Ocean Springs is a small town of abundant beauty—the natural kind found in the twisting branches of live oaks and the stunning sunsets at Front Beach, but also the type meticulously crafted on a pottery wheel or in a glass-blowing studio. Established as the first capital of French Louisiana in 1699, the seaside town is now known as an artists enclave, and its walkable downtown is full of showrooms stocked with colorful paintings and ceramics—even a tattoo parlor that doubles as an art gallery. Keep an eye out for the free-roaming roosters.
Sleep in Style
The Roost, a nod to Ocean Springs’ resident roosters, is a rustic-chic gem. The boutique hotel’s 19 rooms feature cloud-like beds, ample natural light, and reclaimed wood accents from the original structure (an 1894 private residence). The well-groomed backyard and pool could come straight from the pages of Architectural Digest (which named this the most beautiful hotel in Mississippi in 2017).
Hole in One
You wouldn’t expect to find daily baked bagels so far from New York City, but Lil’ Market Deli & Bagelry takes the toasted treat seriously. Step up to the counter and order one slathered with a specialty cream cheese (jalapeño and green onion are both standouts) or stuffed with egg, cheese, and Boar’s Head meat. Grab a seat on the patio and keep an eye out for Carl, one of the town’s roaming roosters, who is apt to pay a visit.
The Man Behind the Murals
Peek inside the life of “the South’s most elusive artist” at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, dedicated to the reclusive painter and writer who lived in Ocean Springs. Don’t miss his vibrant community center murals and the mysterious secret room, which was moved directly from his house after he passed in 1965 and reconstructed on the museum’s property.
Raise a Glass
One of the latest additions to Ocean Springs’ thriving suds scene, Lost Spring Brewing Company not only produces seasonal, small-batch ales but also serves up tasty craft cocktails. Try the Southbound Spritz made with honeysuckle vodka, fresh lime, and lemongrass simple syrup.
Browse Hillyer House’s assortment of art and gifts, including hand-blown vases and jewelry crafted from uncommon materials, such as metal mesh and recycled guitar strings. Get to know the artists—many of them local—who created each piece by reading the displayed bios.
James Beard–nominated chef Alex Perry plays with fusion flavors and local, sustainable ingredients at Vestige. His multi-course tasting menu rotates daily and may include anything from a fresh yellowfin tuna tartare tartlet to a rich Wagyu beef rib cap with truffle beurre blanc.
Cool off with an artisan frozen treat served from the window of Pop Brothers’ bright turquoise shack. Flavors range from fruity (strawberry basil) to creamy (Mexican horchata) to indulgent (Oreo cheesecake). Traveling with a furry companion? You can even snag a pooch pop.
This article appears in the Spring & Summer 2022 issue of Southbound.