More than two years after Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi coast tourism has begun to bounce back. Visitors can again enjoy attractions ranging from the flashy Beau Rivage Resort & Casino to the soon-to-reopen historic Jefferson Davis home. Plus, every dollar visitors spend helps the state recover. Make a few of these stops on your next trip to the Gulf.
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Biloxi
A year to the day after Katrina struck, this five-star resort reopened for business. Visitors come to the Beau Rivage for live entertainment, an over-the-top spa, golf, and dining at high-end restaurants, such as Todd English's Olives. For more information, contact beaurivage.com.
One of the most photographed landmarks on the Mississippi coast, the Biloxi Lighthouse, celebrates its 160th birthday this year. While tours of the lighthouse aren't currently offered, it's still worth stopping for a look. For more information, contact biloxilighthouse.com.
Hurricane Katrina Tree Sculptures
Live oaks once lined scenic Highway 90 through Biloxi. After Katrina, only dead trees remained. Instead of removing the once-thriving oaks, the City of Biloxi recruited chain-saw artist Dayton Scoggins and wood sculptor Marlin Miller to carve marine-related objects into the remaining wood. Start your drive two blocks east of the Biloxi Lighthouse and head west for a complete tour.
The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library―nearly demolished by Hurricane Katrina―will reopen in three months. Some parts of the site, including the Confederate Soldiers Museum, were destroyed and will remain closed. But on June 3, Beauvoir House and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library will open for business. Even now, the museum's curator is accepting donations to help finish the restoration. For more information, call 228/388-4400 or visit beauvoir.org.
Once known as Harbor Square Park, this grassy spot in downtown Gulfport attracts visitors who want to sit and relax after a day of sightseeing. The park is now home to a custom-designed fountain symbolizing the resilience of the Mississippi coastline. Find the park in Hancock Bank Plaza on 14th Street in Gulfport.
Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1962, the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra now holds several concerts a year in the historic Saenger Theatre in Biloxi. Currently under the direction of John Strickler, it has more performances scheduled in the coming months. Visit gulfcoastsymphony.net for show listings.