When arriving in Biloxi by automobile, we enjoy approaching from the east on US Highway 90 so that we may cross the Biloxi Bay Bridge. It is a 1.6 mile structure that from the east begins in the business area of Ocean Springs and ends at the edge of Biloxi’s casino district. When Katrina came through the area in 2005, it destroyed the bridge that crossed the bay. Construction on the new bridge was completed in just under 2 years.
Turning right after crossing the bridge into Biloxi leads to the Palace Casino and Hotel. On the gulf side on highway 90 is the Isle Casino and Hotel. Very quickly on the north side of the highway is Grand Hotel and Casino. About a half mile further into town on the gulf side of the highway is Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Adjacent to it is the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Turning away from the gulf at Caillavet Street leads to the The IP Hotel and Casino. Closely adjacent to it to the east is Boomtown Casino (the only casino without a hotel). Retracing the route to again join Highway 90 and continuing west, the last casino in town is Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel. There are plans to build additional casinos both facing the Gulf of Mexico and facing Biloxi Bay.
Each of the casinos offers several dining options. Buffets, snack bars, seafood restaurants, and steak houses abound.
Hotels rooms range from plain to elegant and all are new since Katrina destroyed the previous facilities. The cost of hotel rooms vary based upon day of the week (weekend are more expensive) and style of the room. Costs begin at $59 and can range upwards into the $100’s of dollars per night.
Most of the casinos offer the same variety of games. There are machines scattered throughout the blackjack games, roulette layouts, and craps tables. Video poker games are not in the abundance that they once were and are being replaced by penny slot machines.
There are several historic tours of the area. The Biloxi Tour Train (locally know as The Biloxi Shrimp Tour Train) leaves from the lighthouse near the visitors’ center. A second tour is offered on a motor coach by Biloxi Historical / Cemetery Tours. This second tour company also offers a shrimping trip which tours the near coastal waters with demonstrations of shrimping and of wildlife in the waters.
At 1050 Beach Boulevard (across from the lighthouse) is the Biloxi Visitors Center. It contains an extensive multi-media exhibit to familiarize visitors with the history of Biloxi. Also easily accessible is the Hurricane Katrina Memorial which has a memorial wall dedicated to those that lost their lives as well as a collage of materials salvaged from the storm.
At one time Biloxi was known as a vacation spot for its beaches and for the mammoth Keesler Air Force Base that trains thousands of air force personnel. Today it is a bustling small metropolis of 45,000 people that is thriving with the tourists attracted by the beaches, casinos, and history.