My wife Donna and I went to Biloxi Mississippi for her birthday and our 21st anniversary this past weekend.
Having never been there before we did not really know what to expect.
Day 1 –
It took about 6 hours to drive down from our home in Athens AL but it was an easy drive all the way down I-65 to Mobile and then about 50 miles west on I-10.
We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Ocean Springs, which is about 10 minutes from the casinos. We stayed there using my Hhonors points since we did not have any history with any of the casinos in Biloxi yet and I hate paying for hotel rooms!!
After checking in we drove down Highway 90 to Biloxi over the new finished bridge. The old one had been completely wiped put by Katrina and every one we talked to said how much better it was now that the bridge was done.
There were still plenty of damaged buildings and all of the roads along the beach were being completely resurfaced. Several of the roads were down to 1 lane. There were so many traffic lights on that stretch of road that it felt like we were driving the Strip on a Saturday night even though it was a Friday afternoon.
We parked in the Beau Rivage parking lot and walked in to the “Beau” as it is called down there. It is a very beautiful place and very reminiscent of the Bellagio in Vegas, which I guess it was modeled after since both are Mirage properties. We went to get a player’s card but there must have been a tourist bus ahead of us as there were about 50 people in line. We decided to come back later. The casino is very large and it seemed like the color scheme was the same as Bellagio as well. We checked out the tables and found that even at 2 PM on Friday there were only 10 dollar or higher tables. Being the dedicated low rollers we are we exited the place and walked next door to the Hard Rock Casino. We never did get back to the Beau. Maybe next time.
The Hard Rock had been set for its grand opening the day Katrina hit Biloxi in 2005. It had to be redone and had its grand opening on 777, which is 7 July 07 of course.
The casino is just awesome and all the restaurants and bars and clubs are located on the entry level. The hard Rock café is right up front and you can see the large pool area right from the lobby. I bet when it is hot outside that swim up bar gets a lot of business!!! There is a nightclub on the top floor but we did not even attempt to go there as there was a line about 100 people deep each night. They have a really large circular bar in the middle of the casino with a bandstand at one end. Big screens showing older rock videos and of course the great music played all the time we were there. The gaming tables circle around the bar in 2 rows.
We signed up for players’ cards and I got a $10 credit ( I think it was because I am 50 years old!!) and Donna got a free buffet for her birthday. We were very happy to find out they had a lot of $5 tables. So we sat at the first Blackjack table we found. We played for the next 4 hours and had so-so luck but it was a lot of fun. The dealer was from the area but had lived and dealt out in Vegas for 8 years before returning home. She loved the Hard Rock and the people she worked with. The floor personnel were really great too. I got comped for a buffet as well and we decided to go eat about 6:30 or so.
The Satisfactions Buffet was a nice open area with the different food stations all new buffets have any more. The food was great, especially since it was comped. Friday and Saturday is seafood night so we had crab legs and fish along with the Asian, BBQ, and roast turkey. After we ate, I played LIR for another hour and dropped a hundred. We then decided to wander to other casinos.
We went back and got our car from the Beau garage and drove to the Imperial Palace which is way off the main highway on what is called the Back Bay.
The IP has the same design as the IP in Vegas but this one is not a Harrah’s property. The Vegas IP was our favorite place to play on the Strip but we have not been there since Harrah’s took it over so I do not know how it is now. I will find out in June!!
The Biloxi IP has a fairly large casino with a 2nd and 3rd floor where more slots were kept as well as the 3rd floor poker room. We got new player’s cards and went to check out the action. Once again there were no $5 blackjack tables. I did find a $5 LIR and played for awhile but had no luck. We were there for about an hour then we left and drove to a local place called the Palace casino.
The Palace is one of the smallest casinos for a resort that I had ver been in. It had 1 craps table. 4 blackjack tables and a few 3 card poker tables. The rest was all slots with a 2nd floor for non-smokers consisting of only slots and VP as well. We got $10 in credit when we got our players cards and we played slots using the credits. To use the credits you had to put your card in a slot machine and then sign into that machine with your PIN number. Then it showed your credit balance. You had to put your own money in first and then as you played, the credit balance would replace the amount you bet until the credits were gone. It actually worked out pretty well and we hit some good combinations before the free credits were gone. We played blackjack for an hour or so and walked away about Midnight up $40 or so.
The area was covered in fog when we drove back across the bridge to our hotel. But we made it back and hit the sack down a couple hundred but we had fun. It had been a fun and different birthday/anniversary and that was the whole point!!
Day 2 –
The weather was clearing when we got up at 9 on Saturday the 15th. We decided after not too much discussion that instead of going to any casinos that afternoon we would drive the hour and a half from Biloxi to New Orleans. We left at 11 AM and by 12:30 were in the Harrah’s New Orleans parking garage.
We walked through the casino, which is quite large and very dark. While we intended to play some, once we saw that the minimum bets at all tables started at $15, we opted out of gambling there. It made me think of the Wynn and a lot of the other big casinos in Vegas that are now making the min bets so high all the time. I bought a $1 chip for my collection and we got out of there.
We walked down to the French quarter, which is only a block away. We found ourselves on Bourbon Street where we ate lunch, drank, danced, and ate and drank some more. The music on the street was soooooo great and the people and the buildings and everything was just what we expected. Since neither of us had been there before we got a bigger kick out of the place. I won’t go into too much detail as this a little off subject but if you ever get the chance go there. As they say it is fun for kids of all ages. (at least those over 21!!!!)
It was about 6:30 PM when we started back to Biloxi that night. It took right at an hour to get to the Hollywood casino in Bay St. Louis, which is about 25 miles west of Biloxi. We always liked the Hollywood casino in Tunica and wanted to see what this place had to offer. We got there about 7:30 and found ourselves out in the middle of nowhere. The Hollywood was a Casino Magic casino before and there were none of the movie and Hollywood stuff that Tunica had. It was just a plain casino with a few tables and lots of slots. We got players cards and played blackjack for about an hour but there was no excitement at all. The dealers were anything but fun to talk with and one woman at our table got cold so she left to get a sweater. She was gone over a half hour and it turned out the sweater was in their RV and she had walked to the RV park way across the parking lot. No one but me and Donna thought that was funny!! So after the 2nd dealer came up and had trouble keeping track of what our cards added up to, we colored in, cashed in and got out of there.
We drove the 25 miles back to Biloxi along Highway 90 but it was mostly 1 lane and took about 45 minutes. I bet it will be great when they get it done but until then stay away from that road if you can. We passed the Isle View and the Treasure Bay casinos and said we would try them out the next time we came down.
We went to the Hard Rock and parked in their garage about 10 PM. The place was full due to the George Thorogood concert so we parked on the 5th floor. The casino was packed and all the tables were $10 or higher. The place now reminded us of Vegas on a Saturday night with all the younger people all dressed up and the band playing etc. Fun times. I still had the $10 credit for the slots so we found one and played. The machine was a Triple Diamond Haywire machine and it was a lot of fun. I came out over $50 ahead on the machine which made up for what we had both lost at Hollywood. We had not eaten anything since lunch in New Orleans so we went to the Buffet and paid $10 each for the late night buffet which was a combo of dinner and breakfast items. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits, etc, next to ribs, chicken, mashed potatoes, pizza, and of course all those buffet deserts.
Once we ate, we were all of a sudden tired. It was after Midnight again so we went to the garage to go back to the hotel. We got to our car all right but we got into the exiting traffic and it took us over a half-hour to get to the street. Apparently there is a stop light right outside the garage that was so short it only let 3 cars go left onto H-90. Of course 90% of the cars ahead of us wanted to go that way so we waited and moved along slooooooowly until we got out of there. We made it to the hotel about 1:30 AM and once we went to bed it was lights out!!
Day 3 –
After breakfast we went back to the Hard Rock to play some more before we had to drive the 6 plus hours home. The tables were back down to $5 limits and while Donna played blackjack I played LIR. Had some decent cards this time but still dropped some. Donna won about $25 when it was time to hit the road. We cashed in and started the long drive back. We got home about 7 PM tired but having had a great time over all.
Biloxi is well worth the trip. Once they get the roads fixed up it will be even better. They are building 2 more big resorts there one of which is the new Margaritaville casino resort. You will be able to walk from the Beau and Hard Rock down the beach to Margaritaville, the Grand and the Isle of Capri. It is about like walking from Caesars to Mandalay Bay for you Vegas people who know how far that is. During the summer it may be a little hot and humid but most of the time the weather is great. There are several golf courses in the area and the casino hotels all have stay and play packages, which I am looking into doing some time soon.
We like the whole area better than Tunica even though Tunica is a couple hours closer for us.
As we drove home we compared it with a Vegas trip like this:
Fly to Vegas - $600 airfare
- 8 hours travel time to get there (including airport time)
- rent a car.
- High table limits all over the Strip even during the week.
Drive to - $157 gas
- 6 hour travel time
- already have vehicle
- low table limits available on main drag even on weekends.
This could become our Vegas replacement place in the future. Especially if the prices and airfares for Vegas continue to go up. If you get the opportunity to try it out you may find that you agree with us about that!!!