GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - New Year’s Day has come and gone, but the holiday weekend continues.
That means visitors from all over are staying just a little longer to take in the sights, and that sets a nice template for tourism season in 2021.
Debra and Alexus Lewis of Canton have been to the Coast before.
“We often come down to the Coast, especially for the summer months,” Lewis said. “My daughter loves the water. She loves the beach. So, we just come down, enjoy the attractions, the food and just relax.”
A first-time visit to the Mississippi Aquarium is at the top of the agenda.
“She wanted to see the little fish and the dolphins and the sharks,” Lewis said.
They could have gone anywhere for the New Year’s Day holiday weekend, but the Coast won out.
“With us being from Mississippi, we decided this was closer for us,” Lewis said. “And we just wanted to tour our own state.”
For those interviewed, that was a consistent theme, like for the Hillmans from Conehatta, Miss., who are expecting an addition to their family.
“We are actually expecting a baby boy,” said Savannah Hillman. “So we wanted to take a quick trip that was not too far, and this happened to be perfect.”
It was also convenient for Will Crawley of Jackson and Sydney Tamashiro of Starkville.
“You know, we drove down here last night, and we woke up and it just feels like you’re in a totally different place and it’s only three hours from Jackson,” Tamashiro said.
“I think there’s a lot more to discover, too,” Crawley added. “This is probably the first time I’ve been down here in 15 years, so, it’s been a while, and we’re just kind of figuring it out as we’re here.”
Michigan residents Jeff Patterson and Lisa Morton are visiting family, but beyond the better winter weather, there are some other enticing things to bring them back.
“We like to play golf, but the pickleball down here is really good,” Morton said. “We play a lot of pickleball and there are some beautiful courts around Popp’s Ferry that we play on.”
Jon Beeson and Huntleigh Foster of Wesson enjoy the amenities well enough that the Coast became their holiday destination, even on impulse.
“I’m not going to lie,” Beeson said with a laugh. “It was a last-minute decision, but we’re here.”