Interesting places and attractions along the Coastal Scenic Drive from Bay St. Louis, MS to Gulf Shores, Alabama
This portion of the scenic gulf coast drive starts at the Mississippi-Louisiana line on US Hwy 90 and heads east towards Mobile and Pensacola. Just over the Mississippi-Alabama line, the most scenic and interesting alternative is to leave US Hwy at Grand Bay and take highway 188 to Dauphin Island and then the ferry across Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores. Article features include interesting tourist visitor attractions and the top outdoor recreational (camping, hiking, biking, golfing, etc.) opportunities.
Points of Interest along the Gulf Coast drive
Waveland – Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Buccaneer State Park. Take Waveland Avenue off of US Highway 90 to Buccaneer State Park along South Beach Road at the western edge of Waveland, MS. The park is popular for its huge Buccaneer Bay Waterpark and it’s 200 site campground with full utilities. In addition to full hookups, what we like best about the Buccaneer Campground is it’s paved park roads, level campsite pads, and nearby walking-bike path that runs along the ocean all the way to downtown Bay St. Louis. The camping rates are also reasonable.
Old Town Bay St. Louis. The Old Town Downtown section of Bay St. Louis is located south of Highway 90 along the water with an interesting collection of pubs, seafood restaurants, boutique and artisan shops, and museums. It has some of the old south charm of New Orleans but much smaller in scale and quite a bit less tourism and traffic congestion. We found it easy to walk or bike around the Old Town visiting the shops and seeing the interesting architecture of buildings dating back to the 1800s. There is a larger inn along the waterfront, but most of the available lodging in the old town section are in charming old cottages or quaint motels.
Gulfport – Biloxi, Mississippi
The Biloxi area is best known for its ocean-side casinos and hotels that stretch along the beach drive. Besides gaming, hospitality, and enjoying the beach, the Biloxi area also offers several top-rated golf courses designed by some of the top names in golf. Stop by the Biloxi visitor center where an extensive array of brochures and helpful staff will acquaint you with the attractions in the Biloxi area. It is located in a re-creation of the historic Dantzler House mansion (destroyed in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina).
Camping in Biloxi
There are two private campgrounds along or near the beach front highway and one Casino campground (Boomtown). Expect to pay $55/night or more depending on the site and time of year. However, there is a more economical option just East of Biloxi in Ocean Springs.
Just east of Biloxi in Ocean Springs is the Davis Bayou unit of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The Davis Bayou Campground (see our review) offers 52 nicely spaced, semi-shaded sites with water and electricity. Othe attractions include picnic areas, hiking and nature trails, uncrowded biking on park roads, a fishing pier, and viewing baby alligators in the spring pond and seeing big mamas and papas sunning themselves on the banks of the bayou pond.
Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Dauphin Island, Alabama
East bound along the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast Scenic Drive (Hwy 90). After Ocean Springs the route pulls away from the coast after Pascagoula and takes you through busy Mobile Alabama to continue your drive along the coast. But if you stay on Highway 90 you’ll miss experiencing the low key, friendly community of Dauphin Island with some excellent beaches and attractions (see our article on visiting Dauphin Island).
Not only is detour more scenic than driving through Mobile, it also saves you 90 miles and an hour and half of driving. Plus you get to enjoy the amenities that Dauphin Island offers and we found them quite pleasing. We liked the ambience of the place. Reminded us a bit of visiting Cedar Key but not quite as artsy.
Once you are finished exploring the island, you can take the Mobile Bay Ferry across the Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan on Perdido Key and resume your drive along the Gulf of Mexico.
In the event the Ferry can’t run because of weather conditions you can return across the bridge to the mainland and drive along Mobile Bay to Mobile and hookup again with Highway 90.
Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores Alabama to Perdido Key, Florida
Fort Morgan is at the tip of the narrow peninsula that serves as a barrier island separating Mobile Bay from the Gulf. Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines served to guard Mobile from sea invasion. Both saw action in the Civil War in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Both Forts are now historic sites and open for touring and offering interesting exhibits on their history from before the Civil War through World War II.
Gulf Shores – Orange Beach, Alabama
Fort Morgan Road runs along Mobile Bay until Gulf Shores, a resort community of high rise condos, cottages, and inns along the ocean and complimented by an assortment of seafood restaurants, pubs, water sports outfitters, retail shops, and boutiques. It also has a large public beach for those not staying on the waterfront. Learn more what the area has to offer here.
East of Gulf Shores is Gulf State Park, an Alabama Resort State Park. It is a huge park covering 6500 acres with over a mile of beach frontage on the Gulf itself as well as completely surrounding Lake Shelby. It offers 28 miles of hiking trails, swimming, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, a nature center, a camp store and tennis, volleyball, and horseshoe courts. The resort offers lodging in cottages, cabins, and the main lodge. The RV campground is huge, offering 496 full hookup campsites and eleven modern air-conditioned bathhouses. The campground is very popular and often booked fully, despite the rates being quite high for a state park: $59 to $77 a night.
Perdido Key, Florida
Passing through Orange Beach the gulf drive crosses the bridge into Perdido Key, Florida. The Key is a narrow barrier island with miles of sand beach along the Gulf. Like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you’ll find condos, hotels, and all manner of resort entertainment along the center of the island. Learn more what the resort community offers here.
But aside from the busy resort area, there are also substantial portions of Perdido Key that are undeveloped with miles of white sand beach and dunes, some of which are in Perdido Key State Park, a day use Florida state park. The entire Eastern end of the island is included in the Johnson’s Beach Unit of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, another day use park with several miles of beach, a picnic pavilion, a boat launch, hiking and biking trails.