It seems as if the best hidden gems sits conveniently right outside a major entertainment hub, and the City of Discovery is no different. This historic southern city is just ten minutes away from the busier city Biloxi, just a couple of miles across from the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Whether you’re looking for a charming southern city or just want a day away from the casino, Ocean Springs is a welcomed getaway.
One of the best things about southern cities is the food offerings, and Ocean Springs has plenty of places to eat like a local. They have everything from fresh bakeries serving up hot donuts and French pastries, local southern barbecue joints and chicken restaurants, traditional Creole stops, and upscale dining options. The best part is chain restaurants are few and far between, letting local flavors and cooking techniques shine through.
Any good local donut joint has a cult following, and Ocean Springs’ unique The Tatonut Donut Shop usually has a line out the door. If you want a freshly made donut that doesn’t come from a fast food chain, get here early and leave satisfied.
For traditional southern BBQ and ribs, it’s hard to beat the Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint. They serve up big plates of traditional southern dishes and racks of ribs with live music offerings at night and a long list of brews.
Woody’s Roadside is a great mix of traditional pub-style fried eats and burgers, as well as seafood options and side dishes for every preference. If you prefer your seafood in the form of a Po’boy, B B’s Po-Boy and Seafood has more Louisiana-style seafood with Po’boy sandwiches and gumbo.
If you want to try more upscale dining options, small plates can be enjoyed at Mosaic Tapas Bar where Mexican and Spanish style dishes are served alongside tap beer and cocktails. Or for five star elegant southern cuisine, Maison de Lu offers a romantic evening.
Unsurprisingly, Ocean Springs is right on the coastline, giving guests spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico. You can easily spend hours walking along the shoreline or spending the day on the sand enjoying the warm breeze and clear waters.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, the nearby Davis Bayou offers many options. In additional to educational exhibits at the visitor’s center, guests and area residents can be seen enjoying bird watching, fishing, jogging and hiking, outdoor picnickers, and guided activities by local park rangers. Swimming is not permitted in the water here, but why take a dip here when the Gulf of Mexico is right around the corner?
Paddleboarding has become increasingly popular, especially in smaller communities near shorelines. In Ocean Springs, the best choice is Paddles Up Paddleboard Rentals and Sales which is located about a mile away from the Gulf of Mexico on Government Street.
Old Fort Bayou Preserve offers recreational fishing, boating, and wildlife exploring along the Pascagoula River. Guides are available online for searching out your favorite birds, local plants, and other wildlife in a protected marine environment.
If shopping is more your speed but you still want to enjoy the outdoors, Ocean Springs Fresh Market is a weekly farmer’s market held downtown every Saturday morning from 9 am to 11 pm featuring the best local produce, food, and other local vendor options to enjoy. If you can’t make it Saturday, that’s okay – the downtown area has plenty of local shopping options on Washington Avenue with local art, jewelry, and eateries along the way.
Historical cities mean historical offerings, and there are several to note in Ocean Springs. There are many outdoor memorials to see, including the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This memorial celebrates veterans from many different wars and conflicts, including the Vietnam War, submarine veterans from World War II, and others.
The Seaman’s Memorial celebrates the lives of many from Mississippi who passed away at sea, from those who fought in combat and as merchants. The names of those lost are immortalized in bronze behind a large anchor structure.
The Historic Ocean Springs L&N Depot, which is now where the local Chamber of Commerce is housed. This historic building has a lot of character and its beautiful old world architecture helps put the city’s history on display.
One of the hurdles to trekking through a historic city is transportation. While driving is difficult in most old cities, it doesn’t have to be the only option. When exploring the historic downtown areas, it’s easy to walk around to many of the sites.
If you’re planning on seeing something a little harder to reach on foot, the Coast Transit Authority has affordable tickets, especially if purchased ahead of time for many days at once. On a seasonal basis the West Ship Island Ferry takes visitors from West Ship Island to the Gulfport Yacht Harbor from spring until fall. There are also a few taxi services to use as well.
If you love local art, Ocean Springs has plenty to see. In addition to the memorials, the Bridge Mosaic Memorial is the longest mural in Mississippi, reaching 120 feet in length. Four local artists created this piece together, which celebrates the natural splendor of the Gulf Coast.
The Crooked Feather Sculpture is a thirty foot carving that celebrates the original indigenous colony. This is actually the second version of this piece; the original was carved in the 1940s by the artist Peter Toth from Hungary; the newest addition, carved in 1999, comes from local artists Thomas King.
There are also numerous local art festivals, the area’s Art Walk which has been hosted for more than fifteen years, and local artwork and pottery. No matter what types of art you love the most, you’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for in Ocean Springs.