Down-home southern charm and hospitality await you in Biloxi, a coastal town steeped in history and tradition. With cuisine that varies from catfish to tamales, shrimp to burgers and traditional southern sweets too sweet potatoes, area restaurants offer foods intended to please your palate. Whether you want refined dining or an out-of-the-way diner, just look around Biloxi and it’s there. Cut your own slice of Mississippi Gulf Coast heaven when you book your vacation rental where you can swim, paddle and relax all day. When you feel a little adventurous, check out the area golf courses and miles of natural hiking trails. Museums, historic landmarks and art galleries help you moderate the pace of your coastal adventure. While you think about that, here’s a list of 11 top Biloxi vacation rental locations.

1. Biloxi

When you stay in Biloxi north of the lakes that separate the mainland from the beaches, the Biloxi River winds its way through the city, offering much freshwater fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding adventures. For an evening out, you can take the entire family to Cypress Lanes where bowling and an arcade offers fun for everyone. Just cross a bridge to get to the beach when you’re ready for some wet and wild excitement on a jet ski from Jet Blast of Mississippi.

2. Gautier

Imagine strolling across the backyard of your Gautier vacation rental and walking out onto your private boat dock. You can fish right there or enjoy your rented pontoon boat or jet ski. If your rental is inland, the Mary Walker Marina on the Mary Walker Bayou is only about 15 minutes from Gulf waters. It includes 180 boat slips and a 150-foot fuel deck. The bait and tackle shop offers live bait. For a family outing, there is a three-quarter-mile nature trail in the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge that meanders through marshes and pines. You can find abundant plant life, including orchids and the carnivorous pitcher plant when they are in season.

3. Biloxi Beach

Everything the Gulf Coast can offer is at Biloxi Beach, including water sports, casinos, and restaurants. The best place to start is at the Biloxi Light and Visitor’s Center at the southeastern side of the beach. For your beach adventures, you can get jet skis, wave runners, umbrellas, and chairs at Life’s a Beach Rental. You can find some of the best public beach parking where Courthouse Road, Porter Avenue, Benachi Avenue, and Main Street across Beach Boulevard.

4. Gulfport, North of Bayou Bernard

In the northern part of Gulfport, your vacation rental positions you close to some family fun and sightseeing. For starters, there’s a 35-foot rocking chair that is easy to find. Signs claim it’s the world’s largest rocking chair; whether it is or not, it makes a great photo opportunity. When you want to give the kids a big day, Gulf Islands Waterpark offers something for all ages, including slides, a wave pool, and the lazy river. The Master Blaster is a water roller coaster with huge drops and uphill blasts. Pelican’s Bay is for smaller kids, with water cannons, giant squirt guns, and slides. Little ones and their parents can enjoy a 200-square foot wading pool.

5. Gulfport, on the Gulf of Mexico

You’re close to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico when you stay in the southern part of Gulfport. To swim, picnic, snorkel, and go shelling on one of Mississippi’s best beaches, hop aboard the ferry to Ship Island. For Massachusetts is at the west end of the island, and you can take a tour of this 1868 brick historical landmark. For some educational fun, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies invites guests to explore their interactive museum to learn about sea animals, tropical birds, and reptiles. During the fossil dig, you might find a shark tooth to keep as a souvenir.

6. Long Beach

Long Beach helps you design your own version of vacation bliss. The adventure-seekers in your family can soar with the Pelicans with a parasailing adventure. For a different kind of flight, RushCube helicopter tours offer guests breathtaking views of the gulf coast. While you’re on the ground, you can visit the Friendship Oak that stands on the front lawn of the Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus. In its lifespan that dates back to 1487, it has weathered many hurricanes. The tree’s impressive timeline includes standing as a young sapling when Christopher Columbus sailed. If you enjoy art galleries, Blue Skies Gallery and Framing specializes in custom framing.

7. Pass Christian

From delightful parks and sightseeing cruises to antique shops and art galleries, you can find lots of entertainment and fun activities in Pass Christian. Iron Magnolia Antique shop features furniture, dolls, pottery, lawn furniture, and much more. You can also browse for antique glassware and china, decor, art, and collectibles. To get out on the water, the Excursion to Deer Island leaves from the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi for a 90-minute sightseeing tour. Guests typically see shrimp boats, barges with push boats, pelicans, and fish.

8. Ocean Springs

Blending in with the natural beauty of the gulf coast, Ocean Springs is home to dozens of art galleries and more than 100 restaurants. It is also home to America’s largest national seashore, which almost surrounds the city, Gulf Islands National Seashore. You can reach Davis Bayou by car, where your family may enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, and picnicking. The Davis Bayou Trail is 2 miles long, with a boardwalk over Stark Bayou. The Fontainebleau Nature Trail winds about a mile and a half through several habitats with a couple of observation platforms and several benches available along the way. You must use a kayak or a canoe from Davis Bayou to reach this trail.

9. D’Iberville

When you stay in D’Iberville, there’s plenty to do with the kids. The Mullet Hop features massive indoor trampolines, balance beams, rope ladders, and other challenges suspended above pits filled with foam blocks. Falling into the pits can be part of the fun. Lava Links Golf Club is a mini golf course with two 18-hole courses. Players must negotiate gardens, waterfalls, and footbridges. The volcano erupts with real fire shooting upward into the sky. You can indulge the anglers in the family with a fishing trip with Team Brodie Fishing Charters. Inshore fishing in the Biloxi Bay offers a good variety of species of fish. They also offer trips out to the barrier islands where there are lots more fish.

10. Gulf Hills

The southern border of Gulf Hills community fronts along the Old Fort Bayou and the marshes of Mississippi”s Old Fort Bayou Coastal Preserve. If golf is your passion, break out the clubs and head over to Gulf Hills Golf Course, which was developed in 1927. As you play the 18 holes through the trees and over rolling hills, the ever-present gulf breeze carries a whisper of the salt marshes to you. For a new experience, you can take the kids on the Biloxi Shrimping Trip. The shrimp boat’s crew sets out the shrimping net upon leaving the harbor. They explain and entertain as they drag the bottom of the Mississippi Sound. When you return, they spread the net to show all the sea creatures, which typically includes crabs, flounder, stingray, squid, and other marine life. There might be some shrimp, too.

11. Bay St Louis

Drift into the charming little beach town of Bay St. Louis to experience some good fishing, fine art, and a clean shoreline. Just step out of your vacation rental, stroll across your grassy lawn, cross the Boulevard, and walk right onto the beautiful sandy beach. The calm water makes a great place for the kids to splash around. One of the favorite fishing spots in town is the Washington Street Pier and boat launch. The American Legion owns the property and allows visitors to use the boat launch and to park vehicles and trailers, all free of charge. If you want a unique shop for browsing, Gallery 220, the cooperative art gallery, features art, sculptures, tee shirts, jewelry, and photography by local artists and crafters.