Living in New Orleans, the cute and quaint communities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are just a quick drive from the city and one I gladly take a few times a year. Growing up in Memphis and North Mississippi, I rarely made it to the coast at the other end of the state during my childhood. Beach vacations for our family were typically in the Florida Panhandle.
I’ve been lucky to spend the past 7 years enjoying numerous trips to the area and getting to know this hidden gem of a beach spot more and more with each trip.
In June 2020, after nearly three full months of lockdown in New Orleans due to Covid restrictions, things in Mississippi were slowly opening back up. At the time, we thought we were close to the end of the pandemic so we decided to take a quick weekend getaway with a couple of close friends to Gulfport.
Typically, my husband, Chuck, and I rent a room at one of the casinos in Biloxi. Since we were traveling with 3 other friends, we found a great Airbnb at a high-rise condo unit along the beach. We wanted to be as close as possible to one of the best features along the coast -- the beachfront path that’s perfect for biking, walking, and jogging.
While you can bike the 60 or so miles of coastline from Waveland all the way over to Ocean Springs, our normal trek takes us from Gulfport to the Biloxi Bay Bridge and back. The path runs on the beach and waterside of Beach Drive and with a majority of buildings along the way being across the street, the water views are largely unobstructed.
There are several places to stop and take in the scenery, including quite a few fishing piers. We often stop at some of the great beach bars and restaurants along the coastline for a quick bite or to take a break.
It’s absolutely beautiful along this stretch of the Gulf, but the devastation by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and subsequent storms since then remains a stark reminder of what this area has been through. There are beautiful oak trees that were destroyed during the storm and came back to life as tree art thanks to the work of Dayton Scoggins, a fantastic “chainsaw artist”.
Another thing you’ll see along the trek are the empty lots. Home after home was destroyed during the storm in 2005 and many have not been rebuilt. Depending on the time of year, there is also current damage from the storms that have taken aim on the coast over the past few years.
However, there are also signs of rebuilding and resilience, and this stretch of coastline has some beautiful homes, great restaurants, and stunning oak trees. And, of course, the miles and miles of water views.
The best way to explore any area, in my opinion, is by foot or on a bike. I feel very lucky to live so close to a beach area that offers that option.
If you ever get the opportunity to head to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, be sure to rent a bike and soak in the salt air and sun while stopping along the way to learn more about this unique area of the South.
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