Wikipedia calls Biloxi the “Poor Man’s Riviera,” but I prefer “Vegas Lite.”
I’d first heard of Biloxi in Mississippi Masala, a 1991 Mira Nair film starring a scandalously young and sexy Denzel Washington. His character falls in love with an Indian girl from an overprotective, tradition-bound family, and they discuss running off to Biloxi for a romantic getaway. (I don’t remember whether they actually go or not.)
Biloxi is a Gulf Coast destination famous for shrimp boats and casino hotels, the Beau Rivage in particular. Hurricanes have done their damage to the city and its population, but it remains a bustling resort town and its casinos are still thick with smoke and the sounds of slot machines.
We started out at a lunch buffet at the Grand Casino. It’s the South, after all, and it ain’t a meal if it ain’t buffet-style! I’d forewarned my parents that buffets are wasted on me unless I can eat s-l-o-w-l-y. When it comes to eating, I’m a marathoner, not a sprinter: I can eat bite-sized portions for hours on end, but I feel sick if I try to stuff it all down. So we quite literally sat there for close to two hours as I helped myself to three heaping platefuls of fried chicken and catfish, prime rib, salad, dessert and more. My faves: the fried chicken gizzard was surprisingly juicy and sweet, and the shrimp were ginormous and fresh!
The city of Biloxi has a fun display of Christmas lights in what appears to be a town square across from the Hard Rock Casino.
The cartwheeling gingerbread men were my faves.
So much so that I tried to be one.
We headed next to the Beau Rivage, which defies the “Poor” in “Poor Man’s Riviera” with its elegant decor.
The Beau Rivage also has a theater, where we saw an ice skating production. The skaters were impressive; the four principals were all US National medalists and really quite good, especially the pair. Though their skill was evident, they were definitely limited by that tiny rink!
Lastly, I played the penny slot machine. I did NOT understand how it worked, and I lost 200 pennies in no time. Gambling is not so much my thing.
*Photography is not allowed inside casinos, so as to protect the dignity of those who while away too many hours there. So I asked one of the casino managers to take a photo for me. Not bad, sir!