Once best known for its seafood and casinos, Biloxi became even better known for the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the years since Katrina, the city has staged a massive comeback, and the casinos, historical sites and pristine beachfront have undergone restoration, which, to a large degree, surpasses pre-Katrina conditions.
Biloxi lies just off the Gulf of Mexico and is part of the Gulfport-Biloxi Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's pre-Katrina population was 50,644; there was some population drop post-Katrina, with the 2006 census estimated at around 44,000. That number is expected to grow again, with the reopened casinos bringing record revenue and new jobs to the area.
Some of the major employers of the city are Keesler Air Force Base, Grand Casino/Park, Beau Rivage, President Casino, Imperial Palace, Casino Magic Corp. and Treasure Bay Casino.
With approximately 50,000 residents, Biloxi has neighborhoods featuring old world charm, pristine beaches and a mild climate. The city has a variety of recreational opportunities and historic sites built during the period when the city was governed by France, Spain, Great Britain, the West Florida Republic and the Confederate States of America. It city features 23 golf courses and nine dockside casinos that offer round-the-clock gaming options.
Beauvoir: Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States of America, lived in this mansion across from the beach during the last years of his life. Badly damaged in Katrina, the National Historic Landmark has undergone a $4 million restoration.
Biloxi Lighthouse: Currently closed to tours, the lighthouse was the first cast-iron tower in the South and remains one of the most-photographed sites on the Gulf Coast.
Biloxi Tour Train: This open-air train has operated for more than 40 years. Nicknamed "The Shrimp Train," it takes visitors on a 90-minute narrated tour through Biloxi's Historical District.
Hurricane Katrina Memorial: Erected on the Biloxi Town Green, the memorial stands 12 feet tall, representing the height of Katrina's storm surge at the Town Green. The memorial was dedicated by the crew of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum/Biloxi Schooners: The museum building was completely destroyed during Katrina, and rebuilding remains a work in progress. However, the museum still conducts year-round educational programs and has replicated two 65-foot Biloxi Schooners, ships that sailed around the Gulf Coast from the late 1800s to early 1900s. These two schooners sail from Schooner Pier every day.
Biloxi Little Theatre: Founded in 1946, the Playhouse is located in a historic building in Biloxi.
Biloxi Saenger Theater: Reopened in November 2007 after a $1.25 million overhaul designed to restore the theater to its 1925 opening-day luster, the Saenger stages many traveling performances and is home to the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra.
Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art: Currently housed in a transitional location at the Glenn Swetman House in Biloxi, a new campus is scheduled for opening in 2010. The museum includes pottery by George Ohr, the "Mad Potter of Biloxi."
Biloxi's casinos offer more than gaming; they also house many fine dining establishments, live entertainment, and high-end spas and salons. Eight casino resorts currently operate in Biloxi, with several more close by on the Gulf Coast. Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino and Resort is scheduled to open in Biloxi in 2010, occupying 46 acres on the sites formerly occupied by the Biloxi Grand Casino and Casino Magic.
Biloxi is also known for world-class charter fishing, and trips of nearly any duration and for almost any type of fish can be booked. In addition, Biloxi is home to the East Coast Hockey League's Mississippi Sea Wolves.
Festivals take place year-round in Biloxi and the surrounding areas. Three of the bigger festivals include the Blessing of the Fleet and Shrimp Festival in the summer, the Biloxi Seafood Festival in the fall and the Country Cajun Crawfish Festival, which was recently chosen as one of the top 200 events in the United States, taking place in the spring.
Colleges and universities in and near Biloxi include:
As part of the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area, Biloxi is served by several media outlets outside of the city. WLOX TV 13 (ABC) is licensed in Biloxi. WXXV TV (Fox) is licensed in Gulfport. The area is covered by NBC and CBS stations from New Orleans, and a Mobile CBS station is also available to cable subscribers.