Whether you’re a local or new to the area, you have much to gain and discover by treating yourself to a Mississippi Gulf Coast staycation. From spending a day at the beach or participating in sporting activities to seeing nature exhibits up close and personal or learning something new, the Coast is flush with fun activities.
Staycations are a great way to relax and get your mind off of day-to-day stresses while also helping infuse money into the local economy, which has suffered during the pandemic. You can rent a room for a night at a hotel or casino to get out of your home, or just enjoy day trips exploring the many cool things to do in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson Counties.
HERE ARE SOME CLOSE-TO-HOME SHOWCASE SPOTS WHERE YOU CAN FIND A LITTLE ESCAPE FROM REALITY:
• One of the newest Coast attractions is the impressive Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport. Debuting last August on the Hurricane Katrina anniversary, the aquarium includes more than 80,000 square feet of interactive exhibits that tell the story of Mississippi’s aquatic resources from the Delta to the Gulf of Mexico. Guests of all ages will enjoy the large, mesmerizing tanks filled with fish, an outdoor bird aviary, a dolphin exhibit, habitats for various marine life like otters and crocodiles and much more.
• For another educational nature experience, visit the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point, which serves as a gateway to the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. Visitors can experience and learn about birds and wildlife throughout the year with nature trails, a bayou pier, bird feeders, critter tanks, an art gallery, kayak rentals and a gift shop. Admission is waived through June, so now is the perfect time to get out of the house and explore.
• While you’re in Moss Point, check out The Gator Ranch & Airboat Swamp Tours, the oldest gator farm in the state. Located on 105 acres, you can stroll along protected walkways, airboat through alligator-infested swampland and hand feed some of the oldest and largest alligators in captivity.
• The Mississippi Gulf Coast offers 26 miles of beautiful white sand beaches, from tranquil, secluded stretches to popular hot spots perfect for fun and adventure. For those seeking the latter, try Life’s A Beach Rentals, with three locations on Biloxi Beach. Besides umbrellas and chairs, you can rent Jet Skis, wave runners and aqua cycles to enhance your experience on the water. For those looking to explore beyond the beach, two-person, three-wheeled Scoot Coupe scooters and bicycles are available to rent by the hour or day.
Once summer arrives, cool off at Gulf Islands Waterpark in Gulfport and Buccaneer Bay Waterpark in Waveland. Both offer wet and wild water slides for all ages. Buccaneer Bay has a 17,000-plus-square-foot Pirates Lagoon wave pool, and Gulf Islands boasts the Horn Island Blaster, the Gulf Coast’s first and only water roller coaster.
• For those content to relax and appreciate the beautiful scenery, the Betsy Ann Riverboat is a stern-wheel paddleboat offering historical and ecological tours, live music sunset tours and dinner cruises in the Mississippi Sound and Back Bay Biloxi. The Mystic Ghost Ride Company in Bay St. Louis is another unique way to get out on the water, as you travel by boat on the bayou with Mystic Molly telling unforgettable ghost stories during the Haunted Bayou Historical Tour. Other themed tours with drink and food packages include Pearl River Ghost Stories, a Creepy Christmas boat tour and The Love Boat Tour, featuring the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte and the Curse of the Lost Gold on Bayou Caddy.
• After a day playing in or on the water, how about sitting back and watching an exciting game of minor-league baseball or an exhilarating drag race? The Biloxi Shuckers, a Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, plays at MGM Park with this season’s home opener on May 11, and Gulfport Dragway has hosted amateur and professional racers from around the country since the early ‘70s. Both offer entertainment and concessions that will help create memories to last a lifetime.
• If you’re looking for indoor educational activities, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to a variety of museums that showcase art and cultural and historical artifacts. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs is home to watercolors, drawings, oils, block prints, ceramics, and carvings by American master artist Walter Anderson, along with his brothers Peter and James. In Biloxi, you’ll find the Ohr- O’Keefe Museum of Art, dedicated to the ceramics of George E. Ohr, the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” and the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, which preserves and interprets the Coast’s maritime history and heritage. For the kids, as well as the kid at heart, the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum in Gulfport is the home of the largest LEGO railroad display in Mississippi, multiple scale model train layouts, interactive layouts for kids to operate and enjoy and multiple riding trains.
• For family-friendly fun and games, D’Iberville has you covered with Mullet Hop Trampoline Park, featuring 12,000 square feet of trampolines, a dodgeball court, basketball goal dunking, a foam pit, a battle beam and a fidget ladder. Hint Hunter Puzzle Rooms are specially themed “escape” rooms that provide a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategies to find their way out.
As you can see, the Coast is the perfect Staycation destination for people of all ages. What are you waiting for? Start planning your local getaway today.