Ready for gumbo, gators and more?
Coastal Mississippi: The Secret Coast is inviting travelers to expect the unexpected with experiences that you wouldn’t normally think of along the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s 62 miles of shoreline.
In addition to an abundance of Gulf-fresh seafood and Southern hospitality, here’s a sampling of the latest experiences that are sure to make for an eye-opening, unforgettable visit.
Artistic Expression Abounds
Celebrating the work of one of the foremost American artists of the 20th century, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year with some exciting new developments.
The Creative Complex at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art is a transformative cultural experience and campus expansion. This new addition to the beautiful museum in downtown Ocean Springs is inspired by interdisciplinary discovery, the natural world, the vision of Walter Anderson, and the entrepreneurial legacy of Shearwater. This anniversary year also includes a special exhibit that will run through January 31, 2022. “The South’s Most Elusive Artist” exhibit showcases over 85 works by Anderson, including rare examples of Walter Anderson’s woodwork, furniture, and Horn Island watercolors.
From large-scale murals in the middle of downtowns to beach-front sculptures, Coastal Mississippi is brimming with public art of all kinds – perfect to safely enjoy outside while practicing social distancing. What many may not know is that a number of them celebrate the Black history and culture of the region like the elaborate mural at 100 Men Hall by Wendo and JoLean, an African American landmark on the Mississippi Blues Trail, and I Have a Dream at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the innovative, independent, and creative spirit of its namesake, Mississippi master potter George E. Ohr (1857-1918). In a fitting tribute to Ohr, artist and architect Frank Gehry designed an award-winning campus of bold, intriguing, self-sufficient structures. The four new buildings and the reconstructed home of Pleasant Reed offer visitors separate but not isolated experiences – together creating a single unified vision connected by the expansive brick plaza and the majestic Live Oaks. Take advantage of the multitude of unique on-campus experiences, such as various Wheel classes and Yoga Under the Oaks.
Get Outside into the Less Ordinary
The Gator Ranch is the oldest gator farm in the state of Mississippi and is the best place to visit some of the oldest and largest alligators in captivity. Visitors can also view some of the most pristine swamplands and get up close to native wildlife on 105 acres bordering the Grand Bay Estuary in Moss Point/Pascagoula. Additional adventure awaits with their Airboat Swamp Tours through the unspoiled wilderness.
What better way to enjoy the outdoors than to visit a secret island! Just across the Mississippi Sound, there are secret islands just waiting to be explored. Deer Island and the Mississippi barrier islands, including Ship Island, Cat Island, Horn Island, and Petit Bois Island (part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore) all offer unique, secluded island experiences, from beautiful beaches and crystal-clear Gulf waters to an array of flora and fauna, first-class fishing opportunities, and seriously stunning views.
The Secret Coast now offers several unique luxury pop-up picnic experiences. Founded in 2020, Coastal Picnic & Company offers a variety of upscale picnic packages perfect for any event or season, with customization options and catering available through Eat, Drink Love Catering. For those looking to soak in the sights of Front Beach in Ocean Springs, Food, Booze & Hiccups recently launched Beach Chairs and Bonfires, with packages that range from beachfront brunches to happy hour at the golden hour. Soak in the stunning views, beautiful sunsets, and make memories to last a lifetime.
The Evolution – and Revolution – of Southern Fare
Not only does Coastal Mississippi boast award-winning and James Beard nominated Chefs, but Coastal Mississippi’s culinary scene is also evolving, moving away from the typical “southern fare,” and using hyperlocal, seasonal ingredients to create a new way of looking at what a “southern dish” really is. The region’s tremendous fertility on both land and water makes for an abundance of incredible, locally sourced ingredients year-round. Chefs on The Secret Coast work closely with regional farmers, fishermen, and foragers to ensure the products they are working with are first-class. Dishes like Smoked & Fried Chicken with Grit Girl Grits, Deakle Farms Collards, and Alabama White BBQ at White Pillars are good examples of this.
Coastal Mississippi’s culinary scene has been widely influenced by the “gumbo” of cultures that reside there mainly influenced by the area’s role in the maritime and seafood industry from Vietnamese to Croatian. Get a sampling of this at Le Bakery, a French-Vietnamese establishment noted for baked fresh daily pastries, French bread, and a selection of “Vietnamese po’boys” loaded with pickled vegetables and well-seasoned meats. Bubble teas, smoothies, and specialty cakes are also available.
Visitors to The Secret Coast can also feel confident that they’ll be exploring safely thanks to the Coastal Mississippi Promise of Health and Safety, a destination-wide commitment by tourism partners to apply best practices in health and safety and to help visitors make informed choices when planning their visit.
About Coastal Mississippi: Coastal Mississippi is an organization charged with promoting South Mississippi as a tourism and convention destination worldwide. Its mission centers on attracting ever-increasing numbers of leisure, convention, sports, and business visitors to the area. It is dedicated to maximizing the travel and tourism industry for South Mississippi.
Visit CoastalMississippi.com to learn more.
Source: Coastal Mississippi