Southern Living

Tara Massouleh McCay, News Writer for Southern Living

By Tara Massouleh McCay Updated June 29, 2022

Pass ChristianCredit: Courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

Affectionately known as "The Pass" to locals and devoted visitors, it's common knowledge that Pass Christian is the place where problems, stress, and worries of the world come to pass. Incorporated in 1848, the tiny Coastal Mississippi town of fewer than 7,000 people has kept a low profile over the years, with nearby Gulfport, Bay St. Louis, and Ocean Springs getting most of the out-of-town draw. However, those who are in on Pass Christian's secret are privy to miles of pristine white-sand coastline, beautiful historic architecture, and unbeatable small-town charm. 

This barefoot-friendly beach community is all about keeping things easy, breezy, and carefree, which means you don't have to bother with collared shirts or high heels when packing your weekend bag. But just because there's no fuss doesn't mean there's nothing to fawn over. When you head out to dinner, expect fresh, locally caught seafood dishes that you'll still be dreaming about weeks later. Whether you want to peruse Pass Christian's quaint Davis Avenue shopping district or spend an uninterrupted day by the sea, here are our recommendations for planning your next coastal vacation to Pass Christian. 

Hotel Whiskey

Credit: Courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

Where to Stay in Pass Christian 

If you don't choose to rent an adorable beach cottage from Airbnb or Vrbo while in Pass Christian, stay at one of the town's two boutique hotels. Hotel Pass Christian features 10 cozy coastal rooms overlooking the Pass Christian Harbor, which means you can watch sailboats and yachts gracefully gliding along the water from the comfort of your front balcony. If you're looking for a boost to kick off your weekend of relaxation, book a massage or facial service at Elysian Salon & Spa, located on the bottom floor of Hotel Pass Christian. In the center of downtown Pass Christian, book one of 11 rooms inside Hotel Whiskey, a modern boutique hotel with queen and king rooms, as well as suites. The hotel is also home to Whiskey Prime, an upscale dinner spot specializing in steak and seafood. 

Where to Eat in Pass Christian

Early risers can greet the sun with a cup of joe and a pastry or bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit at Cat Island Coffeehouse. Located on the Gulf end of the 3-block Davis Avenue (Pass Christian's main drag), Cat Island is a neighborhood hangout that's known for much more than just cafe-style waterfront dining (though we highly recommend snagging a table on the second-story loft for the best view). The coffeehouse pulls double duty as host to Pass Christian Books, an independent bookstore with a deep focus on local and regional authors. In fact, the entire second floor is dubbed the Mississippi Loft and features books exclusively written by Mississippi authors or books about the state. 

Pass Christian Books

Credit: Courtesy of Coastal Mississippi

If you're part of the crew that struggles to get up during the a.m. hours, opt for brunch at Bacchus on the Beach. There you'll find a mix of hearty breakfast eats like Benedicts, steak and eggs, and a Cajun-inspired creation called the Brunch Debris Fries that combine fries, beef debris, cheddar cheese, hollandaise, and a fried egg. Bottomless mimosas are also served until 2 p.m.

Don't fret if you didn't pack a picnic lunch for the beach. There are several convenient spots to grab a quick and delicious mid-day meal just steps off the beach at West Pass Christian Harbor. At Shaggy's enjoy a fun, island-style atmosphere with seafood-centric dishes like grouper tacos, fried catfish platters, and giant Royal Red shrimp. Right next door you'll find Sea Level, a laidback beachside cottage dishing out burgers, hot dogs, tacos, and fries at picnic tables overlooking the water. Every meal at Sea Level should end with a painstaking choice between 45 flavors of snoballs. 

Sea Level

Credit: Courtesy of Sea Level

For dinner, head to Hook Gulf Coast Cuisine, a nautical-themed restaurant that lets you create your own seafood dinner. Start by choosing between fresh catch of the day, salmon, or softshell crab, then have it prepared blackened, fried, grilled, or sauteed. Finally, add a sauce and a side, and you're all set. For dessert, take advantage of Pass Christian's proximity to New Orleans at The Pass Daq and FroYo Shoppe, because nothing goes better with a beach vacation than a frozen drink. 

What to Do in Pass Christian 

When it comes to picking a spot to lay down a towel or dig your toes deep into the sand, there's plenty of room in Pass Christian to do exactly that. Try Henderson Point Beach on Pass Christian's west end, which offers plenty of convenient parking, firepits for nightly bonfires, and a beach volleyball net. 

If you've splashed around near shore and want to dive a little deeper into exploring the Gulf, book a fishing or boating trip with one of Pass Christian's many charters. Shore Thing Fishing Charters offers fishing trips for anglers or all experience levels. Trips take enthusiastic fishermen and fisherwomen to one of three destinations: 1) fish wrecks and reefs where you can catch snapper, triggerfish, cobia, and mackerel; 2) 40-100 miles offshore south of the islands to catch tuna, wahoo, amberjack, and mahi in deep waters; or 3) the Chandeleur Islands for speckled trout, redfish, sheepshead, and jack crevalle. 

In Pass Christian, there's also plenty to do and see inland. And unlike other beach towns that are overrun with shops and businesses geared solely to tourists, Pass Christian has retained its authenticity. Most of Pass Christian's shops and boutiques are situated along Davis Avenue. In Sazerac Square, a shopping inlet on the main drag, you'll find The Pass Christian Soap Co., Pass Christian Olive Oils & Vinegars, Parker's Jewelry & Gifts, Cigars in the Pass, and more. Stop into Robin's Nest in the Pass, a gallery gift shop owned by Pass Christian native Dorothy Roberts, who named the shop for her sister, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. 

Other notable places to stop in town include the Pass Christian Yacht Club, the birthplace of yachting in the South and the second oldest operating yacht club in the U.S and the War Memorial Park, which features a gazebo, playground, restrooms, and memorials under giant live oaks.  

Pink Cottage Among Palm Trees in Pass Christian, MS

Credit: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Part of what makes Pass Christian such a charming beach destination is its unique architecture. Go for a joy ride along Scenic Drive for a double-doozy of beautiful vistas. On one side, you have the sparkling Gulf and on the other, grand antebellum mansions and cute-as-a-button cottages that date back to the 1800s. Pass Christian's Historic District officially includes 119 homes and buildings so there's plenty to see during your stay.  

Now that you're in on the best-kept secret on Mississippi's Secret Coast all that's left to do is plan your trip.