Biloxi, Mississippi: Coast, Casinos, Cruisin, Circus and Seafood!

Biloxi Sunrise taken from our
oceanfront suite in the Beau Rivage

For those of you that haven’t paid the little town of Biloxi, Mississippi a visit, you’re missing out! We had gone a year or two before Hurricane Katrina and drove along the coast towards New Orleans, enjoying the historic ocean-front homes that lined the two-lane highway. We decided to go back a few years ago, and it was devastating to see all of that history wiped away, along with parts of the quaint little towns that lined the Gulf Coast. We were happy to see the Beau Rivage back up and going, along with nice new beaches and pathways for visitors. Driving around Biloxi, you sadly realize the impact the hurricane had. The only reminders of entire blocks of homes and businesses are their concrete pads.

On the bright side, these little coastal towns have been busy rebuilding their homes, lives and businesses, and they have so much to offer visitors to their scenic towns and coast. Last fall we decided on a quick “r & r” trip to the coast – it was actually a relax and rescue mission. Through our Middle Tennessee Corgi Rescue group, we had identified a corgi mix dog in one of the kill shelters in the Abbeville, Louisiana area that needing rescuing, so we were on an exploration and rescue venture.

For the first part of our trip, we booked a few nights at the Beau Rivage Casino and headed south from Nashville. We had stayed at the Beau Rivage a few times before, so when we arrived, we upgraded to an oceanfront suite, which is very reasonable for what you get. I could move right in to their spacious suites and stay for quite a while… Elegant furnishings, fabulous view over the ocean with an inviting pool below, daily room service, an assortment of restaurants just an elevator’s ride downstairs… Thinking this might be the way to go when we get old instead of assisted living! www.beaurivage.com/

Wally in our oceanfront suite
at the Beau Rivage

Beau Rivage marble bath (mine!)

Wally chose the bath with the marble shower

I’m a reader, so I usually pack several books for our trips to entertain myself driving and when Wally wanders down to the casino to lose his allowance… or sometimes win us dinner. While he makes his forays into the casino part of the hotel, I usually like to take advantage of the lovely bath, a good book and a nice glass of red wine.

Time for some “r & r” at the Beau Rivage

The Beau Rivage is a very nice hotel, with an assortment of shops downstairs, ranging from fine jewelry to snacks to a coffee shop. I always like to see what their flower theme is for the season, as they have elaborate displays to make you feel welcome. Having stayed before, we knew a few essentials to take for our comfort, which included a small coffeemaker and coffee fixings, a small fan (for sleeping noise), and wine and liquor for our stay.

One of our first stops in Biloxi is just a few blocks away from the Beau Rivage at Desportes & Sons Seafood at 1075 Division Street for some fresh seafood snacks. Wally usually packs crackers, some fresh cocktail sauce and some Louisiana Hot Sauce when we head into oyster country. At Desportes, you can buy oysters packed by the pint to take home, as well as select from their fresh seafood that is in season. When in season they have shrimp, crawfish, crab, oysters, fish and more.  They also have a food counter and you can have lunch there. This is a family-owned place and they are super friendly so don’t be in a hurry – take some time to get to know the locals! http://desporteandsonsseafood.lbu.com

We drove through Ocean Springs and wandered about a bit to see what was in the area. We visited a few of their parks and did a bit of browsing through their nice shops.

Ocean Springs Marina

We were stalked in the park…

This getaway was the week of my birthday (a good reason to getaway – right?) and I had seen that the big top circus was going to be in Biloxi. Neither of us had ever been to one, so I was thrilled that the Cole Bros. Circus was in town. I was finally able to get a reluctant Wally to go with me, and I’m so glad we went. I went to the circus for my birthday, followed by a late-night dinner at their new Waffle House on the beach!

Jamie at the circus!

Before the circus started a C130 from nearby Kessler AFB
circled Biloxi, passing over the circus

We were both laughing and gasping at the acts – it was wonderful! I loved the tigers, elephants, camels, ponies and acrobatic poodles, the goofy clowns, trapeze artists, balancing acts and aerial show, and the man being shot out of the big cannon, but the most exhilarating act was when the three motorcycle riders revved up their engines in a metal caged ball and began circling at high speeds! Wow!

For those of you thinking about visiting the Gulf Coast this fall, the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars will be back in Biloxi Oct. 3-4, just down the road from the Beau Rivage. By the morning of the 5th, they will be GONE from the field. It’s pretty amazing they can pack up and move on that fast! Parking is located on the road behind the circus, and I would recommend springing for the better seats in front of the ring – the general seating at the end of the tent is NOT good. We started there and upgraded before the show began. Learn more about Cole Bros. at: www.gotothecircus.com/

Wally’s usual Gulf lunch…

Fried seafood sampler and oysters on the half shell

If you are a car enthusiast, you need to plan on visiting Oct. 7-14, 2012 for the 16th Annual Cruisin’ The Coast® event and it’s their “Sweet Sixteen”. Here’s an overview of the event from their website, so check it out!

“Cruisin’ The Coast® began in 1996 as a festival to celebrate antique, classic and hot rod vehicles, nostalgic music and related events.  374 vehicles registered that first year and in 2011 we had 5,484 registered vehicles.  Car enthusiasts from over 39 states and Canada drive to the Mississippi Gulf Coast once a year to showcase their rides and to cruise our beautiful 30-mile stretch of beachside highway with designated stops in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, and Ocean Springs.   Each venue is set up as a mini festival with a stage for live bands, reserved parking for registered cruisers, spectator parking, and vendors for food and event merchandise.” Learn more at: http://www.cruisinthecoast.com

The next day we headed out towards New Orleans and noticed lots of activity along the Beach Road. They were setting up for the Cruisin the Coast event (2011), and it looked like it would be a fun event. We visited a few of the small towns along the way including Gulfport, where we stopped off to eat some seafood on our way.

To learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast visit: http://www.gulfcoast.org

We’re heading on to New Orleans and New Iberville next, so stay tuned!

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