Monday, July 18, 2022

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Where Is Ocean Springs
Commissioned by French King Louis XIV, Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur D’Iberville, explored the upper Gulf of Mexico in 1699. He first located what we now call Ship Island about twelve miles from the mainland. He then sailed into a bay where he spotted a high, defensible bluff. There he founded Fort Maurepas, the first capital of the French Louisiana Colony.  The surrounding area and the bay into which he sailed was called Biloxy after the local Native American tribe.

In 1720, the area we now know as the City of Biloxi was settled for the first time. The original settlement across the bay was known as Vieux Biloxy or Old Biloxi. In 1811, the area became part of the Mississippi Territory, with Mississippi becoming a state in 1817. 

In 1854, Old Biloxi, the site of Fort Maurepas, became known as Ocean Springs because a New Orleans physician believed the local springs had medicinal qualities. Many tourists visited the local spas.

In the early stages of the Civil War, Ship Island was captured by Union forces, enabling them to take control of the area. No major battles were fought in the area saving Ocean Springs from direct damage from the war.

In 1870, the Mobile to New Orleans railroad came to town returning Ocean Springs to a tourist destination. It also allowed the easy shipment of Ocean Springs’ seafood to regional markets.

US 90 Bridge 2005

Life changed again in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina’s 28-foor storm surge. The US 90 bridge from Ocean Springs to Biloxi was destroyed as were many bay-front estates, homes, and businesses.


The town has a reputation as an arts community. Its historic downtown streets are lined by live oak trees. It is home to several art galleries and over 150 shops, boutiques, and restaurants. There is nightlife in abundance.

The Office Bar & Lounge

My favorite spots are The Office Bar & Lounge ($3 happy hour) and Maison De Lu for its Escargot Stuffed Mushrooms. They’re amazingly good. I also get to visit my daughter and grandson who have chosen Ocean Springs as their hometown.

Maison De Lu

Just before our visit in June 2022, Ocean Springs was named the best small coastal town in the United States by USA Today. Well-deserved in my opinion.

Ocean Springs is also an excellent stepping-off point for other Gulf Coast communities and attractions.  Both New Orleans and Pensacola are less than two hours away.  The luxurious Biloxi casinos (I like the Beau Rivage) are just minutes from Ocean Springs.

Presidential Library

For the Confederate history buff (like me), the retirement home and library of President Jefferson Davis are also located in Biloxi. It was here at Beauvoir that Davis wrote The Rise and Fall if the Confederate Government. Beauvoir barely survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and much of its collection of artifacts was lost. The adjoining library was replaced with a new building that has a bit of an empty feel. Excellent guided tours of the mansion are available every day.

Beauvoir Mansion after Katrina
Beauvoir Mansion Today

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