Mississippi : Safety by City
- Holly Springs
- New Albany
- Pass Christian
In America, each desirable stretch of coastline is given a nickname.
For Biloxi and nearby cities, it’s the Secret Coast along the southern Mississippi shoreline between Louisiana and Alabama.
As a fan of the scenic route in life, I’ve gone through Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast several times between Florida and New Orleans.
As a Floridian living near one of America’s highest-rated beaches (Siesta Beach), my threshold for a good beach is very high.
What I love most about this stretch of beach is the road is right by the water, and you can go to an island beach, a more private beach, or just get your toes in the sand when you stop to stretch your legs.
But the fun doesn’t stop at the beach! Biloxi also boasts an incredible array of entertainment options.
Try your luck at one of the city’s many casinos, catch a show at the Hard Rock Live, or dance the night away at one of the area’s hottest clubs.
Biloxi is a culinary haven, with everything from fresh seafood to delicious BBQ.
Be sure to sample the local specialties like gumbo, po’boys (my favorite), and fried shrimp.
And with dozens of restaurants to choose from, you’ll never go hungry in Biloxi.
Looking for some history and culture?
Biloxi has that too!
Explore the Biloxi Lighthouse, which has been guiding sailors into port since 1848, or visit the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art to see stunning works from local artists.
It’s also an inspiring tourism stop when you think back to 2005 when headlines rang out that “Biloxi is Completely Flattened” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and where it stands now – tall and proud – reborn and ready for tourists.
Warnings & Dangers in Biloxi
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here as you should treat any tourist area, but take that with a grain of Margaritaville salt, as the tourism areas have much more security than the more inland neighborhoods. There's also a great spirit of growth into 2023 and beyond, with more amenities coming to create safe family spaces and plenty of fun.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Coast Transit Authority runs 17 miles from Gulfport to Ocean Springs, offering stops at the top beaches, entertainment districts, and casinos along the way. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find, and a rental car will give you even more freedom to explore. Since transportation options cater to tourists the risk is lower than a traditional public transit system in any city.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
The statistics don't show it, but there's a medium risk. Whenever you get his many people in an area, especially those with casino cash, you need to exercise exceptional personal safety steps. Just 13 pickpockets have been reported in the past decade, so you can roll your eyes at me, but especially during Mardi Gras and major events, you can't be too careful.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Search "Biloxi Parking Garage Flood," and you can see how easily tropical storms and hurricanes can cause immediate issues. Hurricane season runs from June through November, and you need to keep an eye on the tropics. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are other risks. I actually was shopping at the Biloxi outlet mall one humid summer day as I watched a funnel cloud form overhead. You escape winter weather here, but you also get a year-round risk of severe weather.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Robberies are more likely to happen in businesses or casinos, but you should always keep your guard up - especially if you got lucky at the casino. A viral video in December 2022 showed a man who tried to rob the cashier cage being escorted out of the casing after being subdued by casino guests. On a positive note, Biloxi's robbery rate has been cut in half since 2012.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Kessler Air Force Base and the oil industry along the coastline will make it a higher value target than some other coastal cities, but that also comes with increased security at all levels of government. Keep the risk low by reporting anything suspicious you see and checking the Terrorism Advisory System's latest bulletin before you arrive.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The most common scam in Biloxi involves people claiming to be police officers and threatening arrest with immediate payment for some trumped-up charges. When in doubt, call the police to confirm any suspicions and give as much information as you can about the person or caller.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
As a single woman, I've explored Biloxi both day and night and in summer and winter. It's not a spring-break-style party place, but there are some spots along the beach at night that can be rather foreboding. This is why it's important to stick to well-lit tourist areas. The more developments that pop up, the fewer dark stretches of roadway there will be. The southeastern corner of the community is filled with casinos, restaurants, and a nearby pier, making it feel like a safer place to explore than the long stretches of road requiring several stops to see it all.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations, though some sample testing had to be redone, and "one corrective action" was taken. While the general quality of water is detailed in these reports, it's important to review the utility and city social media sites during your visit. A water main break or pressure loss during a storm won't show up on a Water Quality Report that is issued once a year.
Safest Places to Visit in Biloxi
GulfCoast.org covers tourism for the entire Coastal Mississippi Region.
If you visit GulfShores.com, that will take you to the website for Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The Coastal Mississippi Attractions Pass helps you plot your itinerary while saving money at some of the region’s top attractions.
One, two, or three-day passes are available.
A great first stop is the Biloxi Visitor’s Center near the Biloxi lighthouse right on Highway 90.
It’s as much about travel brochures as it is about the history contained within the museum.
A short movie helps you learn about the history, devastation, recovery, and renewal of this region while offering balcony views from the historical home where the center is housed.
Biloxi is home to several historic sites and museums.
The Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, is a popular attraction that offers tours and educational exhibits.
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art is another must-see, with a collection of ceramics and sculptures by Mississippi artist George Ohr.
The city has eight casinos in addition to several more that span the coastline.
You won’t notice the difference between these casinos and the ones in Las Vegas, with table games, slots, poker rooms, restaurant choices, and entertainment.
Other casinos in the area include the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Golden Nugget Biloxi, and the IP Casino Resort Spa.
The new Margaritaville Resort offers family-friendly entertainment and a rooftop water park.
Paradise Pier Amusement Park is always expanding with new rides and seaside activities.
Ferry rides are available from March through October to Ship Island, part of the Gulf Coast National Seashore.
This is the main island of six options on the Mississippi coast.
The ride takes an hour, and it’s common to see dolphins or schools of fish along the route.
Once on the island, you can explore Fort Massachusetts, chill on the beach, or take a boardwalk hike.
Tours are also available to go shrimping with a working crew, ride an airboat through a swamp, walk through the marshes, or take a paddle down the Wolf River.
Shoppers can also head seven miles north to the interchange with I-10 to find the open-air Gulfport Premium Outlets.
Places to Avoid in Biloxi
When you’re in Biloxi, you can visually and easily tell if you’re in the wrong part of town.
I actually got turned around during one trip there and ended up stuck driving through different neighborhoods with dead-end streets.
I didn’t feel unsafe, but there were some rundown and blighted neighborhoods I wouldn’t go back through if I had to do it all over again.
That’s what I get for trying to take a shortcut.
If you stick to the main roads, it’s hard to get lost.
Those exiting from I-10 will find major roadways that take you straight to the coastline in about 10 minutes.
My hotels have been in a less congested part of the city, as I prefer, but it did mean the beaches just outside my hotel didn’t feel safe to explore at night, and I didn’t want to walk the dark sidewalk between the road and the water.
You have plenty of populated and congested places if you like walking around at night.
I cannot stress it enough — avoid this city if a hurricane or tropical storm is headed that way.
Even if a storm is going to hit Louisiana or Florida, it can still leave you on the “dirty side” of the storm, getting heavy rain and flooding.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Biloxi
- Biloxi and Gulfport feel like the same city in a lot of ways, but they do have separate police departments. Unless you need 911, which will route to the correct location, you should follow both departments on social media to keep up with safety guidance and criminal activity.
- Casino guests will need to be 21 years or older. Children are allowed to stay in casinos, but they can’t be on the casino floor, even with their parents.
- If you lose something while you’re in Biloxi, the police department will issue public notices of items in their possession. You must be able to identify your belongings beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if something is stolen from your car, it’s wise to contact the police to see if they have the item in evidence.
- You can rent a bicycle at the visitor’s center, with prices up to $32 for a full-day rental. Bicycles are available from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, and you need to use the lock when you park the bike to avoid being a theft victim.
- Use the Mississippi Beach Monitoring Program website to check the condition of the Gulf waters and beaches. Bacteria levels can cause Water Contact Advisories, which might make some beaches safer than others during your visit.
- Heavy rain and storms can cause polluted water to pour into the coastal waters, so even if a beach water quality report looks safe, it’s common practice to avoid touching any natural body of water within 24 hours of a rain event.
- Before you get a fishing license here, be sure you know what kind of water you’ll be fishing in. Of course, the Gulf of Mexico is saltwater, but there are parts of the rivers and lakes that could be brackish or freshwater. It’s ideal to get a combo license to cover any fishing activity.
- There are alligators living in the wild in Biloxi, and every now and again, one gets turned around and ends up on the beach. Don’t touch or feed alligators and avoid walking near the edge of freshwater or brackish water.
- The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will issue an updated Safe Fish Consumption report to cover any concerns about chemicals, toxins, or other health issues related to fish in the waterways.
- Biloxi was the first city to celebrate Mardi Gras in Mississippi, so the celebration here rivals the scale of New Orleans and Mobile. You should plan any Mardi Gras trip as far in advance as possible and plan an itinerary that requires as little driving as possible because many roads will shut down.
So... How Safe Is Biloxi Really?
Biloxi Police and surrounding law enforcement agencies have every best interest to keep the community safe since it’s such a growing tourist hot spot.
Violent crime rates are near the national average, but it’s the theft rates that soar 270% higher than the national average.
Just 9% of violent crimes happen against strangers, so don’t let sensational headlines like “Women shot in the face at the grocery store” deter you.
America is dealing with an overall surge in violent crime, and Biloxi has managed to escape the worst of it but is seeing another troubling pattern of juveniles committing more heinous crimes.
“They’ve shown not only the ability but the willingness to commit that crime, and we have to always look out for public safety,” local District Attorney Crosby Parker told local station WLOX.
40% of violent crimes in 2021 happened at or near homes, making the risk for a tourist that percentage lower.
The real concerns here involve severe weather, water/wilderness safety, and petty theft.
The Secret Coast is a secret no more, so don’t be surprised if these numbers change or the attractions expand before your visit.
You can check current crime statistics on the Mississippi Department of Public Safety website and stay in touch with the tourism bureau to ask specific questions.
How Does Biloxi Compare?
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- Visas - Visa requirements in Biloxi, Mississippi, depend on the visitor's country of origin. Most visitors from visa-waiver countries can enter the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without a visa, while others need to obtain a visa before their trip. A passport is also required. All the latest information is on the U.S. State Department website.
- Currency - The currency used in Biloxi, Mississippi, is the US dollar. Most businesses accept major credit cards, but casinos will require you to have American dollars. If you're staying at a casino, you can easily exchange currency, but it might be at a higher fee than using a bank.
- Weather - When packing for a trip to Biloxi, consider the season and activities planned. In summer, bring light clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. In winter, pack layers and a jacket. Don't forget comfortable shoes, beachwear, and bug spray. The humidity is high here, so bring fabrics that breathe well in thick, moist air.
- Airports - The nearest airport to Biloxi, Mississippi, is Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT), located about 12 miles away. Other nearby airports include Mobile Regional Airport (MOB) in Alabama, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) in Louisiana, and Pensacola International Airport (PNS) in Florida.
- Travel Insurance - You want to ensure you're covered in case of hurricane or tropical storm cancelations. Most tours will require you to sign a waiver, so be sure to know what accidents are covered through your travel insurance, just in case. America doesn't have any free health care, so you'll pay a lot out of pocket if you aren't covered with some form of supplemental health insurance.
Biloxi Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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