From premier casinos to scenic shorelines, Coastal Mississippi is a destination that wears many hats. In Biloxi alone, planners can utilize the excitement of gaming, the relaxation of white-sand beaches and the draw of southern hospitality to create a successful event.
“What we like about the coast here in Biloxi is the idea of relaxation and excitement at the same time,” said Milton Segarra, CEO of the Coastal Mississippi CVB. “You can go to one of our casinos and have a great time. Then stay at a beachfront hotel next weekend for relaxation on the Gulf Coast. That balance, we find, is one of our most important components to promote the coast.”
And while the area’s all-in-one casino resorts are sure bets for meetings, Biloxi offers interesting offsite and outdoor options at its museums—where the culture and history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is celebrated in full. Attendees can learn about local wildlife, a famed Biloxi artist and maritime history while enjoying an event.
Following, we break down three outdoor venues that are also ripe for educational opportunities in Biloxi.
1. Pascagoula River Audubon Center
Located about 20 miles east of Biloxi, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center rests on the Rhodes Bayou, which drains into the Pascagoula and Escatawpa rivers. Its 10-acre site and art galleries focus on the preservation of the Pascagoula River watershed’s unique ecosystem—home to more than 300 species of birds. The center’s site also displays more than 25 labeled plants species native to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Photo: Aerial shot over Pascagoula River Audubon Center; Courtesy of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center
Its beautiful scenery and variety of spaces make it an ideal place to host a meeting or event. The Moss Point Fine Art Gallery can seat 60 auditorium style or 36 at tables, and another main area can seat 135. Wide porches that wrap around nearly the entire building—complete with 20 oak rocking chairs—can serve as overflow space with a bar.
“Instead of standing in the hallway in a typical, cookie-cutter facility, guests can walk down our boardwalk or relax on the porch,” said Susan Stachowski, manager of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. “We’re also tucked away and are just something different, a reasonable alternative.”
Other spaces include a large picnic area with a 12-foot-long bar and a pergola. Add-ons include a guided walking tour and a boat ride for 20. Planners are able to rent specific rooms or the entire building.
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2. Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art
Nestled one block from the beach, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the life and work of Mississippi master potter George Ohr. The museum sits on a four-acre campus that was designed by architect Frank Gehry. His four eye-catching buildings, along with the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center, are connected by an open brick plaza.
Two main spaces for meetings and events are the second and fourth floors of the campus’ Center for Ceramics. The larger second floor can accommodate up to 100 guests standing or 60 seated and includes a terrace for outdoor overflow and a catering kitchen. The smaller fourth floor and can accommodate 30 to 35 guests and includes a TV for presentations and a balcony. The campus’ main plaza is also available to rent out for events.
“We have live oak trees on campus and a lot of open area, if guests need to take a break—they’re welcome to walk around and explore,” said Adriaan Simpson, visitor services supervisor for the museum. “And of course, the beach is right across the street.”
Planners can also add on guided tours for attendees or even a pottery class.
[On Topic: Mississippi Offers Endless Outdoor Fun for Groups]
3. Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum
Also located right on the water, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum is an ocean lover’s dream. Exhibits focus on what makes the maritime heritage of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf unique, from shrimping to wooden boat building.
Photo: Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum; Credit: Coastal Mississippi CVB
The entire museum is available for private events, offering three different floors varying in size. As a whole, the museum can accommodate up to 700 people. Planners can also take advantage of the museum’s grounds and front deck as outdoor space. A specific meeting room inside the museum can hold up to 80, with the museum setting up tables and chairs at the planner’s request. It also features a ceiling-mounted projector with a pull-down screen.
In true historical fashion, the museum recreated two 65-foot, two-masted Biloxi Schooners that are available for group charters (up to 44 people) out onto the Mississippi Sound.
Plus: A Can’t-Miss Teambuilding Activity
Shrimping trips are quintessential Biloxi as well as a fun, adventurous way to get attendees out on the Gulf. The Biloxi Shrimping Trip offers a variety of tour packages, including adding on a post-trip shrimp boil.
The company’s vessel can take 49 people out on to the water, where the crew will drop a 16-foot trawl to drag along the bottom of the Mississippi Sound. Once it’s pulled up, attendees will learn all about each shrimp species caught as well as things like their commercial and recreational value.
Photo: The Biloxi Shrimping Trip; Courtesy of The Biloxi Shrimping Trip
“Shrimping trips are very Biloxi,” said The Biloxi Shrimping Trip owner Mike Moore. “It’s a fun, hands-on activity that’s good for groups, conventions or even walk-ups. We’re a closed-in and safe way of doing this trip. Meeting groups just enjoy getting out on the water and rubbing elbows.”
The company also offers a variety of fishing excursions and can take multiple boats out at one time. Moore said convention planners often book them to organize an entire trip that might include a half-day excursion on the water, boxed lunches on the boat, then a post-trip fish fry at the dock.
“If you want to get outside, have a good time and just get out on the water, we can show groups a great day of fishing,” Moore said.
COASTAL MISSISSIPPI CVB | 228.896.6699
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