Looking back: Take a virtual sneak peek at Margaritaville
Spring break visitors are already sunning themselves on beaches across the Coast, but there are more options than the Mississippi Sound for getting your feet wet.
Several water parks and swimming pools are open to the public, and there are many splash pads for kids to enjoy.
Shay Smith, advertising and communications manager at Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino, said even during recent cool weather, she saw a group of people with floats heading to the hotel pool that is heated and open all year, along with the hot tub.
“To us, it’s a little bit chilly,” she said. “To them, it’s just right.”
With temperatures on the rise, it’s now time for locals to dip their toes and join the pool party.
Some casino and resort pools are open only to hotel guests, while these swimming pools and waterparks welcome the public for a fee or during pool parties and special events. Here is a list of some of the top swimming experiences on the Coast open to the public.
▪ Golden Nugget Biloxi: The tropical H20 Pool + Bar has more than 100 chaise lounge chairs along with cabanas and daybeds where swimmers can sun, sip a cocktail or people watch. Blackjack poolside continues on weekends until going to a daily schedule on Memorial Day weekend. Those not staying at the hotel pay $20 per person to swim Monday through Friday and $30 on Saturday and Sunday at the entrance to the pool. Anyone under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Among the outdoor events this year are the return of the Billfish Classic and a new event, The King Master tournament.
▪ Hard Rock Biloxi: Non-hotel guests age 21 or older can enjoy the pool seasonally from late spring through early fall for $15 per person Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday. The Soundbar swim-up bar makes its debut March 30 and Tequila’s on the Gulf is open weekends starting March 31, with the full menu available beginning April 28. The Tequila Sunday Pool Party kicks off at noon every Sunday beginning May 6. Cabanas come with TVs, refrigerator, fresh fruit and even a personal host and can be rented in advance or same day.
▪ Harrah’s Gulf Coast: The pool deck overlooks Deer Island and the Mississippi Sound and the pool and hot tub are open year-round. New this year are blackjack tables open poolside Friday through Sunday. Locals not staying at the hotel pay a $15 entry fee (including children) Monday through Friday and $20 on weekends and holidays. Entertainment will be back on The Great Lawn across from the pool this summer, and Harrah’s will be a host site during the Blue Angels’ aerial show in July and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Equality Festival in October.
▪ Palace Casino: The pool next to the Back Bay is open weekends only in April and then daily after Memorial Day through Labor Day. During the summer, non-hotel guests can purchase a pool pass for $10 Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday and on holidays. Corn hole boards and bean bags rent for $5 per hour to be played poolside. Wahoo’s Poolside Bar & Grill, also accessible by boat, opens for weekends on April 13. The full menu of coastal favorites and drink specials goes daily on May 14. Live entertainment is presented Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
▪ Treasure Bay: Changes at the infinity pool and terrace at Treasure Bay in Biloxi this year are upgraded cabanas, more food choices, drink specials and additional staff. Cocktails are served poolside from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and entertainment by the pool is every Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. during the summer. Day passes are available to those age 21 or older for $10 Monday through Thursday, $15 Friday through Sunday or $100 for a season pass. The pool deck also can be rented for parties and events.
▪ Hollywood Gulf Coast: The pool has a 350-foot lazy river, sun decks, a hot tub and a swim-up bar. Wristbands are available to the public in the gift shop for $20 each Monday through Thursday and for $30 Friday and Saturday. The pool is open daily from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and cabana rentals are available. Every Thursday from 6-10 p.m. is Sippin’ at Sunset, with free access to the pool and lazy river for anyone 21 and older. A DJ plays tunes there are weekly drink specials and $10 crawfish platters while supplies last.
▪ Buccaneer Bay Waterpark: The waterpark overlooking the beach in Waveland is open daily beginning Memorial Day weekend until early August, when the kids return to school, and then weekends only through Labor Day. Adults and kids can ride an inner tube in the park’s wave pool that can generate up to eight wave patterns. The Pirate’s Plank is a completely enclosed waterslide, and the Pirate’s Plunge is a twisting and turning slide. The 2018 rates aren’t posted yet, but admission in 2017 was $19, or $13 for those under 48 inches tall, and season passes are available. Details: 228-467-3822
▪ Flint Creek: The small waterpark at Flint Creek State Park in Wiggins has pools and a couple of waterslides. No opening date or prices were available online or by phone.
▪ Gulf Islands Waterpark: A Barefoot Bay Kids wet play area is new for this season, adding to the waterslides, lazy river, wave pool and other attractions at the waterpark off Interstate 10 in Gulfport. The park opens for weekends on May 13 and then daily beginning May 18. Tickets are $31 for those 42 inches or taller and $23 for kids under 42 inches. A season pass is a deal at $50, or $55 for a premium pass. Details: 228-328-1266
▪ The Salvation Army Kroc Center: This indoor waterpark and pool at the corner of Lee and Division streets in Biloxi has swim classes and fitness programs for the public, along with slides, a lazy river and a zero-entry pool. Party rooms poolside can be booked for birthdays and family reunions. Non-members can purchase a two-hour guest pass for $8. Children age 2 or under are free. Details: 228-207-1218
Poolside food and fun
Resorts that open their swimming pools only to hotel guests do invite the public in for special occasions or to get a taste of summer fare at the poolside restaurants.
Local residents often take the family for a staycation at Margaritaville Resort Biloxi, which is open only to hotel guests except for fundraising events. The water playground has a lazy river, slides, a water ropers course and a swim-up bar.
The new infinity pool at Silver Slipper Casino opened at the end of swimming season last year. Although the heated pool is just for hotel and RV park guests, the Beach Club Bar is open to the public. John Ferrucci, Silver Slipper general manager, said it will host a big variety of special events like Rumble on the Gulf with classic cars, motorcycles and Jeeps every Thursday starting April 19. Events go on, rain or shine, under the hotel and next to the beach, he said.
The Pool Bar & Café at the second-floor pool at Beau Rivage offers frozen drinks, burgers, salads or snacks, and poolside entertainment is added Friday and Saturday afternoons beginning Memorial Day. Quench, the restaurant at IP Casino Resort’s pool on the 11th floor, offers poolside dining with a breeze and the occasional spotting of a Hurricane Hunter airplane taking off or landing at nearby Keesler Air Force Base.
A free-form pool at the north tower at Island View Casino in Gulfport is reserved for hotel guests, and the opening of the Beach Tower Pool at the South Tower will coincide with the grand opening of the new casino that is coming this summer.
In addition to the pools and waterparks, splash pads are scattered in cities and counties across South Mississippi. Biloxi’s splash pads open April 7 and, like the others, are free and open seasonally. Young children must wear disposable swim pants at these splash pads, and socks or shoes are recommended for concrete surfaces. Some of the most popular splash pads are:
▪ Beach Park Splash Pad, 600 City Park St., Pascagoula, which also has playgrounds and a fishing pier
▪ Clay Boyd Spray Park, 214 Morris Noble Road, Ocean Springs, which has toddler sprays, a new playground and treehouse
▪ Edward Khayat Memorial Park, Jefferson and Second streets, Moss Point
▪ Fort Maurepas Park & Splash Pad, 499 Front Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, which has a popular ship playground and is across from the beach
▪ Friendship Park, 1701 S. Haugh Ave., Picayune
▪ Gaston Point Splash Pad, 1506 Mills Ave., Gulfport, which has water bucket drops
▪ Gautier City Park, Pointe Bayou Road, Gautier
▪ John Henry Beck Park Splash Pad, 671 Division St., Biloxi, which has picnic tables and shade
▪ Jones Park Splash Pad, a tropical-themed park at U.S. 90 and 49, Gulfport
▪ Long Beach Splash Pad at the Harper McCaughn Town Green, 301 Jeff Davis Ave., Long Beach
▪ Lum Cumbest Park, 18417 Mississippi 613, Moss Point
▪ Lyman Splash Pad, 14592 County Farm Road, Gulfport
▪ McLeod Park, 8100 Texas Flat Road, Kiln, on the Jourdan River
▪ Orange Grove, near the baseball fields, 13500 Three Rivers Road, Gulfport
▪ Point Cadet Plaza & Splash Pad, 121 Cadet St., Biloxi, which also has a playground and is next to the Back Bay
▪ Hiller Park, 380 Hiller Drive, Biloxi, which has playgrounds, picnic tables, disc golf, a dog park, kayak launch and sports courts
▪ Popps Ferry Recreational Area Splash Pad, 2141 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, also has playground and walking track
▪ Rudy Moran Park, 3100 Georgette Lane, D’Iberville
▪ West Side Splash Park, 4010 West Beach Blvd., Gulfport, which has pirate ship, water bucket drops, lighted walking track
▪ Woolmarket Splash Pad, 16320 Old Woolmarket Road, Biloxi, features fiber optic lights that glow at night, water guns, sprinklers and buckets