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Kara's Sights and Bites: Three new things to love about the Mississippi Gulf Coast


I've always loved the Mississippi Gulf Coast for its unending natural beauty stretching as far as the eye can see…among hundreds of other attributes, of course. But there's a feature remains one of the primary reasons I visit as often as possible. It’s the fact that just when I think I’ve seen and explored everything, something different and amazing appears that proves to be a fitting addition to my "favorites list." A recent trip yielded three new finds I’m happy to pass on.

First, checking into the stately white-pillared Hotel Pass Christian shaded by leafy oaks feels like stepping into a bygone era, albeit one with modern amenities. When it comes to location, it’s hard to beat a view of the Pass Christian beach, which I’ve always considered one of the most scenic.

The picturesque hotel has the good fortune of being situated within walking distance to the beach, restaurants and shops. A lazy bicycle ride to the coffee shop in the morning is also doable; now that it occurs to me, I’m sad I didn’t think of it during my visit.

Besides it’s location, Hotel Pass Christian has much more to offer. The spacious 10-bedroom boutique hotel is quiet, private and here’s one of the best parts: features open-air balconies equipped with ceiling fans and comfortable seating when decompression time is needed. Despite forgetting the bike ride, enjoyed both morning and evening quiet time on the balcony enveloped by cool water breezes as the sun rose and later set on the horizon. I didn’t quite make the sunrise, but an early morning coffee on the balcony provided an equally memorable experience.

A self check-in suite on the third room afforded optimal views and included a spacious, well-appointed living room (also with a balcony) included a modern wet bar area complete with a refrigerator. A comfortable bedroom leading out to the balcony provided everything needed for a soothing night’s sleep. The adjoining bath offered a walk-in shower, separate tub and vanity area and quickly eradicated past negative hotel experiences involving tiny, cramped spaces.

Besides the view, ambience, convenience, location, cleanliness and comfort served up by this unique destination, one of the most surprising aspects of my stay was peace and quiet and for lack of a better description, “hustle and bustle” found at even the most elite full-service hotels. To say that a stay at this hotel is laidback and relaxing is almost under a dire understatement.

There’s no crowd, no rushing to and from and despite its close proximity to a busy restaurant and nearby highway, there is simply no noise to speak of. In fact, the quiet was almost deafening as I drifted off to sleep in the large, comfortable guest bed.

If spa services are desired, an on-site area offering a variety of treatments can be reserved prior to your stay.

While it resembled the photos I’d seen, Hotel Pass Christian surpassed my expectations and, here’s the best part, turned out to be one of those “things I never knew about but now love” about the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Two more places deserve a mention on the list. Although they’re located in the same building in Waveland, they’re distinct and wonderful in their own way.

Located in Waveland, Ground Zero Hurricane Museum is housed in a historic building that formerly served as a school and civic center. Like my old high school built in a bygone era, the beautiful brick building contains castle-like features, including distinct merions along the top. Sadly, the sturdy brick structure was the only building left standing on Waveland’s primary street after Hurricane Katrina decimated the town in 2005.

In honor of its historical significance and the resilience of both residents and the building, the structure was restored to its original beauty and today serves as a memorial of the disaster that changed the Gulf Coast forever.

The small museum located throughout the old school halls and classrooms features permanent and temporary exhibitions with interactive displays and most interesting to me, a diverse collection of memorabilia from the entire Gulf Coast, including framed artifacts, newspapers and photos.

After exploring the museum, stop by the in-house bakery and small restaurant for a delicious meal topped by highly-acclaimed desserts and pastries. Sugar Pop Baking Co. and its owner Renee Loranger gained national recognition after she won Food Network’s Halloween Baking Competition. Open 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sugar Pop offers a limited, rotating food and beverage menu that usually includes two lunch specials with options like a smash burger and gourmet sandwiches.

The day my friends and I visited, we were lucky enough to find the gigantic smashburger on the lunch menu. Despite the name, this juicy, flavorful burger made with a homemade Brioche bun, special burger sauce and a variety of chopped vegetables was anything but “smashed.” In fact, it was so gargantuan we ended up using a knife and fork…again, a new Coast experience!

After lunch, a stop by the bakery cases yielded delicious and creative cakes, cupcakes, pastries and other delicacies that can be enjoyed in the cozy dining area or boxed up for the trip home.

Speaking of pastries, I’ve written about my regret for not trying the funnel cakes at Silver Slipper’s Jubilee Buffet located nearby in Bay St. Louis. I can now say I’ve sampled them and they’re much more delicious than anything I remember eating as a child at the State Fair.

If you haven’t visited the Gulf Coast recently, this summer is the perfect time to go. If it includes one or all of the experiences I enjoyed, you’ll easily a memorable trip. Feel free to email me if you’d like more information on any of them, including the fabulous Hotel Pass Christian.

If You Go:

Hotel Pass Christian

116 W. Scenic Drive, Pass Christian, MS 39571
Phone: 228-222-2062
For reservations: www.hotelpasschristian.com


Ground Zero Hurricane Museum and Sugar Pop Baking Co.

335 Coleman Ave., Waveland, MS 39576
For information or hours of operation:
Museum: 228-467-9012

Sugar Pop: 228-467-9990

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at kkprco.com.