10 of the best things to do during summer in coastal Mississippi
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10 of the best things to do during summer in coastal Mississippi

While coastal Mississippi is well known for its white sand beaches and water sports, such as boating and riding jet skis, there’s much more to do on the coast than just enjoy the surf and sand. The best part is, you can do as little or as much as you like while enjoying the great outdoors. So, don your sunglasses, throw on a hat and make the most of your summer with these 10 fun activities.

Tour the coastal backwaters on a river and marsh tour

Touring the Pascagoula River and marshesTouring the Pascagoula River and marshes — Photo courtesy of Karon Warren

Flowing into the Gulf of Mexico at the Mississippi coast, the Pascagoula River is the longest unimpeded river in the lower 48 states. A tour of this river takes you into cypress swamps and salt marshes filled with such wildlife as alligators, bald eagles, egrets and turtles. You’ll also see a wealth of natural plants, including wild lilies, orchids and more. Boat and kayak tours are available to tour the river and marshes.

Go bird-watching at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge & Visitor Center

Look for native birds and wildlife at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife RefugeLook for native birds and wildlife at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge — Photo courtesy of Karon Warren

The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge & Visitor Center in Gautier is where you’ll find a wet pine savanna ecosystem. This is not only the home of the Mississippi sandhill crane, migratory songbirds and waterfowl, but also is rich with rare orchids, carnivorous plants and other ground cover. That means there’s something to see along every step of the .75-mile C.L. Dees Trail or the 1.5-mile Fontainebleau Trail.

Hike at Gulf Islands National Seashore

Hit the trails along Coastal MississippiHit the trails along Coastal Mississippi — Photo courtesy of Karon Warren

In Ocean Springs, get ready to explore the Gulf Islands National Seashore at Davis Bayou, where you can set out on one of four trails that showcase the area’s woodlands, bayou and wildlife. On the .2-mile Civilian Conservation Corps Overlook Trail, you can walk through the area’s pines, palmettos and other native plants to an overlook facing the water.

Learn about the area’s shrimping industry during a shrimping trip

Catch some shrimp in Coastal MississippiCatch some shrimp in Coastal Mississippi — Photo courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

Shrimping is a key industry along coastal Mississippi, one that sustains the livelihoods of generational fishermen as well as satisfies the appetites of the millions who visit here every year. During the 70-minute “Living Marine Adventure” cruise that begins in Biloxi, you can learn how a shrimping net is set and hear about the history of this industry. Before the trip is over, the net is retrieved, and the boat captain will present the catch: everything from shrimp to flounder to blue crabs and more.

Explore Ship Island

Pretend you have your own private island on Ship IslandPretend you have your own private island on Ship Island — Photo courtesy of Tim Isbell

If you’ve ever wanted to experience your own private island, take the ferry to Ship Island, one of the last undeveloped barrier islands off the Mississippi coast. Although you won’t be entirely alone, it may feel like it as you walk along the beaches, swim in the waves and look for shells. You also can take a tour of Fort Massachusetts, a brick fort operational during the Civil War. You can bring your own bagged chair and beach umbrella or rent one on the island.

Kayak the Wolf River

Paddle away on the Wolf RiverPaddle away on the Wolf River — Photo courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

Whether you’re a first-time paddler or an experienced kayaker, the waters of the Wolf River in Long Beach offer a relaxing way to enjoy the great outdoors. You can paddle the “upper 4.5 miles” or extend your journey for 10.6 miles. Along the way, you can stop for a swim on one of the white sand beaches or eat a snack along the banks. For a unique twist, try the “Full Moon Paddle Trip,” and let moonbeams guide your way.

Catch the Biloxi Shuckers in action

Catch a game with the Biloxi ShuckersCatch a game with the Biloxi Shuckers — Photo courtesy of Benton Reed Photography

A Double-A Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Biloxi Shuckers play ball at MGM Park across from Beau Rivage in Biloxi. This intimate ballpark is ideal for families, friends or couples who love America’s pastime. The team typically plays from April through September, so grab your tickets for an evening game. It’s the perfect ending to a sun-soaked day in coastal Mississippi.

Climb the area’s lighthouses

The Round Island Lighthouse welcomes visitorsThe Round Island Lighthouse welcomes visitors — Photo courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

Standing tall and overlooking the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, lighthouses continue to serve as majestic scouts looking to warn mariners of potential dangers and guide them to safety. They also provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape for those willing to tackle their numerous stairs. In Pascagoula, visitors can tour the circa-1859 Round Island Lighthouse on Fridays and Saturdays. In Biloxi, they can check out the 1848 Biloxi Lighthouse each morning from 9 to 10 a.m.

Enjoy the waters of the Gulf of Mexico

Aqua cycles are a fun way to ride the wavesAqua cycles are a fun way to ride the waves — Photo courtesy of Karon Warren

Along coastal Mississippi, visitors can play in the surf of the Gulf of Mexico. Swimming, floating and riding a boogie board are some of the easiest ways to enjoy the waves. However, visitors also can take advantage of the many water sports activities available as well. These range from aqua cycles to jet skis to paddleboards to parasailing and much more.

Relax on the beach

Pick your spot on 26 miles of white sand beachesPick your spot on 26 miles of white sand beaches — Photo courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

Of course, you can’t overlook coastal Mississippi’s beautiful white sand beaches when it comes to the best summer activities. Bring your own canopy and beach chair, or rent some from the operators along the beach, and set yourself up for a few hours of soaking up the sun and ocean breeze. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong spending a day at the beach.