FUN ACTIVITIESIn Hancock County, rarely a week passes without some sort of “don’t miss” community activity. And with our mild climate, a rich historical culture, and beautiful national assets, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate year round – both indoors and out.
Love great beer, great music and all things Southern? There’s tasty local food, music, and, most of all, beer to be had the first Friday of each month during Lazy Magnolia’s brewery tour and tasting experience. Lazy Magnolia is Mississippi’s oldest packaging brewery, and the first one since prohibition was enacted in 1907. They have been offering locally brewed beer since being founded in 2003.
Second Saturday Artwalk each month in Old Town Bay St. Louis brings families strolling the streets; galleries and shops are electric with activity and local restaurants brim with diners. New art shows, live music acts and shop specials attract locals and visitors from across the region. While historic Old Town traditionally bustles every day with gallery openings, live music, and shopping, this family-oriented event has become a regional favorite over the past two decades.
And then, there’s an entire Carnival season built around a single day – Mardi Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”). As the weather warms, the Spring Pilgrimage tour offers peeks at delightful homes and gardens.
Food is celebrated nearly every month from Stella’s BBQ and Blues Festival to St. Clare’s Seafood Festival and the Our Lady of the Gulf CrabFest, a family Fourth of July tradition for decades. May brings Pirate Day in the Bay, a fun pirate-themed event celebrating the area’s history as a haven for buccaneers.
Local heritage is celebrated in the fall at the Hancock County Fair and Diamondhead’s famous Arts and Crafts Festival. Come October, thousands of classic car owners from across the country rev up their engines for Cruisin’ the Coast and line the streets for our annual block party.
Finally, to round out the year, Snowflakes in the Bay, Waveland’s Coleman Avenue Christmas Parade, and Diamondhead’s Town Green Holiday Celebration bring the magic of Christmas to our Hancock communities.
ART CULTUREFor more than a century, artists have sought out Mississippi’s shoreline for rejuvenation and inspiration, and Hancock County – with its authentic historic appeal and congenial lifestyle – has remained a perennial favorite.
Less than an hour’s drive from New Orleans, the county’s popularity as a haven for weekend and summer home owners has grown along with its reputation as a vibrant arts colony and just a cool place to live. Author John Villani wrote that the county’s seat, Bay St. Louis, is one of the best small art towns in the country. The accolades continue as Budget Travel named “The Bay” one of its top 3 “coolest small towns.” And in 2010, the dynamic arts scene was one reason Coastal Living magazine chose “The Bay” as one of the top 10 beach communities in the United States.
“One of the best small art towns in the country…John Villani, Author
The hoopla is well deserved. For starters, the 2nd Saturday Artwalk keeps the energy humming throughout the year. Every month, the streets of Old Town Bay St. Louis buzz with activity as hundreds of people meander through the downtown’s many shops and galleries. Restaurants offer everything from casual fare to fine coastal cuisine, and live music acts dot the streets to keep your toes tappin’. Every March, art lovers get to check out the inner sanctums of the creative crowd when dozens of artists and craftspeople participate in the county-wide “Arts Alive” Studio Tour.The performing arts scene shines too, with theater buffs attending plays and other live performances in the elegantly renovated Bay St. Louis Little Theatre. And don’t miss the fanciful and historic train depot, which served as the set of Robert Redford/Natalie Wood movie: “ This Property is Condemned.” Music aficionados also have a bounty of activities to enjoy from live music at area restaurants and clubs. To fully discover the city, many visitors to Bay St. Louis take advantage of the free Old Town historic walking biking tour. The tour covers a pleasant 1.5-mile route lined with shops, cafes, stately houses and charming cottages.
“Bay St. Louis voted most walkable/bikeable city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”-Heritage Trails Partnership
NIGHTLIFENightlife comes in many venues in Hancock County, from cozy clubs and cafes to ‘round the clock casinos.
The Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis and Silver Slipper Casino near Waveland keep guests entertained with crowd pleasing regional and national performers in concert. And with nonstop gaming action at both casinos, you can play your favorite table games or slots any time of the day or night. If live music is your thing, Bay St. Louis’ Mockingbird Café, the Ugly Pirate, Trapani’s Eatery, Dan B’s Restaurant and Buoy’s are popular local hot spot for bands and singer / songwriters to perform. In the mood for karaoke, the Diamondhead Country Club’s 19th Hole Bar & Grill lets singers take the stage every Thursday night and offers live local entertainment every Friday evening. Among the local talented performers, you might be lucky enough to see a star in the making. Hancock County is where Waveland’s Michael Grimm, 2010 America’s Got Talent winner, got his start.
LOCAL CUISINEFrom the rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Sound, and Bay of St. Louis, some of the world’s best seafood is harvested and served in Hancock County’s array of award-winning restaurants. Shrimp, crabs, fish and oysters are prepared by these establishments in time-honored recipes with deep Southern roots or with creative flair from chefs that hail from New Orleans and popular New South destinations.
Hancock County offers a rich selection of eateries from white table cloth settings to down home family cooking. No matter what where you choose to eat, expect the freshest local ingredients served with a spicy Southern twist and a smile.
Trapani’s Eatery has been a local favorite for over 20 years in Old Town Bay St. Louis.
SHOPPINGHancock County is home to some of the most unique merchants and artists on the Gulf Coast. In fact, shopping takes on the glamour of an art form here. From the new city of Diamondhead and the down-home community of Kiln, to family-friendly Waveland and historic Bay St. Louis, shoppers can choose between major retailers and dozens of owner-operated businesses. In these relaxing communities, parking hassles evaporate and Southern hospitality rules.
Fashionistas won’t be disappointed either, with choices ranging from designer to vintage.
Of course, art collectors will find a treasure trove of creative expressions by dozens of local artists, ranging from oil paintings to pottery. Several have been nationally recognized for their talent and expertise. Yet in Hancock County, you don’t have to be a star to be treated like one – just walk into any shop and smile.
BOATING & FISHINGName a type of water body and it’s probably found in Hancock County. With more than 13 miles of coastline fronting the Mississippi Sound, the area also boasts bayous, lakes, rivers, marshes, ponds and even a bay.
“We are blessed with some of the biggest, hardest fighting, tastiest fish that swim.”
Captain Sonny Schindler
Shore Thing Fishing Charters
The Gulf waters are perfect for swimming and sailing. Saltwater fishermen will feel right at home among the speckled trout, red snapper and billfish in the local waters. Charter boats are available for year-round deep sea fishing, or simply cast your line from a pier or the shore. Rivers and two large bays provide great brackish-water fishing.
GOLF & TENNIS
Try your luck on the links at one of Hancock County’s golf courses. Thanks to our great weather, golf is one of the most popular sports on the Coast. Year-round, residents and visitors enjoy playing 18 holes through stately live oaks and pine savannahs. Great rates are available to play The Bridges, an Arnold Palmer-designed course at the Hollywood Casino Resort, or the two courses in the master planned community of Diamondhead.
From tee to green, you will encounter a variety of shots whether it’s the well-placed bunkers and water that come into play on Diamondhead’s Pine Course, or the wooded, gently rolling terrain with no parallel fairways and extra-long sand bunkers on the Pine’s sister course, the Cardinal. Both courses are open to the public. Players can purchase an annual golf membership or simply pay as they play.
Looking for a great place to play tennis? Then look no further than Tennis World in Diamondhead. This friendly, family-oriented environment hosts skill levels from beginner to advanced and young to the young at heart. Daily court rates and annual memberships are available.
SCENIC BYWAYSHancock County is a paradise for any nature lover with its captivating coastline, winding rivers, miles of pristine marshland teeming with wildlife, bayous offering unparalleled scenic beauty, peaceful pine forests, magnificent beach sunsets, and tranquil trails lined with majestic live oaks. Hundreds of historic homes, heritage sites and landmarks add to the ambiance, attracting visitors and new residents from across the country.
The 13-mile stretch of beachfront and 30 miles of roadways draw upon the resources and heritage of this national eco-tourism asset. One thing is for sure, Hancock County has something for everyone: multiple birding sites, biking and walking trails, blueways (waterway trails), parks, historic sites, and so much more. Perfectly situated along many of these byways are quaint shops, top of the class restaurants, comfortable lodging, and a vast number of recreational activities, including INFINITY Science Center, a technological marvel located right outside NASA Stennis Space Center.
Whether it’s by boat, car, bicycle, or on foot, plan to savor the wonders of coastal living in Hancock County. It’s time to take the scenic route!
The Hancock County Library System provides library and information services to Hancock County residents at five branches – Bay St. Louis-Hancock County Library Administration and Centralized Services, the East Hancock County Public Library in Diamondhead, the Kiln Public Library, the Pearlington Public Library and the Waveland Public Library. Services include books, CD Books, movies on DVD, free eBooks, public computers with internet access, and wireless internet.
In 2001, the library system was chosen for the National Award for Museum and Library Service — the most distinguished award bestowed on a museum or library nationwide. Nominated by then U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor, the library system was recognized for its innovative programs and community partnerships. Taylor said the library system “has been and is a major player in the educational, economic, recreational and cultural aspects of the community, and is recognized as one of the progressive leaders for public services.”
The library system’s circulation is close to one quarter of a million, making it one of the ten busiest libraries in the State of Mississippi. The Reference and Information Services Departments handle more than 55,000 one-on-one information inquiries a year. Programs sponsored by the library system include movies for children and adults, preschool story hours for children 0-5 years of age, senior computer classes, and digital literacy classes.
- Camp at Buccaneer State Park
- Pirate’s Lagoon wave pool
- Pirate’s Plank & Plunge waterslides
- Jackson’s Ridge disc golf
- Pirate’s Alley nature trail
- Kid-friendly dinner in Waveland
- Historic walking & bike tour
- “This Property Is Condemned” walking tour
- Grab to go lunch in Old Town
- Peaceful picnic at Shoo-Fly Oak
- Shopping on Main Street
- Outdoor sunset dinner on Beach Boulevard
- Rent kayaks, bikes, paddleboards at Bay Breeze
- Crabbing along seawall
- Picnic at McLeod Park
- Water sports and fishing in Jourdan River
- A round of golf
- Dinner with Lazy Magnolia brew
- Tour exhibits at INFINITY Science Center
- Gaze at the stars in the “Space Gallery”
- Ride on the Omega Flight Simulator
- Bus tour of Stennis Space Center
- Eat at INFINITY restaurant
- Picnic at nearby Possum Trail