During our few days stay near Pass Christian Mississippi, we had the opportunity to explore a bit of the gulf coast region including Gulfport and Biloxi. I’m sure the joint is hopping during the summer, but during our off-season cold-weather visit, we found the area a bit sleepy.
Pass Christian was nearly obliterated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Signs of damage are still evident in the pier skeletons poking up from the Gulf, and vacant beach-front lots where homes used to be. The surviving homes are dwarfed by new houses built on 20 foot pilings. It is apparent that full recovery is still years away.
The beach along the Gulf in this area is beautiful – broad and white. We were astounded to see that parking along the beach is absolutely free! Coming from Southeast Florida, free beach parking is simply unheard of.
Biloxi is touted as a casino destination, so we checked it out. I have to say – Biloxi is no Vegas. There are a few casinos, but all of them together could probably fit into one of Las Vegas’ mega casinos. They were nice enough, but rather plain Jane. We did visit the spa one day at Harrah’s, for massages and to relax in the spa amenities (hot tubs, steam room, sauna). It was a splurge, but worth it.
I was a bit disappointed in the blackjack tables. You may not know this about me, but I do like to play the game of blackjack, I just don’t like to risk a lot of money on high minimum tables. At these casinos, the tables with lower minimums ($5-15) all had very unfavorable rules for the player. Rules like “dealer must hit soft 17” and “blackjack pays 6-5” (rather than 3-2), shift the odds even more in the house’s favor than it is already. The most egregious $5 table required players to pay $0.25 per hand, just to play! Now that doesn’t sound like much, but paying 25 cents every single hand just for the privilege of playing adds up. If the table is half full of players, you will be dealt an average of 80 hands/hour. That means you will pay $20 / hour just to play, plus risking your stake WHILE playing with unfavorable rules! No wonder no one was playing at that table. In order to get conventional blackjack rules, I’d have needed to play at a $25 minimum per hand table, which is too much for me. I passed. I’ll have to go to Vegas to get my blackjack fix, I guess.
We had a lovely and delicious lunch at Mary Mahoney’s Old French House in Biloxi. Set in a historic home, the restaurant is a local legend. We also managed to find the world’s largest rocking chair, set outside a local furniture manufacturer.
It’s a pretty area, but after a few days we were ready to move on.