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Exploring Mississippi: A Weekend on the West Coast

Exploring Mississippi: A Weekend on the West Coast
By Mary Ball

When a weekend opens in your schedule, head down to the Mississippi Coast for some unique exploration. The entire coast has jewels for families, and here you will find some for the westernmost part of the coast, Hancock County.

Old Town Charm

Bay St. Louis is a welcoming place for a little R&R. As you are traveling the coast, take a walking break in this quaint town. In the downtown area on the scenic highway, park on or near Main Street to shop for kids’ clothes, popsicles, wind chimes, or a favorite book in the stores on Main. Behind the courthouse on Main, look for Ruth’s Roots. This community area houses chickens, bunnies, and gnomes. Relax with the sound of the fountain as you lounge in comfortable seating under one of their live oaks. Local artists have given of their time and talents to brighten this space with murals, sculpture, and a working piano!

Water Fun

Traveling west from Bay St. Louis on the scenic coastal highway, you will encounter Buccaneer State Park. Buccaneer is a small water park and RV park right on the water in Waveland. During the warmer months, you will find their wave pool, kiddie pool, and two water slides to be a nice respite from the heat.

Infinity Science Center

Go north to visit to the Infinity Science Center (ISC) in the westernmost part of Mississippi. It seems to be in the middle of nothing, and you will discover that is by design! The ISC serves as the welcome center for NASA’s Stennis Space Center. And whether your family members are interested in space exploration, meteorological or biological science, or physics, there is something amazing for all to discover and enjoy. The motto sums it up: “Where fun meets fascination.”

In the general exhibits, stand in awe of A HUGE booster engine that was not used in the Apollo Space Program and is on display in its entirety (most break up during a space mission). Upstairs are displays on the International Space Station, the Apollo program, a piece of moon rock, and Kinect games which engage you to help land the spaceship. Downstairs the newly renovated science center boasts interactive exhibits on surge, watersheds, and hurricanes, and recently opened exhibit called Deep Ocean Exploration which simulates a trip to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. When you reach the bottom, your job is to fix a broken piece of equipment using the controls for your underwater rover. It’s quite a fun challenge! In the science lab, class is in session each Saturday (reserve your place online) with microscopes and even dissection for field trip classes!

Don’t miss the NASA Tour! It’s the only way for civilians to visit Stennis Space Center – the second largest NASA facility in the US. This tour WILL fill up, and all parts of the tour are solely controlled by NASA employees.

For small additional fees, there are other opportunities including a 3D theatre where the documentary-style stories jump off the screen to everyone’s entertainment. The Possum Town tram ride through some abandoned towns has a great narrated story of the area’s history and flora and fauna. Upstairs you will find a virtual reality booth accompanying Neil Armstrong on his trip to the moon. Visit their web site for homeschool, field trip, and other educational opportunities.

Check out the websites for Buccaneer and Bay St. Louis for more information to make your visit great!

 

Mary Ball is a travel advisor who lives in Madison with her family and loves to find adventures with her husband and four kids.

 

What to do in the car? Listen to audio books!

Apps:

Audible

Audiobooks (many classic books are available to listen to for free including Anne of Green Gables and the Adventures of Reddy Fox)

Serial Podcasts:

Young Ben Franklin

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel Stories Podcast

Podcasts which are short episodes:

WOW in the World (Science fun)

Highlights Hangout

Story Pirates

You can also check out audio books from your local library.

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