Biloxi has always stood proudly among the cities that line Highway 90 along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The city’s current popularity as a gaming center draws tourists year-round to a hotel-room inventory that rivals Reno and Atlantic City. Casinos such as Beau Rivage, IP Casino Resort & Spa, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino have helped revitalize an economy that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Yet, visitors still find the same fresh seafood, cultural gumbo, historical landmarks and beachfront beauty that have made Biloxi a popular vacation destination since the 1800s.
In 1848 the Biloxi Lighthouse was erected. It still stands, having survived major hurricanes Katrina and Camille. In 1908 the first Mardi Gras parade rolled through Biloxi. In 1928 officials dedicated the county’s 25-mile-long step seawall to protect Highway 90, then the longest concrete seawall in the world.
Along with these enduring draws, one of Biloxi's top attractions (and a National Historic Landmark) is Beauvoir. This restored home was the last residence of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. Another popular historic site actually lies 12 miles offshore. Seasonal excursions ferry travelers to Ship Island, home to Fort Massachusetts and nationally renowned beaches.
For more local insights, stop at the Biloxi Visitor’s Center. The state-of-the-art facility fronts Highway 90 behind the Biloxi Lighthouse. Ask for directions to the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. Named for Mississippi master potter George Ohr, the campus features the Mississippi Sound Welcome Center, an Exhibitions Gallery, the Gallery of African American Art and the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center.
Take advantage of Biloxi’s coastal locale to meet marine animals “in person.” The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is the premier nonprofit organization for conservation and research in a three-state region. Visitors to this Biloxi attraction can encounter dolphins, stingrays, sharks and sea urchins. Explore the hands-on exhibits or become a Sea Explorer and join weekend activities such as the Kayak Adventure or a Scenic Bayou Tour.
Fresh fish takes center stage at popular Biloxi restaurants. One of the coast’s finest and most famous establishments is Mary Mahoney’s Old French House, which serves ultra-fresh seafood and aged steaks in a setting built around one of the nation’s oldest homes. For fine dining with a more modern twist, Jazzeppi’s Ristorante and Martini Bar offers upscale Italian and Creole cuisine. Casual eats with character embody Biloxi-style cooking at the Ole Biloxi Fillin’ Station. This is the place to fill up on po-boys, oysters, seafood gumbo, and red beans and rice.
When it comes to big events, Biloxi’s Mardi Gras parade steals the show among the 23 “Fat Tuesday” parades held on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in February. A few weeks later, the annual Biloxi St. Patrick’s Parade & 5K Run follows suit. For motor heads, October marks the convergence of more than 4,000 classic cars at the annual Cruisin' the Coast. Car enthusiasts can watch a parade of antique, custom and classic cars and hot rods, with entertainment at designated stops along Highway 90.