Travel & Tourism

What are you doing this summer? Here are 20 best bets on the Coast.

This is the summer of the road trip, with gasoline at the lowest summer price in years, yet those who live in South Mississippi will find new attractions, entertainment, shops and restaurants right at home.

Summer officially starts on Memorial Day weekend and this year will bring a succession of new things to do every few weeks. New arcades are on the way. Two trampoline parks and bowling alleys will open. More restaurants are coming, and so is Toby Keith to perform at sunset beside the water on the Independence weekend.

Here are some of South Mississippi's best bets for the summer of '16:

New and novel

1. Margaritaville Resort Biloxi is expected to open in June with Escape -- an indoor playground for adults and kids with a huge arcade, towering volcano climbing wall, ropes courses, virtual golf and roller coaster zip line.

2. Trampoline parks will add some bounce to the summer. Mullet Hop is opening in D'Iberville and Altitude Trampoline Park is coming to Gulfport.

3. Bowling is on the way to Biloxi, with new lanes and an arcade expected this summer at Big Play Family Fun Park and six lanes of boutique bowling at Margaritaville.

4. Escape rooms are a national trend -- groups work together to find clues to get them out of a room. Escape This Biloxi and Hint Hunter in D'Iberville are open.

Events and entertainment

5. The new Biloxi Beach Exotic Car Fest on June 11 will bring shiny Porsches and other amazing cars to Baja Beach Biloxi on Beach Boulevard.

6. The Mississippi Seafood Experience, a new culinary festival in Gulfport on Thursday, will bring 12 of the best chefs in the state to compete in showcase the Mississippi Seafood Cookoff.

7. Billfish Classic in Biloxi last year paid more than $1 million in prize money. It's back for its 16th year June 6 through 12 at Point Cadet.

8. Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" and other favorite songs will stir up a party and patriotism on the Great Lawn at Harrah's Gulf Coast on July 1.

9. Biloxi Shuckers games are fun for baseball fans and those who just want to eat a hot dog, sing a verse of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," watch the sun go down and hope to see a home run clear the fence.

10. Dinosaurs will roam in Biloxi when Jurassic Quest comes to the Coast Coliseum, July 8-9 -- kids can see, learn about and ride dinosaurs.

11. Casino entertainment will feature the return of Bello Nock to Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, performing with an international cast in BraVeau (pronounced Bravo). Hard Rock presents Show Risqué every Thursday.

12. Get wet by renting on a personal watercraft on the beach or riding the water slides at Gulf Islands Water Park, Buccaneer State Park and Flint Creek Water Park.

Free and fun

13. Fireworks on the beach are an Independence Day tradition in many Coast cities and this year, Biloxi will make it safer for families to watch by banning fireworks on stretches of beach.

14. Sounds by the Sea will see the Gulf Coast Symphony perform patriotic music followed by fireworks Saturday at Jones Park in Gulfport and Sunday at Beach Park in Pascagoula.

15. Building castles in the sand is an ageless way to spend a summer day in South Mississippi.

16. The light show at Island View Casino begins at dusk each night, when the Beach Tower is illuminated with dancing lights.

Coastal sense of place

17. Biloxi Lighthouse in the morning is a climb that is rewarded with a view down the beach and across the water. The cast-iron shell makes it too hot for afternoon tours, so get there between 9 and 9:30 a.m.

18. Mississippi's contribution to space is experienced at Infinity Science Center, where families can learn rocket science indoors and then roam the wetland boardwalks outside.

19. Take a boat ride on a Biloxi Schooner, the Biloxi Shrimping Trip, Ship Island Excursions, Cat Island Excursion, McCoy River and Marsh Tours or other boat trip.

20, Coast museums are a great escape on hot or rainy days. Explore Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, experience Coast history at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum and nature at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

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