Jackson County

They’re not Segways, but close. Ocean Springs business offers new way to cruise the Coast

In their first tour, they move people along the winding, shady back roads of Ocean Springs to the harbor and then to Front Beach before they loop back past City Hall to their shop.

The owners of Coastal Airwheel are making the most of the city’s neighborhoods, downtown and beach with their people-mover tours.

The Airwheel is like a Segway, with gyros and a computer board for a new experience in individual travel.

Kevin and Linda Walker opened their shop in a little strip mall on the south side of U.S. 90, on School Street, near downtown in July.

And booking tours seems to be the best thing to do to attract more business.

People just like to look at the Airwheels moving around with people on them, the Walkers say.

“People wave. One girl shouted out the window, ‘I love you,’” Linda Walker said. “It’s the Airwheel they’re waving at. It’s the Airwheel they love.”

Their shop is across U.S. 90 from the Winn Dixie shopping center, and because School Street runs behind it, they have easy access — out the back door — to Government Street. But when they lead their tours, they avoid the main strip and hit the neighborhoods.

“The houses are colorful. It’s like DIY Network comes alive on these streets,” Linda Walker said. “Pillows in the chairs on the porches, initials on the shutters. It’s adorable.”

She likes to point out the 350-year-old oak near Dewey Avenue and an old city cemetery as they wind their way to the harbor. She can take four people at a time.

They started the business in the heat of the summer, but there’s always a breeze, she said. “You’re always in motion.”

Their foundation tour is 75 minutes and costs $50. She said it’s important to keep it affordable for the locals. It’s called the historic Ocean Springs tour.

“If the locals don’t love us, we’re in trouble,” she said. But there’s no trouble there. She loves the Mississippi Coast. She said the people are always upbeat and friendly. She’s from North Carolina originally and he’s from the mountains of Arkansas. But he’s working now at Ingalls Shipyard and they are living in Gautier, but loving their new shop in Ocean Springs.

There isn’t a problem with drivers watching out for them. Drivers pull over to watch or video, Kevin Walker said.

Helmets are optional. They use the same rules of the road as a bicycle.

They focus on Ocean Springs now, but that is changing.

The Walkers have already mapped out a second tour — over the Biloxi Bay Bridge to the Point Cadet area with the harbor, beside the Golden Nugget. That tour is about two hours and 15 miles, with a breath-taking view of the Mississippi Sound and includes two Coast cities.

They also do special events, birthday parties and celebrations.

They are pricey machines, so the Walkers don’t rent them out without a tour leader.

Facts about Coastal Airwheel

  • Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
  • Located: 1518A Bienville Boulevard (U.S. 90)
  • Options: Two tours — Historic Ocean Springs and Biloxi Bay Bridge
  • Cost: $50 (historic tour) and $75 (longer bridge tour) for each passenger
  • Details: 313-2612, call for after-hour possibilities
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