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5 things to do in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Photo courtesy of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art

You might say that Ocean Springs was built on leisure and creativity. It was named for the freshwater fonts that first drew crowds to its shore in the mid-1800s, and it’s famed for hosting Mississippi’s largest arts and crafts festival.

Visitors to this cozy coastal gem certainly find those themes running throughout its cottage-lined main streets, palm-dotted beaches, and stylish new hotels. Whether you’re on the hunt for art or just the kind of laid-back good times the Secret Coast is known for, don’t miss these 5 highlights in Ocean Springs. 

A sign welcoming visitors to Ocean Springs

Photo by Jessica Fender

What to do in Ocean Springs

1. Check out the city's art

Murals on the wall of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art

Photo by Jessica Fender

Pelicans soar overhead. Butterflies alight on doorways. Wandering through the Walter Anderson Museum of Art feels a bit like walking through the psychedelic mind of the South’s most elusive—and Mississippi’s most studied—artist.

Anderson was a painter, printmaker, and sculptor who focused on the region’s ecological splendor. The museum holds hundreds of his masterpieces, including an entire room muraled in rainbow colors. Self-guided tours: free. Docent-led group tours: adults, $7.

2. Take a pleasant stroll

Pedestrians crossing the street in Front Beach

Photo by Jessica Fender

Front Beach’s 2 miles of lightly developed coast—think homes, not high-rises—invite visitors to kick off their shoes and walk along its sun-kissed sands. Take a load off on the fishing pier or rent a seat and some shade from Belly Up Beach Chairs.

A few blocks inland, Washington Avenue and Government Street anchor Ocean Springs’ quaint downtown and boast more than  200 independent galleries, restaurants, and boutiques.

Bonus: Entertainment district status means you can sip as you go.

You may also like: A road trip to see Coastal Mississippi’s lighthouses

Where to eat in Ocean Springs

3. Head to a BBQ hot spot 

The Shed

Photo by Jessica Fender

At this rambling wood-and-tin warren just outside town, the Americana decor is piled as high as the brisket sandwiches. The Shed owners declare that this is “not a restaurant at all,” but a barbecue shed made of junk that’s grown from 300 square feet to a sprawling 9,570. (Never mind the award-winning wings and signature pork ribs.) Devotees (dubbed Shed Heds) come from across the country for live blues on an open-air stage on Friday and Saturday nights.

You may also like: 10 barbecue restaurants for finger-licking fare

4. Chow down even more

A wooden board loaded with food at Woody's Roadside

Photo by Jessica Fender

Choose from 18 gourmet burgers at Woody’s Roadside. Build your own Bloody Mary at The Lady May’s weekend brunch, where an epic brunch board is studded with Belgian waffles, bacon jam, and house-made accoutrements. Or splurge on a multicourse tasting menu crafted by Vestige’s James Beard–nominated chef, Alex Perry.

No matter where you dine, don’t leave town without getting something sweet from the TatoNut Shop, family-run for 60-plus years. Just come early: Lines stretch out the door most mornings.

Where to stay in Ocean Springs

5. Check in to cool new digs

Lounge chairs by the pool at Beatnik Hotel

Photo by Jessica Fender

A hot new take on an old-school motor court, these 4 stylish, architecturally modern cabins are as comfy as they are Instagrammable. Private outdoor showers let you wash off the beach sand before heading over to the community firepit or the screened-in porch overlooking the shared plunge pool.

The Beatnik hotel, which opened in 2020, marks the first phase of a development called The Collective, which will include an indie bookstore, a restaurant, and a community garden. Rates start at $219.

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