The Oldest Town In Mississippi That Everyone Should Visit At Least Once
Nestled on the state’s coastline, Ocean Springs definitely delivers when it comes to scenic beauty, but that’s not all the city has to offer. As the oldest city in the state, Ocean Springs is proud of its heritage. The perfect mix of old and new, the beachside town is loaded with history along with great restaurants, shopping, and more. Take a look.
Oceans Springs is located on the eastern shore of Biloxi and is home to just under 20,000 residents.
The coastal community was discovered in 1699 by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, making it the first capital of the French territory. Initially known as Fort Maurepas, Ocean Springs didn’t get its current name until 1854. The name was coined by Dr. William Glover Austin, who believed the local springs had curative powers.
By 1870, the railroad arrived and Ocean Springs was well on its way to becoming a prosperous resort town.
With the railroad line from Mobile to New Orleans complete, tourists began flocking to the beachside town. In order to accommodate the influx of visitors, the central business district was moved to Washington Avenue near the L & N Depot. Before long, hotels and vacation homes popped up all over Ocean Springs, particularly on Washington Avenue.
Now part of Oceans Springs’ historic downtown area, Washington Avenue is still as much a must-visit as it was in the late 1800s.
Today, the picturesque street is lined with beautiful oak trees, but that’s not all. Stroll down the historic road and you’ll find plenty of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Over the years, the quaint downtown area has become a favorite of both locals and tourists and has even been the recipient of the “Great American Main Street Award.”
Ocean Springs has earned a reputation as an “arts community;” a reputation it definitely lives up to.
There are amazing art galleries scattered throughout Ocean Springs. From local talents to nationally-acclaimed artists, the galleries in Ocean Springs have it all. And it’s not only art you’ll find at these galleries. Many, such as The Art House,” are located in historic buildings, making for an even more memorable experience.
Aside from galleries, art enthusiasts will find another gem in Ocean Springs.
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA), which is located on Washington Avenue, is dedicated to Mississippi native and renowned artist, Walter Inglis Anderson. Considered one of the best painters of the 20th century, a visit to the museum is an enchanting and unique experience. The works of Anderson’s brothers are also on display in the museum, in addition to changing exhibits that feature the work of other significant artists.
When it comes to great shopping, Ocean Springs is definitely not lacking.
The town is home to hundreds of locally owned specialty shops. Visitors can find everything from Candy Cottage, an old-fashioned candy store, to On The Menu, a shop specializing in kitchenware.
History buffs will find plenty to do in Ocean Springs.
Fort Massachusetts, which predates the Civil War, is located on West Ship Island, just off the coast of Ocean Springs. Another historic point of interest is the Ocean Springs Museum of History. Opened in 2010, the museum tells the story of Ocean Springs through artifacts, historic photos, and unique exhibits. For a real treat, visit Ocean Springs in April and check out the
1699 Historical Society’s
dramatic reenactment of d’Iberville’s landing on the shores of Ocean Springs.
Foodies will also be impressed with Ocean Springs.
Aside from eateries that specialize in local cuisine, Ocean Springs is also home to a variety of ethnic restaurants that aren’t commonly found in surrounding areas. Aunt Jenny’s Catfish is a favorite when it comes to po’ boys and seafood. If it’s a Mediterranean fare you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with Phoenicia Gourmet Restaurant. Satisfy your craving for a mouthwatering steak at Anthony’s Steak and Seafood.
Ready to plan your trip to Ocean Springs?
Before you head to the historic town, visit
the city’s website
for more information, including upcoming events and festivals.
Want to learn about other historic towns in the state? Check out
“Here Are 10 Of The Oldest Towns In Mississippi… And They’re Loaded With History.”
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