A green and red beach lounger and umbrella on the white-sand Gulfport Beach in Mississippi.
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11 Best Things To Do In Gulfport, Mississippi For A Beach Getaway

Gulfport is one of those under-the-radar beach destinations that has pristine white sand beaches without the massive crowds. There are several Gulfport attractions to choose from on top of hanging out at the beach but I’ve narrowed it down to the top ones. Discover the best things to do in Gulfport, Mississippi for your next beach getaway!

A coastal gem along the U.S. Gulf Coast, Gulfport is the place for all types of beach and boating activities such as sailing, fishing, parasailing, and jet skiing.

Hanging out at the gorgeous white sand beach is one of the best things to do in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Life tends to slow down (in a good way), perfect for enjoying mouthwatering seafood, and a cocktail with a view.

Even though the beaches of California and Florida might get all the attention, don’t overlook the beaches in Gulfport as they are pretty fantastic!

Where Is Gulfport Located?

Gulfport is a coastal town along the Gulf Coast of Mexico in the state of Mississippi. It is the second-largest city in Mississippi and is known as a vacation destination for its gorgeous beaches.

Mississippi is located between Louisiana to the west, Alabama to the east, and Arkansas and Tennessee to the north.

The bright and colorful art along each side of Fishbone Alley in downtown Gulfport, MS.

The drive time from Gulfport to the following cities is estimated at:

Biloxi, Mississippi: 25 minutes (13 miles)

Jackson, Mississippi: 2 hrs, 45 mins (161 miles)

Hattiesburg, Mississippi: 1 hr, 20 mins (70 miles)

New Orleans, Louisiana: 1 hr, 20 mins (75 miles)

Mobile, Alabama: 1 hr, 15 mins (75 miles)

Orange Beach, Alabama: 2 hrs, 20 mins (127 miles)

The beaches of Gulfport lie between Long Beach and Biloxi Beach.

Walking out to the end of the pier in Gulfport, MS.

How To Get To Gulfport, Mississippi

If you are driving in from nearby a city or state, the drive times are listed above. But if you are flying, the best airports to fly into for convenience and best flight deals are at:

Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT)

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)

If you are flying into Gulfport, you could get away with not renting a car and using Uber or Lyft. But for exploring other areas of Mississippi’s coastline, I recommend renting a car.

Find The Best Car Rental Rates And Book Today!

 

A vertical view of sailboats and fishing boats docked at the marina and harbor in Gulfport, MS.

Best Hotels In Gulfport, Mississippi

The best place to stay when visiting Gulfport is within walking distance of the beach. Each of these hotels has great amenities and location.

Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport Beachfront

The Almanett Hotel & Bistro

Island View Casino Resort

Holiday Inn Express Gulfport Beach

View of Gulfport Beach from my hotel room at Courtyard Marriott Gulfport Beach.

Map Of Gulfport Attractions

Best Things To Do In Gulfport, Mississippi

1. Hang At The Beaches In Gulfport

When in Gulfport, taking some time to lounge on the beach is a priority as you have access to a beautiful and long white sand beach.

You can bring your own chairs or rent a colorful beach lounger to bask in the sun, read a book, or take a nap.

The stark white sand is cool to the touch and ideal for a walk or building a sandcastle. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the beach is maintained very well with no debris or trash.

Walking on the stark white sand at the beautiful Gulfport Beach with patches of grass and fence.

Whimsical patches of grass blowing in the wind on the white sand Gulfport Beach in Mississippi.

The water temperature is comfortable most of the year with the low at 68 F (November – April) and getting up to 84 F in the summer months. During the winter the Gulf of Mexico will be around 60 F.

You will notice that the water is very shallow so if you want to completely immerse yourself, either sit down or walk out a distance.

A row of red and green umbrella and beach loungers on the white sand beach of Gulfport, MS.

Sitting on a beach lounger chair enjoying the views of the beach and water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Standing in the shoreline as the water splashes my feet looking down the length of the beautiful beach.

The water is pretty clear with an emerald-green hue that is inviting to take a dip in. The water isn’t as clear as the beaches of Alabama or Florida but don’t let that stop you from getting in.

You can even put your chair along the shoreline and stay cool with the water splashing your body!

A few palm trees and a fire pit on the pretty white sand Gulfport Beach, MS.

Two beach chairs with umbrella on the white sandy beach and a person flying a kite.

For beach activities besides laying out, the top things to do are jet skiing, flying a kite, paddleboarding, and swimming.

Tip: Parking is free along Gulfport Beach.

Note: Alcohol is allowed on the beach but NO GLASS containers.

2. Take A Stroll In Jones Park

Jones Park covers 60 acres of outdoor green space right along the waterfront near the port and a block from downtown Gulfport.

For those looking to get in some cardio, there is a 0.86-mile walking track that walkers and runners can enjoy.

The Jones Park sign walking from the beach into the park with palm trees behind it.

Known as “The Front Yard of the State of Mississippi”, the park has a beautiful setting right along the Gulf Coast with beach access.

A few attractions at Jones Park are large pavilions for holding events and festivals, a splash pad and playground, and grassy areas for a picnic.

Walking on a paved path through grassy areas and palm trees at Jones Park in Gulfport, MS.

A replica Ship Island lighthouse at Jones Park that is white with a black top.

At the edge of the park where it meets the marina is the 70-foot-tall white Ship Island Lighthouse.

It is a replica of the original 1886 lighthouse that was on Ship Island, a barrier island off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

Tip: If you happen to be visiting during the holidays (December), Jones Park will be transformed into a magical light show for all to attend.

3. Coffee & Breakfast At Perks

Whenever I am visiting a new city, I love to find a great local coffee shop. Just a short walk up from Jones Park in downtown Gulfport is Perks Coffee Shop & Café.

Besides having great house-roasted coffee, Perks is a great spot to grab breakfast or lunch. They have breakfast sandwiches, wraps, bowls, salads, and more to choose from.

A breakfast sandwich from Perks Coffee Shop in downtown Gulfport, Mississippi.

I had just intended to grab a cup of coffee but after seeing the menu I thought I’d give their breakfast items a try.

I’m so glad I did, as the breakfast sandwich I ordered was awesome with the addition of a Creole sauce on top of the egg, bacon, and cheese!

Hours: Open Monday – Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. On Sunday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.

4. Fishbone Alley

The idea of hanging out in an alley isn’t at the top of most people’s list but Fishbone Alley is!

In the heart of downtown, Fishbone Alley is an alley behind two rows of businesses with a lot of history and funky art.

The Fishbone Alley sign up over the entrance to the alley with string of lights hanging in downtown Gulfport.

Wide view of the colorful art displays along the brick paved Fishbone Alley.

An art mural of fishbones on blue, purple, red, and orange blocks.

In the early 1900s, brick was laid throughout the downtown area to serve as the surface of the streets.

The brick came from Graves Brick Company based in Birmingham, Alabama and you can clearly see it stamped on each brick.

An art mural of a girl wearing glasses in red, black and yellow colors.

 

An art mural with vibrant colors with fish, flowers and abstract patterns in Fishbone Alley, Gulfport.

After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, many buildings and the infrastructure had been destroyed. It was only in the rebuilding of Gulfport that the brick pavers were discovered under the asphalt.

Thankfully the mayor decided to keep them and place them in Fishbone Alley to preserve the history and show visitors what the streets of Gulfport used to look like.

A fun art mural of a mermaid playing a guitar in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Looking down Fishbone Alley in downtown Gulfport, MS with many bright art murals.

A close-up view of the bricks made in Birmingham, AL in the early 1900s and are laid in Fishbone Alley.

In 2016, the vision of making this alleyway into a place where the community could gather and enjoy evolved into Fishbone Alley.

It is a creative space where art murals grace each side of the alley, strings of light hang, and local festivals are held.

5. Mississippi Aquarium In Gulfport

The Mississippi Aquarium is on 5.8-acres of indoor and outdoor aquatic habitats featuring wildlife from the Mississippi River Delta to the Gulf Coast of Mexico.

As you approach the aquarium in Gulfport, the tall “sail” will likely catch your eye first.

The front entrance to the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport that has a huge white sail and a water feature.

The sail represents the aquatic world of both the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast. If you walk by at night, you can see the sail lit up too!

Located across the street from the beach and a block away from downtown Gulfport, the aquarium has both fresh and saltwater exhibits to view.

Some of the animals that you will get to see at the aquarium exhibits are river otters, alligators, fish, a dolphin, green sea turtles, stingrays, and birds.

The sail at the entrance to the aquarium lit up in blue at night.

The Mississippi Aquarium strives to educate and preserve the local habitats that are unique to Southern Mississippi.

Note: There is no parking garage at the aquarium, so park anywhere downtown or at the beach.

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

6. Walk Out On The Fishing Pier

Moses Pier is also known as the Fishing Pier even though it is a combination of a jetty with a small pier at the end of it.

The rock jetty juts out from the marina into the Mississippi Sound and has a small pier at the end of it.

Standing along the rocky jetty looking out across the water to the shores of Gulfport Beach, MS.

It is an easy walk to the end with incredible views of Gulfport’s white-sand beaches, marina, and skyline. Although small, the pier is quaint as it is curved instead of the traditional straight pier.

It is a beautiful spot to enjoy a morning walk or take in a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Looking out at the curving Moses Pier with three covered huts in Gulfport.

Looking back down the jetty pathway towards the marina in Gulfport.

For those that like to fish, fishing on the jetty is a popular activity with flounder, redfish, and speckled trout the fish you will most likely catch.

Note: To fish, you do need a fishing license (ages 16-65) that you can get at any bait and tackle shop. There is a small shop before you walk out on the jetty.

7. Friendship Oak

On the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi is a huge and very old live oak tree a few miles west of Gulfport.

This Southern live oak tree is over 500-years-old and known as the Friendship Oak that sprouted around 1487. That is older than the United States!

The oak tree stands at 59 feet, with a trunk diameter of 5.75 feet, a circumference of 19.9 feet, and limbs that stretch up to 65 feet.

The Friendship Oak Tree that is huge but the damage from storms is evident.

It is said that anyone who walks beneath its shady branches will forever remain friends.

Despite getting a beating from hurricanes over the years such as Katrina in 2005 the tree surprisingly has withstood it all.

Many have held their wedding ceremony underneath the Friendship Oak and some classes have been taught under it.

One of many beautiful and huge oak trees in Gulfport, MS.

Even though the Friendship Oak gets all of the attention, look around and admire several stunning and awe-inspiring live oak trees.

I actually think the oak trees nearby or more beautiful as they have seen less damage over the years.

8. Cocktails With A View

One of the best things to do in Gulfport is to enjoy a cocktail with an incredible view of Gulfport beach.

For a fun atmosphere, great drinks, and an elevated view of the ocean, the place to be is Shaggy’s.

Shaggy’s is the ultimate beach bar and a great restaurant for lunch, happy hour, or dinner. And you can’t go wrong sipping a drink and appreciating an epic sunset…

Sitting on the elevated deck at Shaggy's looking out at the beach and ocean at Gulfport Beach.

With its casual vibe, you can enjoy a variety of American and Southern menu items such as po’boys, fish tacos, gator bites, shrimp, crab cakes, and burgers.

Although there is indoor dining, get a table out on the deck for the best views of the Gulf of Mexico.

The owner Ron Ladner had the vision to create a Key West style place to get great food and drinks on the beach.

Holding up a tropical turquoise colored cocktail with the white-sand Gulfport Beach across the street.

His plans went on hold as Hurricane Katrina hit but soon after Shaggy’s emerged as the place for the community to come together for a good time.

There are a few other Shaggy locations along the Mississippi coast in Pass Harbor, Biloxi Beach, and The Rez.

Hours: Open Sunday – Thursday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm and Friday – Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.

9. Go Boating

It only seems natural to hop on a boat when in Gulfport for its proximity along the Gulf Coast. There are plenty of fun options for visitors to go sailing, fishing, and cruising.

Any charters or tours from Gulfport will take off from the Bert Jones Yacht Club Harbor in front of Jones Park. Depending on your interest, there is a boat excursion for everyone to join.

Looking out at the boats, tower and path at the marina in Gulfport, MS.

For a laid-back day out on the water, take a sailing charter to explore Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

Nothing better than relaxing on a boat cruising the Mississippi Sound with cocktails topped with a gorgeous sunset over the Gulf.

Or during the day take a dolphin-watching cruise in search of playful bottle-nose dolphins.

A beautiful sailboat docked at the marina with a tower on boardwalk next to it.

Walking along the boats at the harbor in Gulfport.

Fishing charters can take you out to catch a wide variety of fish in the Gulf of Mexico. Charter companies that are known for excellent fishing experiences are Captain Ron’s Charters and 9-Ball Mississippi Fishing Charters.

It will vary by season but you can expect to catch Cobia, Grouper, Bonito, Red Snapper, Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Amberjack, and White Marlin.

10. Enjoy A Seafood Dinner

With a location right along the Gulf of Mexico, it’s no wonder that there is a vast assortment of seafood to indulge in.

For me, my favorite mix of seafood and Southern love is shrimp and grits. You won’t find better than along the US Gulf Coast! And don’t miss out on trying some seafood gumbo too.

Delicious shrimp and grits.

You can find oysters, crab, redfish, mahi, yellowfin tuna, and snapper on menus at local seafood restaurants.

At most establishments, you can order your oysters raw, charbroiled, Rockefeller, Bienville, or New Orleans style. I suggest trying a mix of each as they are all so tasty!

The restaurants that serve great seafood dishes are:

  • Half Shell Oyster House
  • Shaggy’s Gulfport
  • The Chimney’s Restaurant
  • Shrimp Basket Gulfport
  • White Cap Restaurant

11. Play At The Casino

No need to fly off to Vegas for some fun playing cards or hitting the slot machines when there is a hotel and casino right on Gulfport Beach!

The best place to gamble and have an exciting chance to win it big is at the Island View Casino Resort located a block from the beach and downtown Gulfport.

Besides gambling, the resort has a hotel, pool, several restaurants, and a spa for guests to enjoy at their leisure.

For those that enjoy listening to music, there is live music every Friday and Saturday and periodic performances by well-known singers.

Note: If you are venturing east to Biloxi Beach, there are even more casino options to choose from.

Hours: The casino is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Ages 21+ is a requirement for gambling and drinking alcohol.

Bonus: Ship Island

Looking for a little island paradise? From spring through the fall months, you can take the ferry out to Ship Island.

Ship Island is a barrier island 11-miles off the coast of Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico with pristine beaches and great snorkeling opportunities.

There are no hotels or camping, so a trip to Ship Island is a perfect day trip. History buffs will enjoy wandering the well-preserved Fort Massachusetts.

For more information on visiting Ship Island, check Ship Island Excursions for ferry availability.

Note: Food and beach chair rentals are available on the island.

Wooden benches and a fire pit on Gulfport Beach along the US Gulf Coast.

Beach Trip Essentials

Walking along the paved path and palm trees next to the sandy Gulfport Beach.

FAQ For Visiting Gulfport, Mississippi

When Is The Best Time To Visit Gulfport?

Overall, you can visit Gulfport, Mississippi any time of the year with the most optimal temperatures in the spring and fall months.

The summers are hot and humid with potential tropical storms or hurricanes but great beach weather when you need cooling off.

In the winter months, the temperatures may range between 45 F and 66 F. Although the water might be too cold to swim in, the beaches are still beautiful to spend time on.

Note: I visited in June and enjoyed the hot weather as it made hanging out at the beach and pool awesome.

Standing in the shallow shoreline of the water at Gulfport Beach along the Gulf of Mexico.

Are The Beaches In Gulfport Nice?

Gulfport has pristine white-sand beaches that are groomed routinely and are very beautiful.

The water is clear but darker than the water along the beaches of Alabama and Florida. With Gulfport’s proximity to several large river outlets, the water may look murky but it is clean.

Is Alcohol Allowed On Gulfport Beach?

Yes, alcohol is allowed on the beach for those 21 and up but NO GLASS CONTAINERS.

Is Gulfport Worth Visiting?

Yes! Gulfport is a laid-back coastal town with gorgeous beaches, warm water, great seafood, fishing, and cool beach bars.

Have fun exploring the best things to do in Gulfport, Mississippi!

A fun art mural that says Make it Funky in black, red and white colors in Gulfport.

Got Travel Insurance?

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20 Comments

  1. I love this article! You are so details focused that now I know exactly everything I need to visit this wonderful place. Thank you very much for your amazing help!
    Great content! Please keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you so much and I’m glad you got some great ideas to visit Gulfport! 🙂

    1. Gulfport is definitely a gorgeous beach destination and the bonus is that there aren’t huge crowds. 🙂

  2. Gulfport seems like such an excellent location. I’d love to visit! The beaches along the Gulf of Mexico are so nice! I have family living in PCB so that’s usually where I opt to visit, but I’d love to explore some other destinations, like Gulfport, one day. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Gulfport is a really relaxing beach destination and so beautiful with the white sand! I agree, the beaches along the Gulf are gorgeous. I haven’t yet visited PCB but I’d love to as I’ve heard great things. 🙂

  3. I must admit I don’t think of Mississippi for white sand beaches. But Gulfport looks like a spot we may have to check out. We definitely would want to try all of the water activities. And Fishbone Alley looks like a lot of fun. I love the colourful street art you found on your visit. And of course, who can pass on cocktails with a view. A new beach destination for us to look into.

    1. I’m glad to inspire a new destination for you! Gulfport surprised me as I too wasn’t expecting such beautiful beaches. I hope you enjoy seeing the street art and enjoy a cocktail when you do make it there! 🙂

  4. The artwork in fishbone alley is seriously amazing. I love how bright and colorful it makes an otherwise regular dull alley. You definitely had me at cocktails with a view though. I can’t believe how bright the sand is everywhere, it’s so pretty. Nothing like other beaches I’ve seen. I will have to explore more of Mississippi in the future if there are more places that look like this

    1. The beaches of Mississippi are pretty spectacular with that stark white sand! The art in Fishbone Alley is an unexpected treat to discover and I agree the colors make it a unique alley! 🙂

  5. The white sandy beach in Gulfport, Mississippi looks like a beautiful place to relax and not too crowded either. I’d also love to stroll down Fishbone Alley to see the colorful murals or have a cocktail at Shaggy’s overlooking the water.

    1. Gulfport is such a gorgeous beach and very tranquil which is nice for a beach getaway! Yes, the view with a cocktail from Shaggy’s is the best. 🙂

  6. Amazing how despite all the horrors Katrina left the oak alone and helped discover the historic pavement. Those white sand beaches, warm, shallow, clear seawater, Fishbone Alley, and seafood restaurants all sound great. I still have to try grits.

    1. It is incredible how trees can withstand so much force and over so many years! Grits are so good and the South is the perfect place to order them! 🙂

  7. Mississippi is one of the states that I have not yet visited. I think Gulfport would make a great destination and check that off my list!

    1. Gulfport is a great place to start a visit to the state of Mississippi especially as it is so relaxing! 🙂

  8. Gulfport looks like a great place to visit. The beaches are gorgeous and Fishbone Alley looks really interesting. Great places to eat too. I’m sold!

    1. I’m glad to inspire a trip to Gulfport one day! It is a nice place to get away and relax. 🙂

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