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One of the largest cities in Mississippi, Gulfport overlooks the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi Sound. Indigenous cultures occupied it for centuries before French colonists founded nearby Biloxi in the 18th century. But it wasn’t until 1855 that Mississippi City (now a suburb in east Gulfport) was settled, with Gulfport officially incorporated in 1898.
Today, Gulfport is packed with excellent museums and family-friendly attractions that make it the perfect place to rent an RV while exploring Mississippi’s coastline. There are plenty of RV parks where you can bunk down for a few nights, with natural wonders and wildlife just a short drive away.
Book a motorhome rental in Gulfport and make the short drive north to the De Soto National Forest, which is named after the 16th-century explorer Hernando de Soto. It protects a biologically diverse tract of longleaf pine savanna, forest, and flatwoods that support a variety of rare and endangered plant and animal life. Witness the carnivorous pitcher plants of Buttercup Flats or go canoeing in the Black Creek Wilderness, which is Mississippi’s only designated National Wild and Scenic River.
Gulfport is also a good base for visiting the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Gautier, which protects one of the world’s rarest bird populations. Join a guided walk through what is one of the last tracts of wet pine savannah in Mississippi to see the highly endangered Mississippi sandhill cranes. The refuge is also a hub for birdwatching in general, with sightings of bald eagles, red-bellied woodpeckers, and migratory Henslow’s sparrows among the highlights.
If you want to soak up the coastal beauty of the region, head to the Davis Bayou area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Stop in at the William M. Colmer Visitor Center to learn about the local ecology, then follow one of the short hiking trails that wind through the protected area. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is located opposite the Deer Island Coastal Preserve, another stunning coastal landscape that can be explored while canoeing, paddle boarding, or just kicking back on the idyllic beaches.
Pick up your RV rental in Gulfport and pull into the Gulf Haven Campground LLC, a family-oriented RV park that’s just across the street from the Gulf Coast beaches. Select from their 30 or 50-amp RV sites, then take advantage of the swimming pool, communal fire pit, and high-speed Wi-Fi.
If you’ve got a military ID, you can book into the Shields RV Park, which features 68 RV sites at the Naval Construction Battalion Center. Pet are welcome to stay with you, and the park offers access to cable TV and Wi-Fi.
A 10-minute drive east will take you to the Gulf Beach RV Resort in Biloxi where you can select between 30 and 50-amp hookups on their concrete padded sites. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and also a clubhouse that makes this a family-friendly choice, as well as an on-site laundry if you need to catch up on your washing.
Pick up your RV rental near Gulfport and enjoy a stroll around the waterfront promenade and marina at Jones Park. Daily cruises depart from here to Ship Island, which is home to the 19th-century remains of Fort Massachusetts and is surrounded by waters that are renowned for their sightings of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and seals. Alternatively, you can just soak up the sun and sand on Gulfport’s long stretch of beach along the Mississippi Sound.
If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss a visit to the Center for Marine Education and Research that’s run by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. This hands-on center features touch pools and a fossil dig, as well as the opportunity to interact with dolphins. Another family-friendly museum is the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, which boasts more than 15,000 square feet of indoor displays, plus six outdoor areas where they can let loose.
Train enthusiasts should make a beeline for the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum. It features three HO, O, and N table layouts that will keep model railway enthusiasts entertained, as well as five raised G trains and a LEGO train set with its own model town.
If you’re visiting during the summer months, the nearby waterpark is the place to cool off, with plenty of water slides, pools, and toddler-friendly play areas. Jump aboard the lazy river ride and relax in the wave pool, then enjoy the daily performances by Disney and Nickelodeon characters.
Biloxi is home to numerous supermarkets where you can buy groceries, as well as a good selection of fast food eateries and restaurants for dining out. There are also gas stations if you want to fill up your camper rental in Gulfport.
Whether you’re visiting Harrison County for its exceptional birdwatching or family-friendly museums, book an RV in Gulfport and start planning your next adventure.