Being a part of your community is important, but knowing your community is equally as important! Last week a few of us at Hillyer House had the opportunity to get to know a little more about our town on the trolley tour held by the Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Springs. The tour is held for business owners around Ocean Springs to help create build a connected and supportive community from one store to the next. It was a blast getting to know all these people and seeing the town through a different lens.
Our first stop was Gulf Hills Hotel, which was beautiful! The hotel is right over the bridge going into Gulf Hills, and it is nestled perfectly at the end of the 18th hole of its marvelous golf course. We got to meet Donna, the general manager, while we enjoyed our continental breakfast courtesy of the hotel.
Gulf Hills hotel has had many visitors in its years, starting with Al Capone. For him, it was a perfect stop on his liquor runs because of the train systems. The trains would run from Chicago and end in Ocean Springs and go East to West from there. When he would smuggle in the rum from Canada, he would take it to the end of the line and stay in Ocean Springs until they moved the product where it was needed. That’s where the term “rum run” came from! Al Capone’s men would stay in the hotel and he would stay in his house in Ocean Springs, but he would join his men for most of their fun and drinking. It was rumored that they would keep two cars and two boats constantly running in case the police showed up. If the police came in boats from the water, they could escape in the cars, or vice versa.
Another popular guest the Hotel would have during the summers was Elvis. He would come with his entourage and family and stay for a part of the summer. His first love was from Ocean Springs, and they were engaged for 4 years. When it didn’t work out, they remained friends for the rest of his life. His call to her was actually the first to go through to the Coast after Camille to make sure she was alright – an amazing story to hear.
The Hotel was warm, friendly, and full of wonderful people. Click here to see their website.
Next, we ventured to Courtney Farms. We could have wandered for hours. With all the pumpkins and fall decorations, it’s exciting to start thinking about what we want to do for our Halloween decorations! We’ve always gone to Courtney Farms for our pumpkins and fall decorations, so getting some time to really look around was nice. Check them out online!
Before we started wandering on our own around town for an hour or two, we had to go to Lovelace Drugstore for a photo! Their 50’s diner is perfect, and gets us ready for Cruisin’ the Coast (which starts October 9th in Ocean Springs).
For a lot of the people working in Downtown, it’s hard to get away and see what everyone else is doing. When you’re busy with your own business, you don’t get to look at the rest of the town and what they are doing. On the trolley tour, everyone was excited to shop around and enjoy the rest of Downtown for a change.
We finished with a stop at the amazing new restaurant, Vestige. Geared towards locally grown food and what’s in season, they create amazing dishes that are perfect any day of the year. While we were there, we were given an amazing sorghum and corn meal bread before the soup. The soup (not pictured because everyone ate it so fast) was one of the best soups we have ever had. Being true to their hyper seasonal food, we had an acorn squash soup with Gulf shrimp, fried pork belly, seasonal peas and beans, sautéed mustard greens with italian kale salsa verde on top. It was the perfect fall soup. Then for dessert we had a shortbread cookie. The best picture we can give you for this meal is this empty table after everyone had eaten.
Afterwards, Chef Alex Perry and his wife Kumi Omori discussed the quality of food that is local and caters to the season. They also mentioned a dinner they are having featuring Red Waddle Pork on October the 4th. It will be a educational event with the farmers Dale and Tina, and will have 6 different dishes based on this special type of pork. The dinner will be fun, relaxed, and great for all of your favorite foodies. For information about the event and tickets, click here.
Thanks to everyone at the Chamber of Commerce for putting this together for all of the businesses Downtown and giving us a great time. We are so lucky to be in a supportive community full of life and fun!
Does anyone have any suggestions for their favorite places in Downtown that they love to go? Let us know in the comments! Can’t wait to see you next time you come in.