There are a string of sister cities lined up on the Mississippi coast, and Biloxi is probably the best known. A unique and lively place with a cool history, Biloxi, Mississippi, lures in many visitors. What’s so great about Biloxi, Mississippi? Let’s find out!
About Biloxi, Mississippi
With its location on the southern coast, the resort city of Biloxi has long been a popular vacation spot. The gorgeously scenic U.S. Highway 90 runs east to west through the city and along a sparkling sand beach. That water along the shoreline is the Mississippi Sound. The larger Gulf of Mexico lies a little farther to the south, beyond a series of barrier islands.
Like the bigger nearby cities of New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi traces its origin to France. In 1699, French settlers visited the area and established colonies. One of the earliest ones was on the shore of what is now known as Biloxi Bay. Before Mississippi became a state in 1817, Biloxi had also been under British and Spanish rule.
With a population of almost 47,000, Biloxi is Mississippi’s fourth-largest city. It has an even bigger personality. (Oh, and by the way, it’s pronounced Bil-UCKS-i, not Bil-OCKS-i. The locals cringe when they hear it mispronounced, as they often do.)
What Is Biloxi, Mississippi, Known For?
These days, Biloxi is best known for its casinos. Mississippi has 36 places where you can gamble legally, and 11 of them are in Biloxi.
Military-minded folks also know Biloxi as home to Keesler Air Force Base, a training facility. It may also ring a bell as the namesake of a classic play and movie called “Biloxi Blues.”
What Is There to Do in Biloxi Besides Gambling?
In some places with legalized gambling, the casinos are the only game in town. Not so in Biloxi, Mississippi. With fairly mild weather year-round, outdoor activities like saltwater fishing and golf are also part of the allure. There’s lots of history to uncover, too. Let’s head down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and see what all it has to offer.
10 Best Things to Do in Biloxi, Mississippi
Biloxi is best-known for its casinos, so we’ll start there. But even though they’re open around the clock, we suggest making lots of time to see some of Biloxi’s other attractions.
1. Check Out Some Casinos
Mississippi legalized casino gambling in 1990 with a restriction that the casinos had to be on the water. At the time, they called it “dockside gambling,” and the early casinos were essentially big boats without motors.
Over time, they’ve evolved into floating palaces, and today there are nearly a dozen of them in Biloxi. Playing the slot machines and trying your hand at blackjack is always a big draw. The restaurants and live entertainment they offer may be an even safer bet. Many of the casinos have luxury hotels attached to them, too.
2. Take a Guided Tour at Biloxi Lighthouse
The tall white cast-iron lighthouse has been in service since 1848. At 64 feet tall, the lighthouse is a towering beacon on Biloxi’s waterfront.
Having withstood countless storms, it’s also a symbol of the city’s resilience. Somewhat curiously, the famous Biloxi Lighthouse stands on the median of Highway 90.
3. Visit the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum
Before the casinos came to town, the seafood industry was the main livelihood. It’s a heritage that goes back to the early 1920s.
During the heyday, the more than 40 seafood processing plants gave Biloxi notoriety as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” The community’s earlier golden era is on full display at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum.
4. Spend a Day at Ship Island
Head offshore for some fishing or a memorable sightseeing adventure. Catch a ride to Ship Island, which lies 13 miles from the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.
On the south side of the island is the Gulf of Mexico, so you’ll likely see some bigger waves. The main event on the island is a tour of a brick fortress that predates the Civil War. The historic Fort Massachusetts was built in 1859 and has quite a few stories to tell from its different chapters.
5. Learn about Mardis Gras at the Mardis Gras Museum
Mardi Gras isn’t just about New Orleans. It’s a huge social event in this part of Mississippi, and every community has its own parades and balls. Maybe they’re not as wild and raucous as those in the French Quarter, but the good times certainly roll.
Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is even a school holiday. Learn about Biloxi’s carnival history at the Mardi Gras Museum through costumes, photographs, and memorabilia.
6. Hop on the Biloxi Tour Train
Explore Old Biloxi with a leisurely ride on the Biloxi Tour Train. It rolls on the streets rather than being confined to tracks. You’ll enjoy colorful and informed commentary as you tour many of the city’s historic sites.
This fun-for-the-family attraction started 60 years ago as the Biloxi Shrimp Tour Train. It departs from a parking lot almost in the shadow of the famous lighthouse.
7. Kick Off Your Shoes at Biloxi Beach
Many people are surprised to learn that the southern end of Mississippi has 26 miles of white sand beach.
Kick off your shoes and focus on the sounds of the seagulls overhead and the waves lapping at your feet. It’s just off the beach highway, and on a clear day, you can see Ship Island on the horizon.
8. Visit the Hurricane Katrina Memorial
Before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the mighty Hurricane Camille from 36 years earlier was a tragic benchmark. Camille had devastated the community, and many Biloxi residents figured they would never see a storm that powerful ever again. Sadly, Katrina proved them wrong.
A Hurricane Katrina Memorial on the Town Green honors 170 people who perished in the storm. It stands 12 feet tall – that’s how deep the storm waters reached in the same location.
9. Stroll the 300-Year-Old Old Biloxi Cemetery
Biloxi’s city cemetery is quiet and peaceful, and it’s a moving lesson in local history. You can admire historic headstones under the shade of massive live oaks that may be older than the city itself.
This is the final resting place of many notable Biloxians. They include George Ohr, known as the Mad Potter, and Edward Barq, who came up with the famous root beer.
10. Take a Sunset Riverboat Cruise
Another great way to see the area is aboard an authentic paddle wheeler. Daytime eco-tours have an educational emphasis, touching on the importance of these local waters as an estuary. You can focus on relaxation with an evening cruise that’s hopefully capped off with a spectacular sunset. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some dolphins frolicking as you get a closer look at Deer Island.
These are our favorite things to do in one of Mississippi’s most interesting vacation spots. While in Biloxi, Mississippi, you might want to seek out the best shrimp or oyster po-boy. That’s a tasty way to pay tribute to the community’s seafood heritage. Have you ever been to Biloxi?