are tested for space vehicles and a museum showcases items such as moon rocks.

The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport has several entertaining exhibits that encompass science and art. There’s also a Treehouse Village, and for toddlers, Bear Camp Bayou.

Betting on a good time

The coast’s dozen resort casinos offer everything from games of chance to hotels and Las Vegas-style entertainment. A free shuttle service among hotels and other casinos.

Once you arrive in Biloxi, take a deep breath and look around at all there is to do.

Lynn Grisard Fullman is a contributor from Birmingham, Ala.

Also see: Summer, coastal style

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