For a good breakfast in Ocean Springs, head to TatoNut. It's open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. On most mornings, it's bustling with people ordering coffee and donuts.
In remembrance of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the coast in 2005, try the Katrina pieces. Owners David and Theresa Mohler began making those after the hurricane, when they realized that they weren't going to be able to get supplies from New Orleans for a while. They began getting flour from Birmingham, Ala., and they knew they couldn't waste anything. After cutting out the donut shape and separating the donut holes, they use the leftover dough scraps for Katrina pieces.
For lunch, head here. The menu has appetizers such as bruschetta, cheese sticks and fried pickles, and sandwiches such as the Gulf Island shrimp panini, which has Gulf shrimp, red onions, greens, Roma tomatoes and white remoulade, but the pizza is the restaurant's claim to fame. It has traditional pies such as a margherita (Leo's traditional) and a build-your-own pizza, but the best part is the specialty pizza. Each is named after someone famous such as the B.B. King, which has cream cheese, crawfish, Cajun spices, mozzarella and red peppers; and the Elvis Presley, which has beef, bacon, onions, tomatoes, and mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. The restaurant captures the soul of Ocean Springs. A flowing pastel guitar painting is on the front of the menu, and beneath the patio is a stage.
The business, which is headquartered in Gulfport, has a small storefront next to Twisted Anchor Tattoo (1101 Government Street). The business has many different flavors of popsicles, including a sweet-tea one (it tastes like summer) and Vietnamese coffee.
The public beach is located off Porter Avenue, which is just a few blocks from downtown. The beach itself is a good place to sit, reflect—and people-watch.
Walter Anderson was an unusual artist who spent much of his life in Ocean Springs and on Horn Island, and it is thanks to him and his brothers, Peter and James "Mac" Anderson, that the town's art community is what it is today. In fact, as you walk down city streets, you can see Walter's block prints hanging from light poles, so a trip to WAMA makes sense. The museum showcases Walter's art and life and how the famed Mississippi artist worked. While Walter is most famous for his watercolor paintings of scenes from the Gulf Coast, the museum also showcases his versatility, from block prints of animals to portraits of people to sculptures. One of the highlights is the Little Room—his sanctuary on the main land—with its fantastical paintings on the wall.
This studio is part of the Anderson brothers' legacy to Ocean Springs. Peter Anderson established the workshop and showroom in 1928 on the family's 24 acres of land (then called Fairhaven, but now known as Shearwater), and in 1930, James and Walter joined him in the venture and built an annex to create molds to produce castware for hand-painting. After Hurricane Katrina damaged 17 out of the 19 properties at Shearwater, the Anderson family moved the business to downtown Ocean Springs. The showroom reopened at Shearwater in 2007, the final piece to the studio's rebuilding.
After you get your coffee and a snack, you can step out back into the greenhouse or go outside and lay in the hammock. Take in your nature-filled surroundings while you sip coffee. Also, keep an eye out for two cats. One, Marigold, has five peets (the pads on cats' feet).
Other places to visit: The Government Street Grocery (1210 Government St., 228.818.9410); Ocean Springs Museum of History (16000 Government St., 228.215.0710); The Candy Cottage (702 Washington Ave., 228.875.8268)