Towering oak trees draped in Spanish moss welcome visitors to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The town oozes southern charm. Add in mom and pop stores around every corner and a slower pace of life, and you have a recipe for an authentic southern vacation.
Eastern Shore of Biloxi Bay
Ocean Springs, located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, doesn’t disappoint. Tucked away on the eastern shores of Biloxi Bay, with a history spun from Native Americans and French settlers make the area unique. Beautiful Great American Main Street invites visitors to gorgeous undeveloped beaches, a fishing pier plus a kid-friendly public park. It’s a great place to visit if you’re an introvert traveler.
Seriously, there’s a surprise around every corner. Hidden behind picturesque retail shops, restaurants, and galleries, visitors will find the best in casual dining and five-star experiences. Small art galleries present well-known local and national artists from across the United States. You’ll also find boutique inns, cottage homes, and stately Southern mansions.
As I meandered down Washington Street I wondered what made these shop owners so different from mom and pop shop owners in other cities. I came to the conclusion that after Hurricane Katrina the townspeople came together with a vengeance and vowed to rebuild a better community. There’s something special about everyone joining hands and working as one to rebuild a place. Future generations will be proud to know their family was part of the rebirth of the “City of Discovery,” aka Ocean Springs.
First stop, Coastal Magpie Antiques
Coastal Magpie 918 Washington Street is much more than an antique store it’s actually an art gallery. The photo posted above features one of the local artists, JoAnne Wheeler, who’s also the shop owner. JoAnne is a delight and very helpful. Plan to spend time here to meander as there is a lot of unique creations plus their Kudzu candles act as aromatherapy specialists, so Zen.
Located at 910 Washinton Street you’ll find Bellsons Boutique a charming shop filled with essentials. From fine jewelry to handmade pillows, natural candles, and lotions and potions all are on display. What really intrigued me was a collection of Cohasset Molten Glass. These wonderful glass sculptures are made of recycled glass, and tropical hardwood, Gamel Root or Teak, from artisans in Bali. No two are alike. The shop owner, Patience is charming, fun and full of southern hospitality.
Courtney Farms is a wonderful, little garden shop, located on 810 Bienville Street, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. It’s adorable with fresh live plants, unique planters and all kinds of tchotchkes for the garden and the She Shed. A great place to shop before you head out of town or if you’re coming into town.
More Places to Shop:
- Leather & Pearls, 630 Washington Ave., owned by the feisty Alma White, who handcrafts leather necklaces, bracelets and earrings using large white, black and gray freshwater pearls,
- Layton’s Gifts, 630 Washington Ave., supports local, regional and international artists,
- Hillyer House, 920 Washington Ave., just screams come on in and shop. The mascot is a gorgeous mermaid. Who doesn’t love a mermaid? Don’t skip the ginger lemonade — it’s as refreshing as the store itself.
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art or as the locals call it, WAMA, is located in the heart of town at 510 Washington Ave. In 2017, Anderson was selected by the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX) inaugural Hall of Fame. The museum is dedicated to the advancement and preservation of the works of Walter Inglis Anderson. Walter’s brothers, Peter and James are also artists who work in a variety of media: oil, glass, and pottery.
The Art House, located on 921 Cash Alley, is part of the Ocean Springs Art Association. The association is the longest-running co-op and the largest of its kind in southern Mississippi with more than 400 members. You can find The Art House in an attention-getting deep red cottage with an apple-green door, inviting inquisitive travelers to stop and shop.
The Art House collaborates with other art collectives including the Women’s Art Collective and hosts workshops and other events.
Shearwater Pottery, found at 102 Shearwater Drive, boasts a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. The essence of Shearwater Pottery is evident in the wonderful array of distinctive glazes and rare color combinations. Original molds created in the 1930s are still used today. Shearwater Pottery is an Ocean Springs institution.
Lovelace Soda Fountain
Step back in time when life was simpler and a banana split was considered a huge treat, well it was in my family. Lovelace Soda Fountain is retro-styled with bright red and white booths, old Coca Cola signs and the menu is also indicative of the area; root beer floats, strawberry sundaes, Orea cookie milkshakes. What a fun place for the whole family. This is why I love small towns they offer a slice of vanishing Americana.
Glory Bound Cyro, Company
Glory Bound Cyro, Company, 1107 Government Street, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This is a wonderful spot for a quick bite. I enjoyed the hummus trio, and my friend enjoyed a lamb dish.
B B’s PoBoys & Seafood Restaurant, 1300 Bienville Blvd., is a family-owned small restaurant loved by locals and visitors alike. The seafood muffuletta is mouthwatering. This oversized bit is layered with fried shrimp and oysters overflowing on round bread with a crabmeat blended sauce. The generous shrimp po’boy is also an excellent choice, and TripAdvisor gives it a Certificate of Excellence.
And you can’t visit Ocean Springs and not stop at Pop Brothers artisan popsicles. They offer so many delicious flavor choices, it’s hard to choose just one. Find them at 800 Cash Avenue, Ocean, Springs.
Places to Stay
The Brew, a quaint coffee shop is right next store to the Inn at Ocean Springs, how convenient. The Inn is a boutique property offering four unique suites, each with its own distinct personality, stylish décor, and ambiance. The rates are affordable and, best of all, The Inn is dog-friendly! Call ahead for seasonal offers but book early as The Inn sells out quickly.
A sister property to Inn is The Roost. The Roost is very Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV series “Fixer Upper.” It’s in walking distance of the beach, but know it does not offer elevators and it’s a hike up to the second floor. Cottage rentals are also popular here. The Liliflora Cottage sleeps five and offers two bedrooms and 1.5 baths — ideal for a family or couple’s escape.
The Eaves is a remodeled 1930s bungalow, simple yet elegant. It’s a five-minute walk to the picture-worthy Ocean Springs Harbor, where shrimp boats, sailboats, and yachts share the waters. Walk another minute across the harbor bridge and — voila! — Shearwater Pottery appears.
Ocean Springs, Mississippi is a festival Mecca. No matter when you travel they have something going on in the heart of the city. Learn more here.
All Photos: Nina Zapala