Escape while you can! If you let summer slip by without enjoying a much-needed vacation, you’re simply not living life to the fullest. That would make us sad, so we’re going to help you narrow down your search for the perfect destination.
We’ve combed the world for our favorite unique travel hot spots, and boy did we find some out-of-sight options. Below you’ll find our recommendation for an unexpected vacation spot within 500 miles.
As a Mississippi native I’m well aware of the bad rap often awarded my home state. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me to jump off a shrimp boat after I suggested vacationing there. But trust me, the Mississippi Gulf Coast serves as both a relaxing getaway and an entertainment hot spot.
I recommend staying in Biloxi, which allows you easy access to other Gulf Coast towns and is only a one-hour drive to New Orleans and Mobile. Check into one of the city’s many casino resorts—perhaps the elegant Beau Rivage or the hip Hard Rock. Aside from gambling, the casinos feature fine-dining restaurants, endless buffets and top-notch entertainment. In fact, the summer lineup includes Melissa Etheridge, Barenaked Ladies, Wynonna Judd, Daughtry, Joan Rivers, Vicki Lawrence and Duran Duran, just to name a few.
Once you’ve had your feel of concerts and comedy, take a picturesque drive along Beach Boulevard with its antebellum homes, artsy shops and popular eateries. On the west coast, stop by The Buttercup or Trapani’s in Bay St. Louis (my favorite coastal town) for a delicious meal. Other notable restaurants include Shaggy’s in Pass Christian and Hula’s in Diamondhead; both overlook a marina and are perfect for sipping cocktails at sunset. In Gulfport, I suggest the Half Shell Oyster House and Lookout 49.
One of my favorite aspects of the coast is its thriving arts community. A few popular shops include Clay Creations and Gallery 220 in Bay St. Louis, Negrotto’s in Biloxi and Moran’s Art Studio in Ocean Springs.
It’s been eight years since I lived on the Gulf Coast and I still miss its serenity and easy-going vibe. I don’t visit as often as I like, but when I do, I return to Atlanta refreshed and relaxed.
ABSORB SOME CULTURE
Bay St. Louis Historical Walking Tour, 1928 Depot Way, Bay St. Louis
Old Biloxi Cemetery, 1166 Irish Hill Drive, Biloxi
Walter Anderson Museum of Art, 510 Washington Avenue, Ocean Springs
Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, 386 Beach Boulevard, Biloxi
CELEBRATE LIKE THE LOCALS
Second Annual Gulfport Music Festival featuring Maroon Five, May 18-20
The Mississippi Film & Music Festival, November 7-11
Cruisin’ The Coast, October 7-14
Mardi Gras, January 26-February 12, 2013