The Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama is a diverse region that offers a blend of natural beauty, Southern heritage, and unique experiences. With soft white sandy beaches, warm waters, and abundant marine life, the Gulf Coast is a haven for beach lovers, bird enthusiasts, and water sports fanatics. For the exhausted parent or overworked employee, nothing beats beach vacations for that much-needed rest and relaxation. Fortunately, beach vacations along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi are budget-friendly.
Read on to see a sample road trip itinerary for exploring the Gulf COast of Mississippi and Alabama.
Bay St Louis / Pass Christian
If you're coming from the west, start your journey along the coast of Mississippi and Alabama in Bay St Louis and spend 1-2 nights there.
Located in the Blue House, the former home of Alice Moseley, the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum is dedicated to folk artist and painter Alice Moseley. Miss Alice was born in Birmingham in 1909 and lived to the age of 95. Those who love oysters should indulge in The Oyster Bar at 200 North Beach for raw and chargrilled oysters and other seafood.
While in Bay St Louis, take a short drive over the Bay St Louis Bridge to Pass Christian and visit War Memorial Park. The kids will love the playground, as well as the splash pad during the summer. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the walking trail. Then (carefully!) cross Beach Boulevard to walk along the white sand beach.
Long Beach / Gulfport
Next, drive to the Long Beach / Gulfport area and spend another 1-2 nights there.
In Long Beach, dine at the eclectic, multi-ethnic, counter-serve Long Beach Market and Deli. Walk along the marina and out to the end of the piers for some Insta-worthy photos and play in the sand on the public beach.
In Gulfport, beat the summer heat at Gulf Islands Waterpark. For a more interactive learning adventure, let the kids explore the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, located in a circa-1916 school house. Traveling kid-free? See if Lady Luck is on your side at Island View Casino Resort. Art enthusiasts can visit the Gulfport Art Center to see local art that's housed in the former Carnegie Library, erected in 1917. Grab a bite to eat at one of many fabulous downtown Gulfport restaurants, like Half Shell Oyster House, The Rack House Steak and Spirits, and Renee's | Downtown. Pack a picnic lunch and unwind at the Gulfport Beach Recreation Area. Let the kids play on the nearby Gulfport Beach Playground. Fancy a little shopping? Head to the Gulfport Premium Outlets. Do you like quirky attractions? Dine at Catfish Charlie for tasty all-you-can-eat catfish and then take pictures in front of the world's largest rocking chair!
Biloxi / Ocean Springs
Leaving the Gulfport area, head west to Biloxi and spend another 1-2 nights there.
Try your luck at one of Biloxi's renowned casinos, stroll along the beaches, and visit the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, which is dedicated to the master of ceramics, George Ohr. Relax in the white sands on Biloxi Beach.
During your stay in Biloxi, drive 10 minutes over the Biloxi Bay Bridge to the adorable little town of Ocean Springs. Visit the Walter Anderson Museum of Art for a glimpse of the unique art of the elusive local artist. Enjoy a quiet stroll along the beach and dine and shop at a wide array of restaurants and local shops in the cute downtown area. The Lady May has a fantastic menu and an adorable outdoor patio. Blue Dog Bistro is pet-friendly and offers great service and tasty bites. And Murky Waters is perfect for a casual, bar-and-grill type meal.
Cross into Alabama and head straight toward bustling Mobile, Alabama. Plan to spend 3-4 days in the city.
With its population of 185,000 people, Mobile is home to a number of fabulous museums. The History Museum of Mobile is located in the Southern Market historic complex, not far from the Mobile River. Exhibits - some of them interactive - tell Mobile's history from the Native Americans through the World Wars, the Civil Rights movement, and more. The Mobile Carnival Museum tells the history of Mobile's Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations. At the interactive GulfQuest National Maritime Museum, visitors learn the maritime-related history and culture of the Gulf Region. The Mobile Museum of Art features exhibits from the U.S. and all over Europe. World War 2 buffs will enjoy seeing the USS Alabama at USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. To learn about African-American history and culture, visit the National African American Archives and Multicultural Museum.
Lovers of architecture can enjoy tours of some of the old historic homes that have been converted to museums, like the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, the Oakleigh House Museum, or the Conde-Charlotte Museum.
During crawfish season, devour loads of fresh-caught crawfish. Or indulge in fresh Gulf seafood or a nice plate of pit barbecue. We really enjoy Felix's Fish Camp Restaurant located on the Mobile Bay Causeway.
Dauphin Island / Fort Morgan
Leaving Mobile, head south along Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island and plan to spend 2-3 nights there.
Dauphin Island is one of the barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico that features a number of beautiful beaches, one of which is pet-friendly. Walk along the white sandy shore, build sand castles, and relax in the sun as you listen to the waves crash on the shore. While on Dauphin Island, be sure to take a walk through the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, where you will see turtles, birds, and possibly an alligator (we did not see any alligators - a fact that made my alligator-obsessed son very sad but me very thankful!). The 1000-foot-long boardwalk is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, and pets are welcome, as long as they are on a leash. Keep kids and pets away from the water and always be aware of your surroundings! Also be sure to visit the Alabama Aquarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, a small, but well-laid-out aquarium that features a touch tank with horseshoe crabs, a large outdoor touch tank with stingrays, and many other tanks featuring marine animals like red lionfish, an octopus, several varieties of anemone and starfish, sea horses, and so much more. Your littles will love it!
From Dauphin Island, take the ferry across Mobile Bay over to Fort Morgan (take your car with you!). Explore Fort Morgan State Historic Site before heading west along the coast.
Gulf Shores / Orange Beach
Your final destination in this Gulf Coast road trip itinerary is the Gulf Shores / Orange Beach area. Spend another 1-2 nights here.
In Gulf Shores, visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo to see kangaroos, giraffes, lemurs, and much more. Get outdoors and enjoy the nature trails at Gulf State Park or Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Ride go-karts at The Track, play a round of mini golf at Pirate's Island Adventure Golf, or just grab a cold beer and listen to live music at Big Beach Brewing.
In Orange Beach, more mini golf awaits at Adventure Island. Visit The Wharf for rides, games, shopping, and dining. Outdoor enthusiasts can take a hike at Rosemary Dunes. The Coastal Arts Center is perfect for art aficionados who enjoy supporting local artists.
And of course, miles of white sand beaches await you all along the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area.
I hope this has inspired you to take a road trip along the Gulf Coast region. Whether you're seeking relaxation on the sand, an adventure in the great outdoors, or an immersion in the region's distinctive culture, the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama promises an unforgettable journey filled with memorable moments. Examine unique finds at various antique shops in the small towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, take a scenic drive along the water, seek out historic sites, nibble fresh seafood, view the local wildlife, and try your hand at various water activities. So pack up the family and enjoy your road along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama!
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