Biloxi Bay is for the birds!
Biloxi Bay is for the birds!

A beautiful Polynesian princess plunges to a bed of oysters in the depths where she returns with a lovely, precious pearl while a prospector searches for the glitz and glammer of gold.  Each is precious but the one is serene and smooth, while the other’s shine sparks excitement and the lust to win.  Along the shores of the Biloxi Bay are two such treasures.  Ocean Springs to the east, is an old, artistic community, while across the beautiful bay bridge lie the casinos, convention center, and clubs of Biloxi.

In the spring of 1699, French Canadian Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville established a colony on the Ocean Springs shore and built Fort Maurepas to defend the territory.  The area natives included the Bylocchy tribe for which the area was named Biloxi.  A couple decades later and across the bay, the city now known as Biloxi began to grow and the twin towns were known as old and new Biloxi.

As time has passed, mother and daughter cities have matured with the city of Ocean Springs having a more quiet, reserved, and artistic disposition.  Ocean Springs was a recipient of the 2013 Great American Main Street Award and is known for its lovely, old storefronts along the downtown street where Elvis would go to relax in the sunny south.  For those artistically inclined there is the nationally recognized, Walter Anderson Museum and a number of art shops, where you can chat with and buy the works of local artists.

To set up  your  own picnic for the beach, head over to Broom’s Grocery and Catering and fill up in the deli.  For more generic fare, just up the highway a bit, there is a Walmart, fast food shops, as well as an Applebee’s for a bit more upscale fare.

Ocean Spring's one-eyed gator spends a lazy day by his pond
Ocean Spring’s one-eyed gator spends a lazy day by his pond

For a relaxing vacation, the bay shore is beautiful for laying in the sun, a casual, sight-seeing bike ride, and, of course, watersports in the bay.  For a change from walking on the lovely sands of the beach, a nearby park has nature trails and a pond where you can see their old, one-eyed alligator.

Of course, across the bay, the shore of the coast continues with more beautiful, sandy beach for the sun seekers and a lot of action and excitement.  At the Beau Rivage Casino, The Hard Rock Casino, the smoke free Palace Casino, and other casinos you will find more fervent, unanswered prayers than in the local churches.  In the casinos, night clubs, and other places of entertainment and revelry you can catch performances from old favorites like Gary Puckett and B.J. Thomas.

At Biloxi’s Mississippi Coast Convention Center you can catch great events like the Fear Fete horror film festival and convention and Geekonomicon, where they passed the Guinness Book of World Records current record for the most Steampunks in one place.  At events like Biloxi’s Geekonomicon you can see such celebrities as Richard Hatch from “Battlestar Galactica”, Christopher Judge from “Stargate SG1”, Gigi Edgley from “Farscape” and other awesome actors who visit the sunny coast.

The creative folks that are working to bring Juamingo to the screens
The creative folks that are working to bring Juamingo to the screens

In addition to importing actors for conventions, there is a developing film industry in the area.  The films “The Historian” and “Rites of Spring” were filmed in Mississippi and an upcoming animation, “Juamingo” is in development in Ocean Springs.

The Biloxi Bay Bridge in the evening light
The Biloxi Bay Bridge in the evening light

While the mother and daughter cities of the Biloxi Bay are remarkably different they share a distinct beauty.  They are also joined by a remarkably beautiful bridge that ties the two together for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  The bridge’s lovely curves stretch over a mile, provide bikers and walkers resting points along the way, and add beauty to the sunsets.  Tourists and locals alike owe their thanks to Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, who insisted that they build a wide biking/walking path on the side of the bridge when they were planning the post-Katrina reconstruction.

The Mardi Gras Museum in Biloxi
The Mardi Gras Museum in Biloxi

While not as large as Mardi Gras in Mobile or New Orleans, both Ocean Springs and Biloxi celebrate Mardi Gras.  Biloxi has a Mardi Gras museum in a beautiful, old, French mansion where you can stop in for a bit of information on their celebration.

The Barbeque Sandwich at Slap Ya Momma's in Biloxi
The Barbeque Sandwich at Slap Ya Momma’s in Biloxi

So for a quiet vacation in the sun or a hot night on the strip, check out these two treasures and make sure you stop by Slap Ya Mommas BBQ Smokehouse – the best barbeque on the beach!

For more about National Tourism, Art, Music, Celebrity, Steampunk, and Geek Culture Examiner, John N. Collins, find him on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook.  Be sure to let him know your thoughts on his articles!

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