Jun292016

Road Trip Photos Gulf Coast Mississippi to New Orleans 9th Ward

Two weeks ago I landed in Orlando, Florida MCO, rented a car from Hertz and drove to New Orleans in about 36 hours with one hotel night in Pensacola, Florida. This was a chance for me to travel along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle beaches next to U.S. 98, across Alabama on U.S. 98 and I-10, where I picked up U.S. 90 for the drive along the Mississippi coast white sand beaches and on into New Orleans.

This article picks up my trip and photos from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where I stopped to visit Gulf Islands National Seashore visitor center and the continuation of the road trip into New Orleans.

Here are my trip report stories so far:

On the Road to IPW – Orlando to New Orleans

Loyalty Traveler – Rough Start for Drive Out of Florida road trip to New Orleans (June 16).

Loyalty Traveler – Orlando to Pensacola road trip notes and photos (June 17).

Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Pensacola West–Navy Base on PointBreaks (June 29).

Loyalty Traveler – Beautiful Sweet Home Alabama driving U.S. 98 and U.S. 90 (June 20).

Loyalty Traveler – Gulf Islands National Seashore at Ocean Springs Mississippi (June 29).

Road Trip Photos Gulf Coast Mississippi to New Orleans 9th Ward (June 30 this article).

Loyalty Traveler – Dispatch from New Orleans-Huge Ass Beers, NOLA Gay Pride, June Mardi Gras (June 22).

Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Review-Hyatt Regency New Orleans (June 29).

Google Maps – Mississippi Gulf Coast from Ocean Springs to Pearl River

Google Maps Mississippi Coast

Biloxi, Mississippi – Las Vegas of the Gulf Coast

I found it kind of a shocker to drive from Ocean Springs where I had spent a couple hours hanging out at the Davis Bayou Visitor Center of Gulf Islands National Seashore. A long causeway crosses Biloxi Bay in to the city of  Biloxi, Mississippi. The only thing I recall about Biloxi was the news during Hurricane Katrina casino barges had become unmoored. Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there were 12 gambling casinos on floating moorings. The state law required casinos to be floating casinos and not permanent land structures. The U.S. gaming industry invested heavily in Mississippi and the area was the third largest gambling market in the U.S., behind only Las Vegas and Atlantic City in August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and all the casinos were closed. Around 17,000 residents lost their jobs. The Biloxi Bay bridge and other bridges on U.S. 90 were destroyed by Katrina. A replacement bridge for U.S. 90 over Biloxi Bay was built and opened in November 2007, some 27 months after Hurricane Katrina.

After Katrina the Mississippi legislature changed the law to allow casinos to built on land within 800 feet of the shore. This apparently was a great economic decision for the state, but in my opinion, a disastrous environmental decision for the beautiful Gulf Coast white sand beaches of Mississippi.

Does the USA really need another Las Vegas of the Deep South?

Biloxi Bay Bridge

Biloxi Bay Bridge U.S. 90, Mississippi

Casinos

You’ll find eight first-class casino resorts in Biloxi, with most offering championship golf courses, fine dining and buffets, top-name entertainment and an array of other visitor amenities. Here is a list of casino resorts in Biloxi and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For more information, click on respective names.

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino

Amenities include hotel, shops, spa/salon, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, pool, golf course, performing arts theater.

Boomtown Casino

Amenities include bakery, gift shop, buffet, dining, valet parking, RV park.

Golden Nugget Biloxi

Amenities include hotel, shops, buffet, dining, spa/salon, valet parking, pool.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Amenities include hotel, shops, spa/salon, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, pool, performing arts theater.

Harrah’s Gulf Coast

Amenities include hotel, shops, spa/salon, buffet, dining, valet parking, pool, golf course.

IP Casino Resort Spa

Amenities include hotel, shops, spa/salon, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, pool, performing arts theater.

Palace Casino Resort

Amenities include hotel, buffet, dining, spa/salon, valet parking, pool, marina, golf course

Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel

Amenities: Hotel, gift shop, buffet, dining, pool, valet parking.

Other casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast:

Hollywood Casino – Bay St. Louis

Amenities: Hotel, shops, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, pool, golf course, RV park, performing arts theater.

Island View Casino Resort – Gulfport

Amenities: Hotel, shops, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, golf course, fishing charters

Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort – D’Iberville

Amenities: Hotel, shops, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, miniature golf course, spa.

Silver Slipper Casino and Hotel – Bay St. Louis

Amenities: Shops, buffet, dining, nightclub, valet parking, RV park.

Source: Official Visitor Website of Biloxi, Mississippi

Biloxi Hard Rock

Hard Rock Casino on U.S. 90 Beach Road in Biloxi. High rise casino hotels are right on the beach with beautiful ocean views and sea turtle devastating locations.

Jefferson Davis Highway and Beauvoir, his final home

While casinos hold no attraction for me, coming across the final home of Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), President of the Confederacy (Feb 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865) during the Civil War. Jefferson Davis was captured May 10, 1865 by Union forces in Irwinville, Georgia and remained imprisoned in Virginia until released on $100,000 bail after two years. He left the U.S. for Montreal, Canada and lived in Quebec until 1868 and traveled to Cuba and Europe. In December 1868 he was granted presidential amnesty and returned to the United States in 1869 where he took a position as President of the Carolina Life Insurance Co. in Memphis, TN and lived at the Peabody Hotel.

Sarah Anne Ellis (1829-1879), a Mississippi novelist and historian from a prominent Southern plantation family, after learning of Jefferson Davis’ poor health and bankruptcy, invited him in 1876 to relocate to a cottage near her coastal plantation home in Biloxi she purchased in 1873 and named ‘Beauvoir’ for its beautiful view of the Mississippi Sound.

Beauvoir view

Beauvoir’s beautiful view of the Mississippi Sound, Biloxi, MS.

Sarah Dorsey, herself in ill health with cancer, rewrote her will in 1878 leaving Beauvoir to Jefferson Davis. She died July 4, 1879 at a hospital in New Orleans.

Jefferson Davis wrote his memoir, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881) while residing at Beauvoir.

Beauvoir cottage

Jefferson Davis cottage at Beauvoir, Biloxi, Mississippi.

Beauvoir-1

Beauvoir is owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the home served as a Confederate veterans home from 1903 to 1957 operated by the State of Mississippi. Since 1957 the property has been operated by the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which operates the property as a shrine to Jefferson Davis.

http://www.beauvoir.org/vetshome.html

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Near the western end of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is Bay St. Louis, a small town of about 10,000. I stopped and spent some time walking around the little town center.

Bay St. Louis Courthouse

Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi with a 28-ft storm surge. The bridge over Bay St. Louis, U.S. Route 90 from Pass Christian in the east was devastated by Katrina.

Bay St. Louis US 90 FEMA_-_16964_-_Photograph_by_John_Fleck_taken_on_10-04-2005_in_Mississippi (1)

FEMA 2005 photo of U.S. 90 bridge over Bay St. Louis after Hurricane Katrina.

Bay St Louis train bridge

Loyalty Traveler 2016 photo of rail bridge over Bay St. Louis. U.S. 90 bridge on other side of train bridge.

Bay St. Louis is a beautiful little town with large coastal homes surrounded by centuries old live oak trees. Many of those old oaks survived Katrina.

Bay St. Louis oaks

The train bridge photo and this line of trees are basically across the street from each other facing the beaches.

Bay St. Louis beach

White sand beach at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Crossing the border at Pearl River, Louisiana

Driving west on U.S. 90 I came to Pearl River about 20 miles west of Bay St. Louis, the geographic state line between Mississippi and New Orleans. The road here is locally known as Chef Menteur Highway.

For most of the distance the road was straight and surrounded by forest lands. Looking into the trees revealed water logged ground and the road is only a few feet higher than the soggy bayou.

East Pearl River

East Pearl River marks the border between Mississippi and Louisiana. This is rural bayou country on the Gulf Coast.

Louisiana State Line

Welcome to Louisiana sign on U.S. 90 at East Pearl River

One of the things I was interested in seeing while in New Orleans was the Lower 9th Ward since that was so much of the focus of the Hurricane Katrina footage in 2005. Arriving in New Orleans with a bad cold or flu, I never managed anywhere near the kind of touring of the city I had expected to accomplish for a 7-night stay. Although I never saw the Lower 9th Ward on my trip, turned out I had seen the 9th Ward of New Orleans. I just did not know it at the time. For miles I drove along U.S. 90 on a narrow strip of land, perhaps 100 yards in width in some areas with houses on both sides of the road. The 9th Ward of New Orleans extends for miles east of the developed part of the city. East New Orleans 9th Ward includes Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, an area of 24,000 acres of marsh lands within city limits.

NOLA 9th Ward

East New Orleans 9th Ward houses on spits of land

NOLA 9th ward-3

Google Maps Chef Menteur Hwy U.S. 90 from Pearlington MS to New Orleans.

Google Maps New Orleans Chef Menteur Hwy

Another totally unexpected sighting was eventually coming into the outskirts of New Orleans to see 90% of the business on the sides of U.S. 90 with Vietnamese names. After the fall of Saigon in 1975 there were thousands of Vietnamese refugees who settled in the New Orleans area. Today there are around 14,000 Vietnamese living in the New Orleans area.

Figuring I was getting within distance of the airport that I should fill up the rental car with gas, I stopped at a street corner gas station just before crossing the bridge at the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. The young African-American guys roaming the parking lot made me think that I could find a better place near the airport where it would be safer to pull out my wallet. My first person to person encounters in New Orleans had me wondering how bad this city was going to be? The two gas stations around the airport I pulled into and eventually bought some gas at one of them were also filled with many intimidating looking gang banger types hanging out in the parking lots.

Turned out I never encountered another situation like that while walking around New Orleans over the following week. The tourist areas of downtown New Orleans seemed reasonably safe in my experience.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Good article. Brought back some memories. I grew up in Pass Christian and went to school in Bay St. Louis. Looks like you may have missed a few good meal opportunities otherwise you would have written about the food. Some of the best in the world. I spent a year doing Katrina relief work after the storm in Pass Christian. It was a crazy time and as you drove a long the coast you can still see it hasn’t recovered. Our lot still is empty on the beach there as too many restrictions to rebuild for insurance.

  2. @Travis – I forgot to mention how I noticed so many empty lots along the beach front property on the north side of U.S. 90. In many places it looked like about 1 in 3 lots were empty land with a “For Sale” sign on the lot.

    I had come down with a bad cold or flu the day of this drive into New Orleans. I ate nothing but raspberries and carrots for two days as I had lost my appetite completely.

    Those sure are some pretty white sand beach areas in that part of Mississippi.

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