When it comes to traveling across the United States, Mississippi often remains overshadowed by more popular destinations. While the state’s capital, Jackson, may be its most populous city, there’s a charm to be found in the smaller communities that dot the Mississippi landscape. Gulfport, located on the state’s southern coast along the Gulf of Mexico, is one such hidden gem, according to this travel blog article from SouthernLiving. With approximately 70,000 residents, it’s the state’s second-largest locale, yet it retains an aura of exclusivity, offering a unique coastal escape that goes beyond the typical sun and sand experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore the landmarks, activities, and natural beauty that Gulfport has to offer for an unforgettable weekend getaway.
The heart of Gulfport lies in its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Coastal Mississippi boasts 26 miles of pristine white-sand shores, with Gulfport contributing six miles of its own. A visit to Gulfport should undoubtedly begin with a relaxing day at one of its exquisite beaches. Gulfport Beach is a prime choice, offering easy parking and access to Boca Ciega Bay beach. Here, you can set up for a perfect day in the sun, equipped with everything from refreshing drinks to beach toys. The Gulfport Beach Waterfront Complex provides additional amenities such as a fenced playground, pavilion, restrooms, volleyball nets, and even a fishing pier.
For a more adventurous day out, consider taking a ferry ride to Ship Island, located 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi. Ship Island Excursions offer ferry services between Gulfport and Ship Island, where you can explore historic Fort Massachusetts, enjoy the pristine beaches, and even indulge in dolphin watching or a Starlight Cocktail Cruise. This offshore adventure adds a unique dimension to your Gulfport experience.
For those who are passionate about the ocean, a visit to the Mississippi Aquarium or Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is a must. The Mississippi Aquarium goes beyond the beach to showcase the diverse aquatic life of Mississippi, from the Delta to the coastline and the Mighty Mississippi River to the marshy bayous. With over 200 species of aquatic animals, the aquarium offers an engaging experience for visitors of all ages. Meanwhile, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies enhances your aquarium visit with special shows and encounters featuring dolphins, sea lions, birds, reptiles, stingrays, and more.
When you’re ready to explore Gulfport on land, the town’s burgeoning art scene awaits your discovery. Downtown Gulfport boasts a unique character, with lively bars, excellent dining, and a thriving nightlife. One of the standout spots is Fishbone Alley, a former utility alley turned art hub, where local artists share their talents through murals, panels, and paintings. If you’re inspired by what you see, continue your art exploration at the Gulfport Arts Center or Negretto’s Frame + Art.
As the sun begins to set, Gulfport’s dining scene takes a more relaxed and leisurely turn. Captain Al’s Steak and Seafood offers a vibrant waterfront dining experience with live music, aquatic nature exhibits, and a menu that includes everything from steak cooked over an open fire to seafood in a variety of mouthwatering preparations. Another waterfront hotspot is Flamingo Landing, where live music and a special Go-Go Sauce-enhanced menu await your evening pleasure.
Gulfport, Mississippi, is a coastal treasure waiting to be discovered. From its stunning beaches to its vibrant arts scene, delectable dining options, and diverse marine life attractions, there’s no shortage of experiences to enjoy in this hidden gem. So, if you’re seeking a unique coastal escape that offers more than the ordinary, make Gulfport your next travel destination.
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