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A Visit to the Gulf Coast in Mississippi: A Road Trip from Saint Charles, Missouri

In the middle of hot hot July, Bob and I packed our old Honda CR-V and spent 4 nights in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  We made a classic mistake:  we forgot to check the weather patterns for a deep South July.  Come to find out, it's their rainy season.  And while it did rain every day, it rained about the same time every day and it always cooled the evenings down so we could enjoy sunsets at the beach.  

The road trip begins!

What's special about Ocean Springs, Mississippi?

A lot of our friends asked us why Ocean Springs?  As we were discussing a possible road trip, Bob said he wanted to go to the closest (ocean) beach from our house.  That lead us to Biloxi, and further research led us to Ocean Springs. The deciding factor was our Airbnb which I will share later.  Ocean Springs is listed as one of the most charming coastal towns by Southern Living magazine and to be frank, that's enough to sell me.  We see eye-to-eye on most things, me and Southern Living, plus it is an artist's paradise.  More about that in the things to do!

Where to Stay in Ocean Springs?

We chose to stay in a charming Airbnb called Harbor Oaks. It is located right on the harbor in Ocean Springs and just 3-4 minutes to the beach by car.  We loved our hosts, Maureen and Mike, who greeted us with homemade scones when we arrived and later in the week served us cinnamon pecan muffins. It will hold up to four people, but it is a one-bedroom with one bathroom.  There is a full kitchen where we boiled up shrimp fresh from the shrimp boats on the harbor.  Bob would walk down to the boats, buy a couple of pounds of shrimp ($3/4 a pound!) and then boil them up for dinner.  We made shrimp cocktail, shrimp quesadillas, and shrimp tacos.  

Where to Eat and Drink in Ocean Springs

We found delightful places to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner while in Ocean Springs.  Our favorites were:

Blue Dog Cafe- we had breakfast there and it was so good.  Bob drinks coffee and he said it was a good blend.  We shared Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.  The crab cakes were large with a crispy crust and perfectly poached eggs on top.  

French Kiss Pastries- This little cafe on the main shopping street in Ocean Springs served up some of the finest pastries we've had.  Every pastry is made fresh daily.   They do have a lunch menu and specialty drinks, but our eyes were only for the pastries.

Eat Drink Love- this little cafe is a popular choice, so be prepared to wait for a table or to share a table with others.  I had the homemade pimento grilled cheese.  Doesn't everyone need to eat pimento cheese while in the South?

Knuckleheads was recommended to us by our Airbnb hosts as a local favorite.  It's a fun place with a large outdoor seating area.  It was our first night in town, and I am ashamed to say that we didn't order seafood for our main meal.  We did share this appetizer which was delicious!  They serve their Red Shrimp with drawn butter, as the meat has a lobster-like taste!

Maison de Lu- this was our splurge meal in Ocean Springs.  What a treat!  First, the place is absolutely beautiful.  There was a lot of thought for the bar and decor as there was the food.  The bar is award-winning for their Bloody Mary so of course, I had to have one.  The garnish was perfect for the southern setting.  Bob had a Smoked Manhattan and gave his a two thumbs up.  We tried the award-winning appetizer, the goat cheese tart.  Oh, so good!  The creamy and tart goat cheese paired well with the layers of pesto and sundried tomatoes.  For dinner, we had the fresh catch of the day, which was grouper.  

What to do in Ocean Springs

We found lots of fun things to do while in Ocean Springs.  We don't have young children, but we felt we could have kept our grandson occupied with activities while we were there.  

Shopping- we loved shopping on the main drag in Ocean Springs, and I found many items that I just had to have!  We started at The Pink Rooster.  It is a wonderful shop for local art. I found Christmas trees made from oyster shells. My favorite shop is Hillyer House.  I found so many things but I brought home a wind chime made from recycled wine bottles, candles, a soap dish, and some taffy.  We also enjoyed Realizations, the Walter Anderson Shop which was eclectic and fun.  The shop was opened by the artist's family in 1986 to meet the demand for linoleum prints.  We loved Shearwater Pottery, which is located in the woods on a back road.  So much fun to discover!  

Beaching- Ocean Springs has a delightful beach near the harbor called Front Beach which was near our Airbnb.  We had rain, so we didn't get a lot of beach time, but we enjoy a few wonderful sunsets there and highly recommend that you check out the mosaic mural that is at the north end of the beach.

Sunsets- To enjoy the sunsets fully be at the beach at least 30 minutes before sunset.  The beach has a few places that make for gorgeous sunsets and you will want to scout them out.  Give yourself plenty of time to find out if you want to be on the beach or out on one of the piers.

Museums- By far the museum we loved the most was the Walter Anderson Museum.  He is considered the most outstanding artist.  He produced works in oils, watercolors, pencil, and pen and ink.  He sculpted in wood, linoleum blocks, and pottery and designed and painted extraordinary wall murals.  The museum has the original murals he painted in the Community Center and a room from his home that is covered with his whimsical view of nature.  A must-see if you love art!

We have decided that we must come back!  The charming coastal town of Ocean Springs hosts several events that have captured our interest.  We will try new food venues, shop at our favorites and some new ones but we will most definitely stay at our delightful Airbnb, Harbor Oaks!

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