That final piece of the tourism puzzle is falling into place.
For years, the Mississippi Coast has been a gambling destination, a playground for adults sorely in need of something for the kids to do. If there were just something for the kids, preferably something to entertain the whole family, visitors would stay an extra day or two.
MGM Park quickly became a family attraction with Shuckers baseball this summer. Big Play Family Fun Center with its bumper cars and miniature golf, was reminiscent of the Biloxi strip. Apparently people missed that place because Big Play plans to get even bigger.
There are other miniature golf courses already in play and the Scarlet Pearl plans to offer what it calls a championship miniature golf course that could raise the bar on that attraction.
Gulfport and Island View Casino Resort are betting heavily on a Harbor Lights Winter Festival to draw visitors to Jones Park for the state's largest electronic light show. There will be a Ferris wheel, carriage rides, arts and crafts and holiday treats.
Gulfport also hopes to build an aquarium across the Beach Boulevard from Jones Park to draw families year-round to its revitalized downtown and its more adult-oriented restaurants and bars. In Biloxi, a water park is going up on Casino Row.
At the eastern edge of the Coast, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is the hub of family attractions. At the western edge, Bay St. Louis and Waveland have water parks, a scenic byway, community theater and concert venues. And, of course, all of the arts, crafts and antiques a family can handle.
The adventurous can rent bicycles and kayaks. They can take a shrimping tour, head out on a charter boat or take a ferry to Ship Island. There are hidden gems such as the Busted Wrench Garage and Museum. And there are concerts, outdoor movies and symphony performances sprinkled throughout the year.
The list, you see, is becoming quite impressive.
These are the kinds of attractions that add value to our big events, such as Cruisin' The Coast, this weekend's Peter Anderson Festival and the Gulf Coast Winter Classic, to get people to stay just a little longer.
This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.