Just a stone's throw from the Beau is one of our favorite small towns, Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
With its cottagey storefronts, streets lined with live oaks, and an eclectic mix of galleries, restaurants, and shops, it is a great place to stroll, chill, and chat up the locals. This old coastal community attracts lots of artsy types, making it both charming and hip at the same time.
It's also a pedestrian traveler's dream because many of its best offerings line two main drags, Washington Avenue and Government Street, which intersect in the heart of town. Among our favorites are Two Dogs Dancing, jam-packed with gifts for pets and the people who adore them; On the Menu: A Kitchen Gallery, a mix of fun and function with great kitchen tools, colorful tableware, and more; the famed Walter Anderson Museum of Art; and The Art House on Cash Alley, a gallery for a local artists' consortium. Many more shops and restaurants are sprinkled about the heart of Ocean Springs.
Our delicious, down-home breakfast at McElroy's on the Bayou fueled us for a day's shopping. For dinner, we tried the ultracasual Government Street Grocery, which has patio dining. Dave discovered the wonders of the muffuletta, an Italian-inspired, native New Orleans sandwich made with salami, ham, provolone cheese, and olive salad. The Grocery can attract a young crowd, so we over-40 types felt a little like the hall monitors, but we got over it when we tasted the food and saw the low prices.
- The Art House: 921 Cash Alley; (228) 875-9285. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
- Government Street Grocery: 1210 Government Street; (228) 818-9410. Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, bar open later.
- McElroy's on the Bayou: 705 Bienville Blvd. (off U.S. 90); www.mcelroysonthebayou.com or (228) 818-4600. Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
- Mocha Moose: 1019 Desoto Street; (228) 818-2739. Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Tuesday.
- On the Menu: A Kitchen Gallery: 1209 Government Street; (228) 875-6979. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
- Two Dogs Dancing: 619A Washington Avenue; www.twodogsdancing.com or (228) 875-0150. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
- Walter Anderson Museum of Art: 510 Washington Avenue; www.walterandersonmuseum.org or (228) 872-3164. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday ; closed on select holidays.
"Gulf Coast State of Mind" is from the June 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.