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There are great stretches of open land between Gulfport and Biloxi. Beaches are the main natural attraction here, while casinos top the list of man-made attractions. Biloxi has long been the place to party and play along the coast. The area has been hit by two major hurricanes — Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2005 — and both times the casino industry has played a major role in the city’s return to glitz and glamour after the storms. Gaming houses range from backwater barges to deluxe resort-entertainment complexes. Nine major casinos lure excitement seekers to their shows, dining venues and the chance to “beat the house” at the tables or slots.
The Casino Hopper trolley doesn’t just run between the beaches and the blackjack games. Ride it to many of the city’s attractions, including the stunning Ohr-O’Keefe Museum (386 Beach Blvd., 228-374-5547), which has excellent art exhibitions and Frank Gehry-designed buildings. Other sites worth checking out include the 1848 Biloxi Lighthouse (corner of U.S. 90 and Porter Ave.) and the Maritime & Seafood Museum (115 1st St., 228-435-6320), which preserves the heritage of two of the area’s most important commercial pursuits.
For a fun island ambiance, drop by Shaggy's Bar & Grill (1763 Beach Blvd., 228-432-5005) — the fresh seafood, cold margaritas and matchless water views make it a favorite destination for locals and vacationers. The cuisine and atmosphere at Mary Mahoney’s Old French House (110 Rue Magnolia, 228-374-0163) are beyond legendary. Great care was taken to preserve much of the building’s original character when the home, dating back to 1737, was turned into a restaurant in 1962. The elegant New Orleans-style courtyard, shaded by a centuries-old live oak, is a knockout.
Dock your boat in the middle of town at Biloxi Small Craft Harbor (228-436-4062, biloxi.ms.us) or Biloxi Boardwalk Marina (228-432-2628, biloxiboardwalkmarina.com), which has an on-site waterfront restaurant called the Hook Up. To be within walking distance of some of the casinos, head instead to the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum’s Schooner pier, which has 22 slips and 200 feet of floating dockage. Win or lose, you’ll be just a short jaunt from your vessel.
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