BY MATT MELTZER
Ocean Springs, Mississippi:
Why it’s great: The tiny Downtown, where every block has a creative bar with live music on sprawling outdoor patios most weekend nights. Those bars are intertwined with Southern barbecue and inventive restaurants, a giant art museum, and, of course, a beach. The Gulf here is calm, and after you’ve had your fill of culture and nightlife, you can take a paddleboard out to enjoy Mississippi’s natural beauty. Or take a boat out to the barrier islands and see beaches so remote and pristine they’ll make a Floridian jealous.
Must eat/drink: The pioneering gourmet biscuits at The Greenhouse on Porter. This converted greenhouse is doing for biscuits what Voodoo did for donuts, serving up stuff like jalapeño chili biscuits alongside weekly live music and yoga.
Don’t leave without: Getting out on the water. The town is so fun you might forget the beach is even there, but hit Paddles Up on Government St and find some water-bound expeditions.